The 10 Best Cable Cutters to Buy 2020

The 10 Best Cable Cutters to Buy 2020

If you’ve ever needed to chop through a metal cable, you’re familiar with the importance of cable cutters. Like their little brother, the wire cutter, cable cutters are designed to cut through wires. The difference between cable cutters and wire cutters is that cable cutters are designed to cut through aluminum, copper, and steel.

While cable cutters are straightforward tools with a simple purpose, there are a lot of different types. In fact, you’ll often need a specific cable cutter depending on the type of cable you’re working on. The good news is that we’re here to help. We’re going to take you through the ten best cable cutters and offer shopping tips along the way.

What to Consider When Shopping for Cable Cutters

Cable cutters perform the same task, but you’ll come across a lot of different types. From blade sizes to sharpness, every cable cutter is unique. For this reason, we’re going to take you through a few features to consider when shopping for cable cutters.

Type

Cable cutters come in a few different shapes and sizes. The most common cable cutters are hand-held tools that you can use with one hand. You’ll also come across cable cutters with ratcheting heads and tools that need to be operated with two hands. Knowing which type of cable cutter you need is essential, or you can end up with the wrong tool for the job.

One-Hand Cable Cutters

One-handed cable cutters are similar to wire cutters. The handle can be held and used with one hand, which is where the pressure and leverage to make cuts comes from. The blades vary, but these tools are best suited for smaller applications. In most cases, they’re great for cutting through copper and aluminum. These cable cutters are also the most affordable and portable option.

Ratcheting Cable Cutters

Ratcheting cable cutters are similar to one-handed cable cutters, but they have a ratcheting head. This gives you more leverage and the ability to use the tool at different angles. Ratcheting cable cutters typically have sharper blades and cut through aluminum and copper with ease. Still, they’re more extensive and more expensive than one-handed cable cutters.

Cable Cutting Machines

Cable cutting machines are manual or electric. What separates them from one-hand cable cutters is their design. Instead of being held in one hand, or using a ratcheting head, cable cutting machines are typically used away from what you’re working on. For example, you would set the device on the ground and feed the cable through the tool to make cuts.

Cutting Diameter

Depending on the project you’re working on, cables vary in size. Some cables are thick, and others are slender. For this reason, you need to look at the maximum cutting diameter a cable cutter offers. Some standard sizes include ⅜” and ⅝.” Still, the cutting diameter you need depends on the project you’re working on.

Cable Types

Before you consider a cable cutter, you need to know what types of cable you’ll be working on. Some cable cutters are designed to cut through armored steel, while others are only suitable for aluminum and copper. For this reason, it’s essential to consider the type of cable you’ll be cutting. Plus, you might want to keep more than one cable cutter handy, especially if you’ll be working on cables with different materials and diameters.

Price

Cable cutters are similar in price, but the price is determined by the type of tool you’re looking at. Cable cutters that you can use with one hand are the most affordable, while cable cutting machines are more expensive because they contain more moving parts. For this reason, we’ve grouped each cable cutter into one of three price categories:

$: Around $20
$$: Around $35
$$$: Around $50

Knowing what to look for in a cable cutter makes the shopping experience straightforward. Read on to learn about the ten best cable cutters and stick around for some shopping tips.

Top 10 Best Cable Cutters 2020

1. Best Overall Pick: Park Tool CN-10

Park Tool CN-10

Why we like it: The Park Tool CN-10 is an excellent cable cutter for small applications. We love how it's useful for bicycle and housing cable, even making precise cuts.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Price: $$
  • Type: Manual, one hand
  • Cutting Diameter: ⅝”
  • Cable Types: Bicycle and housing cables

The Park Tool CN-10 is a reliable cable cutter designed for bicycle and housing cables. The tool is made with heat-treated and cold-treated steel for maximum durability. It also has a precision ground cutting jaws to make clean cuts and features a crimper for end caps. This cable cutter also comes with a forming hole to create new housing ends and ferrules.

The Park Tool CN-10 also comes with numerous safety features. There is a wire latch that holds the tool in place for storage and rubber non-slip handles. You can also make significant cuts with one hand.

