If you're looking to cut hardened wire, then you better have the right tool for the job.
In this post, we'll go over what tool you'll need, and how to get that wire cut, without blunting your cutters.
What's the difference between normal wire and hard wire?
Normal metal wire is usually simple to cut with a pair of side cutters (especially if it's small in diameter), but you may have found it's much more difficult to cut hardened wire, such as piano wire.
This is because hard wire is usually made from hardened steel, which is often the same toughness as most of the steel used in basic cutters, and so will naturally blunt the tool very quickly.
So avoid scissors or basic cutters, in favour of a tool that's built for the job.
Choosing the right cutting pliers
To cut through hard wire, you first need the right tool.
You should look for a pair of side cutters that's:
1. High-leverage – something with high leverage multiplies your hand force, allowing you to cut through harder materials with less effort.
2. Hardened Cutting Edges – HRC 64 is a good, hardened benchmark, to ensure it can cut through really hard wire.
3. Labelled for Hard Wire – some tools will actually state that they're built for hard wire cutting.
A great option for cutting hard wire is this Diagonal Cutting Plier from Maun, which can handle piano wire up to 2.0mm diameter, and hard wire up to 2.5mm diameter.
If you'd prefer a combination tool that can both cut and bend hard wire, then you should look into Maun's side cutting parallel pliers, which can make wire much easier to use.
They also offer a specialist range of Fencing pliers, for when you're putting up tough wire fencing.
How to cut hard wire
Here's how to cut hard wire properly:
1. Safety – cutting hard wire can send pieces going everywhere, so make sure you wear safety glasses as a minimum. You should also consider wearing toughened gloves, just in case you brush up against the sharp ends of the wire.
2. Work surface – setup your wire on a flat work surface, if possible, at a comfortable height for you to work from.
3. Measure and mark your wire for cutting (optional for multi-strand wire) – multi-strand wire can be easier to mark with electrical tape, which can help stop the wire from splaying out after it's been cut.
4. Align your cutting jaws over the wire at a right angle to the wire length, to get a clean cut.
5. Apply force gently onto the handles to snip the wire, increasing the pressure as needed until the cut is made.
How to Cut Hard Wire without Cutting Pliers
It can be difficult to cut wire without proper pliers, but here are some alternatives if you don't have a pair:
1. Cold Chisel and Hammer – you may be able to cut hard wire using a cold chisel and a hammer, by placing the wire onto a hardened metal surface, and hammering the chisel directly into it.
2. Grinder – you may be able to cut through wire using an angle grinder, but be very careful as this can be dangerous.
It's much better to choose a proper cutting tool for hard wire, such as the one we mentioned above.
Learn more about diagonal cutters here.
You may also be interested in what fencing pliers are in our post here.