If you do handy work around the house, you're bound to run into the opportunity to use steel mesh. Chicken wire is one example, and many people use gopher wire, which is closely related, to protect their plants from gnawing rodents. Moreover, you may have a chance to use hardware cloth, which is made from thicker-gauge steel, to keep small animals out of your crawlspace or as reinforcement for concrete or plaster work. Cutting any of these materials can be a challenge, but you can make the task easier if you're willing to do a little preparation for it.

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Step 1

Measure the width of the roll of mesh that you're going to cut and cut a length of 1 1/4-inch dowel that is 6 inches longer or more. Insert the dowel through the center of the roll and suspend the dowel on hooks attached to the wall or ceiling.

Step 2

Unroll the amount of mesh you need, using a tape measure to measure its length. Mark the length on both sides of the roll with a small piece of masking tape, then stretch a length of masking tape between the pieces so that its top edge is on the cut line. The masking tape provides a guide for the cutting tool.

Step 3

Put on a pair of steel mesh gloves to protect your hands from the sharp edges of the mesh. Begin cutting the mesh, using a pair of tin snips or wire snips, on one end of the length of masking tape.

Step 4

Follow the edge of the masking tape as you continue cutting. Pull the edge of the cutaway mesh away from the roll as you cut to keep it out of your way.

Step 5

Pull the masking tape off the mesh when you finish the cut.