How to cut metal with a mitre saw, cut off saw, or chop saw

(Last modified: March 21st, 2019)

Chop saws and cut off saws make a straight cut across the profile at 90° while mitre saws cut across profiles at an angle, however, the directions for using all these machines are the same. Mitre saws, cut off saws, and chop saws have a ‘cutting plinth’ integrated into the design to provide a static cutting area.

chop saw metals4U

Although mitre saws were traditionally used for cutting wood, with the correct blade they can make light work of cutting through steel and aluminium profiles at an angle.

Accessories  such as these mitre saw blades provide easy cutting through aluminium and non-ferrous metals, or these high performance discs  give good results for cutting through steel and stainless steel with precise, clean cuts.

Tips for cutting metal using a chop saw, cut off saw, or mitre saw.

  • As with all metal cutting operations, ensure that eye protection, gloves and ear defenders are worn to protect against injury from flying shards and chips of metal.
  • If using a mitre saw that has open motor housing, simply tape some thin cloth over the openings and vents to protect the motor from metal chips.
  • If sawing through a profile that is hollow or that has a thin wall, such as aluminium angle, it can be advantageous to back the metal with a piece of wood to add support, therefore, minimising the risk of the blade catching on the metal which may cause a deformation in the metal being cut.
  • Before switching on the power to the saw, check that the guard is in good condition and set at the correct position, and that all cables are clear from the cutting area.
  • Place the workpiece on the table and secure the workpiece using any vice adjusters or mitre locks and ensure it is held tight against the fence to ensure accuracy of the cut.
  • One you are satisfied with your machine set up, maintain pressure on the workpiece against the fence then depress the power switch on the saw and listen for the blade to reach full speed before lowering the blade slowly and consistently through the metal. When the cut is complete, hold the saw in the down position and release the power button- keep a secure hold on the workpiece until the blade has come to a complete stop. One the blade is stationary, return the blade carriage to the upright position.

How to cut metal with tin snips

(Last modified: March 21st, 2019)

Tin snips are an inexpensive and invaluable addition to any tool box. For most cutting jobs regular tin snips will be perfectly adequate, but for some projects it is worth upgrading to one of the more specialised blade configurations to achieve better results and perform the task with as little effort as possible.

tin snips metals4U

As a general rule, the larger the tin snip tool, the thicker gauge of metal that can be cut. There are two main types of tin snips available; tin snips, and aviation shears- within each type there are several different configurations available.

The different types of snips are outlined below.

Standard tin snips. This style of tin snip is also commonly called ‘tinners’ and ‘Gilbows’ and are mainly used for long straight cuts. Tinners have a basic construction of two bladed handles being fixed together with a nut and bolt. These are good for cutting thin gauge metal sheet, metal mesh, and other mainly flat metal items.

Types of tin snips available;

  • Curved tin snips have curved blades that can perform tight radius cuts in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions.
  • Straight tin snips that cut straight lines with minimum effort.
  • Right hand tin snips are suitable for cutting straight lines and cutting off in an anti-clockwise direction. Best suited for right handed use.
  • Left hand tin snips are suitable for cutting off in a clockwise direction and for cutting straight lines. Best suited for left handed use.

Aviation Snips. These are also often referred to as ‘compound’ snips. These have 2 pivot points instead of one, therefore, less force is needed to maintain a clean cut. Aviation snips are not designed to make long cuts in sheet metal, but rather to perform more specialised tasks. Compound snips are suitable for cutting through aluminium and sheet metal up to around 24 gauge. Aviation snips are available in a wide range of configurations to suit specific project requirements.

  • Vertical snips. These snips have the blades set at a 90° angle to the handle. This configuration enables overhead cuts, or cuts in tight places, to be performed with ease.
  • Offset snips. These snips have the blades set at less of an angle than vertical snips and are particularly useful during projects where no free hand is available to move the offcut away from the blade; the offcut moves to the side unaided as the bottom blade is ‘offset’.
  • Straight snips are often colour coded with yellow handles, these are the type to use for straight cuts and wide curves.
  • Right cut snips are colour coded with green handles, these will cut straight both lines and curves angled to the right.
  • Left cut snips are colour coded with red handles and cut straight lines and left angled curves.