What Sets it Apart

The Park Tool CN-10 is unique because it’s useful for more than one application. Most cable cutters are designed to cut through a specific type of cable. With this product, you’ll be able to cut through housing and bicycle cable with ease. This makes it one of the most well-rounded one-handed cable cutters around.

Things to Consider

The Park Tool CN-10 is a small cable cutter that works well for bicycle cable, but consumers report a few issues. First and foremost, it seems to be only slightly better than a pair of wire cutters. While marginally better can be the difference between a job well done and getting stuck, we like to see more power out of cable cutters. Secondly, reviews suggest that the tool breaks metal housing, so it’s not as great for housing as the description suggests.

If you need a more reliable cable cutter for steel or housing, the Muzata Stainless Steel Cable Cutter is a great alternative. It’s similar in price and cuts through the same materials as the Park CN-10. The main difference is that it works better on housing.

Who It’s For

The Park CN-10 is an excellent tool for anyone that needs a simple and easy-to-use cable cutter. It’s not perfect, but for smaller jobs, you’ll be able to cut through cable with ease. Its low cost, precision jaw, and sharp blade is second to none for its size.

Pros

  • Cuts through bicycle and housing cable
  • Durable forged steel jaw
  • Beveled head
  • Non-slip rubber grip

Cons

  • Only suitable for steel cable
  • Known to damage housing in some cases

2. Most Versatile: Muzata Stainless Steel Cable Cutter

Muzata Stainless Steel Cable Cutter

Why we like it: We love the Muzata Stainless Steel Cable Cutter because it just works. While it's inexpensive, the tool cuts through aluminum, copper, and steel with ease.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Price: $
  • Type: manual, One-handed
  • Cutting Diameter: 5/32″
  • Cable Type: Steel wire

The Muzata Stainless Steel Cable Cutter is an affordable cable cutter that gets the job done. While it’s small, it can fit steel wire with a diameter of 5/32″ in its jaws. The jaws are also made with high-quality forged chrome vanadium steel that performs well, even after 200+ cuts. The jaws of this cable cutter also offer precision and keep steel cables from getting frayed.

The Muzata Stainless Steel Cable Cutter is also safe and portable. It weighs less than one pound and features a safety lock. The safety lock keeps the tool from opening when you store it or keep it in your toolbox. Just make sure you store the tool in a dry area to prevent rusting.

What Sets it Apart

The Muzata Stainless Steel Cable Cutter is unique because of its affordable price and its ability to cut through many different metals. While other cable cutters offer better performance, this tool is more well-rounded. You’ll be able to cut through steel, aluminum, and copper, which is rare to see in cable cutters.

Things to Consider

The Muzata Stainless Steel Cable Cutter is a great tool, but it’s not great for larger cable. While it can cut through most types of cable, you’ll struggle to grasp larger communication wires within its jaws. This doesn’t make it a bad tool, but it makes it less reliable.

If you need a cable cutter for larger projects, you should consider a tool that features a ratcheting head. A great alternative is the SogYupk USA Ratcheting Cable Cutter. It cuts through similar materials but features a more massive jaw that can handle thicker cables.

Who It’s For

Muzata is a well-known company that makes premium cables. This tool is designed for use on ⅛” Muzata cable railing projects. If this is the type of work you’re doing, this tool is the perfect fit. Muzata cables aside, it’s a handy and affordable tool for smaller projects, regardless of the material the cable is made out of.

Pros

  • Made with chrome vanadium steel
  • Designed for Muzata cable projects
  • Cuts through aluminum, steel, and copper
  • Beveled jaw
  • Non-slip rubber grip
  • Works excellent for Muzata cables

Cons

  • Small jaw

3. Best Premium Pick: Klein Tools 63050 Cable Cutters

Klein Tools 63050 Cable Cutters

Why we like it: We love the Klein Tools 63050 Cable Cutters because they're perfect for people that work on communication-grade wires. Its beveled and forged steel jaw are great for making precise and straightforward cuts.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Price: $$
  • Type: Manual, one hand
  • Cutting Diameter: 1.06″
  • Cable Type: Aluminum and copper

The Klein Tools 63050 Cable Cutters is a well-rounded tool designed to cut through 4/0 aluminum, 2/0 soft copper, and communication cables. The jaws are made with forged steel and use beveled jaw tips to prevent the tool from damaging the edges of the cables. This makes it easy to make precise cuts without damaging cables.

