Wire cutters are a category of tools that you need to have around the house because you’re going to need them sooner rather than later. Depending on the design in question, the best wire cutter can do everything from cut wires to remove screws, which is why we’ve decided to show you which is which.
That being said, today’s article is focused solely on wire cutters and, brace yourselves, there’s a lot more to know about them than you think.
Top 3 Picks
Best Overall: IRWIN Vise-Grip Wire Stripping Tool
With a comfortable grip handle and an 8-inch cut radius, these wire cutters are versatile enough to cut and strip wires, as well as crimp terminal connectors and small bolts.
Best Set: WORKPRO 5-piece Pliers Set
With 5 tools delivered in a convenient carrying pouch and made from quality materials, the WORKPRO bundle is bound to help you with your future home improvement projects.
Safest to Use: HQCollection 4-in-1 Lineman Plie
These high-quality wire cutters feature a sharp cutting edge and are designed to resist corrosion. They also feature a plier jaw and a crimper attachment for versatility.
Types of Wire Cutters
There are three major types of wire cutters, with each one being specialized for a specific set of duties, the majority of them can be utilized for a range of various reasons:
Flush cut wire cutters
These represent the first category, and one that shares a lot of design similarities with your average pair of pliers. The blades are designed in such a way as to allow clean cuts to be made, while also eliminating the risk of cutting your hands due to leaving sharp points. The downside is that they require a little more force to cut compared to other types of cutters. The jaws of a flush cutter can be used for bending wires and small cables, with certain models having bolt cutters for screw cutting and nail flushing.
These can only be used for cutting, unlike the flush models we talked about earlier. They have curved cutting blades that reach all the way to the tip. The design of these cutters is represented by blades with a 15-degree diagonal offset, which means they can cut wires at an angle. Instead of severing the wire connections like scissors or flush cut pliers do, diagonal pliers basically separate wire connections using a wedging system. This unique cutting mechanism often makes cuts easier to produce, which contributes to their popularity, making these cutters a favorite when it comes to cutting metal wires.
Needle-nose wire cutters
They are a type of flush-cut plier designed with cutting blades that flush to the exterior of the jaws on the plier, but also behind it. The jaws of needle-nose versions, on the other hand, taper down to a considerably smaller tip at the nose. This tiny tip makes it easier to grasp and manipulate delicate wires, as well as navigate in cramped locations where standard flush-cut pliers cannot function. Some of these models have a 45-degree bend in the nose, while others have a 90-degree bend. This is to help you grip material in tight spots. Needle-nose pliers can include many of the same extra features as standard flush wire cutters, such as bolt cutters and wire strippers.
How to Choose Wire Cutters
The reason why this section is so important for you as a buyer is because “wire cutters” are terms generally used to describe a variety of different tools that might look similar, but serve a variety of different purposes. So, before you spend money on a wire cutter only to discover it can’t do what you were hoping it would, here is what you should know:
What is the Job?
First and foremost, you need to figure out what it is that you want to accomplish with a wire cutter. Some models will remove insulation from wires, while others can be used to twist wires as well. Once you know what you’re looking for, you can determine if the wire cutters you want to buy are needle-nose pliers, bolt cutters, wire strippers, etc.
Design of the Wire Cutters
The design of the wire cutters actually plays a huge part in its usability, even if it seems counterintuitive to choose a tool based on how it looks. While you’ve already heard about the many types of wire cutters and the benefits of a versatile product, some wire cutters are meant to provide everything from grabbing wires to stripping them, everything in a single product. While everything seems fine and dandy, because they are not designed specifically for cutting, they will not perform cuts as clean as a tool made exclusively for cutting.
However, they provide a superb general-purpose answer to the widest range of electrical wirework. In terms of wire cutter design, you also need to consider the pivot point. The pivot point is the spherical metal element that lies right behind the jaws and allows the jaws to open and close. If you purchase a set of wire cutters with a pivot point close to the jaws, it gives more cutting power and leverage, thus for maximum cutting capabilities, utilize a wire cutter with a pivot point as near to the jaws as possible. It is also critical that the pivot point be built to last as long as possible. A poor-quality pivot point can become loose, which eventually leads to blades that are difficult to close and render poor-quality cuts.