Choosing the correct snips.

Although the wide range of tin snips may look daunting at first, it is worth ensuring you pick the correct snips for the project. It is important to ensure the left hand and left cut, or right hand and right cut specifications don’t confuse- remember, aviation snips can be used in either hand to perform their intended purpose; use the colour coded system for guidance, whereas, left and right hand tin snips are intended to be used in either the left or right hand according to their designation. ‘Left hand’ snips cut clockwise while ‘left cut’ aviation snips cut anticlockwise and ‘right hand’ snips cut anti-clockwise while ‘right cut’ aviation snips cut in a clockwise direction.

Tips for cutting metal with tin snips.

When using tin snips, it is important to wear protective gloves as the cut edges of the metal will be very sharp and any slips could result in a deep cut. It is always recommended to wear eye protection to prevent injury from shards of metal that may fly off.

Essentially, tin snips are used in the same way scissors are used to cut paper. It is worth taking the time to mark out the desired cut line with a simple marker pen to make the whole operation simpler, especially as the metal may need to be manoeuvred and moved during cutting.

Clamping the work piece may be necessary for some projects, however, for smaller pieces it is often easier to just hold it.

Most projects will be straightforward and do not require any special techniques; some tips for cutting circles and thicker metal are outlined below.

Cutting a circle.

  • Mark out the circle with a marker pen and puncture the metal in the centre of the circle using an old screwdriver or a punch to make a hole large enough to slip the end of the tin snips’ blade in; placing the metal on a folded cloth or sponge to help keep it raised while making the initial slit is helpful. Offset aviation snips and curved tin snips are recommended for this task.
  • Make small snips in a gentle spiral shape until the marked-out edge of the circle is reached. If using red handled, (left cut) tin snips, cut in an anti-clockwise direction, if using green handled (right cut) snips, cut in a clockwise direction.

 

Cutting thicker metal.

  • Using straight aviation snips, open the handles wide and place the metal in the jaws where the 2 blades meet. Using a steady but firm force, squeeze the handles closed. Take care to not close the blades too quickly or the metal may ‘jump’ out of the blades creating an unsatisfactory cut or cause an injury.

 

How to cut metal with a guillotine

(Last modified: March 21st, 2019)

Guillotines cut metal by using 2 blades; one is fixed under the workpiece, the other moves downwards to cut through the metal. Guillotines come in many different sizes and are known by an array of names such as; guillotine shear, plate shear, squaring shear, Beverly, and throatless shear, but essentially, they all utilise the same mode of cutting.

cnc guillotine metals4U

Guillotines are available in mechanical, pneumatic and hydraulic models for use across a wide variety of projects. Hand or foot operated models are a useful addition to the hobbyist or DIY enthusiast as they make light work of cutting through aluminium, bronze, brass, and mild steel without the need for a large workshop or financial investment. For the metal worker needing fast and multiple sheets cutting regularly, a larger CNC pneumatic or hydraulic model would be more appropriate.

The cut edge of the metal may need deburring or finishing after being cut with a guillotine, this can be done with a mill file or an aluminium sanding sheet.

The different types of guillotine are looked at more closely below.

Squaring shear, power shear or guillotine.

This is most commonly used in industry as a hydraulically powered CNC machine, although they are available as foot or hand powered units. Guillotines can have either a fixed or variable cutting angle that reduces the risk of metal becoming trapped in the blades, although setting this ‘rake’ angle will compromise the exact squareness of the cut edge- this can usually be set to between 0.5° and 2.5°.  The force of the cut can also be reduced by adjusting the ‘shear angle’; this alters the rocking action of the blade to increase the stroke- this makes the cut from one side of the metal to the other as more of a scissor action than a chopping action.

