Get to Know Your Hand Tools – Metal Snips – Helen I. Driggs

By on July 21, 2017
Print Friendly

by Judy Ellis,

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…


  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Some snips have textured metal on the jaws, so keep this in mind as you snip.
  1. 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.

You can find out 10 Inch Straight Aviation Tin Snips on our website at

Happy Wrapping!


Click to Receive Daily Tips by Email

One Comment

  1. avatar


    July 21, 2017 at 9:39 am

    I love my aviation snips! Be sure to buy Wiss brand — the Chinese look-alikes do not cut as well and do not cut small areas at their tips. Wiss shears will cut sheet brass heavier than 22-gauge; I just cut a piece of 16-gauge copper sheet with mine. These shears come with serrated blade edges (which leave edge marks when you cut); for extra cost, you can order them with plain blade edges.

    The big steel shears called tin snips are useless (despite their size) for any sheet metal thicker than 28-gauge.

    Happy snipping! –Judy Bjorkman