After spending a significant amount of time researching and testing the best nibblers on the market for professional carpenters and remodelers and weighing their respective pros against the cons in the most logical manner, our research team finally found the best nibbler that does a pretty swell job at cutting through metal roofing sheets in the most precise manner; the Makita JN1601 5 Amp 16 Gauge Nibbler. We would like to call the Makita JN1601 Nibbler as our one and only best pick of the list. Upon working with quite a few nibblers, our team has entrusted this best nibbler with a reputation of cutting like butter due to its unmatched cutting efficiency that is incomparable to that of snips and jigsaws.
Easy to use and pretty convenient to handle, the Makita JN1601 Nibbler is regarded as an ideal choice when you want to work with keystone plate, deck plate, and other corrugated sheet materials. This best nibbler’s die spins 360 degrees and the tool has a wide 1/4″ stroke, making it an extremely lightweight unit for an easy and effortless working experience. The Makita JN1601 Nibbler is well-constructed with a conveniently fitting and slender design along with a built-in thickness gauge for added comfort and easy gripping.
Our best pick may be the most powerful, but it isn’t the only best nibbler we found. You will be quite surprised to know that the next best nibbler is one that ranks second on our list with a price that will instantly bring a pretty big smile on your face. We are talking about our budget-friendly pick, the Grizzly T23085 Pneumatic Nibbler. For money-saving consumers, this best nibbler is more than what you’d expect it to be for the price that you pay. The Grizzly T23085 Pneumatic Nibbler is well-built and has the ability to easily cut through 16 gauge hot rolled steel without forming burrs or leaving misshapen edges. This best nibbler has a lightweight aluminum construction with a price that’s hard to beat. It is well-equipped with a die that can be adjusted to suit many different cutting positions. The Grizzly T23085 Pneumatic Nibbler can make up to 3,800 strokes per minute with good, clean cuts. Our research team has concluded that this best nibbler definitely beats using a cutoff wheel. While using the Grizzly T23085 Pneumatic Nibbler, you will not have to worry about sparks or burning smell that usually pops out of little metal remnants.
Now let’s take it up a notch. The Fein BLK 1.3CSE/N12 18 Gauge Nibbler is our step-up pick, which means it is better than the other two best nibblers mentioned above but is ranked third due to its high price tag. The Fein BLK 1.3CSE Nibbler is well-equipped with exclusive features that not only enhance its performance but also increase the durability of the useful and handy machine. This best nibbler has a rotating punch, as opposed to fixed punch systems in many other best nibblers, that has the tendency to increase punch life by 30%. The Fein model has an unmatched high cutting speed of 71 feet per 2 minutes with a cutting direction that can be easily adjusted in steps of 45 degrees in order to suit your needs. This best nibbler is sturdily built to work with 18 gauge metal in corrugated, trapezoidal and single roll steel operations. Our team of testers ranks the Fein BLK 1.3CSE Nibbler as the most powerful tool manufactured by Germans who truly understand the importance of building high-quality and competitive products.
What you should know before reading on
Even though nibblers are found in many metal and tool shops and used by many professionals who work with metal roofing and decking, the best nibblers are not given the importance they should get due to the lack of widespread use and reputation in the construction community. Many HVAC contractors and carpenters are accustomed to using hand snips and shears so they don’t realize that the best nibbler is capable of slicing through metal with the exact precise efficiency and power of a jigsaw. Unlike the working mechanism found in conventional tools, the best nibbler uses a sharp punch which, with the help of a die, moves in an upward and downward motion in order to initiate a precise and flawless cut. Since you’re determining which type of best nibbler you should buy, we would like to bring to your notice that professionals invest in electric or cordless nibblers while metal shops use pneumatic models.
What to look for in the best nibbler
Before you take this factor into consideration while buying the best nibbler, our qualified and experienced research team would like to state that, after performing many stress tests, it has, quite reliably, concluded that the type of metal material you choose to work with hugely affects the nibbler’s cutting efficiency. That means you might be able to work with aluminum at a cutting capacity of 12 gauge with the best nibbler that, on the other hand, gives you a 14 gauge cutting capacity with stainless steel. Nevertheless, it is highly advisable to select the best nibbler that has a cutting capacity ranging from 8 gauge to 18 gauge. This information can be easily found on the best nibbler’s packaging and operating manual.
