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A flange tool is a device used to create a flange on a piece of sheet metal. A flange is a recessed or lip-like area that is used to join two pieces of sheet metal together. There are several types of flange tools, from manual to hydraulic designs capable of creating a flange in heavy material without slowing down. An air-powered flange tool is able to make short work out of auto body repair.
When two pieces of sheet metal are being joined together, a flange tool is often used to create a junction for the two pieces that is easy to align and position for joining. Joining methods, from pop rivets to screws and welding, are all equally used on flanged material. One key for metal workers to remember when joining sheet metal is that only one side should be flanged. This allows one piece to rest in the flange created with a flange tool, and both surfaces of the sheet metal will be closely lined up for finishing. Flanging tools can be air-operated, giving the tool a great deal of precision and speed.
The typical flange tool has a set of jaws that are cut to create a recessed area near the edge of the sheet metal that forms a sort of shelf. Other flanging attachments are used to create round, circle-type flanges that are often used to lighten sheet metal while retaining strength in the metal. Flanged holes are also used to pass wiring or other materials through a sheet metal or aluminum panel. This type of opening is also used for air inlets in some panels that still require strength after the hole is punched in the metal.
Some hand-operated versions of the flanging tool are spring-loaded to make repositioning easier. This type of tool is commonly placed on the edge of the metal and then struck with a hammer. The hammer drives the flanging tool's jaws down and into the metal, causing the metal to form the flange. This process is repeated around the entire perimeter of the area that requires a flange.
Other flange tool designs use a pair of locking pliers with a special flanging die welded to the jaws of the pliers. The user simply opens the pliers, places the jaws onto the metal and squeezes them shut. This action is repeated as many times as required to finish placing a flange around the edge of the metal.