Last updated: September 11, 2020

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Cutting pliers are the most suitable tools for electrical tasks, as well as cutting wire and other materials. Despite having a very specific function, cutting pliers can be used to work with different materials and in various situations, from electronics, to handicrafts, and even fishing.

If you don’t have a pair of cutting pliers in your toolbox yet, it may be because you think universal pliers are enough. You will actually need cutting pliers if you do a lot of precision work such as cutting cables or other thick materials.

Key Facts

  • Cutting pliers are most commonly used for the cutting and stripping of electrical cables or wires, where normal pliers do not work
  • When purchasing cutting pliers, you should take into account some key criteria such as their main function, frequency of use, safety or resistance, and an ideal balance between strength and precision.
  • Professional cutting pliers used by electricians must be able to withstand voltages up to 1000 volts.

Ranking: The Best Cutting Pliers on the U.S. Market

If you are thinking about buying cutting pliers, then you have come to the right place. We have selected the best options, according to their different categories in Amazon. There are diagonal cutters and wire cutters for you to choose from. Here we have:

Best micro cutting pliers

With nearly 5,000 reviews, it is no surprise that these micro cutting pliers by Hakko are Amazon’s choice in this category. The Hakko CHP-170 micro soft-wire cutter has an 8mm long jaw set at a 21-degree angle for flush-cutting terminal wires up to 16 gauge (1.3mm).

These pliers are made out of heat-treated carbon steel that provides durability and long life. The nonslip hand grips provide comfort and control, and a dolphin-style curved edge protects hands from cutting surfaces. If you are looking for a pair of highly rated pliers, these are for you!

Best high leverage pliers

These pliers by Klein Tools feature a rivet closer to the cutting edge which provides 46% more cutting and gripping power than other pliers. The handle is expertly designed to absorb the “snap” when cutting wire, and features blue plastic-dipped handles for added comfort.

Klein Tools has been an American manufacturer of hand tools for more than 160 years, so you know you are getting top quality products. This is a great tool for precise cutting, and can be used on the worksite, or in your at-home toolkit.

Best cutting pliers with crimping tool

With this tool you get cutting pliers and a crimping tool all in one! Channellock is a worldwide leader of high-quality pliers and assorted hand tools. Designed for crimping of both insulated and non-insulated solderless connections and terminals, the Channellock Cutter with Crimping Tool features a sleek nose design that gets into tight places and a laser heat-treated mating edge.

This tool is a great addition to your toolbox, and is completed by Channellock’s iconic blue handle, which is both comfortable in your hand and easy to spot in your tool bag. So if you are in need of cutting pliers as well as a crimping tool, this is a great option for you!

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about cutting pliers

The main function of cutting pliers is very specific and is implied by its name. However they are also very versatile, as they can be used for cutting electrical cables and wires, but also used in handicrafts and even fishing. In this section, we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions about cutting pliers.

In addition to cables and wires, cutting pliers can be used to cut other hard materials such as plastic.
(Source: Nejron: 35435336/ 123rf.com

What are cutting pliers?

Although the answer may seem obvious, there are differences between cutting pliers depending on their size and design. The shape and size of cutting pliers are similar to those of his “brother,” universal pliers. However the head of cutting pliers is designed specifically for cutting.

Cutting pliers are mainly used to cut electric cables and different types of wire. It is an indispensable tool, both in professional electrical work and at home. There are pliers that come in different sizes and perform tasks of different levels of hardness and precision.

Did you know that the first pliers were created to hold hot objects?

What are cutting pliers used for?

Surprise: cutting pliers are used for cutting! In fact, it is really the only thing that they do. But beyond the best known function – cutting wires and cables – the list of possible uses is longer than you think. Here you can see some examples of the most common uses of cutting pliers.

  • Electrical. If you are a professional handyman, you may use cutting pliers for stripping and cutting wires.
  • Electronics. They are used to cut wires on a smaller scale.
  • Cars. Cars also have electrical parts, and it never hurts to have a pair of cutting pliers, just in case.
  • Crafts. In addition to cables and wires, cutting pliers can be used to cut other hard materials such as plastics.
  • Fishing. They are very useful for cutting thread and fishing nets.

