Best Wire Cutters: Increase Your Cutting Strength
Make continuous precise cuts with these wire cutters
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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 one of the options in our buying guide below.
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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to 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 2021
- 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.