The Klein Tools 63050 Cable Cutters are also small enough to fit in most tool pouches. Their small size also makes it easy to make cuts with one hand. While they’re small, you get enough leverage to chop through cables with diameters up to 1.06 inches.

What Sets it Apart

This cable cutter is unique because Klein Tools is one of the best companies around. They’ve been producing USA-made tools for almost two centuries and use only American-made steel. If you’re looking for reliable cable cutters, it’s hard to beat this product.

Things to Consider

The Klein Tools 63050 Cable Cutters is a great tool, but it’s only suitable for small applications. While it cuts through aluminum and soft copper easily, they’re not ideal for steel cables. Plus, if you’re working on larger communication wires, you’ll also run into problems.

If you like Klein Tools, but need to cut through steel cable, the Klein Tools Armored Cable Cutter is a great alternative. It can cut cables with a larger diameter and cuts through steel cables like butter.

Who It’s For

The Klein Tools 63050 Cable Cutters is for people that work on small communication cables. You’ll struggle to cut through steel, but if you need portable cable cutters for aluminum and soft copper cables, this product is a great choice. Plus, you get to support a US-based company.

Pros

  • Made in the USA
  • Forged steel
  • Beveled jaw for precision cuts
  • Lightweight
  • Fits in most tool pouches

Cons

  • Can only cut cables with small diameters
  • Not suitable for cutting steel cables

4. Best Budget Pick: Cal Hawk Tools Wire Cutter

Cal Hawk Tools Wire Cutter

Why we like it: We love the Cal Hawk Tools Wire Cutter because of the value it offers. For the price, it cuts through steel cable like butter.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Price: $
  • Type: One-handed
  • Cutting Diameter: ⅝”
  • Cable Type: Steel

The Cal Hawk Tools Wire Cutter is a simple cable cutter. It’s small and compact, weighing less than one pound, but cuts through steel cable like butter. The blades are made with heat-treated steel that can handle abuse, and the jaws are beveled to reduce the chances of damaging the cable you’re cutting.

The Cal Hawk Tools Wire Cutter also offers excellent comfort. The handles are electroplated, which reduces the chance of rust building up. The handles are also dipped in PVC to give you a firm grip over the tool. While it’s not as comfortable as rubber, it offers a similar non-slip surface to hold.

What Sets it Apart

The Cal Hawk Tools Wire Cutter is unique because it’s one of the most affordable cable cutters you can find. Compared to similar cable cutters, it’s about half the cost. While the price is impressive, it’s more remarkable that the tool performs well. It’s clear that Cal Hawk Tools didn’t sacrifice performance to bring you a budget-friendly cable cutter.

Things to Consider

The Cal Hawk Tools Wire Cutter performs as advertised, but it’s limited. The tool is too small to wrap around thick wire, which is what steel cable typically consists of. This means that the cable cutter is only suitable for a handful of specific projects.

If you like the size and style of this tool but need to cut through thicker cable, the Park CN-10 is a great alternative. It’s only slightly more expensive and features a broader jaw that cuts through thicker steel.

Who It’s For

This cable cutter is an excellent choice for people that don’t need a heavy-duty cable cutter. If you only need to cut through small cables, you won’t find better quality and value. Still, if you need a cable cutter for full-time use, we recommend looking elsewhere.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Able to cut through steel
  • Electroplated handle
  • Durable forged steel blade and jaw

Cons

  • Small jaw
  • The PVC handle is not as efficient as non-slip rubber

5. Best Blade: Channellock Cable Cutter

Channellock Cable Cutter

Why we like it: Our favorite feature of the Channellock Cable Cutter is the blade. It features an anti-rust coating and uses high-carbon steel.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Price: $
  • Type: Manual, one-handed
  • Cutting Diameter: ⅝”
  • Cable Type: Aluminum and copper

The Channellock Cable Cutter is a simple cable cutter that performs as advertised. It has a large enough jaw to cut through thick cables, and it’s rated for 4/0 aluminum and 2/0 copper. This tool is also offered in a few different sizes, making it useful for larger projects if needed.