Universal pliers also have sharp points, and can perform similar functions to cutting pliers.
(Source: Volodymyr Vorona : 101434678/ 123rf.com)

What types of cutting pliers exist on the market?

There are pliers that can cut, and then there are cutting pliers. In the first group would be universal pliers, which are the most versatile. On the other hand, there are cutting pliers, whose function is clearly defined. They only fulfill one function, although there are several different types.

Types of Cutters:

  • Diagonal or lateral cutting. These cutting pliers are designed with the edges arranged diagonally, and are very useful for lateral cutting. You will find these named both “diagonal cut” and “side cut.” These are actually the same thing. The Amazon category system has diagonal cutters in both categories.
  • Frontal cut. These cutting pliers also often appear as “frontal cutting pliers.” Technically they are not pliers, but they also cut hard materials with less effort thanks to the resistance.

Function:

  • Wire stripper. These are mostly used for electronics. Some pliers are often called “wire strippers.”
  • Wire cutters. They are larger and have a greater capacity to exert force on wires of different hardness.

Other cutting pliers:

  • Universal pliers. These tools also have sharp points, and can perform similar functions to cutting pliers, although in a limited way.
  • Manicure pliers. These are smaller pliers used by nail technicians. They are not designed for electrical work.

Cutting pliers are used to cut wire and fishing nets.
(Source: Lightfieldstudios: 112349481/ 123rf.com)

What are the characteristics of cutting pliers?

There are some different factors and variables when it comes to the various models of cutting pliers. The pliers on our list have a few characteristics in common, especially when it comes to their size and material. This is a summary of each model:

Brand Acorn Mannesmann SyR Knipex Boenfu
Model 6110-160 M10956 160mm VDE-series 74 02 160 SB FC-01
Assessment 4.6 4 4,9 4,8 5
Uses Cutting hard wire. Professional and domestic use. Cutting medium hard wire 2.3 mm and diameter of 1.5 mm. Cutting all types of wire, including piano strings. Cable stripping, crafts, fishing.
Material Different heads (metal and tempered) and edge (induction metal). Steel tools C60. Chrome vanadium steel, phosphate surface treatment. High-performance chrome vanadium steel, forged, oil hardened. 64 HRC edge hardness. Chrome vanadium steel with phosphate treatment surface and galvanic coating.
Size 160 mm 160 mm 160 mm 160 mm 131 mm
 Weight 240 g 222 g 214 g 231 g 54 g
Country of origin Spain Germany Germany Germany China

What is the ideal size of cutting pliers?

As can be seen in the products on our list, the most common cutting pliers are 16 centimeters long (160mm). This is the most versatile size because it serves both for electrical tasks for cutting wires of standard thickness. There are similar ones for electronic tasks, and larger ones for cutting thicker wires.

  • Normal (160 mm). For electrical tasks, construction, and DIY crafts.
  • Small (less than 160 mm). In our ranking, we included a micro cutter, which is specially designed for electronic work and other tasks that require precision work, such as craftsmanship or jewelry making.
  • Large (180 mm). Specific cutting pliers for cables or wires that are thicker.
Ludwig WittgensteinPhilosopher
“Think of the tools in a tool-box: there is a hammer, pliers, a saw, a screwdriver, a rule, a glue-pot, nails and screws.–The function of words are as diverse as the functions of these objects.”.

What safety measures should I follow when using cutting pliers?

Actually, the safety measures begin before buying the tools. You can make a bad decision if you choose pliers that do not have the right function for the task you need them for. There are standard safety measures in order to use these tools the right way.

  • Hardness. There is an unappealable physical law: you cannot cut harder material than the tool itself. Cutting pliers are made of alloy materials that are used for most cables and wires. The hardness of a material is measured with the standard called “Rockwell Hardness” or HRC.
  • Electrical Insulation. If we consider the fact that cutting pliers are mainly used for electrical work, it is important for the tool to have adequate insulation on the handle. Typically, they meet the standards for household voltages. But if you are an electrician, your cutting pliers should be able to handle 1000 volts or more.

