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Get to Know Your Hand Tools – Metal Snips – Helen I. Driggs
by Judy Ellis, Wirejewelry.com
Wire Jewelry Tip for July 21st, 2017
Get to Know Your Hand Tools – Metal Snips
by Helen I. Driggs
Metal snips are useful for sheet metal and wire. There are several types and styles of metal snips, or shears, and I use them primarily for removing waste metal or for trimming salvage metal I intend to repurpose or upcycle in my work. Classic straight-bladed “Aviation Snips” or tin snips can be found at most well-stocked hardware stores, and there are literally dozens of scissors or shears manufactured for crafts or even cooking that will do a serviceable cutting job on most thinner gauge metals. My main issue with metal snips is that they cause the metal to curl as you trim, but despite that, metal snips are very useful to have in your workshop.
What to look for when buying snips
Metal shears are called many things: metal shears, French shears, metal snips or shop shears. Probably the number one task they perform is snipping flat bezel wire or creating solder pallions (pellets) from sheet solder. Two styles of shears are commonly sold: those with a spring in the handle, and springless versions. Whichever style you go with, look for hardened steel construction, a sturdy pivot, sharp edges, and tapered jaws. I prefer the spring-handle models because there is less risk of pinching the skin on the heel of my hand when using them — the spring holds the handles in tension to avoid that ouchie experience…
- Snips will cause the metal to curl as you cut. I prefer sawing out metal shapes, but if you must use snips, keep the curling in mind. You will generate much more metal waste if you use snips instead of a saw.
- Make sure the snips are strong enough to cut the metal you intend to use. They are generally best for thinner sheet ranging from 22-28 gauge.
- Some snips have textured metal on the jaws, so keep this in mind as you snip.
- To avoid injury, ALWAYS be mindful of your fingers. Intense force is required to snip metal, and this class of tools can cut skin as well as metal. Wear goggles to protect your eyes from sharply pointed flying chips.