The Channellock Cable Cutter also features beveled jaws to make precise cuts. This keeps cables from getting frayed or damaged, making the tool great for communication cable applications. While it’s not the largest cable cutter around, it performs well for its compact size.

What Sets it Apart

The Channellock Cable Cutter is unique because the manufacturer went the extra mile with the blade. The blade uses high-carbon steel for durability and uses a layer of coating. The layer of coating keeps the tool from rusting, even if you need to use it outdoors. Channellock is also a USA-based company in business since 1886, making it one of the most reputable toolmakers on the market.

Things to Consider

The Channellock Cable Cutter is excellent but it’s not large enough for thick cables. While you can get the tool in different sizes, the blade and beveled jaw remain the same. With that said, if you need to cut through steel cable or thick cable, you’ll want to choose a different cable cutter. A great alternative is the Park CN-10. The tool is similar in size, but it features a more massive jaw that can cut through steel cable.

Who It’s For

The Channellock Cable Cutter is an excellent choice for someone that needs to use a cable cutter often. The high-carbon steel blade helps it make precise cuts, even when used frequently. Plus, the anti-rust coating enhances the longevity of the tool.

Pros

  • Available in different sizes
  • Coated blade prevents rusting
  • Made with high-carbon steel
  • Features a non-slip grip
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Small jaw
  • Only suitable for aluminum and copper

6. Best Ratcheting: SogYupk USA Ratcheting Cable Cutter

SogYupk USA Ratcheting Cable Cutter

Why we like it: We love that the SogYupk USA Ratcheting Cable Cutter is made in the USA. While it uses premium components, it's an affordable cable cutter.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Price: $
  • Type: Ratcheting
  • Cutting Diameter: 2″
  • Cable Type: Aluminum

The SogYupk USA Ratcheting Cable Cutter is an excellent ratcheting cable cutter. It comes with a quick-release feature that lets you release it from the cable you’re working on and uses heat-treated American steel. The ratcheting head also lets you cut through aluminum from different angles and provides additional leverage for compact spaces. Even though it’s a ratcheting cable cutter, it can be used with one hand.

The SogYupk USA Ratcheting Cable Cutter also has no problem cutting through thick cables. The jaw can open up to two inches, making it hassle-free to cut through aluminum cables with thick diameters. The handle also features a non-slip rubber grip to keep your hand from slipping.

What Sets it Apart

The SogYupk USA Ratcheting Cable Cutter is unique because it’s a reliable and affordable ratcheting cable cutter. It doesn’t offer premium performance, but it can handle most aluminum cables with ease.

Things to Consider

The SogYupk USA Ratcheting Cable Cutter is a great budget ratcheting cable cutter, but that’s about it. While it’s affordable, it’s not a heavy-duty tool. Most ratcheting cable cutters are designed for prolonged use, but this one is only good every once in a while.

Suppose you work with cable full-time and need a ratcheting cable cutter, the Southwire Cable Cutter. While it’s expensive, it’s durable enough to use every single day. It also comes with a wider jaw and better features.

Who It’s For

The SogYupk USA Ratcheting Cable Cutter is an excellent tool for people that don’t work on cables that often. It can handle most cables you come across, but it’s not suitable for prolonged use. This makes it an excellent ratcheting cable cutter to keep around the house for DIY enthusiasts.

Pros

  • Made in the USA
  • Made with durable steel
  • Budget-friendly ratcheting design

Cons

  • Only suitable for aluminum

7. Best Cable Cutting Machine: Klein Tools Armored Cable Cutter

Klein Tools Armored Cable Cutter

Why we like it: We love the Klein Tools Armored Cable Cutter because of its unique design. It's great for people that don't want to use one-handed or ratcheting cable cutters.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: Machine, manual
  • Cutting Diameter: ⅜”
  • Cable Type: Armored steel

The Klein Tools Armored Cable Cutter is a heavy-duty cable cutter. While you can’t hold it in one hand, it’s great for cutting through armored steel cables. The company recommends cutting cables with four or fewer wires for the best performance. It also makes precise cuts with the turn of a handle, so you don’t need to worry about fatigue when you use it.

