Last updated: August 12, 2021

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If you work in the garden, do handicrafts as a hobbyist or work as a professional electrician, then you need a side cutter in each of these cases. This versatile tool can shorten or cut wires and cables without much effort. A side cutter belongs in every well-stocked toolbox and it is all the more important to invest in a quality side cutter.

With our large side cutter test 2022 we want to help you find your ideal side cutter. We have done our research and found all the requirements that you should have for a side cutter and summarised them for you in the following. In this way, we want to make your purchase decision easier.




Summary

  • Side cutters are ideal for cutting or severing wires or cables. Working with different materials such as plastic or metal is no problem with the side cutter. Only a small amount of force is required due to the leverage effect.
  • Side cutters are available in three basic variations: Mini side cutters, standard side cutters and power side cutters. Depending on the diameter of the wires and cables, the appropriate version must be selected. For the perfect middle ground, we always recommend a standard side cutter that can cut through materials with a diameter of 1.0 to 4.0 mm.
  • A side cutter is very versatile and is suitable for both the hobbyist and the professional. It is important to make sure that the side cutter has the ESD/VDE test seal, so that trouble-free work with electrics and electricity is guaranteed.

The Best Side Cutter: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a side cutter

What is a side cutter?

As the name suggests, a side cutter is a pair of pliers that can be used to cut through materials.
The name is derived from the formation of the cutting edge. Compared to a front or middle cutter, the cutting edge of a side cutter is arranged on the side.

Because of the leverage, it is easier to shred materials.

Because of the leverage created when the two handles are pressed together, it is particularly easy to chop up harder materials.

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Side cutters get their name from the cutting edge, which is positioned on the side.
(Image source: pixabay.com/Bru-nO)

What does a side cutter cost?

A side cutter is generally offered for sale individually, but many tool sets also include a side cutter. The price range for side cutters goes from 16 euros to 30 euros, depending on the quality and the material used.

The price also depends on the versatility of the side cutter. The more versatile you can use it, the higher the price. For example, a side cutter that can also be used as a bolt cutter is much more expensive than one that only cuts cables or thin material.

What kind of work do I need a side cutter for?

You can use side cutters in many different ways. Whether you are a professional or a hobbyist who only does small jobs at home from time to time, a side cutter is indispensable in every toolbox.

Side cutters are very useful for the following reasons:

  • For cutting wires, cables with little effort
  • Versatile for use in the home or professionally at work
  • Different types of cut can be produced, depending on which model is used, an oblique or straight cut can be made
  • A side cutter is very advantageous for special work such as model work

What is the alternative to a side cutter?

Side cutters for guitar strings

A side cutter for guitar strings is used to cut strings and the frets and to pull out the string nails. Most side cutters are made of durable stainless steel and have extra non-slip handles.

These are designed to ensure that you don't slip while working and cause damage to your guitar. If you need a side cutter to shorten guitar strings or bass strings, then we recommend that you use this tool.

Bowden cable cutter

A bowden cable cutter cuts wire ropes, even if they are very robust. The advantage here is that a clean cut is made without splitting. These pliers also have press profiles for the end sleeves on Bowden sheaths.

A Bowden cable cutter is particularly advantageous if you need exact blade guidance and want to achieve a large power transmission with little effort. This tool is basically only used by professionals, because you only need it for special work on machines.

Stripping side cutter

The stripping side cutter is characterised by the different sized holes in the head of the pliers, which are suitable for wires and cables with different diameters.

Such side cutters are used in electrical installations, among other things, because they have a long cutting edge and can thus be used for precise cutting work. As the handles are insulated, it is possible to carry out work on power and electrical sources.

Decision: What types of side cutters are there and which is the right one for you?

Which side cutter is right for you depends on the diameter of the wires or cables. Therefore, we advise you to take a look at the different types of side cutters.

Side cutter types Features
Mini side cutter Suitable for thin wires and cables and ideal for precise work.
Standard side cutters Suitable for wires and cables with a diameter between one and four millimetres.
Power side cutters Suitable for thick wires and cables (from 4 mm) due to the longer handles, greater leverage can be created.

Mini side cutters

If you only want to cut thin wires or cables (less than 1.0 mm), we recommend a mini side cutter. Since the wires are very thin, only minimal leverage is needed, so the handles are also very thin and short.

This is exactly why the mini side cutters are perfect for precise and delicate work, such as model making or jewellery work.

