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The Best Diagonal Cutters

best diagonal cutters

Whether you’re a general contractor, professional handyman, or DIY enthusiast, a good pair of diagonal cutters is a crucial part of your toolkit. Unlike scissors, which cut by shearing, diagonal cutters work by indenting and wedging the line.

This particular tool is used for cutting cables. It can handle soft metals like copper, brass, aluminum, iron, and steel. However, harder materials, like tempered steel cables and piano wire, usually require a higher-quality cutter made with hardened steel.

Today, I’m looking at twelve of the best diagonal cutters I’ve worked with in my years as a handyman, then as a contractor. My team and I work with various tool sets that I assign to members once they join my team, so I’m writing my reviews based on everyone’s experience.

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Best Diagonal Cutter Reviews

1. Knipex 7401250SBA Diagonal Cutters

This pair of Knipex diagonal cutters is an excellent tool if you need to cut wires frequently. It has a specially-designed high-leverage axle, which reduces cutting force requirements by 20%. In my experience, my hands weren’t as sore when I used this in a wire installation project I worked on.

The cutter itself is made from oil-hardened chrome vanadium steel, ensuring that it will withstand construction and job sites’ high-stress environments. Furthermore, its precision edges are induction-hardened to make it suitable for dealing with both soft and rigid materials.

It also uses a fixed forged axle rivet joint, ensuring the cutting action will remain smooth throughout its lifetime. Knipex has provided an excellent ergonomic form for this tool. Its optimum blade angle, transmission ratio, and handle shape reduce my hands and arms’ stress when cutting.

My only issue with this is that it’s a heavy tool and can be quite tricky to use in tight spaces. This is probably because of its heavy build quality, but it’s a trade-off I’m willing to accept. I’d rather have a hefty, reliable tool that will not fail in the middle of a job than have a maneuverable cutter that won’t stand up to the stress of heavy work.
Pros
  • Specially-designed high-leverage axle reduces cutting force requirements by 20%
  • Made from oil-hardened chrome vanadium steel to ensure extended life
  • Induction-hardened precision edges for cutting both soft and rigid wires
  • Fixed forged axle rivet joint ensures smooth action throughout its life
  • Ergonomic blade angle, transmission rate, and handle shape reduce stress
Cons
  • Heavy tool can be quite tricky to use in tight space
What I like best about this tool is that it really considers the user. It allows me to work more efficiently and accomplish more in the field while reducing my physical stress.

2. Klein Tools D248-9ST Diagonal Cutting Pliers

The ironworker in my team says this is the best side cutter pliers he’s worked with. He said that he loves this because it’s easy to use, even when he’s wearing thick work gloves. The 13-degree angled head also makes working in tight spaces a breeze, allowing him to get his tasks done in less time.

This ironworker special is particularly useful for cutting soft annealed rebar tie wire. It slices wires cleanly and in one smooth action. Plus, it has short jaws with a beveled cutting edge to permit close cuts. These ensure that the tie wire won’t have sharp edges, reducing injury risk and allowing my people to work more efficiently.

Its handles are plastic-dipped to make it effortless to hold and provide grip, even to sweaty palms. It’s also equipped with a hook handle that naturally secures the tool to your palm when in use. So whether you have large hands or are wearing gloves, this pair of pliers will not accidentally fall from your grasp while in use.

An issue this product has is its lack of insulation. If you want to cut hot wires, this item is probably not the best choice. I don’t plan on doing that with mine, so this is perfect for me.
Pros
  • 13-degree angled makes working in tight spaces a breeze, reducing work time
  • Particularly useful for clean and smooth cuts of soft annealed rebar tie wire
  • Short jaws with beveled cutting edges permit close cuts, avoiding sharp edges
  • Plastic-dipped handles provide effortless grip, even for sweaty palms
  • Hooked handle naturally secures the tool to your palm when in use
Cons
  • Insulation not included
I cannot recommend this more for metalworkers who work in tight spaces. Its popularity with ironworkers is no surprise, considering its commendable attributes.

3. Irwin 2078306 Diagonal Cutting Pliers

I bought this pair of wire cutters about a year and a half ago when I onboarded a new construction team member. I chose this when I was buying stuff for his kit because its specifications exceed ANSI standards. Although having ANSI certifications isn’t required for everyone, I like having my entire team equipped with such tools.

The cutting pliers themselves are made from nickel-chromium steel, making them more durable and withstand constant use in harsh construction environments. Its cutting reliability is also ensured with induction-hardened edges, allowing it to stay sharper for longer.