What types of cables can I cut using cutting pliers?

When we start cutting wires, you should have some idea of what you are doing. But if not, a lot can go wrong when you are working with electrical equipment. Therefore, before using cutting pliers, you should know the types of cables, their functions, and the different colors they are coded in. For example:

  • Green and Yellow: This is ground wire. These cables are usually grey or white but can still be found in older installations.
  • Blue: It is the usual neutral wire and you can see it often between the edges of your cutting pliers. It is the additional cable with three-phase cables.
  • Brown: This is a phase cable. It can also be black or grey, and previously the color green has also been used.
  • Black: It is also a phase cable, very common in electrical installations.
  • White: They can be neutral wires, although they can be used as a ground connection to the transformer.
  • Cables with colored stripes. These are colored cables that include a stripe or a guide to distinguish it from other cables.

Shopping Criteria

Small jobs at home or in the car that require cutting or stripping cables can also be done with universal pliers. However, if you are using these tools for professional jobs or craft projects, you will need to choose the right tools. When buying cutting pliers, you should look at the following aspects:

Function

If you are an electrician or a construction worker, you probably already know how cutting pliers are used. You will want to opt for models that offer greater power and electrical insulation. The models you should look at are the standard size (160mm) and larger ones that work with thicker materials, as well as ones that are specifically made for electronic tasks.

The insulation of the handless should be sufficient to protect you from electric shocks.
(Source: edot: 26269120/ 123rf.com)

Frequency of use

For domestic uses, tools can spend long periods inside their box. Cutting pliers are not the most common tools to use at home, unless you do a lot of DIY projects. But if you are looking to make some home renovations, then it is worth buying some cutting pliers. After all, you can use these types of tools for years.

In the professional field, the frequency in which you use these tools is an important factor. This is where each model has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. For example, the ergonomics of the handle and the weight of the tool need to be considered when thinking about the amount of force needed. A bad choice can result in injuries from the continued use of cutting pliers.

Safety

When we talk about safety in relation to cutting pliers, we are basically talking about electricity. The insulation of the handles should be sufficient to protect you against electrical shocks. Typically, the handle is contracted to two insulation materials and the surface is non-slip.

Electricians often work with higher voltages than you would at home. Therefore, it is best to choose pliers that comply with safety regulations. In the United States and Canada, national standards specify that the nominal voltage at the source should be 120 V and allow a range of 114 V to 126 V (RMS) (−5% to +5%). Historically 110 V, 115 V and 117 V have been used at different times and places in North America.

Cutting pliers will last you for years and have several different uses.
(Fuente: Lightfieldstudios : 110899212/ 123rf.com)

Brands

For all types of renovations, maintenance or mechanical work that needs to be done around your home or on the job site, the IRWIN pliers are great everyday tools for the home. Klein is another brand that is reliable. Made in America, the Klein pliers feel tight and solid as soon as you pick them up, and are built to last. The Klein pliers also have a very comfortable rubberized and contoured grip with a spring-assisted opening, which requires a short break-in period but is ultimately easier to operate for extended periods.

Durability and Resistance

Good cutting pliers should last a lifetime. They are constructed with hard steel, with chrome-vanadium alloys. The different features and anticorrosive coatings make this tool an almost indestructible object. In fact, its resistance has to do with its function as a cutting tool for materials of different hardness.

Cutting pliers have a long lifespan. The only danger is coming in contact with corrosive or harmful substances, which is frequent in construction work. The resistance should be noted in the manufacturer’s information. Look for the hardness indexes to verify that the pliers are always harder than the material they are cutting.

Summary

We use cutting pliers for all sorts of different electrical tasks. That is why it is important to choose a model that has the appropriate insulation to protect us against any electrical shocks. It is also important to have very precise tools when doing specific precision work that requires smaller heads.

The second task of cutting pliers is related to wires that are thicker and tougher. If you are an electrician, this might be the most common use of this tool. You will need to choose a model with ergonomic design to reduce hand fatigue. In addition, cutting pliers can be used for activities of all kinds, such as fishing or jewelry making.

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