Shears to suit every task
This metal-working tool is bent to let the user grip it with a straight wrist, getting more power for cuts on overhead ducts or thick sheets of stainless steel. Snip handles are color-coded to the cuts the tool makes: red goes straight and left; green goes straight and right.
Most people, when faced with cutting something around the house, will reach into the junk drawer for the same dull scissors they've used for years. You know the ones: The handles are worn and scratched, the blades are coated with dried tape adhesive, and the tips are broken off from all those times you used them instead of a screwdriver.
But scissors — actually all cutting tools — deserve more respect. Each type is designed to slice a specific material, from long-bladed scissors, or shears, that work on flexible paper and fabric to stubby snips (like those shown here) meant for stiff metal and vinyl. Using them on something else is what makes them dull. That's why household members who sew tend to murdelize those who borrow their fabric shears, even "Just for a minute, Honey."
You're better off assembling a collection of cutters to cover a variety of projects: Start with general-purpose utility tools, then add specialty items as needed. On the following pages, you'll find a gallery of innovative cutters — some for specific jobs, others indispensible for everyday use. And none should ever see the inside of a junk drawer.
Hardened jaws with a compound pivot have extra force to gnaw through tough metal rods and cables, such as piano wire or guitar strings.
Hard wire rope cutter, from Midwest Snips, $50
Carpet installers use this odd-shaped tool to trim rug pile. The wide blade rests on the carpet while the curved edge follows along baseboards.
Duckbill napping shears, from Heritage Cutlery, $18
General-purpose snips have spring-open handles and serrated blades that mow through everything from vinyl to flashing to window screen.
Multi-Snip, from Fiskars, $13
Twisted blades can follow straight lines and moderate curves in thin sheet metal, such as flashing.
Wiss metal-cutting snips, from Cooper Tools, $19
Where to Find It
Midwest Tools and Cutlery Co.
Model #548 Heritage Cutlery, Inc.
Fiskars Brands, Inc.
Zwilling J.A. Henckels
Klenk Industries, Inc.
Irwin Industrial Tools
Malco Products, Inc.
Electrical cable snips:
The Stanley Works