Wire Cutter Handle
When selecting a handle, the length and grip materials play a huge part in how well the tool is going to perform. A longer handle gives more leverage for making smoother cuts, but it limits your ability to navigate in tight and limited locations. A smaller handle fits into tighter areas, but it needs greater manual force to cut. The size of the handle also has an impact on how easy the cutters are to operate.
People will usually opt for 4-inch-long handles that fit comfortably in the palm of their hand, while other experts recommend a handle length of at least 5 and a half inches for maximum comfort. The handle can have soft or strong grips made of various polymers, such as rubber or plastic. The cheaper wire cutters often have firm grip handles, however, they are the least comfortable to use for an extended period of time. There are softer options out there, but you can expect to pay more for them. Some models will even provide electrical shock insulation.
Wire Cutter Blades
Wire cutter blades are typically produced from a form of “tool steel,” which may or may not be alloyed with other metals. Tool steel is just iron with carbon added to provide hardness and endurance that is ideal for hand tools. Some manufacturers will alter the hardness and endurance of a tool through the use of other alloys, like vanadium, nickel, or chromium. Wire cutters made of normal tool steel are often less expensive and have a reasonable level of durability, whereas steels with extra alloys, while more expensive, can make a tool even more resistant in the long run. The other major distinction between blades is whether they are case hardened, or induction hardened.
Most blades fall into the first category, which means the tool is wrapped in carbon and heated so that carbon may eventually cover the surface of the blade without modifying the allowed core. Induction hardening works by using electromagnetic conduction to heat the metal and make the blade hard. Case hardened blades are typically the least expensive, but they are less robust and more difficult to sharpen. Inducted hardened blades will cost more but they hold a sharp edge for a longer period of time and are easier to sharpen.
Best Wire Cutters for Electrical Projects
When it comes to home improvement tools, Klein is a brand that will always be remembered. This particular wire cutter right here is designed with a 9-inch handle that offers an excellent grip for all sorts of cutting-related situations. The pivot point is located close to the jaws, giving the user excellent leverage when performing the cuts. The blades are induction-hardened, which makes these cutters even more durable and sharp. If there is one downside to this product, it’s definitely the price.
When you want a more affordable set of wire cutters, the DOWELL will not disappoint. They are designed to offer an ergonomic experience in a durable product, using carbon steel that resists corrosion and gives you a sharp edge to work with. As you may have noticed from the design, these cutters work with various wire diameters. The 7-inch grip handle goes hand-in-hand with the spring-loaded mechanism to ensure that you can comfortably use these cutters even with one hand.
If you’re looking for an affordable solution for various DIY home improvement projects, then how about a set that contains five such tools for multiple uses. Whether you want to cut wires, remove nails, or unscrew large bolts, there are tools in this set for every task. The package includes 8-inch linesman pliers (which can be used for cutting and twisting wires), 6-inch diagonal pliers (suitable for quick wire cutting), 7-inch long nose pliers (great for snipping wires, but also for holding or bending them), 6-inch slip joint pliers (which can hold bolts and nuts), and 8-inch groove joint pliers (with an adjustable jaw capacity).
Whenever you’re dealing with wires that require a powerful cut, these are the right pliers to turn to. The IGAN wire cutter is designed with induction-hardened blades that provide a carbon-steel construction for long-term durability. The pivot point is as sturdy as it can get, and the location (which is next to the jaws) will ensure a powerful cut every time it’s being used. The handles are comfortable to hold and the spring-loaded mechanism facilitates operation with a single hand.
Probably one of the best wire cutters on the market, the IRWIN is here to offer versatile functionality through its ability to cut small bolts or even strip wires. The jaws are induction-hardened (you already know the benefits of these by now) and designed with a needle nose end to make it easy to grab wires with small gauges. The 8-inch handle is very comfortable to hold, making these cutters the type of tool that will never slip out of your hand regardless of the working conditions. The tool is designed with multiple stripping slots, properly marked to make it super easy to use.
