What do you do when you have to cut a thick material, such as sheet metal, hardened plastic or leather? Those are materials much too thick for scissors or standard shears so that’s when you’ll reach for a decent pair of snips. Snips are the tool of choice for professional sheet metal workers, hobbyists, or anybody that needs to cut something too intense for household scissors. While there are several varieties of snips, you can check out buyers guide listed below for everything you need to know before making a purchase.
Best Tin Snips:
Tin snips are basically heavy-duty shears that are used to cut cold rolled low carbon metal. They look sort of like a normal pair of scissors, only with a stubby pair of blades and a longer handle. They also differ from scissors in the sense that the cutting blade on a pair of tin snips is generally the bottom blade, as opposed to the top cutting blade of scissors.Obviously, tin snips are of most use to those that work with sheet metal. That’s what the tool is designed for and what most people buy them for. However, since tin snips can cut through thicker material than your average pair of shears or scissors, they are also a great tool for roofers (for cutting through shingles) and leather workers. I have even known them to be quite popular among hobbyists.
Unless you specifically need to cut out circles and shapes, odds are you’re more likely to use your tin snips to cut straight lines and wide or gentle curves. Due to this, all of the tin snips I have included on this list have straight pattern blades. If you need to cut out circles or shapes, they make a specific blade for that, called a duckbill pattern blade. Most manufactures sell tin snips of both varieties.
Due to the fact that cutting through thick material can make your hands very tired, all the snips on this list have some sort of comfort grip. This will reduce the amount of fatigue put on your hands significantly.
Additionally, in order for a snip to be used most efficiently, I feel it should be somewhat hand held. If snips get too long, I find them a bit difficult to use, which just increases the fatigue put on your hands. For this reason, all the snips on this list are under a foot long or shorter.
Finally, because I don’t think that a good, long lasting tool should cost an arm and a leg, all the tin snips on this list can be bought for under $25 and come with a warranty.
The Wiss 11 Straight Pattern Snips are the best tin snips available because they come with individually edged, anti-corrosion blades that last longer than other comparable tools. These are a very long lasting pair of tin snips. Read Full Review
The Tekton 8 in. Straight Pattern Tin Snipsare some of the top tin snips because they have a polished surface that combats both rust and spills. They also have hardened blade edges, which makes them last longer than normal. Read Full Review
The Clauss 7" Ti Tin Snips are a great tool to consider purchasing if you’re in the market to do so because they’re titanium bonded, making them sharper and stronger. They are also semi polished and adhesive resistant. Read Full Review
The Midwest Snips 8" Straight Tinner Snip is one of the best tin snips because they’re hot drop forged from high carbon steel, increasing the overall durability of the tool. It can also cut through thicker than average steel. Read Full Review
The GreatNeck Tools T12SC: Tin Snip 12 Inch is the final pair of tin snips on this list because they’re drop forged and heat treated, making them rugged and able to last a long time. They are also polished, making them resilient against corrosion. Read Full Review
Best Compound-Action Snips:
Compound action snips, or aviation snips as they’re sometimes called (because they were first made to cut aluminum during airplane construction), are the most common type of snips available. They’re so popular because the compound action increases the strength of the snips’ cutting power without increasing the length of the tool. Like tin snips, compound action snips are primarily used in the metal industry. However, they’re also great to use with hardened plastic or leather, making them popular among hobbyists.
Compound action snips generally come in three different styles: left cut, right cut and straight cut. Straight cutting snips will cut in straight lines and wide curves. Left cut snips will generally cut in tight left curves and right cut snips will cut in tight right curves. The type of compound action snip you want to purchase largely depends on what you wish to use them for. So, for the purpose of this list, all snips included fall under one of two categories. Either a) all three cutting types are included in one pair of snips, or b) all different variations of the snips are offered by the manufacturer for the same price (for example, if I list a straight cut pair of snips by a certain brand below, you can buy a right cut pair from the same brand, for the same price).
A decent amount of cutting power is also very important with compound action snips because that’s the point of the tool increased cutting power (in comparison to other snips). So, every tool I have listed below can cut up to 18-gauge sheet metal. That’s a high enough capacity to get through most anything you have to cut.
Pricing is important when it comes to purchasing a new tool as well. So, every one of the snips on this list can be bought for under $25. Furthermore, every tool comes with some sort of warranty. That makes each of the snips easy on the wallet and the mind.
Finally, because cutting through thick material can get very hard (meaning your hands get tired quickly and easily), every one of the compound action snips I have listed comes with a comforting hand grip. This is to reduce fatigue as much as possible, thereby making jobs easier.