It is quite clear that the best nibbler with considerably lesser strokes per minute is used for a material with a thicker gauge while a thinner gauge material requires higher number of strokes per minute. So once you figure out the purpose of investing in the best nibbler, you can decide whether you will be working with thicker or thinner gauge materials. Ideally, based on the huge amount of best nibblers that we’ve studied and tested, one can buy nibblers that have the ability to produce strokes anywhere between 1,300 and 4,000 per minute.
Minimum cutting radius
Upon reviewing and examining the cutting radius of many best nibblers on the market, our team of testers has established that the minimum cutting radius of ordinary and conventional nibblers should be 1′-inches while bigger-sized models should have a radius of 4′-inches. This feature is extremely crucial if you have a knack of working with tight radius cuts. We found that the minimum cutting radius in the best nibbler is indexed by both inside and outside cutting radius of the tool with the difference converging from the kerf thickness of the dissection.
How to use the best nibbler
1. Any contractor or carpenter who has worked with a jigsaw and then later switched to the best nibbler will tell you how the latter is used much like the former. The only difference with a nibbler is that it comes without a table that rides along the material while cutting. Our testers found a very productive way of making up for the absence of this particular feature, they made sure that the body of the best nibbler was always running in a parallel position to the metal while in action. This useful tip should be kept in mind to avoid the tool from binding.
2. As many of you already know, it is only logical to make use of a drill to form a starter hole if you’re planning to make a cut in the middle of the surface. Refer to the best nibbler’s encasing to find out the minimum radius of a starter hole. On the other hand, when we had to end the cut in the middle of the surface, we found it very convenient to back the machine out of the cut instead of driving it out of the kerf.
3. While you’re working with the best nibbler and it is in the process of cutting, you will discover that you can easily change the direction of the metal component, in the case of smaller materials, or you can easily choose to turn the machine instead. As we have stated in the ‘features to look out for’ section (above), that the best nibbler comes with an efficient die holder that does the job of rotating in order to eliminate the possibility of the nibbler bottoming out against potential hindrances.
4. The shards of metal that often spoil the smooth surfaces of finished metal pieces should be directed downwards by the best nibbler. While cutting, these severely sharp metal chips simply fall out anywhere from the machine, so our testers had to exercise caution in order to avoid serious injuries. While testing, our researchers also noticed that, after making the cut, the finished pieces had some irregular and marred edges that needed to be straightened out. So with the help of a grinder or a metal sander, these sharp edges and burrs can be polished or you can simply use a hammer to flatten them out completely, depending on the whole purpose of the task at hand.
Our best pick: Makita JN1601 5 Amp 16 Gauge Nibbler
Makita JN1601 5 Amp 16 Gauge Nibbler
Our most favorable pick for the best nibbler is the blue, lightweight Makita JN1601 5 Amp 16 Gauge Nibbler. Perfect for professionals like contractors and carpenters, this tool is great to work with sheet metal materials such as metal roofs, gutters, and duct work, along with mild steel, stainless and aluminum metal sheets. In short, our research team found this best nibbler to be highly useful when working with comparatively narrower places. The Makita JN1601 is a 5 Amp machine that has the ability to cut through mild steel, stainless metal sheet and aluminum metal sheet at 16 gauge, 18 gauge, and 10 gauge respectively. This best nibbler has an exceptional stroke per minute capacity of 2,200. While working with keystone plate, deck plate and other corrugated sheet materials, our team of testers was able to achieve neat and accurate results with the help of Makita JN1601 Nibbler.
