what-are-bolt-cutters

What are bolt cutters?

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A pair of long-handled bolt cutters Bolt cutters (also known as bolt croppers) are heavy duty, hand-held cutting tools which can comfortably slice through tough metal objects such as chains, bolts, wire, rods and padlocks. They typically have long handles and short blades.
Close-up of bolt cutter jaws The head of a pair of bolt cutters is quite distinctive, with several hexagonal bolts and up to two protruding side screws visible. These have various roles, including adjustment or replacement of the blades.
Image of centre cut bolt cutter jaws gripping a bolt with centre cut blade points labelled The configuration of the blades on a pair of bolt cutters varies according to the kind of job they are designed for. The most common type of blade is the “centre cut”, where two cutting points are centred in the middle. These can tackle most metal-cutting jobs.

For more information, see: What are the different types of bolt cutter?

Strong arm cartoon illustrating the strength needed to use bolt cutters The combination of long handles and compound hinges (consecutive joints designed to transfer more power to the jaws) work together to give bolt cutters a powerful cutting force. A typical pair of 355mm (14″) bolt cutters produces over 36kg (80lbs) force between the jaws when you put just under 0.5kg (1lb) of pressure on the handles.
A variety of different-coloured and different-sized bolt cutters Bolt cutter handles range in length to just over a metre. At the other end of the spectrum, bolt cutters with handles as short as 200mm (8″) are referred to as compact bolt cutters. There are many variations in features such as ratchet hinges (where teeth lock the jaws tighter each time sufficient pressure is placed on the handles, saving the user’s strength), handle shape and replaceable jaws.

For more information, see: What additional features can bolt cutters have?

A pair of long-armed cable cutters Bolt cutters are not the same as cable cutters, which have different shaped blades and normally a single hinge at the neck. Cable cutters deliver less power and are used for snipping thinner materials, such as stainless steel wire rope.
Orange and white exclamation mark flagging up the safety risks involved with use of bolt cutters Warning! Although a very powerful, useful and even life-saving tool, bolt cutters are considered dangerous if used without appropriate safety measures. Wonkee Donkee advises that you take proper precautions before using them.