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Makita JS3201J and JN3201J – How to Easily Cut Metal

Posted by Toolstop on 8th Jan 2014

In this report from Toolstop, we’re going to cover 2 fantastic power tools designed for helping you easily, safely and efficiently cut metal.

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Metal Cutting Shear

Makita JS3201J shear
A shear is the perfect tool for cutting sheet metal, especially when the job is repetitive or the workpiece is long. A shear features sharp cutting blocks which act like scissors, slicing into the metal, powered by the motor.

The design of a shear makes it easy to control while cutting long sections of metal, which should be contrasted with a metal cutting nibbler, as detailed below.

For this jobs like this we’re recommending you take a look at the Makita JS3201J, which you can see in action on Toolstop TV(click here or watch in our player).

A key tip, however, when using a metal shear is never force the tool. Instead, with a clear line of sight of where you’re cutting, allow the motor to power the cutting block as it snips into the metal as you gently guide it along.

Key benefits of the Makita JS3201J Shear (click for full spec and our best price):

  • Ergonomically designed handle. A standard feature on Makita’s quality professional standard power tools, the ergonomics of the handle will make the tool feel good in your hand while you work, and the rubberised grip helps prevent dangerous slips
  • Low noise level. Yes, cutting metal is typically a noisy endeavour. Makita has engineered the JS3201J shear to output a mere 81 dB(A)
  • On tool storage for hex wrench. You’re going to need to make adjustment to the blade section depending on the cuts you’re making, so having the hex wrench built into the tool will help prevent you losing it!
  • Protector enables smooth cutting. The JS3201J is engineered with a robust base plate and a protector, seen in the picture below, which helps prevent damage to the shear from stray metal shards
  • Lock-on button. This enables you to lock-on the trigger for continual cutting through your workpiece. And thanks to the 710W continue output from the motor, this is a great feature to have at your fingertips

Makita JS3201J shear
Adjusting the blades is a simple task on the JS3201J shear. Unfasten the hex wrench from its cubby hole on the body of the tool, then make the necessary adjustments via the allen keys, per our photo below.

And because the cutting block has 4 sides, once one side become blunt, simple undo the nut and turn it to a fresh edge.
Makita JS3201J shear
The cutting capacities of the JS3201J are impressive, but Makita has built in a guage for you to measure up your workpiece before you start cutting. If the material you’re cutting doesn’t fit into the guage, don’t cut it!
Makita JS3201J

What Will the Makita JS3201J Allow You to Do?

By adjusting the caphead on the side of the cutting block, you’ll be able to get the most from your shear, based on the cutting capacities detailed below. The thicker the material, you adjust the block out. The thinner the material, you adjust it inwards.

Capacity in mild steel Capacity in stainless steel Capacity in aluminium Vibration K factor Cutting metal vibration
3.2mm 2.5mm 4mm 1.5 m/sec² 17 m/sec²

Metal Cutting Nibbler

Makita JN3201J nibbler
A nibbler is another important tool for the cutting of metal, but rather than using scissor-like cutting blocks, the nibbler utilises a punch and die cutting technique, punching the metal out as you cut.

Whereas a shear is for quickly and easily cutting lengths of metal, the beauty of the punch and die in a nibbler is that it doesn’t distort or warp the metal while you cut, which you can see in our photo below. This makes it ideal for profile work,  cutting shapes into your workpiece, or for cutting corrugated sheets.

For this jobs like this we’re recommending you take a look at the Makita JN3201J, which you can see in action on Toolstop TV(click here or watch in our player).

One key element of a nibbler that must be factored in is that you lack some of the control offered by the way a shear cuts. However, that’s an important benefit if you need to cut around corners. The nibbler is nimbler in the hand.
Makita JN3201J Nibbler

Key benefits of the Makita JN3201J Nibbler (click for full spec and our best price):

  • Ergonomically designed handle with rubberized soft grip provides comfortable grip and more control while minimising hand fatigue and pain
  • On tool storage for hex wrench
  • Low noise level for comfortable working at 81 dB(A)
  • Lock-on button. This enables you to lock-on the trigger for continual cutting through your workpiece. And thanks to the 710W continue output from the motor, this is a great feature to have at your fingertips


The JN3201J, while more than capable in its cutting capacities, doesn’t match up to the JS3201J. But that’s to be expected due to the type of cut you’ll be performing with the nibbler. Again, its vital to make sure you don’t attempt to nibble metal that’s too thick for the JS3201J. Therefore, use the guage, as illustrated below, to measure the thickness of your workpiece before you start.

What Will the Makita JN3201J Allow You to Do?

The Makita JN3201J is like the jigsaw of the metal construction world. Like adjusting the blade in a good quality jigsaw, you can adjust the collar of the nibbler to rotate the punch and die through 90º. This gives you the opportunity to cut at angles while maintaining complete control over the tool, ideal for when you’re cutting corrugated sheets and the body of the nibbler is hitting the workpiece while you cut.

Capacity in mild steel Capacity in stainless steel Capacity in aluminium Vibration K factor Cutting metal vibration
3.2mm 2.5mm 3.5mm 1.5 m/sec² 10 m/sec²

We stock a variety of metal cutting power tools, so click here to see our range, typically available with next day delivery!

We’d love to hear your questions or comments on our report and please share with us your tips for quickly, efficiently and safely working with metal in the comments section below!

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