The manufacturer has built the model with a die that rotates a full 360 degrees with a large 1/4″ stroke. Due to its minimal weight of only 3.5 pounds, this best nibbler is a pretty basic unit that is very convenient to work with. Upon examining the Makita JN1601 Nibbler, we were surprised to find that the unit has an effective built-in thickness gauge in order to increase the comfort level of the operator. Combine this convenient feature with Wrench and Hex Wrench for an effortless punch and die replacement and you have the best nibbler that also ranks high on durability. At first, we thought that the Makita JN1601 Nibbler is one of those tools that you don’t think one might use very often, but this best nibbler is a remarkably handy piece of machine that performs with great efficiency. Over a period of time, we were able to cut three 29 gauge steel roofing sheets all at once using this best nibbler.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
As is clearly stated that the Makita JN1601 5 Amp 16 Gauge Nibbler performs exceptionally well with great features that promise to deliver a high-quality experience with durability at the same time. But this product too, like most machines, small and big, around the world, has one or two drawbacks that constitute as flaws. In this case, the Makita JN1601 Nibbler has an ON/OFF switch that may cease to work after a certain period of time. But the fact that this particular flaw is found in the best nibbler is seen as a relief as the Makita model is well-equipped with a remarkable warranty that is put into place for this very purpose.
Some other negligible flaws found in this best nibbler is its knack of getting hung up in the ridges of the metal sheet, its inability to attain precise cuts as the machine has a working mechanism that just takes off and is very hard to control. But, over time, our testers came to a conclusion that all these problems are not caused by the best nibbler but, instead, they all lie in the hands of the operator. The Makita JN1601 Nibbler simply needs some getting used to for better control so you can achieve smooth and precise cuts.
Our budget-friendly pick: Grizzly T23085 Pneumatic Nibbler
Grizzly T23085 Pneumatic Nibbler
One of the largest machinery companies in the United States, Grizzly, offers its customers with a wide variety of products ranging from high to low prices. As far as our list of the best nibbler is concerned, Grizzly doesn’t fail to surprise us with its budget-friendly model, the Grizzly T23085 Pneumatic Nibbler. An economical buy that ranks second on our list of the best nibbler, the Grizzly T23085 will not fail to meet your financial requirement as well as other high performance-related concerns. This best nibbler is made of lightweight aluminum which makes this handy tool even more convenient and easy to operate. The Grizzly T23085 Pneumatic Nibbler has the ability to cut through 16 gauge steel without leaving rough projections or misshapen edges. This best nibbler is equipped with an easy to adjust die that can be rotated quite conveniently in order to adapt to different working positions.
Upon reviewing the Grizzly T23085 Pneumatic Nibbler quite thoroughly, our testers found this machine to produce an outstanding amount as high as 3,800 strokes per minute.
We have a team of experienced and skilled testers that have worked with such machines more than you can imagine so they know a great product when they see one. And the Grizzly T23085 Pneumatic Nibbler is exactly what our research team expected it to be. Even though you don’t spend too much money on this best nibbler, it possesses the ability and power to cut through sheet metal like a knife through butter. We carried out various experiments with the Grizzly T23085 Pneumatic Nibbler like using it to carve out an opening in order to replace a fuel pump, to cut through numerous sheets of 26 gauge roofing material and also to prepare angle cuts on corrugated metal for a pole building. And we are pleased to tell you that this best nibbler performed exceptionally well in all the scenarios. Of course, we did face a few minor issues but none were as problematic as one would expect from such a budget-friendly tool.
Our step-up pick: Fein BLK 1.3CSE/N12 18 Gauge Nibbler
Fein BLK 1.3CSE/N12 18 Gauge Nibbler
For those who appreciate the highest quality products, in terms of performance as well as price, will be very pleased with the Fein BLK 1.3CSE/N12 18 Gauge Nibbler. This best nibbler costs more than the others on our list, which also means that it’s going to last longer than the rest of them too. The German manufacturer, Fein, created this model in a very versatile and curve-fitting design, which makes it perfect for cutting through trapezoid and rugged metal sheets and surfaces that go up to 6 gauge. Our research team points out the most striking characteristic of this best nibbler; since you’re going to shell out a huge amount of money for this handy tool, you will be pleased to know that it is not only suitable for roofing but also for heavy-duty metal construction, professional operations, control cabinet construction, and for various demolishing and reprocessing applications in industries.
