LAST UPDATED: October 5, 2019
Best Wire Cutters: Increase Your Cutting Strength
Make continuous precise cuts with these wire cutters
The Review Team
How We Decided
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
PUBLISHED ON October 5, 2019
If you are a mechanic, an electrical technician, or an engineer, then a wire cutter is a useful tool that should always be included in your toolbox. It makes wire cutting jobs easier and faster. If you are looking to replace your damaged wire cutter or want to upgrade to a better one, consider using any of the options in our buying guide below.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Wire Cutters
- Make work easier. Wire cutters make your job easy, especially when you’re cutting tough wires or wires with electrical current. They ensure you use minimal force when cutting. Even if you cut countless wires every day, you can reduce hand fatigue with a proper set of wire cutters.
- Promote safety. Some wire cutters have insulated handles to ensure you don’t get shocked when you’re working with electrical wires.
- Versatile. Besides cutting, wire cutters can also compress and bend wires, firmly hold objects, unscrew bolts and screws, and crimp wire connectors. They are designed to cut aluminum, copper, iron, brass, and steel wires.
Types of Wire Cutters
These are mini wire cutters with a non-slip grip that are normally used for flower arrangements, jewelry, and electrical work. They cut wires cleanly instead of causing them to split before the cut is complete. They allow you to use less force because of the decreased bevels on their clipping edges. Flush cutters are ideal for cutting 16 gauge and 1.3mm wires.
Also called side cutters, these tools have traversing jaws that cut wires at an angle. They can grip, cut wires and pins, remove nails and other fasteners, and also strip insulation. They are the most commonly-used wire cutters for any work that requires cutting soft, pliable wire. But since their jaws force wires to break, they leave a sharp spike after cutting.
These are mostly used by electricians because they have a long reach and sharply-tapered jaws. They can easily insert wires into electrical panels. Since space is usually limited in electrical applications, other types of wire cutters cannot be used. Their biggest shortcoming is that they can’t be used to snip cable ties since their long nose gets in the way.
Mainly used for cutting nails, wires, screws, and rivets, end cutters have jaws shaped like half-circles. Their cutting edges are set at right angles for easier access to tight areas. They cut very close against the surface without damaging it. These cutters can also extract screws and nails from wood using the jaws’ radius as a fulcrum.
Established in 1857, this American company is located in Lincolnshire, Illinois. It manufactures numerous hand tools under its Journeyman brand. The company produces almost every major type of hand tool used in the electronics, construction, mining, telecommunications, and electrical industries. Its products include snips, scissors, shears, screw and nut drivers, and tool bags. To understand why Klein has become a generic trademark, try the Klein Tools Wire Cutter.
Charles Irwin, a pharmacist, established the Irwin Auger Bit Company in 1885 in Martinsville, Ohio. The company is best known for creating Vise-Grip locking pliers. It is now owned by Stanley Black & Decker. Irwin’s hand tools and power tool accessories are very popular with artisans. The company prides itself on fulfilling the needs of handicraftsmen, its main clients.
Initially a bolt and door hardware company, Stanley Works was established in 1843 by Frederick T. Stanley. In March 2010, the company merged with Black & Decker to form Stanley Black & Decker, a Fortune 500 company. It’s based in New Britain, Conn. It manufactures household hardware, industrial tools, security products, and locks. The Stanley 6-1/2-Inch FatMax Long Nose Plier with Cutter is one of its top creations.
Located in Grand Rapids, Mich., Tekton is a family-owned company that produces hand tools. The company’s name is derived from an ancient Greek word “Tektōn,'' which means an artisan or craftsman. Tekton’s mission is to ensure the finest hand tools are accessible to everyone. It mostly focuses on tools used for mechanical and assembly work. One of its best-selling wire cutters is the TEKTON 7-Inch Wire Cutter.
Wire Cutters Pricing
- Below $10: These are simple, affordable wire cutters. Their quality is not the best and their hinges may quickly become loose or jam, making them impossible to use. Their blades also may get dull quickly.
- $10-$30: These are high-quality wire cutters that may serve different purposes: cutting, crimping, and stripping. Most are made by big brands such as Klein, Capri Tools, and Irwin.
This should be a top priority when buying wire cutters. Insulated wire cutters guarantee safety because they effectively prevent electrical shocks. Purchase wire cutters made by a reputable brand as they will have clear safety descriptions and labels. A safety latch or lock keeps the tool closed when it's not in use. Markings on the handles and jaws can specify the safety standards the cutter complies with.
Wire cutters are not multipurpose and cannot be used for diverse tasks—except those that are specially designed to be multifunctional. Determine why you need the wire cutters, and then choose a pair that easily cuts the material you intend to work with. This is the best way to avoid buyer’s remorse. If you work with different wires and cables, you’ll need different wire cutters.
The best wire cutters are solidly built and are made with materials that are resistant to rust and corrosion. High-quality wire cutters are made with tool steel, high-speed steel, or steel plate. Tool steel provides increased flexibility, while high-speed steel retains sharpness for a longer period of time. Wirecutter handles are typically covered in rubber. Steer clear of wire cutters with blades that chip easily.