Another kit that you might find particularly useful to have around the house is this one by Kotto. It comes with a storage bag that holds the wire cutter, the multi-tool cutter, and the self-adjusting wire stripper. The quality of each of these tools is undeniable, and the price is pretty just considering what you’re being offered. The self-adjusting cable cutter is designed with an ergonomic handle, a chrome-vanadium alloy steel saw, a power adjusting knob, and a ruler tension for adjusting the knob.
Whenever you have to deal with small and stubborn wires and find yourself needed to reach tight spaces, the LAOA is here to help. Much like the other products we’ve looked at today, this one is also designed with induction-hardened carbon steel blades, meant to offer a long-term experience and the best bang for your buck. This tool is designed for more than just wire cutting, as it also comes with stripping slots. The handle is properly insulated (it’s made with non-conductive rubber) and offers a good grip for proper wire handling.
The last pair of wire cutters that we wanted to show you today are designed to offer a smooth experience each time you use them. They are designed with a 9-inch handle which is meant to increase the leverage and comfort that you get each time. The handle is designed with insulating material, which makes it safer to use by professionals that may have to work with live wires. These cutters are made using chrome vanadium and deliver a corrosion-resistant construction that will last for years to come.
Projects that Require Wire Cutters
Installing your own bathroom fixtures might seem like a turn-off, but it’s not as complicated as you think. Furthermore, this tutorial will show you how to make your own lighting fixture that fits an industrial-style bathroom. While the process might seem lengthy and intimidating at first, it’s not that complicated to see through and the end result truly looks like something you would purchase from a fancy store. You’re going to need a considerable number of materials (but not expensive ones, though). Since you’re going to be cutting and twisting wires, a wire cutter is bound to be useful in a project like this.
This ceiling light fixture project is an easy and quick way to add some style to your home. It could work in a variety of different rooms in your home but works like a charm when you have a steampunk/industrial vibe. For this project, you are going to need a porcelain canopy, a ceiling medallion, 14 light bulbs, plenty of Y adapters and splitters, painter’s tape, and gold or metallic spray paint. If you’re building a branch light as a replacement, simply turn the breaker off to the existing fixture and un-wire. This is where a good pair of wire cutters is going to come in handy.
When it comes to your doorbell, the smallest details can make a huge impact, so maybe it’s time to replace that dull doorbell you currently have installed. This project is incredibly easy and doesn’t require much work. When you remove your old doorbell, you’ll notice two house wires being exposed. A set of wire cutters is going to help you with all things wire-related, making the installation of a new doorbell button as easy as possible.
How do wire cutters work?
Wire cutters are used for the removal of wire. There are multiple variations on the basic design. There are many hardware stores that carry wire cutters, and these are also available through stores that sell tools for various professional users. Wire cutters are used similarly to scissors, with the handles separated to open the cutting blades, the wire inserted between the blades, and the handles closed to unite the blades and make the cut. A spring-loaded wire cutter opens automatically when you stop using manual force to close its handle. You can also use a non-dominant hand to open the cutter’s handles.
Do you really need wire cutters?
A wire cutter is the fastest, cleanest, and easiest way to make sure you’re cutting a wire. However, there are a few alternative options when you need to cut a wire but don’t have any wire cutters nearby (note that these methods are flawed, in a sense that they require more effort or might not be as precise as the results you get when using a tool designed exclusively for cutting wires). If you have to cut a thin wire, you can bend it back and forth a few times until it breaks. You can also use a hacksaw, but the cut might not be as clean (and they are difficult to use if you’re trying to cut thick wires). You can also use other cutting tools, such as scissors, snips, nail clippers, and the likes. However, depending on the type of wire you’re looking to cut, you might end up damaging the tool.
What are the best brands of wire cutters?
Some of the best brands of wire cutters that we’ll also be talking about today include Klein Tools, LAOA, Dowel, and IRWIN.
As you can see, choosing a wire cutter can go wrong if you don’t know a little bit about the versatility and design details that make a difference. Once you understand what are the best materials for a wire cutter, what they can do depending on the type chosen, and what are some of the benefits certain wire cutters provide over others, you can truly make an informed shopping decision that you don’t regret later on.