The Fein BLK 1.3CSE 18 Gauge Nibbler has many exceptional features that our testers simply couldn’t get enough of. For one, this best nibbler has a cutting speed of 7.5 ft per minute, which makes the tool an excellent purchase to save time and complete more work. The Fein BLK 1.3CSE 18 Gauge Nibbler has a pretty neat and most favorable design with a comparatively narrower drive head. This remarkable little thing comes with an exclusive rotating punch for a longer lifetime value (increases durability up to 30%). Our ecstatic testers were easily able to shift the cutting direction setting in small intervals up to 360 degrees simply by working the effective tool-free pivoting cutting head. This particular tool-free feature makes the machine versatile enough to be able to work within limited or enclosed spaces and it also makes operation easier for lefties who, otherwise, are compelled to work with their right hands. All in all, this best nibbler had each and every single exclusive feature that we had expected from it. And being a Fein product, we raised our bars pretty high.
Best air nibbler
Neiko 30067A Pull Type Air Nibbler
Our research team would happily recommend this best air nibbler to anyone who wants this type of machine to be affordable in order to be able to buy one for the shop and one for the home as well. The inexpensive Neiko 30067A Pull Type Air Nibbler has the remarkable ability to produce a free speed of 3,500 RPM that can be used to work with plastic, tin, aluminum, and 18 gauge rolled steel. This best nibbler has quite an outstandingly efficient and competent front exhaust air flow system that complements the overall high-quality construction of the handy and lightweight tool.
Performance Tool M552DB Air Nibbler
There are a lot of good things about this best nibbler but its casting quality isn’t one of them. But, nevertheless, our testers would approve of the Performance Tool M552DB Air Nibbler if you have only a few tasks to perform and don’t intend on using this best nibbler for professional purposes. It can quite easily work with metals of 16 gauge along with materials such as steel, tin, plastic, and aluminum. This best nibbler comes with an adjustable die guide that can be used for the right, left, or straight transactions. With a free speed of 3,300 strokes per minute and flawlessly leveled edges, the Performance Tool M552DB Air Nibbler is considered to be a great device for the money.
Ingersoll Rand 325 Heavy Duty Air Nibbler
It’s hard to lay hands on such a powerful little tool with a price that you will be very pleased with. The Ingersoll Rand 325 Heavy Duty Air Nibbler is widely used in paint, auto body, and sheet metal shops due to its ability to work with metals up to 18 gauge thickness. Our team of testers was able to carve out quarter panels with this best nibbler at an astounding rate of over 6 ft. per minute without deforming the edges of the metal. Even though you can’t use the Ingersoll Rand 325 Heavy Duty Air Nibbler to trim metal roofing of your home, this best nibbler can be used to cut some nice curves in galvanized corrugated steel due to its smooth angle cuts and ability to hold tight 1/4-inch radius with exceptional veracity.
Eastwood Sheet Metal Cutter Pneumatic Air Nibbler
Sailing in the same boat as the Performance Tool, the Eastwood Sheet Metal Cutter Pneumatic Air Nibbler is a device that has the ability to perform its job in the most basic yet accurate and flawless manner. This best nibbler, like the rest, cuts metals up to 18 gauge thickness, including aluminum, plastic, tin, and steel. Upon reviewing the product, our research team concluded that it is quite a handy tool that can be widely used for not only cutting sheet metal but also for repairing various auto body parts. Even though the Eastwood Pneumatic device has some inconsequential flaws, this best nibbler proved that it can make sharp yet direct and smooth cuts on shaped or flat metal surfaces.
Hitachi CN16SA 16-Gauge Sheet Metal Nibbler
We’ve tried plenty of high-quality products from Hitachi but none beats the Hitachi CN16SA 16-Gauge Sheet Metal Nibbler. Despite working at the power of only 120 Volts, this best nibbler is one tool that is specially created to cross-cut corrugated and high rib roofing by just about anyone who knows their way around working with nibblers. The Hitachi CN16SA performs a very smooth and effortless operation for straight as well as curved cuts. This best nibbler’s die is adjustable to fit in 3 different positions so you can perform the task at hand quite conveniently. Combine this excellent feature with the downward punching design that reduces chips on the workpiece. The Hitachi CN16SA can cut through mild steel and stainless steel of 16 gauge and 18 gauge respectively.