The Klein Tools Armored Cable Cutter is also made with durable materials and comes with everything you need right out of the box. The steel blade used for cutting is forged and heat-treated for precision performance, and it cuts without leaving wires frayed. It also comes with a sharp blade that’s great for cutting, and if the blade dulls, instead of needing a new tool, you can purchase a replacement blade from Klein.

What Sets it Apart

The Klein Tools Armored Cable Cutter is unique because it cuts through thick cable that other tools struggle with. It’s also easier to use than most manual cable cutters because you turn a handle instead of applying pressure. It’s also unique because you can replace the blades instead of needing to get a new tool.

Things to Consider

While the Klein Tools Armored Cable Cutter is a great tool, it lacks portability. It’s too large for tool pouches and weighs more than most cable cutters. To use this tool, you also have to place it on the ground, away from the project you’re working on. This means you’ll need to make additional measurements and spend time preparing the tool before making cuts.

If you’re looking for a simple cable cutter that cuts through similar cable, the Klein Tools 63050 Cable Cutters is a great alternative. It’s made by the same company, cuts the same material, and fits in one hand.

Who It’s For

The Klein Tools Armored Cable Cutter is an excellent product if you’ll be working on thick, armored cables. Steel is difficult to cut through, especially when it has layers to it. This tool is useful for larger projects, up to four wires covered in steel, because you only have to turn the handle to make precise cuts. This makes it easy to cut with precision for more extended periods without getting fatigued.

Pros

  • Can cut a lot of cable quickly
  • Cuts through armored steel
  • Makes cutting steel simple because you only need to turn the handle
  • Replaceable blades

Cons

  • Bulky
  • Difficult to use if you need to hold it

8. Best for Tough Angles: INNETOC Aluminum Copper Ratchet Cable Cutter

INNETOC Aluminum Copper Ratchet Cable Cutter

Why we like it: We like the INNETOC Aluminum Copper Ratchet Cable Cutter because it's an affordable ratcheting cable cutter. It's perfect for use around the house and cuts through aluminum and copper with ease.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Price: $$
  • Type: Ratcheting
  • Cutting Diameter: 2″
  • Cable Type: Aluminum and copper

The INNETOC Aluminum Copper Ratchet Cable Cutter is a well-made cable cutter perfect for cutting through aluminum and copper. The ratcheting head makes it easy to cut on difficult angles, and the blade is durable. The blade is made with high-carbon steel that keeps it from rusting, and it remains sharp, even during prolonged use.

The INNETOC Aluminum Copper Ratchet Cable Cutter also features a safety lock to keep the tool from opening when you store it. The handle is also made with a comfortable non-slip rubber that keeps your hands from slipping. It’s a comfortable tool that gets the job done, and the ratcheting head makes it easy to maintain.

What Sets it Apart

The INNETOC Aluminum Copper Ratchet Cable Cutter is unique because it’s a budget-friendly ratcheting cable cutter. Most ratcheting cable cutters are expensive, but INNETOC provides shoppers with an affordable alternative. While it can’t cut through steel, it’s a reliable tool for most aluminum and copper applications.

Things to Consider

The INNETOC Aluminum Copper Ratchet Cable Cutter is a great tool, but it lacks premium features found in other ratcheting cable cutters. For example, it doesn’t come with a replaceable blade. This means you’ll need to purchase a new cable cutter if the blade becomes dull. Furthermore, it can only cut through aluminum and copper, not steel cable.

If you’re looking for a premium cable cutter for aluminum and copper applications, the Southwire Cable Cutter is a great alternative. It comes with replaceable blades and offers better performance.

Who It’s For

The INNETOC Aluminum Copper Ratchet Cable Cutter is an excellent choice for people that don’t work with cable cutters for a living. It’s great for completing jobs around the house but fails to provide value for full-time users. Still, for the money, it’s a great cable cutter that offers plenty of versatility thanks to the ratcheting head.