I also chose this pair because it was easier to use than the other available diagonal cutters when I was shopping. Its ProTouch handles reduce user fatigue, making it more comfortable to use. And its machined jaws were made for maximum grip so that the cutting pliers won’t slip during use.

It’s important to note that these cutters are a bit small, so if you have big hands, you might want to get something else. Make sure to check the dimensions first before buying.
Pros
  • Diagonal cutters exceed ANSI specifications
  • Nickel-chromium steel for added durability and use in harsh environments
  • Cutting reliability ensured with induction-hardened edges
  • ProTouch handles reduce user fatigue, making the pliers comfortable to use
  • Machined jaws ensure maximum grip, reducing its chances of slipping during use
Cons
  • Might not suit big hands
The Irwin Diagonal Cutters are excellent for general construction use. They’re easy on the hands and cut well. However, I wouldn’t recommend these for big hands since they’re a bit small. But if this doesn’t apply to you, I don’t see how these pliers won’t be a good buy.

4. IGAN DC7 Diagonal Cutting Pliers

This is one of the first small diagonal cutters I ever bought when I started working professionally as a handyman. I got this pair because of its cutting ability, rated for copper wires up to 9 gauge and steel wires up to 1/16-inch thick. That allowed me enough flexibility to cut just about any wire I would usually encounter in general jobs.

It’s forged from tempered steel, so strength is not an issue. I can apply as much force as I need without fearing that it will break in either the axle or the handle. The jaws are also hardened through induction heating and quenching to neither bend nor break even when used repetitively on hard materials.

It also comes with a spring-loaded mechanism requiring less effort to open and close the pliers for repetitive work. Best of all, it has a full lifetime warranty. Should I ever break the pliers and make them unusable, all I need to do is contact customer service, and they’ll ship a replacement.

Overall, this product has served me well. I just wish it had a latch for closing the blades before storing. These pliers are top-tier when it comes to performance, and I would happily recommend it to my fellow workers.
Pros
  • Rated to cut copper up to 9 gauge and steel wires up to 1/16-inch thick
  • Forged from tempered steel for consistent strength throughout the pliers
  • Jaws are hardened through induction heating and quenching
  • Spring-loaded mechanism requires less effort for opening and closing the pliers
  • Comes with a full lifetime warranty
Cons
  • No latch for closing the blades
I like this pair of pliers because of its capacity to cut thick copper and steel wires, making it suitable for almost all of my projects. The lifetime warranty is also a great plus, adding excellent value to the item.

5. Channellock 338 Diagonal Cutting Pliers

This is one of the best diagonal cutting pliers I’ve encountered on the market because the maker’s excellent design ensures that it is perfect even in the minutest details. I can say that this company philosophy helps them make some of the best tools on the market.

The tool itself is precision-machined, with a knife and anvil-style cutting edge. This ensures that the edges mate perfectly, ensuring a perfect cut every time. The brand also used laser heat treatment technology to further enhance cutting-edge strength so that the pliers will last long through multiple projects.

High-carbon C1080 steel is used for the tool body. This high-strength material offers superior performance over other metal alloys and 100% guarantees that your tool won’t fail due to breakage. Channellock also wraps the plier handles with its iconic comfortable blue grips, making sure that they will stand out in your toolbox and be easy to spot.

However, I find that this tool’s blunt tip design makes it almost impossible to reach in tight areas. I have to ensure that the wire’s already cut beforehand because this cutter can’t get in to trim it once installed.
Pros
  • Company philosophy ensures perfect build in almost every detail
  • Precision-machined edge with knife and anvil style for superior performance
  • Laser heat treatment technology enhances cutting-edge strength for durability
  • High-carbon C1080 steel material for the tool body
  • Comfortable blue handle grips ensure it can be easy to spot and is easy to use
Cons
  • Blunt tip design makes it hard to reach in tight spaces
Generally, I love how Channellock makes its diagonal cutters. The design is well thought out, and it’s suitable for most construction uses. Just make sure to pre-cut your wire as you can’t use this in tight spaces.

6. Klein Tools D248-8 Diagonal Cutting Pliers

I chose this model from Klein because of its lifetime warranty on material defects and workmanship. I prefer products with guarantees like this because I know I could rely on my projects’ tool. It’s no good for me when any gadget I’m using breaks down during construction.

This pair of diagonal cutters is designed for cutting non-ferrous wire and soft metal alloys, making it excellent in most cutting applications. The manufacturer has also induction-hardened the edge itself to last longer than other ordinary cutting pliers. You can use and abuse this tool without having to worry about it breaking.

Its high-leverage rivet axle lets it have 36% greater cutting power over other designs. The joint also ensures that it will have smooth action without any wobble throughout its lifetime. These features allow you to work faster and more efficiently, so you could do more in less time.

