Q. I have a question. What do you use to deburr sheetmetal after you cut it?

Jim Gibson
Via the Internet

A. There are many ways to deburr sheetmetal. Whenever I can, I use a foot-operated shear to cut metal, which is fast and makes a perfectly straight cut, but it does leave a slight burr. I sometimes run a freshly cut edge between the wheels of an English wheel set to very light pressure, and while it doesn't do a perfect job of deburring, it's very fast and takes a lot of the sharpness off the edge in a hurry.

I have a carbide-tipped deburring tool that is pulled along a sheared edge. This does a nice job on steel, although it seems to chatter sometimes on aluminum. This style doesn't work as well on hand-cut edges or on curves.

Another good way to deburr edges is with a piece of 80-grit sandpaper. Fold the paper over two or three times, and rub it against the metal edge until the sharpness is gone.

You can use a fine, single-cut file to deburr edges. This is slow and tedious, but it works well, even on curves. A couple of tips for filing edges—it works best to put the metal on a workbench, with the edge to be deburred hanging off the bench. While holding the metal against the bench with one hand, grab the tip of the file, rather than the handle, and pull the file with your other hand. Avoid pushing the file because if you slip, you can get a nasty cut. I file at three different angles; perpendicular to the sheet and at a 45-degree angle on both edges.

I strongly recommend using heavy gloves when you are doing any type of deburring of sheetmetal edges because it's very easy to slip and cut yourself.


Q. I need some guidance to repair the A-pillar on a 1936 Ford pickup cab. There is a separation on the post at the factory seam, and this area is leaded. Before I work the area, the lead must be completely removed. I have filed some off, but I'm not sure how much I dare file. Also, how do I get the tight bend areas safely cleaned and ready for welding? Will heating with a torch cause contamination? I will MIG weld this area once I have it clean enough for repair.

Jim Hagen
Via the Internet

A. To remove the solder, I'd start by carefully heating the metal, and the majority of the lead will simply melt and roll off. Using a wire brush to scrub the metal while it's still hot will help get even more of the solder off the metal. You should expect to throw the brush away afterward, since you'll probably never get all of the lead off of it, and it could cause contamination on other projects. A propane torch is good to use for heating, since it has a soft flame. If you attempt to do the heating with an oxy-acetylene torch, be extremely careful not to heat the metal to the point that it starts to change color, or it will be difficult to clean well enough to apply more solder.

While heat and a wire brush will get 95 percent of the solder off, all remaining traces of lead must be scrupulously removed, or it will hamper your welding. These days, nearly everyone is aware of the toxicity of lead, so reasonable care is needed at this stage to prevent problems. I like using the 3M Clean and Strip discs, since they do a great job of removing solder, paint, and light rust, without thinning the base metal like sanding discs may. The only problem is that the lead dust they create must be managed properly. Definitely wear a respirator, and carefully clean the floor, and all horizontal surfaces after using the disc, and properly dispose of all traces of the lead dust.

After using the Clean and Strip disc to get the last traces of solder off, and doing a thorough wipe-down with a degreaser like acetone, you can re-weld the post.


You can email your questions to Professor hammer at covell@cruzio.com, or mail to: Covell Creative Metalworking, 106 Airport Blvd,. Suite 105, Freedom, CA 95019; you'll receive a personal reply. Ron Covell has made many DVDs on metalworking, and he offers an ongoing series or workshops across the nation. Check them out online at covell.biz, or call for a current schedule of workshops and a free catalog of DVDs. Phone (800) 747-4631, or (831) 768-0705. You'll also enjoy Ron's YouTube channel: youtube.com/user/covellron