Tips for cutting metal using a guillotine.

  • Eye protection and gloves should always be worn when cutting metal to provide protection from cuts and metal splinter injuries. Guillotines powered by electricity are incredibly noisy so ear protection should also be used.
  • Adjust the settings on the machine by following the manufacturer’s instructions to the desired length of cut, shear angle, and rake angle.
  • Ensure that all guards are in good working order and correctly in place. The blade and clamps should be correctly isolated by the guards to avoid entanglement. The force used within guillotines could sever a limb, so do not rush the machine set up or ‘make do’ with any element of the equipment that is not fit for purpose.
  • Place the metal into the front of the machine and feed it through until it touches the back gauge then activate the clamps to secure the metal.
  • Engage the blade mechanism which may be a key pad, treadle, or lever depending on the machine. The blades will shear off the metal which will drop into the collection chute to the rear of the machine.
  • If the metal does not drop out from the machine, do not try to free it manually as the blades may be jammed against the cut off metal, removing the metal may cause the blades to slam closed or the metal to drop suddenly causing catastrophic injury. Switch the machine off and call a qualified engineer to clear the machine.

Throatless shear, Throatless guillotine.

Throatless guillotines have no plate in front of the blade to support the metal and no ‘throat’ to dictate a particular way the metal must be fed into the blades. This configuration makes it easy to manipulate the metal easily into the cutting blades. The blades are raised and lowered into and out of the metal by a hand operated lever.

How to cut metal with a throatless guillotine.

  • Ensure eye protection and heavy-duty gloves are worn.
  • Mark the metal with marker pen, or a scoring scribe, along the cut line.
  • Feed the metal between the blades and lower the lever in small or long drags to make a series of short snips or longer cuts while continuing to manipulate the metal into place; this simple technique allows almost any shape to be cut from sheet metal.

Bench shear.

Bench shears are mounted on the workbench to provide a secure working environment. The lever operated mechanism provides a forceful cutting action. Bench shears can be used to cut out rough shapes and straight cuts in sheet, however, they are not suited to the more intricate cutting that is achievable with throatless shears.

How to cut metal with bench shears.

  • Ensure correct PPE is worn.
  • Measure and mark or score the cut line if necessary.
  • Place the metal between the blades and pull the lever downwards to engage the blades and push it back into an upright position to open the blades.

How to cut metal with a reciprocating saw

(Last modified: March 21st, 2019)

Reciprocating saws fitted with the correct metal cutting blade make easy work of sawing through bolts, rods, rebar, pipes, profiles, and nails in studwork.

Reciprocating saws cut by the blade travelling in a backwards and forwards, push- pull movement. Many tool models include an oscillating setting which enables the blade to also travel in a movement running perpendicular to the cutting motion- this means that the blade completes an oval cutting motion; this is exceptionally useful when using a reciprocating saw to cut through wood, however, this is best switched off when cutting metal to fully utilise the ‘straight’ cutting capabilities.

reciprocating saw metals4U

These types of saws are really easy to adapt to all types of metal cutting projects due to versatility of the orientation when inserting the saw blade; the blade can be inserted with the cutting teeth facing downwards or upwards and in most modern saws the blade can be inserted in four positions to enable flush cutting and ease of use regardless of operating position. Reciprocating saws are also fitted with a ‘shoe’ that can be adjusted to increase or decrease the available cutting area of the blade; this helps extend the life of the blade and control the depth of cut. The shoe can also be used as a fulcrum to gain purchase on the material being cut and to increase control over the reciprocating action of this power tool.

Tips for cutting metal using a reciprocating saw.

