Are there any alternatives to sprue cutters?
There are many other tools that could be used to perform the role of a sprue cutter. While some of these may be suitable for use in some circumstances they may not be usable in others and may not be as suitable as a sprue cutter which was specifically designed for the job.
Craft knives have thin and brittle blades in comparison to sprue cutters, so are only suitable for removing the very smallest of parts from a sprue made of soft material, such as the photo etched parts used for model making.
If you do not have a sprue cutter with a tapered tip and thin jaw thickness, then using a craft knife may be a better solution for removing small delicate parts made of soft material than trying to use a larger sprue cutter with thicker jaws.
Some model makers like to use nail clippers for removing small plastic parts from sprues.
However, like the craft knife, they are only suitable for removing small parts made of soft material such as plastic, as they do not have the strength to cut hard materials or sufficient jaw opening to cut large pieces. Also, the shape of the nail clippers can mean that getting access to some parts which are tightly packed is difficult.
Side cutters look very similar to sprue cutters and may be a suitable alternative if you don't have a sprue cutter. Like sprue cutters, side cutters come in a range of sizes, so some may be better suited to removing small parts, while others may have longer handles and thicker jaws, making them more suited to removing larger or harder parts from a sprue.
However, side cutters usually have a brushed steel finish that not only offers less corrosion protection than the black oxide finish found on many sprue cutters but can also reflect glare, resulting in eye strain if used for long periods of time.
Bolt cutters can be purchased in a variety of sizes. The smallest are similar in size to some larger compound lever action sprue cutters. This means bolt cutters can be an alternative to sprue cutters for removing larger parts from a sprue that is made of hard material such as steel.
Larger bolt cutters can provide a greater cutting force than even the largest manual sprue cutters. However, their larger size may make them too awkward and unwieldy for use on most sprues. Even the smallest bolt cutters would not be suitable for removing small parts from a sprue as their jaws would be too thick to gain access between the sprues.