Sheet metal is commonly described by gauge, which indicates the thickness of the particular piece of sheet metal. Since the gauge measurement system is independent of both the imperial and metric measurement systems (i.e., a gauge value of 18 is not equal to 18 inches or 18 centimeters), someone unfamiliar with it may find it difficult to understand.
The following guide provides an overview of the gauge measurement system. It describes how it is used, provides conversion charts for various materials, and discusses how to read them.
How Are Sheet Metal Gauges Used?
The gauge of a piece of sheet metal refers to its thickness. While this value is not provided in imperial or metric units, it can be converted to one or the other using a gauge conversion chart.
Sheet Metal Gauge Charts
Carbon Steel Gauge Chart
Stainless Steel Gauge Chart
Aluminum Gauge Chart
How to Read a Sheet Metal Gauge Chart
The gauge system was originally developed in Britain to specify wire thickness in a time when there was no universal thickness unit. While some changes have been made and, at one point, a replacement was planned, the general concept of the system has remained the same. Today, it is used for both wire and sheet metal.
Sheet metal gauge conversion charts allow for the conversion of the gauge measurement into standard or metric units. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind to ensure you achieve the proper converted value.
- The standard or metric equivalent of a gauge value depends on the metal. For example, 18-gauge sheet metal would be 0.040 inches thick if made from aluminum and 0.048 inches thick if made from stainless steel. That’s why it is important to ensure you use the right conversion chart for the given piece of sheet metal.
- The difference in metric or standard value from one gauge to the next is not equal. For example, 18-gauge sheet metal made from aluminum is 0.040 inches, 20-gauge sheet metal made from aluminum is 0.032 inches, and 16-gauge sheet metal made from aluminum is 0.050 inches. The difference in thickness between 18-gauge and 20-gauge is 0.008 inches, while the difference in thickness between 18-gauge and 16-gauge is 0.010 inches.
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