Pros

  • Low cost for a ratcheting cable cutter
  • The bright red color makes it easy to spot
  • The bright red color makes it easy to spot

Cons

  • Blades aren't replaceable
  • Only suitable for copper and aluminum
  • Not suitable for full-time use

9. Most Durable: Southwire Cable Cutter

Southwire Cable Cutter

Why we like it: Our favorite feature of the Southwire Cable Cutter is the durable and replaceable hardened steel blades. Most cable cutters are rendered useless after many cuts, but you can change the blade out for increased longevity.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Price: $$$
  • Type: Ratcheting
  • Cutting Diameter: 2″
  • Cable Type: Aluminum and copper

The Southwire Cable Cutter is a premium cable cutter that features a ratcheting head. This allows you to cut from multiple angles and offers additional leverage thanks to its rotational capabilities. The cable cutter is designed to cut through aluminum and copper, and it does so with ease. It also features an ergonomic handle wrapped in non-slip rubber for comfort.

The Southwire Cable Cutter also features a quick-release lever that allows the tool to open, even if it’s wrapped around a cable. This keeps the tool from getting stuck and the two-step ratcheting mechanism also lets you make cuts with fewer strokes. So, even while it’s a manual cable cutter, you don’t have to worry about hand fatigue. The blades are also made with heat-treated steel and use a coating that prevents rust.

What Sets it Apart

The Southwire Cable Cutter is unique because it comes with replaceable hardened steel blades. This is useful because you don’t need to purchase a new tool if the blade gets dull. Instead, you can simply replace the blade and get back to work. This makes it easier to maintain the tool and saves you money in the long run.

Things to Consider

The Southwire Cable Cutter is a premium cable cutter, but it’s only useful for aluminum and copper. If you need to cut through steel, you’ll want to use a tool that has a more robust blade. Furthermore, it’s more expensive than most cable cutters around. You get what you pay for, but on smaller jobs, a more budget-friendly cable cutter is sufficient.

If you need to cut through steel and need a more affordable cable cutter, the Park CN-10 is a great alternative. It’s budget-friendly and designed to cut through steel cable. If you are using the Southwire Cable Cutter often, we recommend using the Park CN-10 as a companion tool to keep handy in case steel cable enters your path.

Who It’s For

The Southwire Cable Cutter is a premium cable cutter designed for full-time electricians. If you need a reliable tool for cutting through aluminum and copper, this is one of the most versatile cable cutters you can use.

Pros

  • Blades can be replaced
  • Made with heat-treated American steel
  • Quick release lets you open the jaws, even with cable in its grasp
  • Flexible ratcheting head

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Only suitable for aluminum and copper

10. Best Lightweight Cable Cutter: X-Cut Cable Cutter

X-Cut Cable Cutter

Why we like it: We love the X-Cut Cable Cutter because of the value it offers. It's one of the most affordable cable cutters around and performs well for the price.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Price: $
  • Type: Manual, one-handed
  • Cutting Diameter: ⅞”
  • Cable Type: Aluminum and copper

The X-Cut Cable Cutter is a simple tool that cuts through basic aluminum and copper cables. It’s small enough to fit in most tool pouches and weighs less than one pound. This makes it easy to bring the tool with you on the go and causes less fatigue when using it for long periods. Plus, you can make cuts with one hand.

The tool is also made with premium materials. The jaw is through hardened, which gives it more longevity. The jaw is also beveled, which helps it grip onto cable. This allows the tool to make precise cuts without damaging the surface you’re working on. The X-Cut Cable Cutter also features a non-slip rubber handle to keep you from slipping.

What Sets it Apart

The X-Cut Cable Cutter is unique because of its value and simplicity. It works in confined spaces, fits in one hand, and slides into most tool pouches. While it’s simple to use and portable, it’s durable enough to get the job done and doesn’t cost a fortune. For the money, it offers excellent value.

Things to Consider

The X-Cut Cable Cutter is a simple cable cutter, which is excellent, but its performance is limited. If you need to work on steel cables, this product isn’t efficient. It also lacks a ratcheting head, so while it fits into compact spaces, you can’t make cuts on difficult angles.

