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The KETT AN2000 Nibbler is industrial-tough through and through yet easy to use.
Click image to enlarge

KETT AN2000 Nibbler

Heavy-Duty Versatile and Powerful – All at Once

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted – 1-10-2011

If everything in metalworking involved straight lines there would be no need for a tool like the KETT AN2000 Nibbler but in the real world curved cuts are part of the reality. KETT has been around for a very long time because of their reputation for designing and building factory-tough tools and it appears that they have not strayed from that philosophy. The KETT AN2000 Nibbler is a prime example of what other tools want to be when they grow up.

The Basics

The KETT AN2000 Nibbler is hardcore industrial in appearance. It is 10”-long, 3”-wide and 6-1/2”-tall (at cutter snout) and weighs in at 7-lbs. There is lots of steel in the KETT AN2000 Nibbler which shows that it is intended to keep on keeping on for a very long time with simple, common sense maintenance.

The KETT AN2000 Nibbler is powered by a 1-HP air motor that uses 90-PSI (pounds per square inch) of air at a rate of just 20 CFM (cubic feet per minute). That would be a lot in a home-based shop but in an industrial setting that kind of air usage is probably a non-issue. KETT recommends using an in-line oiler loaded with 10W machine oil. This oil requirement is not only common sense with industrial tools but smart in any shop environment to insure a long service life from often-expensive air-powered tools.

The 1-HP air motor (left) serves as a grip. the paddle-style trigger is mounted on top of the motor and while it looks clumsy, it is easy to use. The exhaust (right) is routed out of the bottom of the tool where it cannot bother the operator or bystanders.
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KETT also says that their AN2000 Nibbler will be happy at the end of a 3/8” hose a maximum of 10-feet-long. Many work environments require more reach so they say to go to ½” hose which is standard fare in most shop environments anyway.

The cutting specs for the KETT AN2000 Nibbler are impressive. It cuts a ¼”-wide (6.35 mm) path at a maximum of 60” (1.5 meters) -per-minute. Its minimum cutting radius is 1” (25.4 mm) and it needs a 1-1/4” (31.75 mm) -diameter starter hole when working from an edge is not available.

All of the above is made even more impressive by the metal thickness capacity of the KETT AN2000 Nibbler. In non-ferrous metal it handles 14 Ga. (.075”/2.1mm). 16 Ga. (.059”/4.65 mm) stainless steel is OK as is 14 Ga. (.075”/2.1mm) mild steel! If the metal is too thick for the KETT AN2000 Nibbler to handle there is a strong possibility that a stationary machine of some kind would be a better choice.

Tough Cutter

The KETT AN2000 Nibbler uses a punch and die cutter that is designed to perform over the long haul. A stripper shoe is provided and is adjustable so you can set it for the thickness of the material being cut. The manual suggests setting the stripper 1/64” over the material and throughout the evaluation that seemed to work fine. In the manual KETT recommends lightly oiling the stock being cut to enhance performance a bit more and that also turned out to be a good idea in our testing.

The head (left) of the KETT AN2000 Nibbler produces the 1200 CPM in a very solid housing. this system is designed for long-term operation with simple maintenance. The punch and die system (right) nibbles off small chunks of even 14 GA. steel very easily and produces these little pieces of scrap that sweep up easily.
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The instruction manual gives full instructions bolstered by complete parts lists and exploded illustrations. Keeping the KETT AN2000 Nibbler humming along in the field should not be an issue for most users or tool room operators.

In the Shop

An important line I noticed in the instruction manual says to let the KETT AN2000 Nibbler do the work and to avoid forcing it. This would seem to be simple common sense but all too often some folks in a shop environment still equate forcing any tool with getting done sooner. Of course the opposite is almost always true. At 1200 SPM (strokes per minute) the KETT AN2000 Nibbler does not waste a lot of time along the way so let it do its job!

The KETT AN2000 Nibbler is indeed bigger and heavier than some nibblers but necessarily so to achieve this level of power and durability. However, when in operation it does “feel” lighter, much like a jigsaw and some other hand-held power tools. Most of the time I was so amazed at how easily it nibbles its way through steel I had no concept of a weighty feel. The round shape of the KETT AN2000 Nibbler makes it easy to grip and guide.

The KETT AN2000 Nibbler has a paddle-style trigger on top of the motor section and initially I wondered about how easy that it would be to operate considering the overall weight of the tool. Those concerns turned out to be unfounded as the trigger operation feels very “normal”. I guess I am just too accustomed to paddle triggers mounted on the underside of tools.

The air motor exhaust is on the bottom of the KETT AN2000 Nibbler where it can’t blow debris directly at the operator or bystanders. Because of how the punch and die system works the bits of metal debris generated fall below the material being cut where the air exhaust does not disperse them.

This is my first cut (left) with the KETT AN2000 Nibbler and it shows how little finishing it would need in a situation where it is visible in the finished project. Even when cutting curves, (right) the edges are easy to work with.
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I know that there is lots of steel rotating and cycling up and down inside of the KETT AN2000 Nibbler but that is not transmitted to the operators hand as harshly as you might suspect. The weight of the KETT AN2000 Nibbler soaks up much of that kind of vibration but another significant factor is that internal parts are well balanced.

When I first used the KETT AN2000 Nibbler I had neglected to adjust the stripper shoe which you can see in the video. I quickly realized the error, adjust the stripper as suggested in the manual and it worked fine from then on. If your material is flat the stripper is a set it and forget it deal for that job.

The forward edge of the stripper shoe has a notch that is centered on the punch so that it can be used as a sight or guide to follow layout lines. With very little practice to become familiar with the KETT AN2000 Nibbler making surprisingly precise cuts is easy. The major consideration is to remember the ¼” width of the cut when doing the layout.

Along with the speed of cut the KETT AN2000 Nibbler leaves a surprisingly clean edge on the sheet metal. Somewhere between the efficiency of the punch and die and the power of the motor the KETT AN2000 Nibbler produces an edge that can be used as is. If the cut edge is going to be visible smoothing it for appearance can be done very quickly.


Video Tour

The KETT AN2000 Nibbler is certainly designed and built for the industrial market but any relatively busy metalworking shop can benefit from its efficiency and military-like durability. Despite punching through steel up to 14 Ga. the KETT AN2000 Nibbler never seems to strain. Keep up with the very simple maintenance described in the accompanying manual and there is no reason to suspect that the KETT AN2000 Nibbler won’t be alive and functioning perfectly many years into the future. Its overall design makes it easy to use and accurate which extends it value in any shop environment.

The KETT AN2000 Nibbler carries a suggested retail price of $1899.00 but the common street price hovers around $1500 to $1600, (1-6-2011) making it more affordable for the small shop operators. If you are looking for long-term value in a very capable nibbler, the KETT AN2000 should be on your must-see list.

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