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How to cut a metal chain with bolt cutters?

How to cut a metal chain with bolt cutters

Shop for Bolt Cutters

Metal chain with padlock attached Bolt cutters are frequently used to cut through metal chains securing things like gates, shipping container doors or bicycles. Usually the tool is needed because the key to the padlock on the chain has been lost.
Different kinds and colours of trains

Step 1 – Assess chain material

Provided that the metal chain is not a security chain made of through-hardened steel, which will damage the bolt cutter jaws, it should be straightforward to cut through. If you are unsure what your chain is made of, look at the different kinds at your local builder’s merchant or DIY shop.

Welded point on link in a length of steel chain

Step 2 – Find weak spot

The weakest places in a chain are the points on each link where the ends of the metal are welded together. Find one of these spots that is easily accessible to make your first cut.

Steel chain to be cut positioned as far as possible along the jaws of a pair of bolt cutters

Step 3 – Position cutters

Close your bolt cutter jaws around the section of the link that you want to cut, feeding the chain as deep into the jaws as possible to avoid cutting with just the tips of the blades. Doing so could result in the chain slipping away before it can be cut.

Strong arm, illustrating the strength needed to push bolt cutter handles together to cut steel chain

Step 4 – Apply force

Press the bolt cutter handles forcefully together, keeping the blade pressure constant on your cutting spot. If the material is relatively soft, it will probably give quickly. If hard, it may only cut fully through after a few concerted pushes.

A chain link which has been cut through from two sides, cutting the length cleanly in two.

Step 5 – Cut link on both sides

Snip through the link on both sides, one at a time, so that the chain comes apart cleanly. Do not cut corners by just cutting one side and trying to twist open the link with your cutters, as this may damage your tool.

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