  • Eye and ear protection must be worn when using a reciprocating to protect the user from injury from flying offcuts and chips. Sturdy gloves are also advised to protect against cuts.
  • Select the correct blade for the metal being cut. The recommended blades for thin metal are those with 20-24 teeth per inch, for a medium thickness of metal between 10-18 teeth per inch, and for very thick metal a blade with around 8 teeth per inch is recommended. A Bi-metal saw blade set that contains a selection of blades suitable for a range of commonly performed projects is a worthwhile investment.
  • Choosing a longer blade is useful when flush cutting as it will bend to enable a greater proportion of the cutting edge to ride flat. Cutting thinner materials with a smaller blade will help limit ‘waggle’ during use; usually the blade should only be a couple of inches longer than the depth of cut required.
  • Insert the blade into the saw in a way that that best suits the application. For example; if cutting through a material that is flush to the floor, it can be useful to insert the blade with the teeth facing upwards and then switch the orientation of the tool (flip it upside-down) so the handle does not get in the way.
  • Setting the saw to a slower speed than for wood cutting will extend the blade life and provide more control and precision. Adjust the shoe to ensure it is set at the most appropriate point on the blade.
  • Place the blade where the cut will be, using the shoe as a pivot or fulcrum will help guide the blade until it gains purchase in the metal. Slowly squeeze the trigger and keep a firm hold on the tool housing.
  • Changing the cutting angle by lowering or raising the trigger hand (in relation to the workpiece) can speed up the cutting time.
  • When the cut is complete, let go of the trigger and withdraw the blade back through the cut.

Prolonging reciprocating saw blade life.

If a saw blade becomes buckled it can be easily straightened by placing on a flat surface, put a flat piece of wood over the damaged area and hit the wood a few times with a hammer- be careful to not damage the teeth.

Blades that have become too worn to cut metal can often be repurposed for use cutting plastics.

How to cut metal using score and snap

(Last modified: March 21st, 2019)

‘Score and snap’ is a hand-cutting technique that is simple to complete on light gauge sheet metal and thin aluminium and steel profiles. This technique needs very little equipment and is very quick. The only equipment you will need is a utility knife, a marker pen, a clamp can be useful for some profiles, and a metal square or metal ruler.

score and snap tools metals4U

Tips for cutting metal using the score and snap technique.

  • If necessary, measure and mark out where the cut needs to be made.
  • Don’t forget to wear protective gloves and eye protection. If wearing prescription glasses to help your vision, ensure you wear goggles over the top to ensure protection from small shards of metal that may fly off at speed.
  • Hold the straight metal edge of the ruler or square along the mark-up line and score with the utility knife blade or scribing tool- to reduce the risk of the blade slipping and making unwanted marks on the metal surface, or worse causing an accident, it is better to work slowly using moderate pressure and make several lighter score marks.
  • Clamp the metal securely on one side of the cut line if appropriate, smaller pieces may be hand held.
  • Bend the metal back and forth along the scored line until it snaps.
  • To cut through rivets or studs that are fixed through metal sheeting or wood boards, simply score lines on either side of the riveted through material and simply work the area to be removed backwards and forwards until it snaps off.

How to cut metal with a plasma cutter

(Last modified: March 21st, 2019)

Plasma cutting was discovered in the 1960’s when welders tried to turn the gas up on their arc welders to improve speed and productivity; what they discovered was that once you reach a certain intensity, the equipment no longer joins metal, but cuts it. Plasma cutters work by combining an electric charge with compressed air being discharged at the tip of the cutting torch- the arc ‘super- heats’ the compressed air to form ‘plasma’.

metals4U plasma cutting

Tips for cutting metal with a plasma cutter.

  • Ensure you have a suitable workspace for using this cutting equipment, this includes a stable workbench and all your PPE to hand; plasma cutters function at around 45000°F / 25000°C, so regular Tig and Mig gloves will not be adequate. We recommend these  Skintex welders’ gloves to offer superior protection when working with plasma cutting equipment.
  • Ensure the plasma cutter is switched off and plug it into the power supply ready to start. Check that cables and hoses are in good condition and not crossing over or caught on the metal you are intending to cut.
  • Attach the air compressor hose to the plasma cutter- make sure the connection is secure then turn on the air to the correct pressure-too high will blow out the plasma, too little will not enable a cut to be made. This will typically be between 60-65 psi.
  • Ensure there is at least one water trap filter/ disposable air filter in the hose to maintain a dry air supply to the arc; this will prevent splutter or maybe worse- water and electricity are best avoided being mixed during any operation.
  • Place the metal to be cut on a bench or cutting table and secure the ‘Earth Clamp’ on the metal, close to where the cut will be.
  • Switch the plasma cutter on and adjust the current to the desired setting.

