Now it’s true that you get what you pay for when it comes to tools, but some tools don’t seem to last irrespective how much you pay for them.
The humble wire-cutters, a basic item that should be in every hobbyists tool box, and an item you can spend a lot of money on, however, often cheaper is better value.
Wire-cutters come in all shapes and sizes and a pair with an overall length of around 125mm are idea for hobby electronics work, and a pair of these will cost you anywhere from £2.50 to over £100. I seem to go through around two to three pairs of wire-cutters a year and it doesn’t seem to matter how much I pay for them.
So, how do you know if you need a new pair of cutters?
Well that’s simple, hold them up to a light and look how the jaw blades meet.
You can see little dinks in the blades that let though light. These will make bad cuts and you notice this when clipping off component leads for example. When the cutters are new, the component lead will usually shoot off as you clip it. However, when the blades are worn or damaged they start to crimp the component lead as opposed to cutting it meaning you have to work harder and your cuts aren’t as clean.
The simple way to damage a pair of wire cutters is to cut either wire that is too thick; don’t use them to cut heavy gauge mains type cable, or cut things other than wire, and this applies no matter how much you pay for your cutters.
If you find you need to cut heavy gauge wire, invest in an electricians pair of wire cutters or even a pair of cable shears for the really heavy gauge stuff.
Another great way to destroy a pair of cutters, is to try and use them (an old pair thank heavens) to cut into a plastic box.