Rust affects a wire cutter’s ability to cut precisely. Alloy steel, carbon steel, and chromium-vanadium steel are the most reliable materials for corrosion resistance. They usually undergo laser or heat treatment for enhanced durability. A special coating may be added to prevent glare.
- Size and Weight: These two features determine how long you can comfortably use the wire cutters. Cutters with long handles are easier to use because they demand less force. On the other hand, those with short handles are portable and easy to store. Heavier cutters may offer more power, but they can strain your hand. It’s best to balance size, weight, and comfort.
- Ease of Use: Hand fatigue is a common problem for people who work with their hands. Wire cutters should be easy to use. The best wire cutters have handles covered with a rubber coating to protect your hands from fatigue. Cutters with a spring to keep the jaws open make repetitive work easier and eliminate hand cramps.
Best Wire Cutters Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This versatile wire cutter has a serrated nose and two pairs of precision-ground stripping holes. These features allow it to easily bend, shape, and loop wires in addition to cutting them. The clear markings on the cutter easily guide any newbies using it. It provides a good grip to make your job easier.
The cutter’s built-in spring keeps the jaws open so they can quickly be used after the first cut. This, together with the design, makes repetitive work quicker and less tiring. The handles ensure your hands stay comfortable, eliminating cramps. The blades are designed for durability and are hardened.
This wire cutter glows in the dark, making it possible for you to work late at night. It shears 8-32 and 6-32 screws perfectly, leaving edges smooth. Unfortunately, the cutter’s handles can easily get scratch marks. In addition, when the jaws are locked, they may not fully close.
If you’re in the market for a six-inch wire cutter that can strip, bend, and cut wires, your search may stop here. This cutter is designed to strip 10-24 AWG wire and can also shear bolts and screws. A well-priced tool, it is intricately designed and has blue and yellow handles that draw attention. ProTouch grips eliminate hand fatigue and offer comfort.
The cutter meets ANSI (American National Standards Institute) requirements. It also comes in varying sizes to fit different hands. It is specifically designed for extended use and stays sharper for longer. You can feel confident about your purchase thanks to the VISE-GRIP Lifetime Guarantee from IRWIN.
If you’re an electrician, get it for electrical work. You can use it to crimp cables and assemble spliced wires. However, if you use the cutter frequently, the handles’ spring may break. It also doesn't cut wires smoothly.
Channellock has been manufacturing hand tools for years, and this cutter is a testament to its passion for quality. The 8.5-inch cutter can cut, strip, and crimp wires. It quickly strips 10-20 AWG wire and insulation without damaging wires. The wire cutter has a lean nose and precision holes that can pull, loop and bend wires—even in tight spaces.
The wire gauge sizes are embossed in the metal and then painted over to make them highly visible. You won’t have to guess which wires go where. The jaws require minimal effort and are made of steel for enhanced durability. Hand strain is not something you’ll have to deal with as this wire cutter has comfortable Channellock blue grips.
The scissor-type blades have undergone heat and precision-ground treatment to ensure they stay sharper for longer. Channellock offers a lifetime warranty for these wire cutters. Unfortunately, they are only meant to cut copper, and their safety latch can’t withstand heavy pressure.
A flush wire cutter is a tool that makes a fine flat cut on one side and creates a pinched effect on the other side. It's ideal for delicate jobs and mostly used for making jewelry. This particular flush wire cutter has an 8 mm long jaw and an angled head, which means it cuts wires up to 16 gauge. It's quite efficient and has narrow and sharp points for gripping thin objects and reaching tight areas.
The tool is made from heat-treated carbon steel and proves to be very durable. It won't break under pressure and will cut wires with ease, thanks to the sturdy and sharp jaws that open and close smoothly. Furthermore, there's a built-in spring for returning the tool into the open position and reducing hand fatigue.
The main drawback of this product is the lack of a locking mechanism. The tool stays open at all times, with the blades and sharp points being exposed. You'll have to handle and store the cutter with more caution to avoid pinching your fingers and hands. Also, the tool might wear out rather quickly when used for cutting thick wire.
Dowell offers a multipurpose tool you can use as a wire stripper and a cutter. It's ideal for copper and aluminum cables that measure from 10 to 22 AWG, but it also works on different wire gauges. Overall, this multipurpose tool is well-built, durable, and convenient for both DIY and commercial projects.
The tool is built from quality materials and offers a long lifespan. It features handles coated in comfortable materials for a more secure grip and less fatigue on extended use. Even if your hands are wet and oily, you can grip the handles with ultimate confidence. Furthermore, the tool can be used with just one hand and still make clean and simple cuts.
However, keep in mind that this is not the perfect option for stranded and thicker wire. The jaws don't always close perfectly, sometimes leaving one strand of wire uncut. If you're looking for ultimate precision, you might want to stick with regular wire cutters and not the multipurpose tool.
Tekton offers a bolt cutter that is suitable for cutting bolts, chains, and thick wires that measure up to 3/16 inches. We find it perfect for wires of all kinds of gauges because of the hardened-alloy steel jaws. The quality and sharp jaws close around the wire in a smooth movement and make a clean cut every time.