General guidance for amperage suggests 20amps will be enough for a 3mm deep cut, after this, the amperage can be increased by 10 amps per additional 3mm of cut depth.

Thickness of metal in mm Suggested amps
3 20
6 30
9 40
12 50

 

  • Put on your PPE.
  • You are now ready to cut the metal- the standard technique for plasma cutting is to ‘drag’ the cutting tip across the metal. Hold the tip at a 45° angle facing away from you and drag the cutting tip towards you; this will blow sparks away from you- but stay vigilant, the sparks will still fly around randomly at times. Once cutting has begun the torch is best held perpendicular to the metal being cut; if sparks travel backwards, simply adjust the angle of the torch to face away again.
  • Regular checks of the cutting tip, nozzle, and electrode for signs of damage and wear will help protect against unpredictable and erratic cutting and machine performance. Be careful to not touch the plasma cutter to the metal as this may fuse the cutting tip to the metal and may cause the cutter to go out; using ‘drag cups’ or a ‘drag shield’ can keep the tip from coming into direct contact with the metal. If no drag shields are available, try to maintain a 6mm gap between the metal and the cutting tip.
  • Once the cut has been completed, turn off the machine and disconnect the ‘earth clamp’ and then turn off the air. While tidying up the cables and hoses it is a good opportunity to carefully check them and replace anything that show signs of excessive wear or damage.

 

Does my dream shed need planning permission?

(Last modified: June 20th, 2019)

Shed planning drawings

The humble garden shed has had something of a renaissance in recent years. Once a dusty dumping ground for tools, lawnmowers and anything without a home in the house, today’s sheds are as weird and wonderful as their owners’ imagination.

They even star in their own TV show. Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year is now onto its fourth series and has showcased everything from a shed made from wine bottles to a Nepalese mountain hut in Bolton.

One of the main reasons why sheds are so popular (and their owners can be so creative) is that they don’t require planning permission. As long as you follow the official guidelines of course. These lay out everything from the shed’s size to the things you are and aren’t permitted to do within their walls. Stick to these rules and you’ll avoid an unwanted (and potentially expensive) visit from your local planning inspector.

For the purposes of this article we refer to ‘sheds’ but these rules also apply to greenhouses and other outbuildings such as garden offices.

Planning permission is NOT required as long as:

  1. The shed is used for domestic purposes only. Feel free to invite your mates round to check out your recreation of ‘The Rovers Return’, but don’t charge strangers £5 for a pint of homebrew.
  2. Nobody sleeps in the building overnight. Home offices are fine but unfortunately your cunning plan to add an extra bedroom at the bottom of the garden will need planning consent.
  3. The ground area covered by the shed and any other buildings within the boundary of the property, excluding the original house, is not more than half the total area of the property. In other words, no sheds that take up more than half your garden.
  4. You might be extremely proud of your shed but putting it in the front garden for the whole world to admire is also a no-no. Rules state that no part of your shed can be in front of the main or side elevation of the original house when it faces onto a road.
  5. If you’ve got designs on a multi-storey mancave you might have to reign your ambitions in a touch. The maximum height of a shed that doesn’t require planning permission is 4 metres.
  6. Where you build your shed also has an effect on how high your shed can be. If it’s within 2 metres of the property boundary the maximum eaves height of the shed mustn’t be over 2.5 metres.
  7. If there’s a road to the rear of your home, no part of the shed can be within 3.5 metres of the boundary.
  8. If you’re lucky enough to live in a house within a World Heritage Site, area of outstanding natural beauty, or National Park then the maximum total area of ground covered by buildings, enclosures and pools situated more than 20 metres from any wall of the house is not allowed to exceed 10 square metres. You’re also not allowed to build a shed between the principal or side elevation of the house and its boundary.
  9. And last but certainly not least, your shed must not be used for keeping pigeons. Sorry pigeon fanciers.

