One of my customers has a durma shear from some island in the Pacific. It is 13 feet long and brand new it was about 48k. I paid almost that for my 10' 40 yr old wysong mechanical. That durma shear has a 10 second quick adjusting blade gap, but it sacrifices structural stability for that, as the top assembly sits on a rack system. Some machines like Pacific shears have a strong blade adjusting feature, but requires certain shims and such to be installed. Kind of the best of both worlds.
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But, if you're not needing 1/4" capacity very often (and you said primary use is 16-20 gauge), a 10 gauge shear is probably the best fit.
This is very confusing. If you don't need to cut 1/4" very often, buy a shear that'll almost but never be able to cut it............??
I think you need to ask yourself how much 3/16 and 1/4" you need to cut. If it's not that often, it may behoove you to get a 10 gauge shear, and sub out anything above that
Buy what you need 95% of the time. Pay 20 bucks to the steelyard to cut your stuff the 4 times a year that you need heavy stuff cut.
Or, spend twice or thrice as much to buy a machine that'll do 1/4, and gap the blades such that they won't cut thin stuff (the primary purpose of the machine) worth a hoot.
Based on the op, he needs to find a 16ga 48" jump shear and go from there. They're easy enough to buy and sell.
I have a nice Famco that's pretty heavy. Beware of the imports.
Maybe augment that with one of the following:
-Bench mount 12" plate shear. Pretty cheap, and can cut up to 3/16 plate.
-Plate nibbler. Maybe $3500 new but will get you 3/8 capacity. Probably not worth it to the OP but they're out there.
-Metal Cutting circular saw. Milwaukee 8"
-The aforementioned Plasma cutter, cnc table or just a nice Hypertherm PMX45.
There are some good points in this thread. Shears seem to be falling out of favor as a consequence of cnc laser and plasma, but they still have their uses.
In my experience with a Niagara 12'x5/16" shear it worked fine thick or thin. I would expect as you go up past 3/8 things change.
I had a huge footprint 6'x11ga mechanical pexto but sold it.
If I find the right one I will buy a larger one, but it will have a power backgauge for sure.
The machine that cuts 1/4" will simply fold the 20ga in most situations, I would think 1/8 and down could be one machine and another for 1/8 and above. I think your floor is OK
My 4' shear is good from 1/8 down and is 1.5hp
I'm not an expert tinsmith but our tin shop had a few shears that were capable of shearing up to 1/4" steel and they cut anything and everything in them. I think it's partly a matter of maintenance and quality of the machines in the first place. I think the big one was a 10 foot Cincinnati.
I am not a shear expert, I get the basics of how the blades work though.
I do know a bit about tool design though and your clearance has to be appropriate for the material otherwise you break tools, make a mess or all of the above. Is that not the case with setting up shear blades?
What is everyones thoughts on putting a shear in there? Any issues with the cold in the winter? What about rusting issues?