The Wiss Tool 9 3/4 Metalmaster? Compound Action Snips, Straight, Left, Right is the top pair of snips because they have all three cut variations in one tool. The blades are also serrated, making cutting easier. They also have a bright yellow, textured grip, making them easy to spot and non-slip. Read Full Review
The CraftsmanCompound Leverage Snips, Regular Left Cut Aviation are on this list because they’re durable thanks to being hot drop forged. They also don’t have to be adjusted as often and are lightweight. Read Full Review
The Bessey D16S-BE Compound Action Straight Cutting Aviation Snip is a great pair of snips to consider buying because of their extra strength thanks to the way their heat-treated constructed. These snips also have blade serrations. This makes the tool way easier to use. Read Full Review
The Stanley Bostitch 14-257- Bostitch? 10" Aviation Snips Right have titanium nitride coated blades, making them harder and longer lasting. The tool also features a low profile design that makes cutting things safer and easier. Read Full Review
The Morris Products Aviation Tin Snip Left Cut wraps this list of best compound action snips up because of the extra strong blades capable of cutting through Kevlar. It also has an auto, one-handed safety release that increases the convenience of the tool. Furthermore, it has a non-slip grip, which is great if you easily get sweaty palms. Read Full Review
Best Pipe and Duct Snips:
Pipe and duct snips, or as they’re sometimes called, double cut snips, are a pair of snips that have three bladed jaws. They’re similar to compound action snips in the sense that they have the same compound action mechanism. What sets pipe and duct snips apart though is the way they cut. Two outer blades slide against an inner blade, cutting a strip of metal that sort of curls away from the cut. They’re primarily used to cut things like stove pipe and ducting lengthwise.
Like compound action snips, using pipe and duct snips can get a bit tiring. They can cause a lot of fatigue on your hands quickly. Due to this, each of the pipe and duct snips I have listed below comes with a comfort handgrip to eliminate this as much as possible.
A decent amount of cutting power is also desirable, as with any pair of snips you buy. For this reason, every snip I have included on this list has a cold roll cutting capacity of at least 24 gauge, if not more. This is so the tool you decide to purchase will work with virtual any material you need to cut.
Finally, every tool I have listed comes with a warranty. This is to safeguard your purchase should anything happen to it.
The Lenox 22213PDC4R Pipe Duct Cutter is the top pair of pipe and duct snips because of its super high cutting capacity, over molded handgrips and chrome silicone reinforced valve. Read Full Review
The Wiss HM41V HVAC Compound Action Pipe and Duct Snip is one of the best pipe and duct snips because it has rust resistant blades and a carbon steel jaw, which makes the tool long lasting. It also has a matte black finish that reduces glare. Read Full Review
The Midwest Snips MW-P1 Stovepipe & Duct Cutter is a solid pair of snips that can be used with fewer cuts, can form a useful starter hole and are CNC milled, giving them lots of cutting power. Read Full Review
The Wiss M41R 9 3/4-Inch MetalMaster Pipe and Duct Snips are some of the best pipe and duct snips available because they feature high grade steel blades, which make them sharper. They are also rust resistant and have a quick, spring feed action. This allows you to cut stuff quicker than usual. Read Full Review
Snips Buyer's Guide
Tin snips are most often used with sheet metal, and come in a variety of different sizes for use with different gauges of aluminum or stainless steel. These snips are usually the hardest to use as they don’t have any features that make cutting easier; rather, it’s all based on muscle.
They come in two different varieties:
Straight Pattern tin snips are designed to slice materials in straight lines as well as long, gentle curves.
Duckbill Pattern tin snips feature tapered blades that make it easier to cut circles and other shapes.
Theseare frequently used in the aviation industry. They are easier to use than tin snips due to the their compound action design which increases the force applied while cutting. They come in three different varieties:
Straight Cutting snips cut in straight lines and wide curves. They usually have yellow grips.
Left Cutting snips cut in straight lines and tight curves to the left. They generally have red grips.
Right Cutting snips also cut in straight lines, as well as tight right curves. They most always feature green grips.
You can also purchase compound-action snips combing all three varieties in one tool.
Pipe and Duct Snips
These snips make use of compound action to cut materials with their three cutting blades. They’re used to cut stovepipe, ducts made from tough materials like fiberglass or hardened plastics.
Compound-action and pipe and duct snips feature three different configurations:
Straight is the standard blade configuration for snips.
Offset is used for curved and long cuts.
90 Degree snips are used for work in tight,enclosed spaces
Snips are measured based on the gauge of steel they can cut through with each pair usually featuring a stainless steel and cold rolled steel rating. The lower the gauge rating, the thicker the metal the snips can handle.
Using a pair of snips for extended periods of time can cause considerable hand fatigue, especially with variety used for cutting tin. As such, comfort grips are very important, especially if you’re a professional looking for a pair of snips to use on a daily basis.
Snips are frequently used by professionals in environments like warehouses and outdoors worksites so rust resistance is of particular importance. Like most hand tools, corrosion resistance is achieved through either polished or powder-coated blades.