Note: Measurements are always calculated using external dimensions. 

If you live in a house which is a listed building, it’s likely that you’ll need Listed Building Consent for any building operations. If the development is within the grounds of a listed building you may need to submit a planning application for the work unless listed building consent has already been granted. Your local planning office will be able to give you more advice.

Once you’ve got planning covered, it’s time to get cracking on the exciting bit; deciding what your shed’s going to look like and what you’re going to put in it.

Start by deciding whether your shed’s going to have electricity. If you’re going ‘full man-cave’ with a TV, fridge, fruit machine etc, you’re going to need more than an extension cable from your kitchen window. Ditto if you’re planning a proper workshop with heavy tools. Connecting your shed to the grid is a big job but it’s well worth researching if you’re planning a premium space.

bar stools in man-cave

Think about what you’re going to get up to in your shed. If it’s going to be your man sanctuary then start looking out for star items on ebay, freecycle, Gumtree and the like. Second-hand pool tables, sofas and even reclaimed fixtures and fittings from pubs can all be picked up relatively cheaply.

If it’s primarily a workshop, then storage is going to be key. Shelving, metal racks and other clever uses of space are all worth exploring, with Pinterest a good place to start for ingenious storage inspiration.

shed workshop

When it comes to the overall design of the shed, you’ll probably have a few thoughts already, but do spend a while looking at ideas online too. If you’re pressed for time there are also plenty of free plans for sheds on the web. Think about materials as well, for instance, do you want the added strength of a metal framed design?

And whatever you need for your build, from materials to tools, metals4U has you covered. Good luck and happy shedding!

metals4U sponsor Team Hare for Formula Student 2019.

(Last modified: March 19th, 2019)

 

Many of you that follow metals4U on social media, or regularly read our blogs, will know that we like to get involved in supporting emerging new talent – particularly when it embraces the next generation of metal workers. We are always interested in how people use metal in engineering and creative projects which is why we are thrilled to add a new sponsorship project to our portfolio.

For 2019, metals4U are Gold tier sponsors of Team HARE; a talented group of students from the University of Huddersfield that are participating in the IMechE (Institution of Mechanical Engineers) Formula Student competition.

Team Hare university of Huddersfield/metals4U

This annual competition entails students from automotive, motorsport, mechanical, and electronic engineering disciplines designing and building a single seat race car prototype. Student teams from all around the world compete in a series of tasks and challenges to earn themselves a place at Silverstone in July.

Throughout the competition, a robust testing process assesses the validity of the car build to culminate in a series of static and dynamic test events held over several days at Silverstone. The team must also work through a series of tasks over several months to produce data on different elements of the vehicle build with harsh point penalties incurred for missing a submission deadline. This competition is not for the faint hearted, the standards are high and the scrutiny on all aspects of the team endeavour is monumental.

Simon Roberts Team Hare

Simon Roberts: Team Principal

The team is made up of 22 students led by Simon Roberts, a 23-year-old Automotive and Motorsport Engineering MEng student.

Simon has been involved with Team Hare for the last 4 years and is really rising to the challenge of being Team Principal this year by taking overall responsibility for  Hare 2019, health and safety, and organising sponsorship and fundraising to ensure the project is  well-supported and sustainable. Simon’s final year project involved him making a bold attempt to turbo-charge the current Hare 19 engine.

 

 

 

Over the coming months we will be sharing much more detail and insight into the progress of the team and the car. To make sure you are always up to date on metals4U news make sure to follow us on Social media.

If you would like to look at the team progress so far, check out the Team Hare Facebook page here.

