Need to know when it’s time to sharpen your wire cutters? If you’re asking yourself this, there’s a good chance that yours are already becoming less and less effective.
While there’s no specific way to know if your wire cutters need sharpening, here are some reasons why your wire cutters are just not cutting it and tips on what you can do to fix the problem.
Wire cutters are a useful, essential tool to have around the home. They can be used in various ways, with some cutters used to both cut and strip wire.
Wire cutters are indispensable to many home gardening and craft projects, such as the art of Bonsai, which uses wires to grow and shape miniature trees. Over time, your cutters may become dull. There is a simple way to sharpen them if necessary.
You do not have to go to a professional to sharpen your wire cutters. It can be done in a matter of seconds sitting in the comfort of your homes. Read on to find out how.
- Your Problem is Pivotal
- They’re Just Not Making the Cut
- Not the Sharpest Tool in the Shed
- You Need Your Pliers to Be a Bit More Pliable
- Guide to Sharpening Diagonal Cutting Pliers
- Taking Care of Your Gutters
Your Problem is Pivotal
The sharpness of the blades on your cutter might not be the problem. Instead, the way the pivot is adjusted might be preventing the blades from closing entirely or staying aligned. This matters if you’re working with smaller objects or soft wire. In this case, a sharper tool won’t help. Instead, you’ll have to pivot to a new solution. Consider a smaller-sized shear cut plier.
They’re Just Not Making the Cut
If it seems like your wire cutters aren’t sharp enough to cut through the wire you’re working with, you may have the wrong style of pliers. If you’re working with some big wire, you might need pliers designed for thick cables. If the material you’re working with isn’t thick but is hard as nails, you might want to consider some heavy-duty pliers.
Not the Sharpest Tool in the Shed
Maybe it’s time to learn how to sharpen your wire cutters. Of course, buying a new pair might be a more straightforward solution. But if you happened to be attached to the pair you have, it’s possible to sharpen your wire cutters.
The easiest way is to take a nail file and file along the blade edge of your cutters. If there’s a particular ding that’s getting in your way, applying some heat, or welding on more material and resanding, might help remove it. However, at that point, it’s probably best to get a new pair.
A second option is to use a drill with a sanding strip and smooth over the cutters’ flat sides. A similar technique can be applied to flathead screwdrivers to keep them lasting longer.
It’s important to remember that wire cutters are a type of pliers, but they’re a bit different than wire strippers or wire crimping tools. You probably want to avoid sharpening those types of tools since they rely a lot more on precision.
You Need Your Pliers to Be a Bit More Pliable
If you’re still uncertain about how to sharpen your wire cutters but want to avoid dulling new ones in the future, you might want to consider multi-purpose pliers that are more adaptable when it comes to your needs. Trying to cut hard wires with pliers that were designed for soft wire, for example, is a sure way to ruin the blades on your wire cutters long before their time should be up.
Sharpening wire cutters can turn into a difficult or time-consuming task, but it’s possible if you’re invested in saving the pair you have. That said, if you haven’t learned enough about how to sharpen wire cutters at this point, hopefully, you’ve at least sharpened your knowledge on the type of pliers you might need to get the job done. That type of experience should help your future pair of wire cutters last even longer.
Guide to Sharpening Diagonal Cutting Pliers
Step 1 – Choose a File
You will need a hand file with a fine grain (called ‘smooth’ or ‘dead smooth’ files) to sharpen the blades of diagonal cutting pliers. A coarse file removes too much material with less precision, which will damage such a small blade.
Step 2 – Clean the Pliers Blades
Clean tools to keep them in prime condition.
Ensure the blades are clean before sharpening. Wash the blades with soapy water and remove rust using the How to clean rust from diagonal cutting pliers page.
Step 3 – Secure the Pliers in a Vice
Place the handles of the diagonal cutting pliers in a vice with the jaws pointing upwards. Securing the pliers like this will make it easier to use the hand file without damaging the blades further.
Make sure you have a good light source so you can see the blades.
Step 4 – Rub the Blade with a File
Choose one side of one blade to start with and rub the file along the blade’s angle in quick, short movements. You need to apply some pressure but not too much as you will remove too much metal and misalign the blades. The aim is to remove kinks and burrs (little bobbles of metal) from the blade.
Step 5 – Repeat
Sharpen both sides of each blade as in Step 4. Repeat this until the blades are once again sharp.
Step 6 – Test the Pliers
When you think you are done, test the pliers by cutting a piece of wire. You should tell if they are correctly sharpened by how easy it is to cut the wire. If they are still blunt, repeat Steps 3 to 5.
Step 7 – Apply Oil
Rewash the blades of the pliers in soapy water to remove the metal filings. Once they are thoroughly dry, coat the pliers in a thin layer of oil. You can also apply rubbing alcohol to the blades and allow them to dry before use or storage.
Taking Care of Your Gutters
Regardless of what you do with them, your cutters will dull over time. You can extend the longevity of the cutters by washing them every time after use. They can be cleaned with soap and water or with rubbing alcohol and then dried. You can also use bleach to clean and sterilize them.
If you have sap from trees or plants or any other sticky substance, you can use WD40 (which is an oil that prevents rust) or lighter fluid to remove it. After you dry your cutters, oil them lightly and then store them until their next use.