What Is the Difference Between Nibblers and Shears?

Metalworking is an incredibly complex job that requires a rigorous set of production processes and specialized tools. To manipulate metal into meeting required specifications, workers use heavy gauge metal sheets that need to be cut to carry out their operations. To cut these sheets, workers necessitate the help of several tools, two of which will be covered in this blog. Nibblers and shears are the two most widely used power tools in the metalworking realm, allowing operators to produce clean cuts, reduce workpiece damage, and minimize the risk of injury.

Often conflated with one another, this blog will provide a brief overview of their distinctions, allowing you to better understand how they are used. To begin, we will first go over nibblers.


Nibblers, as their name suggests, work by nibbling their way through sheet metal at high speeds, spraying tiny chips as they cut. Additionally, nibblers are available as either a freehand or bench mounted configuration. They are often preferred over shears as they do not require feed force, spark, distortion, and emission. Moreover, they can successfully cut sections, small channels or cutouts, tubes, and more.

Overtime, however, the punch and die assembly at the end of the tool eventually becomes worn out, necessitating replacement. More than that, it may not be suitable for cutting fine lines. In contrast, the major benefit of nibblers lies in their ability to remove material as it cuts through the sheet metal, which can be advantageous when cutting small channels or cutouts. In addition, they can achieve tight curves easily, providing enhanced control for operators.

Beyond their precision, nibblers are ideal for cutting corrugated sheet metal. Its assembly takes on a 90-degree angle relative to the motor housing, meaning that the nibbler can go over peaks and troughs without getting stuck.


Shears, on the other hand, are utilized for cutting lead, aluminum, brass, copper, and other materials. They can help cut slight curves and straight cuts, making cuts with lasting durability and dependability. Additionally, they face less fatigue when cutting as well as offer high speed and efficiency.

They are available as either single cutting types which look like nibblers, and double cutting types which resemble a drill or reciprocating saw with a metal contraption on one end.

Single Cut Shears

Single cutting shears look very similar to scissors, and their working principle consists of a sharpened, moveable blade that rapidly cuts against a fixed blade with the sheet metal in between them. This variety of shears can cut through metal without creating excess waste but may bend the material as it cuts through it. They are often not the tool of choice if a material needs to be kept flat or if it is being used in an application that requires specific tolerances. While single cut shears can cut curves, they need a wider turning circle than nibblers, and without it, they can leave a jagged or distorted edge.

Double Cut Shears

Double cut shears owe their name to their working mechanism. They use two separates cutters which remove thin strips of material as they go through the metal. Additionally, they make wider slits similar to nibblers, but they are much easier to clean up. Unlike nibblers, double cut shears cannot make curved cuts and are not suitable for heavy duty applications. 

How to Select Between the Two

Though both tools offer distinctive performance characteristics, selecting between the two depends on the job at hand. If you need to cut fine lines, shears are a better option. For cutting patterns out of sheet metal or cutting in compact spaces, nibblers are ideal tools of choice. In the case that you require less waste and minimum distortion, shears can complete the task with ease. Selecting between nibblers and shears occurs on a case-by-case basis.


If you find yourself in need of nibblers, shears, cutters, blades, or other power tools and their related parts, rely on Industrial Parts Circuit. Industrial Parts Circuit is a premier distributor of industrial equipment and components, all of which are subjected to a series of quality assurance measures, tests, verifications, and assessments. Kickoff the procurement process with ease knowing you can rely on the integrity of our products. When you depend on Industrial Parts Circuit, you are choosing quality every time. 


Semiconductor's Certifications and Memberships

Thank You for Visiting.

We hope that you will visit us again the next time you need industrial parts and make us your strategic purchasing partner.

Request for Quote

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the amazing experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it.