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Drill powered nibblers - buying advice sought.

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Robin Graham31/07/2021 23:48:59
876 forum posts
265 photos

I want to make some curved cuts in 1.5mm mild steel sheet. It looks like a nibbler might be the tool of choice, but I don't want to pay £££s for a dedicated machine, so I've been looking at drill powered devices.

At the bottom end I found a TOOGOO machine for £12, which does seem too good to be true. At the top end there is the Australian-made CaNibble at £50. In between there are many offerings including one from Axminster at £36.

With the exception of the CaNibble all these tools look the same - I know that you gets what you pays for, but on the other hand I also know that identical items are marketed at widely different prices on Amazon and elsewhere.

Does anyone have any experience with these tools?


Edited By Robin Graham on 31/07/2021 23:51:14

Paul Lousick01/08/2021 00:02:38
1862 forum posts
661 photos

As you say, "you gets what you pay for" but all should come with some kind of warranty and if it does not work, send it back and get a refund. Check the return policy, some are free and some you have to pay postage. (Ebay and Paypal have return money policies. May take some time but you should get it back)


Ed Duffner01/08/2021 00:16:52
830 forum posts
94 photos

Hi Robin, what radius cuts do you need to make? I cut a 90mm diameter hole the other day in some 3mm steel plate with a jigsaw and filed to finished size.


Steviegtr01/08/2021 00:32:54
2244 forum posts
311 photos

I had a Makita 110v nibbler some years ago. Brilliant . Gave it away to a friend through not using it. But very good quality.


John Haine01/08/2021 08:09:28
4188 forum posts
242 photos


Uses one from RDG.

Baz01/08/2021 09:43:34
589 forum posts
2 photos

I purchased the Axminster version a couple of years ago and I am very pleased with it, I have used it quite a lot for cutting up 18g sheet steel and it performs very well, it is powered by a Parkside cordless drill. For occasional use it seems to be very good value.

Bob Worsley01/08/2021 09:46:57
103 forum posts

Awful things, I bought a Bosch one, flog it to you if you want.

What is wrong? Well, they use a circular punch and die to cut in any direction so the swarf consists of millions of horseshoe shaped bits of metal, which get in the soles of your shoes.

not done it yet01/08/2021 10:00:17
6350 forum posts
20 photos

Do you have a compressor? If so, a pneumatic nibbler might be an option?

Nicholas Wheeler 101/08/2021 10:03:33
744 forum posts
52 photos
Posted by Nicholas Wheeler 1 on 01/08/2021 10:01:33:

I'm with Bob - don't do it. The swarf is horrible to deal with, the tool is bloody noisy, your drill will hate you and the cut edge will still need smoothing even if you do manage to cut along your line. An air powered nibbler adds the ghastly racket of the compressor.

Clamp some scrap plywood across the cut on both sides of the material and use a jigsaw.

Clive Foster01/08/2021 10:12:40
2838 forum posts
103 photos

+1 for Johns link on improving the tool. The length of the assembly when fitted in the chuck makes them hard to handle as does the relative rotational freedom. A solid strap between the drill and nibbler handles may make a worthwhile improvement in rigidity.

Next I use mine I shall figure out a solid strap between the drill handle and the nibbler handle to keep things more stable. Rather like the system used by the DeWalt shear attachment :- **LINK**.

But stronger. That DeWalt device is a bit of a disappointment. Works but not nice to use due to lack of rigidity in the coupling.

But its five years since I used my nibbler so the matter is hardly urgent!

Plan B was to strip an old cordless drill to make a battery powered all in one. Even less urgent.

My experience is that even the uber-cheap ones will work OK. For a while at least so its really a matter of estimating how much use it will get.

Chip control has to be taken really seriously. Big bag in a stand with something to hold the mouth open underneath coupled to disciplined clearing at regular intervals is essential. Catches half to two thirds of the things.

Thats why mine is a last resort tool.


roy entwistle01/08/2021 10:58:38
1411 forum posts

1.5mm mild steel, I'd use a piercing saw, medium to fine teeth lubricate blade with a candle

Fret saw if piercing saw is too small in the throat


Terry B01/08/2021 12:23:51
14 forum posts
5 photos

For anything upto that thickness I use a jigsaw with a metal cutting blade. No distortion, make sure you use eye protection as the odd metal chip can fly up.

Nicholas Wheeler 101/08/2021 13:40:08
744 forum posts
52 photos
Posted by Terry B on 01/08/2021 12:23:51:

For anything up to that thickness I use a jigsaw with a metal cutting blade. No distortion, make sure you use eye protection as the odd metal chip can fly up.

Interesting, as 1.5mm thick is about the thinnest I'd use a jigsaw on. And would prefer some support along the cut as I suggested above.

Thinner than 1.5mm I use snips and some ibuprofen....

Hacksaw01/08/2021 14:13:44
452 forum posts
191 photos

I've got one too. Yes , noisy . Yes , very messy sharp bits , ( I clear up best i can with a welding magnet if it's steel ) I often have a dog in the workshop, who loves getting arc eye , metal splinters in his paws , and the vice tommy bar whacking him on the head !

Unless it's a more substantial one than mine , it'll struggle on 1.5mm steel . Needs plenty of practice to cut curves accurately .. the steel needs lubricating on the cut line . Forever jamming , and they dislike being pulled back in a cut for a second go ..

I've often thought if it was mounted upside down on a table so it was rigid like a router table , It could work better . But then the bits would be firing straight at your face ..?

ega01/08/2021 15:28:24
2267 forum posts
188 photos

The OP's CaNibble link shows the tool mounted upside down with the [female] operator using gloves but no eye protection.

Incidentally, the Monodex type shear, which produces a c 3mm wide waste strip, works well for shallow curves in thin material.

old mart01/08/2021 15:39:42
3349 forum posts
208 photos

I bought one similar to the Axminster one, I forget the name, the spare parts make it better value. A line of oil should be run along the cut line, or the parts will wear quickly. You can rotate the heads and lock them quickly to make the direction of feed easier.

lee webster01/08/2021 17:26:59
20 forum posts

As mentioned above, noisy, messy, more messy, difficult to control, messy. Bought one used it a couple of times threw it away. Best thing I did was throw it away. I would rather bite my way through metal than use one of those.

Grindstone Cowboy01/08/2021 21:43:01
714 forum posts
58 photos

As others have said, messy - I have one somewhere, used it once, went back to the Monodex type.


Nicholas Wheeler 101/08/2021 22:28:17
744 forum posts
52 photos
Posted by Grindstone Cowboy on 01/08/2021 21:43:01:

As others have said, messy - I have one somewhere, used it once, went back to the Monodex type.


I have, use and like those. But not on 1.5mm thick steel.

Mike Poole01/08/2021 22:38:08
3075 forum posts
72 photos

Trumpf This has to be the ultimate nibbler, the template section of our tool room was revolutionised when they got a CNC nibbler.


Edited By Mike Poole on 01/08/2021 23:14:58

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