Tinsnips are designed to cut and trim sheet metal and other thin yet tough materials. Sheet metal can come in a variety of shapes and sizes and so tin snips are useful for cutting the sheet metal to the desired measurements.
They are an ideal tool as they can be used by both professional metalworkers or by hobbyists at home.
Tinsnips are often used by metalworkers to cut up sheet metal for car bodies.
They are useful for DIY jobs around the house, such as cutting metal for furniture, fencing, roofing and guttering.
Tinsnips are also used for modifying sheet metal when repairing or installing heating, ventilation or air conditioning into a building.
Certain types of tinsnips can be used for cutting heavier metals, for example wire mesh and netting. Straight pattern or aviation snips are suited for tasks such as these due to their stronger construction and serrated blade edges.
Tinsnips can also be used for cutting lighter metals such as copper and aluminium.
Some tinsnips are specially designed so that they can also cut other household materials, such as leather, plastic and carpet.
Some tinsnips can be used to cut light metal wire made from copper or aluminium.
However, they should not be used for cutting large diameter or hardened steel wire and screws. This may work but it could ruin the cutting edge of the blades by leaving a dent in them and, next time they are used, the snips will leave a ragged edge on the metal.
Most tinsnips can usually cut between 24 gauge and 18 gauge of standard mild steel sheet. This, however, depends on the size of the blade of each individual tin snip and the type of metal being cut.
In most cases the bigger the blade, the thicker the metal that can be cut.Use an appropriate metal gauge to measure the thickness of sheet metal to determine which tinsnips are needed.
Heavy duty is the description given to snips that can cut anything up to 16 gauge. Lighter duty tinsnips describes the snips that are designed for thinner metals, usually consisting of anything up to 22 gauge.For more information on sheet thickness, check our page called ‘What are the different sheet metal gauges?‘.
The advantages of using tin snips
A major advantage for users of tinsnips is that they are basic tools, so are relatively easy to use.Their simple design also means fewer problems are likely to occur in terms of malfunctioning or breakages.
Another advantage of tin snips is that they are less expensive than other more complex types of snips, such as compound action snips.
The disadvantages of using tin snips
The only real disadvantage of using tin snips is the risk of ruining the edge of the metal if the snip leaves a rough cut.Tin snips are hand tools, so it is harder to cut metal with a perfectly smooth finish compared with other tools, such as electric metal shears.