DEWALT DW896 16 Gauge Nibbler
In our experience, we’ve had many brands to choose when picking the best quality products and DEWALT products have never failed to surprise us with their high performance and durability. The classic design of the DEWALT DW896 16 Gauge Nibbler is backed by a powerful 3 Amp, all ball-bearing motor along with a practical rotating head, so the operator can appreciate durability as well as speedy functionality with this best nibbler. The device is also well-equipped with a round and easy to change punch that enables 360 degrees to pivot cutting with a flawlessly efficient die, so you can produce quality results without putting in too much effort. By providing a smooth and perfect finish, this best nibbler is ideal for those who construct metal barns or extensively work with metal roofs.
Bosch 1530 14 Gauge Nibbler
We knew that the Bosch 1530 14 Gauge Nibbler was built for a professional user, but we had no idea that this best nibbler also had the ability to produce flawlessly smooth edges without any rough projections. With a 4.6 Amp motor that can carry out 2,400 strokes per minute, this best nibbler comes with a complete swivel die that can cut in all directions. Our team of testers used the Bosch 1530 on mild steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. In order to make skilled cuts of corrugated and trapezoidal workpieces, this best nibbler is equipped with cutters that can be easily changed in a matter of seconds with an efficient adjustable wrench. While operating the device remember that the harder you push, the smoother the cut will be.
Bosch 1529B 18 Gauge Nibbler
Yet another Bosch model with the same features although this one’s an 18 gauge nibbler. The Bosch 1529B 18 Gauge Nibbler was the only nibbler we tried that was able to effectively dump metal chips downward and away from the device and metal workpiece, which is a characteristic that ensures total operator safety. This best nibbler is composed of a small gear head which is a part of the compact design that, together, contribute to the high comfort level provided by the tool. Upon thorough testing, our research team was easily able to switch material thickness without any adjustments. Even though this best nibbler has some limitations, we were pretty satisfied with its good quality and Bosch performance.
Makita JN3201 10-Gauge Nibbler
We were eagerly looking forward to testing this best nibbler as it is regarded as a true beast when it comes to performance and versatility. The Makita JN3201 10-Gauge Nibbler, with its impressive 6.2 Amp motor and 1,300 strokes per minute, has a well-constructed design equipped with a built-in thickness gauge in order to enhance user experience. Our testers found the highly visible line-of-sight very helpful for accurate pattern following, along with the lock-on switch that contributed to a smooth and continuous transaction. This best nibbler comes with easy to change punch and die components and efficient and reliable hex wrench storage to add more convenience to the handy tool. The part where this best nibbler makes comfort its USP is when you notice that the Makita JN3201 has an exclusive rubberized soft grip handle so as to ensure complete user satisfaction with outstanding comfort. As experienced testers, we had very high expectations from this best nibbler and are glad to not be disappointed in any aspect whatsoever.
Wrapping it up
We like tools that not only perform flawlessly well but also look good and are built to stand the test of time. When we’re talking about the highest-level best nibbler, then the Makita JN1601 5 Amp 16 Gauge Nibbler, Grizzly and Fein products (the best pick, the budget-friendly pick, and the step-up pick respectively) are the ones that will not fail to surprise you with their fantastic working mechanism as well as physical appearance and durability. While the rest of them on our list are second best options, especially the Bosch and DEWALT, that you can consider if the first three don’t seem to impress you, which is highly unlikely. Upon reviewing many best nibblers on the market, we found that both for professional and personal purposes the best nibbler that you pick should be able to work as efficiently as is expected from such a handy and valuable device. There are two sides to every coin, so every product; even the best nibbler will have its own pros and cons. So we hope that our extensive list about the best nibbler helped you through the selection process by carefully examining both the advantages as well as the disadvantages of some of the best nibblers of the industry.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.