If you need a cable cutter that offers better performance, the INNETOC Aluminum Copper Ratchet Cable Cutter is a great alternative. The ratcheting head makes it easy to cut on angles, and it’s almost as portable as the X-Cut Cable Cutter.

Who It’s For

The X-Cut Cable Cutter is an excellent product for anyone that needs a simple and easy-to-use tool. While it won’t impress you, it offers excellent performance for its size and price. If you need to cut smaller communication-grade cables, this tool gives you everything you need.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Provides plenty of power
  • Durable steel jaw and blade
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Too small for thick cables
  • Only suitable for aluminum and copper

Everything You Need to Know About Cable Cutters

Cutting a white, coated wire

Like screwdrivers, cable cutters are diverse tools. They’re designed to cut through cable, but most jobs require a specific tool for the job. This makes it challenging to find the right cable cutter for the job because cables are made from aluminum, steel, copper, and other metals.

Even with the ten best cable cutters in front of you, it needs to be a careful choice. For this reason, we’re going to take you through the typical applications for cable cutters and recommend the right tool for the job.

Choosing a Cable Cutter Based on the Cable

Cable is made from many different materials. You’ll come across aluminum, copper, steel, and armored steel. This means that you need to choose the right cable cutter for the cable you’re working on. With the wrong tool, you can damage the cable or fail to cut through it.

Aluminum and Copper

Aluminum and copper are common metals that you’ll come across, precisely 4/0 aluminum and 2/0 copper. The number located in front of the material determines the number of wires inside the cable. Therefore, 4/0 aluminum is designed to house four wires. Furthermore, most cable cutters that can cut through aluminum can also cut through copper.

One of the best cable cutters for aluminum and copper is the X-Cut Cable Cutter. It’s a simple cable cutter that doesn’t take much effort to use, and it handles aluminum and copper with no difficulty. It’s also budget-friendly, making it an excellent tool for beginners.

Steel

Steel is a standard housing for wires. It’s strong enough to prevent damage and doesn’t conduct too much electricity. You can also come across steel wires at home or on the jobsite. This is why it’s crucial to keep a reliable set of cable cutters that can chop through steel handy.

A great choice is the Park CN-10. It can create new housing holes if needed and makes cutting steel cables hassle-free.

Armored Steel

Armored steel is the thickest cable you’ll come across. Coated or not, armored steel is difficult to cut through. For this reason, we recommend using cable cutting machines, electric or manual, to cut through armored steel.

An excellent tool for armored steel is the Klein Tools Armored Cable Cutter. While it lacks portability, it’s strong enough to cut through armored cables with precision. Plus, the blades are replaceable.

Finding the Right Type of Cable Cutter

Once you know what cable you’ll be working with, you can start to narrow down your options. Cable cutters come in a few different shapes and sizes, but in most cases, it comes down to your preferences. Still, you have to choose between simple one-handed cable cutters, ratcheting cable cutters, and machine-based tools.

Manual One-Handed Cable Cutters

Manual one-handed cable cutters are compact, lightweight, and easy to use. You press down on the handle, which causes the jaw of the tool to bite down on cables. Some are better than others, but most offer similar performance.

A great tool to start with is the Muzata Stainless Steel Cable Cutter. It cuts through aluminum, steel, and copper cables. It’s also budget-friendly and a great way to get some experience with cable cutters.

Ratcheting Cable Cutters

Ratcheting cable cutters are great for cutting on an angle. The ratcheting head also provides more leverage, making it easier to cut through cables. Ratcheting cable cutters also come in a few different price ranges, based on the features they come with.

One example is the SogYupk USA Ratcheting Cable Cutter. It’s budget-friendly and one of the best cable cutters to start with. It costs as much as simple cable cutters but delivers more cutting power.

If you’re looking for a premium ratcheting cable cutter, the Southwire Cable Cutter is your best option. While it commands a high price tag, it outperforms most cable cutters you can find. The blades are replaceable, and it’s great for everyday usage.

Machine Cable Cutters

Machine cable cutters can be electrically powered or hand-powered. Either way, these tools are designed for thick cables that you can’t cut with a hand-held tool. In most cases, these tools need to be operated away from the project you’re working on as you feed the cable through it. Overall, they’re more complicated and suitable for specific applications.

