by Ronald Paugh
Last Updated January 19, 2019
While many people consider the bolt cutter a simple machine, very little would claim that it isn’t a very convenient tool to have on-hand. Bolt cutters can be invaluable, but finding the right cutter for the job is important too. In this section of our guide, we’re going to hit on some features that you should consider before you purchase a bolt cutter so you can find the right product that will suit the work that you’re doing.
When you need to cut something constructed of harder materials, bolt cutters are exceptional. However before you purchase them, understand that there are different sizing options out there to choose from. Here are three of the most common:
In addition to the sizing options, bolt cutters can have different head types. These different heads really affect the job outcome, so before you settle on a product, take a look at the way it cuts so you don’t have any issues down the line.
If you’re going to be doing a lot of cutting, it’s a good idea to consider the ergonomics of your bolt cutter because the last thing you need is extended hand fatigue. Additionally, if you’re going to be cutting frequently, a good non-slip handle is amazing because it’ll help you get the job done quicker. For those that will be cutting heavier materials, you should select a longer handle because you’ll be able to cut better with the extra leverage that a longer handle affords.
Most blades on modern bolt cutters are a little less than an inch thick and are usually made from a wide variety of materials. Since you’ll want to use your bolt cutter for years, it’s a good idea to go with top-tier materials. As a result, go with a product that is either made from standard or hardened steel and is at least an inch thick. Forged steel will typically last longer and you won’t need to sharpen and maintain the blades as often.
Bolt cutters can be used in a myriad of practical ways. Here are the two most common:
When you’re looking for a good bolt cutter to cut through steel or other hardened materials like padlocks, it can be tough to find the right product. Fortunately, the six items that we’ve featured in this guide are all tough, can cut exceptionally well, and are easy to use.
If, for whatever reason, these products don’t quite fit your needs, take a look at our buyer’s guide to find out what features to look for when you make your next bolt cutter purchase.
The world of the bolt cutter is steadily advancing; in fact, there are now models on the market that fold down tightly to give you a fairly small size of a few inches for easy storage. These mini bolt cutters still manage to be strong and will provide over 4,000 pounds of cutting pressure for cutting bolts and padlocks.
Additionally, the required force for using a pair of bolt cutters is steadily decreasing, which is very useful for people that need to cut often.
This 14-inch product by Fiskars is in the PowerGear line of tools. It comes with a full lifetime warranty that is enhanced by quality construction that’s designed to last for decades.
This product includes adjustable bolts that let you increase the tension so you can still cut as strong as you wish over time. Additionally, the handles use Softgrip tech, which is designed to provide a truly ergonomic experience.
If you need a high level of cutting power with a truly reliable design, then the Fiskars PowerGear 14-inch bolt cutters are a good choice. They are strong, cut deeply, and are also relatively light with a very ergonomic design.
These Knipex bolt cutters are designed to have a very compact design; in fact, the product itself is only eight inches long. Additionally, these relatively small cutters have a high amount of strength and can cut through items with a diameter of up to 5.2mm.
Simply put, these cutters can sometimes be a bit too small for some practical applications as you just might not be able to easily reach what you’re cutting. Also, the cutting jaw is somewhat small.
One of the best features of these Knipex cutters is their locking device on the handles that allow for safer transport. This product also uses a comfort grip handle that is very easy to use and should reduce fatigue.
For closer jobs, these relatively small bolt cutters can provide a high amount of efficiency. While you won’t be using them for cutting through thick chain, they definitely are good for cutting bolts, nails, and rivets.
On the other end of the spectrum, these bolt cutters from HK Porter are designed for when you need reach. They are 18 inches long and are typically well-received in many best bolt cutter reviews.
For whatever reason, the action on these bolt cutters is best described as somewhat stiff. You won’t notice it every time, but it will become apparent during lengthy work. Also, the 3/8-inch cutting capacity is also somewhat prone to slippage, so you may struggle with thicker materials.
This product uses PowerLink technology that can reduce cutting effort by as much as 30 percent. Additionally, the product uses computer-generated design in its geometry for better efficiency.
Overall, these H.K. Porter bolt cutters are one of the best options for the money if you’re seeking nice, middle-of-the-road functionality. They have good quality construction, are good for when you need leverage, and aren’t heavy enough to cause fatigue during work.
This product from Olympia Tools is a good option for those that want a cutter that has a lot of leverage but can fold down to a mini sizing. At its maximum length, this cutter is 18 inches and can cut through standard bolts and some heavy-duty materials.
While it can cut some stronger materials, the jaws may struggle with thicker pieces of metal. Also, the hinges can loosen gradually over time if you do a lot of heavy-duty work.
Simply put, the best feature of these cutters is their ability to be folded and unfolded so you can have an 18-inch cutter or fold it down for easy storage. The process just requires that you press a switch that also locks the cutter into a cutting or folded position.
While some might consider it a gimmick, the foldable nature of this Olympia Tools product makes it very convenient to use, and as a result it has some great reviews. It also has a very ergonomic handle and a heavy-duty construction.
A good grip is crucial for a pair of cutters, and this product has rubber coated steel handles that provide a grippy surface that makes them easy to use. These 10-inch bolt cutters are some of the highest quality compact cutters on the market.
The jaws could be slightly longer in order for them to be more versatile. They are also too small for hard to reach bolt and material cutting.
These 10-inch bolt cutters are very well-made; the steel construction is protected so it won’t rust or corrode over time. Additionally, the steel itself is German chrome vanadium heavy-duty steel that’ll last for years.
Not only are these 10-inch cutters excellent for most short-range jobs, but they are also some of the most attractive cutters in our reviews. They’ll cut through padlocks, bolts, and many different materials under 0.157 inches in diameter due to the quality steel construction.
Out of our reviews, this product has by far the most reach and leverage by at least a good 10 inches. As a result, these 30-inch long bolt cutters are perfect for getting extra leverage or accessing hard to reach bolts.
These aren’t the strongest bolt cutters for power transmission; you’ll have to be fairly strong in order to cut deeply.
WorkPro has powder coated the entire body of these steel cutters so they won’t rust. Additionally, the tubular handle has bi-material grips that are very comfortable.
When you need leverage, these bolt cutters are an excellent tool that will cut padlocks, rods, rivets, and chain. Their steel jaws are tough and durable for an even work performance.
Frequently asked questions
There are jaw adjustment bolts and neck adjustment bolts to adjust a bolt cutter. First clamp your bolts securely to make the jaw adjustment bolts accessible and then turn your bolts clockwise with an openly headed spanner to move the blades closer together.
For blades it is steel, and for the handle steel and plastic or aluminum.
End cutter bolts are best suited for this, and the more compact bolt cutters are effective too. But if you’re going to use it regularly, get an end cut tool.