At first glance a hand seamer serves one function, to bend sheet metal. Like most other tools, something so simple can be broken down into targeted styles depending on the application. This entry will look into the different attributes of hand seamers and what to look for when making a purchase. The main category of these products can be found under hand seamers.
The Seamer for Detail Work – Every sheet metal roofer should own a pair of 45 degree Piccolo pliers. This tool is the essential bender for detail work. Need to lift up the seam for eave detail? This tool has the strength and versatility for small bends. At a reasonable $45 dollars, it will last a lifetime and will get more use than you would expect.
The HVAC Seamer – A standard seamer in the HVAC industry that has an 1″ – 1 1/4″ depth with markings on the side. The width across measures about 3″ and are found straight or offset. The male and female ends are drop forged and secured well with a pin. They range in price from $35-$45. A quality product with versatile use for small, short bends but limited in depth and size. Fairmount tongs can be found at Stortz.
The Spring Loaded Seamer – A spring loaded seamer has the feature of opening back up after making a bend. This is nice to have when making continuous bends but the springs will usually fail before the tool does. The feel when closing the seamer as tight as possible against material is also looser because the spring wants to open up. Full pressure is not achieved and this limits the gauge of metal that can be worked on. Many brands make spring loaded seamers and they will usually range in price from $40-$75. A 24 gauge maximum with these seamers is probably pushing it because once the spring is shot, the tool is done.
The Interchangeable Blade Seamer – A seamer on the market that should not be used unless bending extremely light gauge material. Being able to substitute a 9″ blade onto a standard handle seems novel but the functionality of the tool suffers. Replaceable parts generally give up strength and this tool will snap at the spring if bending over its max. Usually an imported product that is low cost, low quality.
The European Line of Seamers – This line of hand tongs is accepted as a long lasting option with the power to bend thicker material. The options run from 45°, 90°, straight, deep depth, and specialty corner tongs for work against the wall. The depth of the seamer will not be less than 2″ and can be as deep as 3″. The price ranges from $50-$100 dollars which is more expensive than most but if you are in the sheet metal business for the long haul, this investment is one you’ll appreciate as the years pass.
A little known detail of these seamers is the way the two forged pieces are held together. The two style joints are lap or box joint. The box joint is the premier joint of the industry. The box joint cannot be repaired if it were to fail but this is ok because it won’t. Ever. The joint cannot loosen. The lap joint is called such because the two pieces overlap each other and are securely riveted. A perfectly acceptable way of securing the hand tong.