Wire cutters come in handy for both small and big tasks. They are designed to make fast and clean cuts for any wire type, including building wire, copper, brass, steel, and others. However, not everyone has wire cutters in their toolbox.
So, what do you do when you have a task that involves cutting a wire without having the required tool to do the job? Of course, there are different alternatives, but it is best to use a wire cutter if you have one. They are generally not expensive, and they can make the job easier and safe for you.
While cutters are highly recommended, there are times you may not have access to them when you need them. In such a situation, what should you do? In this post, we will show you how to cut wire without wire cutters using five different methods. Let’s get right into the details.
You can cut wire without cable cutters in five different ways mentioned below.
- Bend it
- Use a hacksaw to cut it
- Use Tin Snips
- Use a reciprocating saw
- Use an angle grinder
These are five alternatives to wire cutting without a wire cutter.
5 Ways to Cut Wire without Wire Cutters
If you do not have a pair of wire cutters, don’t despair! There are alternatives that you can explore to get the job done. Here is how to cut wire without cutters using five different methods.
1. Bend It
You can try to bend the wire if it is thinner and pliable. All you have to do is bend it sideways until it starts breaking away. You will not be able to break it if the wire is thick or comes with jacketing at the top. One other thing, if you bend the wire repeatedly, you will compromise the general integrity of the wire. (1)
That is because the area around the bend or break will harden, which can make the area stronger and harder than the rest of the wire. Also, the wire may suffer some levels of deformation when you use the bending method. That may make the wire unreliable for future use.
Nothing can compare to wire cutting with a pair of wire cutters. However, you can get a hacksaw if you do not have a pair of wire cutters. Ensure that the hacksaw has a high teeth-per-inch count to get a clean cut. One thing you must understand is that it is a bit difficult to cut wire, especially for smaller wires.
The tool is mostly used for bigger diameter wires. Using a hacksaw to cut thinner diameter and smaller wires may compromise the integrity of the wire. There is a good chance that the wire will deform or bend more than you anticipate after cutting it.
3. Tin Snips
Tin snips come with sharpened blades with about 8-inch handles. They are designed originally to cut sheets of thin metal, but they can also be used to cut copper wire and other softer wire. If you want to use tin snips, you need to be careful.
Put the wire between the blades carefully and evenly close the handles. You can get an even cut with tin snips but you can end up contorting or bending it if it is done poorly.
4. Reciprocating Saw
While a hacksaw can get your wire cut, it cannot be compared to a reciprocating saw. A reciprocating saw delivers more power and speed and you are sure to get a more even cut with this tool. Reciprocating saws have variable lengths and thin blades attached to them.
Its motor is built into its unit and moves the saw blade forward and backward at high speeds. This device is originally designed for cutting things like wood and pipes in places where a bigger saw would not fit. When using it for strip wire, make sure that the teeth-per-inches are very high so that it can cut the wire with minimal issue.
To cut a wire stripper with a reciprocating saw, turn on the saw and move the blade slowly against the wire as you push gently until it cuts through. It is recommended that you wear protective eyewear because the speed of the saw can get the wire pieces to whip in several directions.
5. Angle Grinder
An angle grinder comes with a circular disk cutting blade. This blade rotates at a very high speed per minute. You can get a more thorough and deeper clean cut on surfaces when you use an angle grinder.
To use this device, wear your eye goggles and turn the grinder on. Slowly introduce it to the outer part of the wire and move it slowly until the angle grinder cuts the wire. This tool works best for wires with a larger gauge.
Tip: Don’t Use Scissors or Nail Clippers
Never try to use nail clippers or scissors to cut wire because they are not designed for such work. Using either of these will not cut the wire and you may end up destroying the scissors. Scissors and nail clippers are not sharp enough for cutting through wires.
When you use them, they will only bend the wires or distort them. This will not only damage your tool but also make the wires unreliable for future use. You also run the risk of getting injured when you use these tools because they are insulated and may lead to electrical shock. (2)
What are the different wire types?
There are different types of wires and each is used for different projects and situations. The two popular options you can find are multiconductor wires and metal-clad wires.
Multiconductor Wires. These are designed to be used for connecting home appliances, such as dishwashers, stoves, and washing machines, among others. They are generally referred to as NM type, which means non-metallic.
They include live or hot wires, ground wires, and neutral wires. Non-metallic cables or copper wire are mostly used for heavier appliances using 120/140 circuits.
Metal-Clad Wiring. Also known as MC, Metal Clad wires come with a special metal housing, which is often aluminum. It contains a neutral, live, and ground wire. This type of wire is often used for industrial applications because it can hold up against larger loads.
The metal casing also gives them some level of protection against wire failure and fire incidences. Metal Clad wires are more expensive than multiconductor wires because of the high safety measures and materials used in making them. You will find this type of wiring in industrial and commercial applications.
How to determine your gauge
The first step is to remove the insulation from the electrical wiring and speaker wires before measuring the diameters. Ensure that you clip the wire end with the wire cutters and also use them to chip into the insulation.
Make sure that you have a half-inch from the end of the wire with the cutter blades and carefully cut around the whole insulation circumference. Next, slip off the insulation from the end that you just cut. Using a gauge measure, you can measure the non-ferrous wiring. Ensure that you push in the wire at the circular slots that are closer to the diameter.
Also, use a denoted gauge to prevent gaps and guarantee that the wire snugly fits. It is worth mentioning that non-ferrous metals’ gauges are different from those used for ferrous metals. You can use the SWG (Standard Wire Gauge) to measure wires that contain iron.
A lot goes into wiring, and some tools are required to deliver accurate, clean cuts. Using other tools may compromise the integrity of the wiring. You should use a sharp, accurate tool if you do not have cable cutters.
Take a look at some of our related articles below.
- Where to find thick copper wire for scrap
- How to direct wire a fuel pump
- How to use a multimeter to test voltage of live wires
(1) integrity – https://www.thebalancecareers.com/what-is-integrity-really-1917676
(2) electrical shock – https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-electrical-shock/basics/art-20056695
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