Twenty years ago, when I was first starting out as a metal sculptor, I was advised by my art teacher that if I made only one purchase I should get a Beverly Shear. It remains the best advice I’ve ever received.
Sounding like a 1940′s B movie star, this wonderful tool has been the center of my studio ever since. It lets me cut metal and other materials into complex shapes without misshaping the metal and leaving a clean edge that needs only light finishing. I use it not only for my sculpture work, where I cut parts out of salvaged sheet metal without harming the patina, but also to cut plastic, rubber, old vinyl records, and even cutting corrugated roofing diagonally and along the ridge.
Though I have used the larger models that the company offers, I find that the B1 is the perfect size for almost any task, and does a great job of cutting out small and delicate parts. It is rated to cut 14 gauge steel (18 gauge stainless) and does so with minimal effort with its geared rack and pinion mechanism. There are imitations that go for less money, but I wouldn’t trade my Beverly for anything.