The Metalworking Tools

Previous page: The Welding Gear (page 2)

Angle Grinder

Angle grinder

The angle grinder is one of the most often used power tools you need when working with metals. Get a good quality one, preferably smaller, and lots of disks for it.

Circular Saw

Circular saw

You will be cutting pipes and angles. For aluminum, a circular saw with a regular blade will do the job. For steel, you will need a TCT (Tungsten-Carbide-Tipped) blade. In either case, a metal cutter as shown to the right is a better option.

Always make sure that the piece you are cutting is well clamped down.



As the last resort (well, sometimes for small cuts the best one) to cut through a short distance in a metal plate, or a thin bar, you will need a manual hacksaw with a metal cutting blade. To make the cutting more effective, turn the blade so that its teeth are pointing back, towards you.

Drill and Bits

Drill and bits

Occasionally you will need to drill a hole. A reasonable electric drill and a set of various bits, including circular saw attachments of various sizes, is the tool for that.

Rulers and Squares

Ruler and squares

You will need straight edge rulers and squares of various sizes, as frequent measuring and marking is part of the work. You will also need some sharp metal scribes and fine point markers.



Even if you ordered a CNC pre-cut kit, which we highly recommend, you will still have to cut something out here and there. Even to pluck the CNC pre-cut plates out from the large aluminum (steel) plates as delivered, you will best do it with a jigsaw. Get a few blades. You will break some as you go, they dull out on steel, or get clogged when cutting aluminum.

Metal Cold Cut Saw

Metal cutter

A table-top metal circular saw as the one shown on the picture is not a must, yet it is a great tool to have. This particular one can cut aluminum, mild steel and stainless steel up to 170 mm (about 7 inches) thick. The blade should match the material: For steel, a TCT (Tungsten-Carbide-Tipped) blade is a must, and when you find out how it cuts aluminum as if slicing butter, it will be your choice too.


You will need some spirit levels and some simple tools to help you determine the vertical and the horizontal line. A laser beam will come handy to check that you are on the line, which is frequently important. There will always be some common-sense gadgets that simply make your work easier and more effective.

The TIG Welder, A Fine Option for Quality Welding In Aluminum

A TIG torch

In addition to the MIG welder, it is entirely optional yet very good to have a TIG (Tungsten-Inert-Gas) welder (also called GTAW welder, for Gas-Tungsten-Arc-Welder). They are generally more sophisticated than a MIG welder, require a much higher level of welding skill and the welding is much slower. Yet, once you develop a knack for it, the resulting TIG weld is much better looking.

You would benefit from TIG welding in areas where welds remain visible, so it is important that they look good. Also, one can weld thinner plates with TIG, where MIG is just too fast and brutally coarse.

The TIG torch is much smaller and more delicate than the MIG gun. The central tungsten electrode is non-consumable (for a difference from MIG, where the continuously running welding wire is the electrode and it melts as a filler into the weld pool). TIG welding can successfully be done without any filler, simply melting the material from the weld zone. For larger gaps, filler wire can be added manually as required.

TIG welding is done with both hands, one holding the torch, the other adding filler wire (optional). For this work, much lighter TIG welding leather gloves are used, giving the operator an improved ability to do precision welding.

TIG welders come in various levels of sophistication. The best are capable of pulse welding, producing a quick changing square wave current that gives better penetration and better looking weld.

If you buy a good quality TIG welder, it will be the most sophisticated machine you will be using in your backyard boatbuilding workshop.

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Last upd: 19-Aug-10 F150806