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What are the different types of electronics cutters?

Shop for Electronic Cutters

Wire cutters come in different sizes to suit different purposes Electronics cutters are available in several different sizes and variations.
The instrument used to measure the diameter of wires Wires are available in different sizes, and their width is measured using the Imperial Standard Wire Gauge – which counts downwards, with zero being the largest size of wire and fifty being the smallest. Generally speaking, larger electronics cutters are better-suited for cutting thicker wires, whilst smaller electronics cutters are better-suited for cutting thinner wires.
A large electronics cutter suitable for cutting 12-gauge wire Larger electronics cutters are stronger, making them more resistant for cutting thicker wires, up to 12-gauge, or 2.64mm (0.104 inches) in diameter.
Smaller wire cutters are known as "nippers" and can often be operated in one hand Smaller electronics cutters, also known as ‘wire nippers’, are less resistant to damage, but useful in tight spaces where a larger type of cutter might be too big to access the wire. They can also cut very small wires, between 38 gauge (0.1524mm/0.0060 inches) and 24 gauge, (0.559mm/0.022 inches) which can be too small for the effective cutting range of cutters with larger jaws.

ESD cutters

Electronics cutters designed to disperse electrostatic discharges Ordinary plastic tool grips can accumulate a static charge over time, which is harmless to humans, but can damage sensitive circuitry and electrical components. ESD (electrostatic discharge) cutters or pliers are specially insulated cutting tools designed to safely discharge these build-ups.

Different head shapes

Electronics cutters have a variety of different heads Electronics cutters are available with several different standard-shaped jaws, useful for different purposes.
Some electronics cutters have oval heads

Oval

Oval-headed electronics cutters are the most reliable and hard-wearing cutters, and their cutting power makes them the best option if you need to cut thick wires or non-electronic wires such as steel wire. Their only weakness is that they can be too bulky to access wires in very tight spaces.

Some electronics cutters have tapered heads

Tapered

Tapered-head electronics cutters are designed to cut wires in situations where access is very limited and an oval-head electronics cutter might damage the workpiece. They do not have the same cutting power as oval-headed electronics cutters and are easily damaged if used for cutting materials harder than copper.

Some electronics cutters have angled heads

Angled

Angle-headed electronics cutters are useful for cutting wires at awkward angles that would be difficult to access with oval- or tapered-head cutters. Like tapered-head cutters, they lack the strength and durability of oval-headed ones.

Bevels

The bevel edge of a block of wood A bevel is a narrow edge of an object which is not perpendicular to the object’s other, larger faces.
The bevel on the jaw of an electronics cutter Electronics cutters are available with bevels in a variety of different shapes, each intended to produce a different standard of cut.
Cutting a wire can be like felling a tree Cutting through a wire is a little like chopping down a tree. It’s difficult to produce a perfectly straight cut all the way through the wire, particularly if the wire is made from a material harder than copper. Different bevels deal with this problem in different ways.
A graph showing the trade-off between precision and durability for electronics cutters, flush cutters, ultra-flush cutters, semi-flush cutters, and micro-bevel cutters Choosing the bevel of your electronics cutters is mostly a trade-off between durability and precision. Some cutters will cut easily through hard materials without being damaged, but they will leave the end of the wire in a sharp, tapered point. Other cutters will make a very neat cut but are far less durable. More precise cutters also tend to be more expensive.
A cut that is semi-flush

Semi-flush

Semi-flush cutters are the most commonly available, and usually the cheapest. A semi-flush cut is the easiest way to cut through a wire but it is also the least tidy, leaving the end of the wire in a pyramid shaped point. This point can be sharp, which means that semi-flush cutters should not be used for making jewellery or any component that will be handled.

A micro-bevel electronics cutter cutting a wire

Micro-bevel

The micro-bevel cutter is a lot like the semi-flush cutter, useful in situations where it is not critical for wires to be cut neatly. It is slightly less tough than than the semi-flush but also produces a less pronounced ‘pinch’ on the wire.

A 'flush' cut, which is not actually flush

Flush

Flush cutters (despite their name) do not create a perfectly flush cut, but they come very close. Flush cutters only leave a tiny pinch at theend of the wire, which is often the smallest pinch that can realistically be achieved. They are less suitable than semi-flush and micro-bevel cutters for occasional misuse such as cutting spring steel wire.

A cut that is actually flush

Ultra-flush

Ultra-flush cutters, also known as optimum flush cutters, come the closest to achieving the mythical perfect flush cut. They should only be used when it is absolutely essential to achieve a flush cut, because they are more expensive than other electronics cutters and the thinness of their jaws makes them very susceptible to damage through misuse.