Wire Cutters…What Works For You?

I came across these pictures that I had taken from a while back. They demonstrate a decent example of what we may find above our heads. There is always a lot of talk about carrying wire cutters, and these photos show a couple of examples of why we may need them. We had a good view of the void space above the drop ceiling in one of our local buildings. The amount of wires that are run above our heads is pretty unbelievable. This is what was above the ceiling and the bottom picture shows the pile that they had already removed. 

 Here is a picture of some of the most common cutters that are carried by guys. The bottom line is we will use these for all of the other utility work that we do and probably without ever using them for wires that are found in the ceiling. Obviously these all have advantages and disadvantages which is what we would like to hear. I am a big fan of trying things out, using them on real materials before ever counting on them to do any of your work. You have the heavy-duty cutters (pictured on the left) with crossing blades that will handle most gauges of wire with ease. Granted they may cost more, they are a bit bulkier and are usually a two hand operation. The second pair shown will not handle as many wires at once, but is spring loaded making one handed operation possible. The third pair can handle a large amount of wires and is spring loaded, but the drawback is the blade is much more fragile and easier to damage. Lastly the cheapest option is the shears that maybe laying around the storage room, they cut well and are a one handed operation but take a little longer to use when cutting the wire. I am not going to swear by one pair or the other but I do believe they are all worth a try to see what works for you. I prefer that they handle all of our wire cutting tasks, are easy to use and get to, and are fairly easy to replace ( I lose them more than not). What are your thoughts? What works for you?….

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7 Comments on “Wire Cutters…What Works For You?”

  1. footrat Says:

    I use some Wiss 10″ Tinners Snips. There are some advantages and some drawbacks.

    The first advantage is that they can be used one-handed, with gloved hands. There are no latches or catches to undo, no spring-loaded handles that may not spring.

    They can cut through almost anything, and not just wire. Some of the side cutters and snips out there may not cut flat material in a utility situation.

    They have a flattened tip that won’t puncture pockets like some of the pointier snips. So far, they’ve been fairly rust-free. Far more so than some other tools I’ve had in my pockets.

    They have lots of leverage. They may not cut every car battery cable, but they can cut many, and they’ll finish the job for the bolt cutters with worn beaks that don’t meet in the middle.

    The downside is that they won’t cut everything. Some of the side cutters and other cutters out there will cut hard, round wire better. Scissor-type snips tend to push these materials out of the “mouth” instead of cutting through them. Really thick things also have this issue. If you can get enough force, they’ll cut heavy-gauge battery cables and the like.

  2. Truck 4 Says:

    Well I remember when we tried to load all of that in your jeep, we definately got a lot of great training out of it! If I remember right that pile probably weighed at least a couple hundred pounds, very decieving. One thing I also learned from those days as well as other trainings is to a couple pairs of cutters. A large utility pair that you pretty much plan on using for every thing. Mine are the pair pictured on the far left and I keep those in the cargo pocket with my tool pouch on my pants. Whats great is they are insulated so the risk of electric shock is greatly minimized. My emergency back-up pair is a pair of side cutters with the squared tip which have small surface area for minor plyer use. Not the best cutters but they are in the flash light pouch on my coat. The decision to have two pairs came after doing some RIC training where chain link fence was pressed down on me simulating a collapse. I used to keep all of my tools in my leg pouch on the right side. But when your right arm is stuck in a position near your chest, you have to have a back up. That drill made me realize that having a couple of options in the event of an emergency is a little comforting and hopefully can keep you alive.

  3. Porcell Says:

    I’ve used the trauma shears in the past. I have found them to work well in training evolutions and on fire scenes. While wearing gloves, it seems easier to use them.

    Having holes to put my fingers through allows me to control them as I open and close them. You can easily force them open with one hand, which is something that’s a bit harder to do with other models. With the straight-handle on the other styles shown, you have to wait for the tool to open on its own, and you have to relax your grip. I’ve dropped wire cutters in the past due to this (although I am a bit of a clumsy bugger).

    A new pair will be fairly sharp, and due to the slightly corrugated cutting edge, will have enough “grab” to hold most wires in place. I feel that I can cut through more wires with more speed than with the other options.

    The only issue I have with the trauma shears is having to deal with the headache-inducing nausea I get whenever I go near the EMS supply cabinet.

    Just my point of view; not knocking anyone who likes a different method.

  4. Sn33kR - 2 Truck - TFD Says:

    I carry a pair of the heavy duty ones on the left in my tool pouch. (Purchased at Harbor freight for $3.50)I like the idea of a second pair in my radio pocket. Thanks for the heads up.

  5. TinShackTruck Says:

    Has anyone else checked out the new Channellock brand “rescue” style pliers. I’m not big on gadgets, but several of the guys in my house have them. What a useful tool. You can get them with a cablecutter end or linemans pliers ends. I’m currently using the linemans end, so far they’ve cut everything I’ve asked them to.

  6. Rescue 1 Says:

    I use a pair of altered Lenox bulldog snips(here http://www.toolfetch.com/Brand/Lenox/Hand_Tools/Shears_Scissors_Snips/Snips/433-22105.htm). I got them from Menards. I like them because they are spring loaded and they have been able to cut everything I have thrown at them, they can cut up to sheet metal up to 16 gauge and stainless steel up to 20 gauge . I ground down some of the stops so the jaws would open wider and I cut the rubber off of the handles to make them more low profile.

  7. Jason Says:

    I carry a pair like those pictured on the left in my left jacket pocket thats on my chest (The one usually intended for a radio). My radio is on a strap that goes over my shoulder with the radio hanging by my hip. That style cutter (mine are Channellocks) fit perfectly in that pocket.


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