In this technological world, wires of all different gauges power your electronics or strengthen a mechanical assembly, such as a pulley system. Cutting wire efficiently, especially for intricate projects, requires proper tooling and technique. Using improper tools often leads to injury.

Safety First

Before cutting into any wire gauge, wear protective eyewear. Snapped wiring often flies outward at fast speeds, making your eyes vulnerable to damage. Wipe the eyewear down with a clean cloth to keep your line of vision clear for accurate cutting. Visit OSHA for more safety tips.

Pocket Or Utility Knives

If you are on a camping trip and need to cut a small to medium gauge wire, for example, a basic pocket or utility knife can suffice. Secure the wire to a tree stump or ask a friend to hold the wire firmly at both ends. With a sharpened blade, carefully cut perpendicular to the wire’s surface until the tool cuts completely through. Keep your fingers away from the blade and maintain a 90-degree angle to the wire. You do not want to accidentally slip and injure someone.

Wire Cutters

One of the most common professional wire cutting tools is wire cutters or snips. Held in one hand, you squeeze two handles together to create the cutting action. Similar to cutting with a blade, wire cutters should cut perpendicular to the wire’s surface for safety. The only major drawback to snips is the resulting cut. These cutters use a pinching action rather than a cutting motion to break the wire apart. Wire ends appear warped and sharp after cutting.

Diagonal Cutters

Similar to wire cutters, diagonal snips have longer handles and a stronger cutting mechanism to cut through thicker wires. With varying sizes, you choose the cutter’s length based on your wire gauge thickness. Long handles offer more leverage during cutting. A larger cutting head creates more surface area to cut through thicker items. As long as the blade remains perpendicular to the wire’s surface, diagonal cutters are strong tools for big projects.

Rotary Tools

Handheld rotary tools use a rotating blade to finely cut through wire. The rotating blade is often interchangeable to cut through various wire gauges. Plug the tool into an electrical outlet. With the wiring secured in place, lower the powered rotary tool onto the wire. The rapid, spinning blade creates a flush cut surface as it separates the wire. One drawback to the rotary tool is losing some wire material as the blade cuts through the metal.

Flush Cutters

For specialized wire cutting during finished projects, such as jewelry creation, flush cutters are often helpful. With a precisely flushed face on one side of the blade, you can cut wire to produce a smooth finish for necklaces and bracelets. Both sides of the blade are not flush, however, making the other wire half pinched at the cutting site. These blades are only for fine wire, including brass, gold, copper and silver. Flush cutters do not slice through metal or other hard wiring materials. Wire cutters come in handheld sizes to models larger than 12 inches long. Each tool has a specific use and technique. Familiarize yourself with the tool before using it to remain safe and effective during your project.