The best machine cable cutter is the Klein Tools Armored Cable Cutter. It’s a manual cable cutting machine that’s easy to use and cuts through thick, armored steel. All you need to do is crank the handle to make precise cuts.

Tips for Using a Cable Cutter

Three different types of cable cutters with orange handles

Cable cutters seem straightforward, but they’re complicated tools to handle. If you use a cable cutter the wrong way, you can damage the project you’re working on and hurt yourself. For this reason, we’re going to take you through some tips to get the most out of cable cutters and make sure you’re safe doing so.

Safety

First and foremost, we’re going to take you through safety. Cable cutters have sharp blades, which can lead to injuries if mishandled. So, before you’re ready to cut some cables, it’s crucial to prepare yourself.

Start by finding a pair of high-quality safety gloves and glasses. If possible, we also recommend looking into a face shield. When you’re cutting cables, regardless of the material, metal pieces will go flying. This can cut your hands, or worse, cause damage to your eyes.

Ensuring you’re protected is the first step, but you also need to use the tool properly. Before working on the cable, make sure the blade is sharp and use oil on the handle to ensure the tool operates smoothly. You don’t want to put oil on the blade, but keeping the grip lubricated can make your job easier.

Finally, you want to cut using a right angle. Don’t move the cable to fit into the angle or bend any sides, or you can damage the cable. The right angle is crucial because it gives you optimal cutting force and keeps the tool from slipping. This is easier with ratcheting cable cutters, like the INNETOC Aluminum Copper Ratchet Cable Cutter because the ratcheting head makes it easier to get preferable cutting angles.

Maintaining Your Cable Cutter

Safety comes first, but you should also make sure you treat your cable cutter right. If you neglect the tool, it can lead to premature failure, uneven cuts, and damaged cables. For this reason, it’s essential to practice proper cable maintenance.

The good news is that cable cutters are simple tools to maintain. This is because you only need a blade sharpener and lubricant. First and foremost, make sure your cable cutter’s blade is sharp. To do so, sharpen the tool regularly and keep debris off the teeth within the tool’s jaws. Dull or damaged blades can lead to ruined projects and broken blades.

Once the blade is sharp, you’ll want to add a small amount of lubrication to the blade. Not too much lubrication, because you don’t want the blade slipping as you’re cutting. It’s also essential to apply oil to any hinges or levers.

Storage is also essential. These aren’t tools that you can throw in a toolbox and call it a day, especially if you have a premium cable cutter like the Southwire Cable Cutter. Tools like this need to be stored in dry places to prevent rusting. Some great storage examples include garages, in-house toolboxes, and in low humidity rooms.

FAQ

Man with red gloves cutting a small cable

What Are Cable Cutters Used For?

Cable cutters are similar to wire cutters. The main difference is that cable cutters are designed to cut through steel, aluminum, or copper cables. While these cables typically house wires that can be snipped with wires, getting a clean cut through cable is challenging with any other tool than a cable cutter.

Can Bolt Cutters Cut Cable?

Bolt cutters are reliable tools that chop through steel, fencing, and locks. While bolt cutters can chop through most cables without any issues, the precision is lacking. If you’re trying to make a clean cut on cable with bolt cutters, well, that’s going to be more complicated than it needs to be. This is why we recommend sticking to cable cutters for any of your cable cutting needs.

How Do You Cut Coated Cables?

Most cables are coated, which makes them tricky to cut. There are dozens of different coatings, and most of them harden the metal they’re applied to. This is where cable cutters come in. If you’re working on coated cables, we recommend watching this quick tutorial.

Final Thoughts

If you work in the trades or love to tackle projects around the house, there is a good chance you’ve come across different types of cables. While cables keep wires safe and make sure things operate as they should, they’re difficult to work with. This is why you need the best set of cable cutters you can get your hands on, and they need to be the right tool for the job.

Some cable cutters work better than others, but in most cases, it comes down to the project you’re working on. For this reason, you need to choose the best cable cutter for the job. Always analyze the cable you’re working on to determine which tool you need. Luckily, even the best cable cutters are affordable tools, so feel free to try out a few products to decide which one works best.