Cutting copper wire can be a chore. Different gauges of copper require different cutters. From a pocket knife to a bolt cutter, they all have their uses. Knowing what kind of tools are available can help you choose the right tool for the job.
Tools for Cutting Small Gauge Copper Wire
Wire stripping pliers are great for small to medium wires. They come with several gauges of stripping holes along the blade and a sturdy cutting surface at the tip. Some also have crimpers built in.
A pocket knife can be use effectively in some small applications. Be careful when stripping wire with a knife. There is a tendency to cut deeper than needed, damaging the wire.
Needle nose and other household pliers typically have a cutting blade located behind the grip part of the blade in the joint of the pliers. These are similar to diagonal cutters and work well if they are sharp.
Tools for Cutting Medium Gauge Copper Wire
Heavier copper wire, such as that used in house wiring, requires a bit more work to cut through. Make sure you have a cutter with nice heavy duty handles.
Blunt nosed linesmen pliers are traditionally used for cutting fence wire. A good heavy pair can cut copper wire up to 1/4 of an inch thick.
Coax cable cutters are designed for cutting multipair wiring. With a curved blade, these cutters are good for insulated cables and small braided wire.
Diagonal cutters are great for cutting in tight situations. They feature snip-type cutting blades that start at the tip of the pliers, and scissor-type handles.
Tools for Cutting Large Gauge Copper Wire
Large copper wire and cable must be cut carefully to get a flat end. Using pliers and cutters that are too small to cut through it effectively can do more harm than good.
Bolt cutters work well on large gauge wire, but are not recommended for twisted or braided cable.
Wire rope cutters, on the other hand, are only effective on twisted and braided cable. The blades cut through the cable without spreading the individual strands for a nice, clean cut.
A hacksaw can be used in urgent situations. It has a tendency to spread out the strands of cable and is best used if the wire can be clamped down or held in a vice.