The only problem I encountered was it could get pretty stiff and hard to open. It takes a while to loosen it up. Nevertheless, I think this tool will work well and last me a long time as long as I maintain this correctly.
Pros
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty on material defects and workmanship
  • Designed for use on non-ferrous wire and soft metal alloys
  • Induction-hardened edge will last longer than ordinary pliers
  • High-leverage rivet axle has 36% greater cutting power than other designs
  • Lifetime smooth action with no handle wobble ensured by the joint
Cons
  • Can be pretty stiff and hard to open
If you’re working on wiring and cabling a lot, this is a good pair of electrical side cutters. It’s specifically designed for that application, and if you maintain it properly, it will work as long as you need it to.

7. CRAFTSMAN CMHT81718 Diagonal Cutting Pliers

I consider this one of the best diagonal pliers I’ve ever held because of its special grips. It uses two different materials on various sections to ensure the utmost comfort and safety. I enjoy using this pair of pliers, whether I’m holding it with my bare hands or with safety gloves on.

It also has a compound action design, allowing me to use it in cutting even tougher materials. This is because this feature vastly increases my cutting force as compared with typical cutter designs. And should the compound axle fail, I’m covered by a full lifetime warranty, so I can just have it replaced.

Finally, the materials used on the pliers and their cutting edges, plus the process used in making them, ensure excellent strength and longevity. The plier body and handles are made using a drop forge process so that the internal steel structure is solid, with no weak point anywhere. Additionally, the edges passed through induction hardening so that they will not dull, ever.

The only problem I have with this tool is that you have to open it widely to utilize its compound action design, taking two hands. It can be an inconvenience, especially if you’re high up on a ladder, but I typically use it only when cutting particularly hardened steel wires on the ground, which is rare for me.
Pros
  • Uses two different material types on grip sections for utmost comfort and safety
  • Compound action design allows you to apply more force to cut tougher metals
  • Covered by a full lifetime warranty
  • Made using a drop forge process, ensuring a solid internal structure
  • Cutting edges passed through induction hardening so they won’t dull through time
Cons
  • Requires opening the pliers with two hands to utilize the compound action
I recommend this if you’re usually working with thick and tough materials. Its unique compound action is beneficial, especially if you’re focused on steel cable and wire preparation.

8. Mr. Pen Flush-Cut Wire Cutter

This is one of the oldest pairs of cutters I have in my kit. I bought it when I got my first project as a contractor because I wanted to work with new tools at that time. I like it because of its corrosion-resistant nickel-chromium steel – it’s still rust-free even after many years of me owning and using it.

It’s smooth to operate, opening and closing without much effort due to its precision-ground construction and surfaces. The non-slip hand grips are also double-coated to provide better control and to increase its durability. I can work more efficiently, suffer from less hand and arm fatigue, and accomplish more with these features.

I use this wire cutter for almost all kinds of copper and soft wire, up to 16 gauge. Its angled head is also perfect for flush-cutting, creating clean and straight cuts. I prefer to use this pair of cutters when I’m working with delicate wirings, like the ones used for installing intricate chandeliers and lighting fixtures.

I’ve heard some of my people complain that it’s not sharp enough to cut through thick wires when they borrow some of my tools. What they don’t realize is that it’s not designed to take on hardened steel, so I wouldn’t recommend this if you need a wire cutter for that application.
Pros
  • Made using corrosion-resistant nickel-chromium steel
  • Smooth to operate due to its precision ground surfaces and construction
  • Better control and increased durability with the double-coated non-slip hand grips
  • Designed for copper and soft wires, up to 16 gauge
  • Angled-head perfect for flush-cutting and delicate wirings
Cons
  • Not sharp enough to cut through thicker and hardened cables
If you’re looking for a pair of pliers to use on intricate cable cuts, then this is the tool for you. Just ensure that you don’t use it for harder materials because it’s not designed for that application.

9. Klein Tools D275-5 Diagonal Cutting Pliers

This pair of flush cut diagonal cutters is perfect for those who need to work in tight spaces. It has an ultra-slim profile that allows you access even in confined spaces like small outlet boxes. I specifically bought this for my electrician’s kit because of its compact size.

I loved the excellently designed grip, which allows the user to have greater control over it. It also comes with a steel return spring, so cutting can be quickly done one-handed. These features make it ergonomically perfect for those who work a lot in installing electric and electronic wiring.

Since it’s a flush cutter, it consistently snips up to 16 gauge wire while producing a flat cut. It can also be used for cutting small wires, zip ties, and other light materials. It’s the perfect cutting pliers if you need to work quickly and precisely. You can accomplish more when you use this for your wiring needs.

