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What are bolt cutters made of?

What are bolt cutters made of?

Shop for Bolt Cutters


A square block of steel, the strong alloy which is the raw material for tools like bolt cutters. Bolt cutters are made of steel, an alloy between iron and carbon, with the potential for other materials such as chromium for vanadium to be added to make it stronger. The presence of the carbon in a molecular structure dominated by iron enables the structure of the metal to be changed by heating and cooling processes. This is why steel is stronger than iron.


Replacement bolt cutter jaws, made of tool quality forged and then hardened and tempered steel Quality bolt cutter jaws are made from the highest grade tool steel which has a high proportion of carbon added (usually around 1.2%). Through the hardening and tempering process, they are then further toughened.


Tubular steel pipes of different diameters, the larger of which would be suitable for bolt cutter handles.


Tubular steel handles are made of a steel alloy which is not generally as high grade as that of the jaws, but can – in some high end models – be strengthened with additional materials, such as tungsten. They are designed not to twist or buckle under high pressure.

An irregular-shaped block of aluminium alloy which, when drop forged, can have strength properties comparable to steel.


Aluminium handles are another option. Aluminium alloy (where the metal is blended with strengtheners such as carbon) has properties, when it is heated and drop forged, comparable to many grades of steel, but with a far better strength-to-weight ratio.

A container heaped with fine fibreglass filaments


Fibreglass is the other material from which bolt cutter handles can be made. This is a man-made composite of plastic resin reinforced by glass fibres. It is lightweight and very easy to mould and – although not as strong as materials like tool steel – it is less brittle.

Handle grips

A yellow rubber duck, symbolising the universally-popular material, rubber, which has such strength and versatility. The grips on bolt cutters can be moulded out of vinyl or other plastics but often they are made from rubber. This material is now made synthetically, but it still retains the useful properties of rubber tapped from trees: it is durable, cushioned and provides excellent grip.


The jaws of a pair of bolt cutters, which are coated with black oxide in order to prevent corrosion To prevent corrosion, the jaws of some bolt cutters are coated with black oxide, a form of iron oxide known as magnetite that forms on the surface of steel when it is bathed in a heated mixture of acidic compounds. This thin coating serves no other purpose than preventing the bolt cutters from rusting.

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