For a better overview, we have listed the advantages and disadvantages of mini side cutters:

Advantages
  • Ideal for working on thin wires and cables
  • Not cumbersome as only a small amount of force is needed
Disadvantages
  • Inadequate for thicker wires and cables
  • Possibly not usable for electrical and power work

Standard side cutters

With a standard side cutter you can cut wires and cables of medium thickness (1.0-4.0 mm). These side cutters have larger and thicker handles.

The standard side cutter is not as small as the mini side cutter, but it still fits well in the hand and can also be used for fine work.

Advantages
  • Suitable for almost all wires and cables in the home
  • Most standard side cutters have insulating handles
Disadvantages
  • Very precise work is not possible
  • Due to the larger handles, the hand tires more quickly

Power diagonal cutters

Power side cutters are used to cut thick wires or cables (4.0 mm or more). They have a longer handle and the pliers head is also much larger.

Due to the larger features, a large leverage effect can be generated. Power side cutters are not necessarily intended for delicate work, for example, the bolt cutter belongs to the category of power side cutters.

Advantages
  • Best suited for powerful work, e.g.: on the garden fence or on the construction site
  • Most Kraft side cutters have an inductively hardened pliers head
Disadvantages
  • No exact control with thinner wires and cables
  • Difficult to resharpen, as inductively hardened side cutters can only be resharpened by a professional

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate diagonal cutters based on these factors

Blade hardness

The blade hardness is specified in "HRC" and determines the wire and cable thickness that the side cutter can cut. Therefore, it is even more important to consider how thick the materials to be cut will be before you buy.

For everyday work, we recommend a standard side cutter that is suitable for wires with a diameter of 1.0 to 4.0 mm.

If you do not intend to cut particularly thick wires, we recommend a standard side cutter. This would give you a perfect balance and be well equipped for most household and gardening tasks.

Cutting surface

Another important factor to consider when buying a side cutter is the cutting surface. Side cutters are available with or without a bevel (also called a bevel edge). The deciding factor for you should be whether or not you want to solder the wires after cutting them.

If you want to solder the ends after cutting, then you need a side cutter with a bevel, if not, a side cutter without a bevel will be sufficient for you.

Weight

Weight is an important factor in choosing the right side cutter. Since you use the side cutter with one hand, it is important that it fits well in your hand.

We recommend that you choose a side cutter that weighs no more than 300 grams so that the work does not become even more tedious.

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A real heavyweight among the side cutters is the bolt cutter. Nevertheless, it is constantly in use for various heavy-duty jobs.
(Image source: unsplash.com/Tekton)

ESD and VDE

These two abbreviations show you whether your side cutter is also suitable for work in the electrical sector. Below we have briefly explained these two abbreviations for you:
ESD (electro static discharge): means electrostatic discharge. The handles of ESD-approved side cutters are made of a material that does not transmit electrostatic energy.

ESD side cutters do not transmit electrostatic energy; VDE side cutters have current-insulated handles.

We recommend ESD side cutters if you have to work on computers or music equipment.
VDE (Verband für Berufe im Bereich der Elektro- und Informationstechnik): Only diagonal cutters with insulated handles receive this seal of approval. If side cutters have this seal, they can be used for work up to 1,000 volts. We strongly recommend that you observe the maximum number of volts specified, otherwise it could be life-threatening for you.

Facts worth knowing about side cutters

How can I resharpen a side cutter?

It is important to maintain your side cutter so that you can use it for a long time. Because of the material, it can be more difficult to sharpen yourself. Of course, you can also try to sharpen it yourself with a grindstone or knife sharpener, but the result may be worse than the original condition.

Therefore, we recommend that you hire a professional, as many hardware stores offer this at a very reasonable price.

Do I need a special side cutter for jewellery?

Of course you can use a standard mini side cutter for various jewellery work, but a side cutter specifically for jewellery would be better suited.

The side cutter is made of hardened tool steel and has special plastic protective handles so that you do not slip when working. The light suspension is particularly advantageous so that you can work even more easily and quickly.

Should I take precautions when working with side cutters?

In order to work successfully and without great danger with a side cutter, here are some tips from us that you should follow.

  • No greasy fingers: When working, you should make sure that you do not work with greasy fingers, otherwise you run the risk of slipping and injuring yourself.
  • Use strong gloves: You should also make sure to use gloves when doing heavy work to avoid skin abrasions or bruises.
  • Keep them in your toolbox: Even if a side cutter does not look dangerous at first, it should never get into the hands of children. We therefore recommend that you always keep the side cutters in a closed tool box.

Image source: Montor/ 123rf.com

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