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I need to add a bunch of soffit vents to my eves, and I have (decorative?) metal siding such as in the picture. I need to do this quickly in the next few weeks before winter. What's the best way to make these metal cuts accurately and screen the vent panels into the metal sheeting?

I think my question is mostly about tools and any techniques, but please alert me to any considerations or wisdom I may be overlooking.

enter image description here

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Are you sure those decorative panels won't just pop out? Kind of like a drop ceiling? –  The Evil Greebo Oct 14 '11 at 16:00
    
Good question, but I don't think they will, and I'm not sure I'd want to. The screws at the fascia appear to keep each three panel section in, and I'm not sure of the width of the panels compared to the trusses inside. I'll measure and check them out when I go back home after work, though. Unscrewing and screwing them back in seems like a lot of work, but maybe that is better to control the metal cuts, rather than upside-down. Mmmmm, will consider it... –  Kirk Hings Oct 14 '11 at 16:26
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I think those screws are just holding the flashing in place. Look at the top end of the existing soffits - no screws. Usually those panels are lifted in and dropped in place. Get on a ladder and check :) –  The Evil Greebo Oct 14 '11 at 17:26
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2 Answers

If you're trying to cut in place, I'd personally go with drilling an initial hole, and then cutting the shape of the vent with a "sheet metal nibbler".

enter image description here

The nibbler will let you cut from one side, as there's a small bit that you insert into the hole, and sheers off a small roll of material (somewhere near 1/8", depending on the exact pair). You can also get powered ones, but they're fairly pricy, and the weight might be annoying for overhead work.

You might want to check with local rental shops, to see what they have. (the increased weight might be worthwhile as you won't have to hold your arms up as long)

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And then, after I posted this, I was thinking that as it's only aluminum, it's possible that an oscillating tool might work ... but I'm not as experienced with them, so I'm not sure. Anyone else? –  Joe Oct 14 '11 at 16:36
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Rather than trying to cut holes and add vents, you could also replace these with vented soffit skirting. E.g. This one can be picked up from your local HI store:

enter image description here

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If I were starting from scratch I would do this, but at $13 each it's a bit much. I'd probably also want to replace them all so the new ones don't stand out to much from the old ones. Not a bad idea but not for my circumstance. Thanks! –  Kirk Hings Oct 14 '11 at 19:09
    
@KirkHings, yup, for a quick easy solution, this isn't it. But it would look nice, and it's $14 per 12'x12" sheet. So when you cut that for your soffit depth, you'll cover more than one 12" space. –  BMitch Oct 14 '11 at 19:31
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