On the downside, it’s not recommended for use on more rigid materials, like hardened steel, because it can damage the pliers. You should stick to using this on soft wires to make it last.
Pros
  • Ultra-compact size perfect for working in tight and confined spaces
  • Excellently designed grip provides greater control and efficiency
  • Built-in steel return spring makes one-handed operation quick and easy
  • Consistently cuts 16 gauge wire with a flat cut
  • Can also be used for zip ties, smaller wires, and other light materials
  • Suitable for precise work
Cons
  • Not for use on more rigid materials
For delicate applications, like electrical and electronic wiring, I highly recommend this pair of cutters. However, you shouldn’t use this for harder materials, which could damage the pliers.

10. Crescent PS5429C Cutting Pliers

The number one reason I bought this pair of pliers is that it’s about a third of the weight of all other pliers that I had in my company’s tool kits. This is the pair of pliers that I have in my pocket whenever I’m out and about inspecting the various construction projects I currently have ongoing.

Despite its minimal weight, the compound leverage design still provides a 50% increase in cutting power over the force that I apply. The molded grips are 30% bigger than those found in even the most premium brands, thereby spreading out the load over a broader area on your hand. This leads to less stress and fatigue for the user.

Its overall construction with chrome vanadium steel ensures that no part will fail throughout its lifetime. It also utilizes a heat-treated joint rivet, ensuring that its two major sections will remain rigidly connected for a consistently smooth operation.

However, my issue with this tool is that it’s not optimal for cutting through tough and hardened material. Plus, its jaws are not designed to open far. It’s perfect for more casual applications, but I can’t recommend this for absolutely heavy-duty use.
Pros
  • Weighs about a third of other pliers, making it easier to carry around
  • Compound leverage design provides a 50% increase in power
  • 30% bigger grips spread the load over a broader area, decreasing stress and fatigue
  • Chrome-vanadium construction ensures no part will fail over its lifespan
  • Heat-treat joint rivets will remain rigidly connected for a smooth operation
Cons
  • Not optimal for cutting through tough and hardened materials
  • Jaws do not open widely
If you’re looking for a pair of cutting pliers that is easy to carry around and for casual use, like inspection, then I would recommend that you get this pair.

11. TEKTON PCT00007 Diagonal Cutting Pliers

If you’re looking for the best side cutting pliers that can deal with many kinds of wire, then this is the pair for you. It’s designed to cut aluminum, copper, and soft steel wires. It’s also made to cut cleanly whether you are snipping solid, stranded, or even braided cables.

The blade edges have an 82-degree angle, allowing them to be strong and sharp while ensuring that every cut you make is smooth with minimal effort. They’re also hardened to HRC 58-64 standards to ensure that they retain their edge through years of use.

The handle profile is rounded to distribute the pressure on the user’s hands optimally. It is also covered with slim non-slip grips to ensure maximum controllability during use. The best thing about this diagonal cutters is it only weighs 0.65 pounds. Its minimal mass allows you to comfortably carry it anywhere, whether in your pocket or your toolkit.

However, I did have an issue with the rivet point where the two halves meet. After several years of use, mine became loose, which made it unreliable. Although I believe it happened because I accidentally interchanged this with the wire cutter I use for cutting heavy structural wires, I wish that they rebuilt it so that it wouldn’t get damaged even with abuse.
Pros
  • Designed to cut solid, stranded, and braided aluminum, copper, and soft steel wires
  • 82-degree blade edges retain strength and sharpness while ensuring smooth cuts
  • Hardened HRC 58-64 blade edges stay sharp through years of use
  • Rounded handle profile reduces pressure and stress on user’s hands
  • Non-slip grips for maximum control
  • Weighs only 0.65 pounds, making it comfortable to bring around anywhere
Cons
  • Rivet point where the two halves meet could become loose if the tool is abused
This is perfect for most wiring applications, so I recommend this if you’re working a lot with electrical installations. However, I warn you not to abuse this as it might cause the pivot point to loosen.

12. iExcell Cutter Diagonal Cutting Pliers

This is one of the smallest diagonal cutters I’ve had in my arsenal, and it’s perfect for electricians and repairers who are focused on working with delicate projects. I use this when I indulge in building small LED lamps, which sometimes require me to cut and solder fine wiring.

The whole tool has gone through a non-acidized thermal treatment to increase its tensile strength significantly. Furthermore, the cutting edges are treated with high-frequency thermal radiation to harden it further so it won’t lose its sharpness over time. These two processes help ensure that these pair of diagonal cutters will last you a lifetime.