Learning from the master with Brian Fell

(Last modified: July 3rd, 2019)

Our recent competition to win a place on a masterclass workshop with celebrated sculptor, Brian Fell, proved to be a huge success.

We saw a great response with dozens of fantastic entries, which made Brian’s job a tough one when it came to judging. But one entry stood out above all the others, and that was our winner, Jessica Alice Smith.
Jessica_Smith_1-entry

Brian said of her submission: “Jessica had the strongest application and we felt she would benefit the most from the course”. Here’s her entry that caught Brian’s eye:

My current practice works with themes of balance and fragility; primarily playing with the idea of building up each side of the structure to the pivotal point before it collapses. By doing this I am able to capture the greatest level of tension between the structure and its material.

Though the majority of my work utilises natural and found material, I would love the opportunity to expand this further. The metal workshop would give me the tools needed to push my structures further than ever before, and the opportunity to experiment with heavier, more durable material.

Her prize was a place on the Midsummer Metal workshop that Brian and fellow sculptor, Owen Cunningham, ran in conjunction with Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Here’s what she said of her experience:
IMG_0397

“At the beginning of the course, Brian and Owen ran through all the equipment and showed us how to use each piece. After this, we were shown in groups of three how to weld, including each having a go at welding a straight non-bubbly line.
19490129_10213801307533166_1783233790_o

“The rest of the course was quite self-led. We were provided with all the materials we needed and were given the opportunity to experiment with any ideas or designs we wanted to pursue.

“Both Brian and Owen were really helpful with any questions, and stepped in to show me in more detail how to use the equipment when I needed it. In particular, I was given an extra demonstration on how to use the plasma cutter. I really enjoyed this tool and used it both to cut layers of metal into mountainous shapes for my landscapes, and also as a drawing tool”.
IMG_0395

Watch this space to see how this star of tomorrow progresses in her work.

To see all the amazing submissions we received as part of our Student Sculptors Competition head to our Facebook page.

 

Metallicar WIN Best Engineered Soapbox!

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

On Sunday 19th August, Team Metallicar were out in full force to see how quickly we could get down Harewood’s famous hill climb.

After doing so well last year we couldn’t wait to get back in the driving seat again ready for our first soapbox event of the year. With a bbq and beers in tow, we set up camp and geared our driver Dan Hoskin up for his first trial run. We tweaked the car after last year’s events and with performance enhancing changes under our seatbelt we felt pretty confident.

IMG_2795

With Dan ready for his first race, the rest of Team Metallicar covered the more important details – setting up our fantastically loud speakers and organising who would be on BBQ duty. With our race tunes pumping, Dan was ready and waiting at the start line. We usually get complaints regarding our speakers however, we were approached by the Harewood Event Coordinators and asked to turn it up as our speakers were louder than the ones hired for the event!

Running as Soapbox Number 9, we launched from the ramp and let gravity do its worst! All cars have the benefit of a practice followed by two timed laps. There aren’t many rules, mainly that soapboxes must be strong, safe and have decent brakes, plus sound steering, which is possibly the most important part!

We all anxiously watched as Dan set off for his first run. We awaited the sirens of the stand by ambulance but as expected, Dan did an amazing run!

Man in a soapbox racer being pushed up the start ramp

Besides the exhilaration, the spectacles really make the day. Soapboxes vary from incredibly serious aerodynamic cars, designed tested, modified and put through their paces yet again to the downright hilarious. Today we saw a fully-fledged furry dog chasing down the track, followed by Batman and Robin and even the police.

It’s a pretty hairy track, with racers reaching speeds of up to 43mph. Over 70 teams entered with two travelling from as far afield as America. Our driver notched up to 22nd place. Not bad. However, we were given the prestigious ‘Best Engineered Soapbox’. Something we’re extremely proud of due to the amount of work that has gone into building it! The overall event was estimated to have raised over £10K for local charities.

IMG_1686

After a long day of racing, eating and drinking, we packed up the Soapbox and headed back to Wetherby. A brilliant day enjoyed by all of Team Metallicar – roll on next year!