We like the steel handles cushioned in a non-slip rubber material. The handles allow for a secure and confident grip at all times, making the entire cutting process easy and more precise. It's also crucial to mention sturdy and durable construction that can withstand daily abuse and last for quite a while.
Despite the name and description, this tool works better as a wire cutter than a bolt cutter. It's not able to cut through thick nails and screws, so you might want to look for an alternative if you want a tool for working on both bolts and wires. If you do decide to get the product, we recommend wearing gloves. The handles might dig into your skin when high pressure is applied.
This is a precise tool perfect for cutting soft and thin wires. It features heat-treated carbon steel jaws and an angled head design, allowing for accurate and clean cuts. Because of the small size and narrow tips, these wire cutters are great for electrical work, jewelry making, and other detailing projects.
The tool can shear and cut wires of up to 18 AWG. It's super-efficient and reaches all those remote areas that bulky tools can't. On top of that, the cutter is easy to grip and use. The TPE handles are comfortable and ensure more security during every project. All the materials are sturdy and durable as well, which ensures a long lifespan of the tool.
These wire cutters are ideal for occasional and DIY use. Still, we don't recommend it for professional purposes and for cutting hard metals and steel. The jaws are fragile and might break under high pressure and when working with thick material.
The WGGE tool is super efficient and versatile. You can use it to cut, strip, and loop wires from 10 to 22 AWG. It's also ideal for working with solid copper wires and aluminum cables. Overall, thanks to the sturdy and sharp jaws, the WGGE wire stripper and cutter is suitable for all kinds of purposes.
The thing that buyers like the most about this tool is its strong-gripping serrated nose because it allows for ultimate precision. You can use the tool for bending, shaping, and pulling wires of different thickness. Whether you're working on electrical projects or performing DIY repairs around the house, the WGGE tool will help you get the job done. It will also provide more comfort on extended use and a superior grip thanks to the ergonomically designed and curved handle.
The tool might require some extra effort for cutting screws and bolts of a thicker gauge. Some buyers even complained about the wire stripper and cutter being stiff and difficult to open and close. Although it should loosen up a little after some time, expect to apply extra effort during the break-in process.
Leatherman offers a versatile tool packed with many beneficial features and accessories. We are talking about heavy-duty pliers with built-in wire cutters, knives, screwdrivers, can openers, and much more. With the 19 tools in a compact one, you can work on all kinds of projects at any given moment.
The tool is made with durability in mind. All of the built-in accessories are of top-notch quality and can resist heavy daily abuse. The jaws and edges are very sharp and make cutting, opening, bending, reshaping, and other jobs effortless. The locking feature also keeps the accessories in the desired position, and the black finish prevents damages and premature aging.
However, be prepared to add quite some extra cash to get this versatile tool. If you only need a pair of precise wire cutters, we recommend some other inexpensive options we listed above. When it comes to the tool itself, there are only a few minor things that might bother you. For example, it's quite heavy, and the ruler is challenging to read against the black finish.
- Always wear eye goggles to protect yourself from small pieces of metal that may fly towards your face.
- Do not move the blades back and forth to force it to make a cut. This may dull the blades or bend them. Consider using a larger and sharper wire cutter for the job.
- Be sure to disconnect all electrical cables before cutting them. The insulated handles may not protect you from an electric shock.
- Perform routine maintenance on the wire cutter by oiling the hinges and tightening the spring. This will extend the life of the tool.
- Hold the cutter at a safe distance from the jaws to avoid pinching yourself. The handle is designed to mold into the shape of your hand and if you are too close to the jaws, your hand may slip and you might be pinched.
Q: Can I sharpen a blunt wire cutter?
A: Yes, it’s possible to sharpen a standard wire cutter with a diamond hone or a smooth file. However, it requires much precision and skill to sharpen the blades to get an even edge and avoid injuring yourself. It’s difficult to sharpen most premium wire cutters that come with narrow jaws if you aren’t a professional.
Q: What are ESD-safe wire cutters?
A: Electrostatic Discharge, or ESD wire cutters, are designed to prevent damage to sensitive electronic circuits. They are typically small and also protect the user from electrical shock by allowing the charge to flow out through the handles.
Q: What’s the difference between a wire cutter and a wire stripper?
A: A wire stripper looks like scissors with a hole in the middle, and is typically used to remove insulation on electrical wires. They eliminate the need for using your teeth to remove the insulation. A wire cutter has sharp jaws, a flat tip, and scissor-style handles. It’s typically used to make clean cuts on aluminum, iron, copper, and steel wires. It can also be used as a wire stripper but only if you know how to angle the cut.
The Klein Tools Wire Cutter is our top pick because it has a distinctive look and jaw design that’s designed to handle heavy-duty cutting jobs that other wire cutters can’t.
Alternatively, you could opt for our value pick, the IRWIN VISE-GRIP Wire Cutter. It’s an affordable wire cutter that excels at cutting and stripping electric wires.