To lengthen its service life, the tool’s surface is protected by a fine layer of rust-preventive oil. This layer is so thin that it will not have any adverse effect on whatever electronics I’m working on.

However, one of the main reasons I bought these pliers is their soft PVC handles. They’re really comfortable to use, allowing me to focus on what I’m doing.

The main downside to this pair, though, is that its spring-loaded mechanism means it is always fully open. Although it allows me to work easier and more efficiently, it also makes storage a pain. I wish the maker had included a strap or locking mechanism to take up too much space in my toolbox.
Pros
  • One of the smallest diagonal cutters, perfect for electricians & repairers
  • Non-acidized thermal treatment increases tool tensile strength significantly
  • Cutting edges are treated with high-frequency thermal radiation to harden it
  • Rust-preventive oil layer protects the tool from corrosion
  • Soft PVC handles make it easy to use and work with
Cons
  • Spring-loaded mechanism keeps the tool always open, making it difficult to store
This is probably the best option if you’re into repairing electronics or working with small electrical devices. It’s light and portable and is very efficient to use with compact items.

What to Look for When Buying Diagonal Cutters

best-diagonal-cutting-pliers

When I buy the best diagonal cutters, the number one thing that I check is its fit on my hand. There are various sizes available on the market, and I ensure that the item I choose fits me well, whether I’m using it with my bare hands or with safety gloves.

I also check to see if the cutter I’m buying is rated for the materials I expect to work with. Most diagonal cutters are designed for snipping wires, usually made from copper, aluminum, and other soft metals. If I plan to use it with structural wire, like hardened steel, I have to ensure that it’s rated for such a material. Otherwise, it could get damaged when I use it.

Lastly, I check what features the diagonal cutter has depending on what use I plan for it. If it’s going to be designated among some of my workers who are building structural parts, I’ll go for those equipped with compound action levers. But if it’s going to be used by my electrician, then I’ll opt for the one with a self-opening spring.

What are Diagonal Cutters Used For

best-diagonal-pliers

Diagonal cutters are generally used for cutting wire. You can see that its jaw doesn’t have any flat plane for gripping. Its cutting edges intersect at an angle, hence the “diagonal cutter” designation.

Diagonal cutters work by indenting the wire and then wedging it apart. This results in a cleaner cut over standard scissors, which use shearing action for cutting.

What is the Difference Between Side Cutters and Diagonal Cutters

Side cutters and diagonal cutters are generally the same. The main difference is how they’re called in different countries. For example, they’re commonly called diagonal cutters in the US, but they’re referred to as side cutters in Canada and Australia. Meanwhile, in the UK and Ireland, these tools are called snips.

Can You Sharpen Diagonal Cutters

Yes, diagonal cutters can be sharpened after years of use. You’ll mainly need a smooth file, a vise, and some cleaning material to get started.

How to Sharpen Diagonal Cutters

The first thing you should do is to clean the blade. You can use cleaning solvents like WD40, or you could just use soapy water. Make sure that you remove any rust during the cleaning process to prepare it for sharpening.

Secure the pliers in your vise with the jaws pointing in your direction. Ensure that it’s completely secure so that it wouldn’t budge while you’re working on it and potentially damage the blade.

Now rub the blade with the file along one side in quick, short movements. Don’t apply too much pressure, as you might remove too much metal and cause the edges to misalign. The target is to have a smooth blade edge surface throughout its length to make it sharp again.

Repeat the above procedure on both sides of each blade, removing any burrs or kinks to smoothen the surface.

Once done, test the pliers by cutting some wire. If it cuts better than before, then you’ve successfully sharpened your diagonal cutters. To finish off, clean off the blades again to remove the excess material you filed off, then apply a layer of oil to protect the new metal edge.

Knipex vs. Klein Diagonal Cutters: Which One is Better

In my experience, I’ve purchased more Klein Diagonal Cutters than the Knipex. Although I cannot say that one is superior to the other, my people generally prefer Klein because it’s a known brand, with a good track record among my team.

If I were to choose between the two with the exact same specifications, I’d just go for the cheaper option. But if both had the same price, I’d probably go for Klein because of its brand recognition.

Conclusion

These are some of the cutters one can find on the market. I’ve worked with all of these models before. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, depending on its designed application. If you’re looking for the ideal side cutters, just figure out how you’re going to use them before buying the cheapest or most expensive option.

Remember, we all have different needs and different hands. It’s better to test how one pair would fare over the other if you have the time to visit a store, but if not, you can rely on my reviews to find the best diagonal cutters for each situation.

5/5 - (4 votes)