A toolbox isn’t complete without a good pair (or a pair of good) of side cutters. Otherwise known as diagonal cutters or electrical pliers, they’re one of the most convenient tools in your kit. The combination of sharp jaws and high-leverage handles enables you to cut safely and easily through wires with minimal effort. And if you’re doing that a hundred times a day, you want it to be a low-impact task. Of course, cutting isn’t limited to the wire; because they come in a variety of sizes, you can use them to snip through many thin metal items like nails and screws as well.
Like most good tools, side cutters come in a range of sizes depending on the work you’re doing You’ll need them to handle the type and size of wire you’re dealing with. That may seem obvious, but it’s often overlooked. Check the packaging as it most clearly states the gauge of wire they can cut through.
It’s also important to know if you’ll deal with any live wiring. Regulations may require you to use insulated tools when working around electricity higher than a minimum voltage. You don’t want accidental electrical shock, and insulated side cutters can protect you from that.
Best side cutters
For precision tasks, it’s hard to beat IGAN. Their compact size, spring-loaded handles and sharp blades are ideal for snipping small wires in difficult-to-reach locations. Opening springs and grippy handles make them easier to use than many other cutters.
A great crossover is KLEIN which strikes a balance between power and convenience. Long handles enable you to generate leverage in heavy-duty situations, while short jaws offer precision cutting. They’re a quality cutter – no wobbly handles.
KNIPEX is a great choice for live wiring. Insulated handles have a ridge to limit accidental exposure, and they’re rated to withstand up to 1,000 volts. They’re durable and extra sharp, able to tackle nails and piano wire.
If you need a heavy-duty side cutter, check out BOENFU. They’re built to cut through coat hangers as well as most wire and are suitable for both DIY and professional uses. The rubber grip and distinctive colour make them a good, flexible choice.
VICE-GRIP is an all-rounder that’s hard to beat. Suitable for cutting and stripping, you can dial up the gauge of wire you’re dealing with (they’ll even cut bolts). More of a pro tool than a DIY.
As you can see, there are a lot of features you’ll need in a side cutter. Or several side cutters – chances are you want more than one pair in your toolbox. And there are many, many makes and models to choose from. So take your time when making your decision.
One last tip, just because the price is right, can you be sure the side cutters are? Will they last the distance? Will they do the job? Remember the adage, buy cheap, but twice. If you would like to learn more, explore the range at RS.