Bolt cutters are also popularly known as bolt croppers. Just like the name suggests, they are tools employed in cutting bolts. They are heavy-duty cutting tools used to cut thick materials such as chains, heavy steel wire, benches, padlocks, screws, rebar, and wire mesh.
There are different sizes and shapes of bolt cutters made for performing different tasks. They are usually designed to have long handles and smaller cutting blades, which are connected with a system of intricate hinges.
The purpose that the hinges on bolt cutters are meant to serve is to amplify the level of force applied to the blades by enhancing leverage when their handles are pressed together. This design allows the tool to cut through thick materials effectively.
Often, these bolt cutters come with adjustable screws. This helps to determine the extent to which the handles must be closed for the blades to meet. Both the jaws and blades are made from hard metal alloys because they are designed to cut through hard materials.
Parts of Bolt Cutter
There are two key parts of bolt cutters: the jaws, which form the head of the bolt cutter and the neck, which is the part of the bolt cutter where the blades connect to the handles. The blades are fixed on the handles of the bolt cutters with two bolts. Think of it like a pair of scissors that has one bolt in the middle. The blades and the handles on the opposite side are made as a single piece in a compact bolt cutter.
What the blades are designed for in bolt cutters is to do the cutting work. The blades in bolt cutters are strong and come in different shapes, like the center cut and shear cut. These blades serve different purposes.
Bolt cutters are made up of several joints, which increase the force given to the handles and also make the tool strong.
The three significant joints are:
- The handle bolt joint connecting the two handles.
- The middle bolt linking the joint to the handles.
- The jaw joint bolt helps keep the blade in line.
The handles of bolt cutters come in different lengths and sizes. They are also made with different materials. The length of the handles also determines how they are used and what they are used for. Bolt cutters with longer lengths are used for cutting things that are out of reach and require significant force.
5. Handle Stops
This is another part of bolt cutters, which is a pair of metal stops found at the neck of the handles. The handle stops are responsible for preventing the handles and the blades from moving close to each other or clashing simultaneously at the end of a cut.
How to use Bolt Cutters
Bolt cutters do not work precisely the same way scissors do. A heavy force needs to be concentrated on the small contact area of the blades to cut through materials. This is why the long handles and compound hinges of the bolt cutters are designed to provide the bolt cutters with a significant cutting force. Let’s now consider how to use bolt cutters.
1. Choose the right bolt cutter
One of the first and most important things to take into consideration before you can use bolt cutters is determining the right bolt cutter for the function you want to use the bolt cutter for because there are different types of bolt cutters, and each of these bolt cutters is made to perform different tasks.
For example, small bolt cutters with small handles might work well for lightweight metals, but this same bolt cutter cannot do the job when cutting through heavy-duty materials. For heavy-duty materials, bolt cutters with long handles and increased cutting force should be used.
2. Lubricate the Joints of the bolt cutter
The reason lubrication is vital for bolt cutters is so that the middle hinge can move smoothly when they are being used. You can add a little drop of lubricant to the center hinge to enhance the efficiency of the bolt cutter.
3. Set the jaw gap appropriately for efficient use
Ensure that the bolt cutters’ jaw gap is appropriately set so they can thoroughly cut through the heavy-duty material with ease. The jaws should have just a little space for a piece of paper. The distance between the jaws should not be too broad; in a situation where the jaws are wide, slowly lose the adjustment bolt found at the back of the jaws and tighten the bolt until the cutting edges are properly fixed and back to their supposed position.
4. Get the Bolt Cutters set for use
Tightly secure both the handles of the bolt cutters by ensuring the jaws are facing your direction, then separate the handles widely to open the jaws of the bolt cutters completely. Set the jaws of the bolt cutters on the materials intended for cutting and slide them forward until the hinges get close to the material to ensure that the cutting force is easily applied.
Ensure that the cutting edges of the bolt cutters are properly fixed at the right angles towards the material that is meant to be cut so that it will not twist or slip off while using it.
5. Cut through the target material
After getting the bolt cutters ready for use, Hold the handles together firmly and use them to cut through the hard objects. If what you are using the bolt cutters to cut is a light object, it makes it easy to cut through on the first attempt. Still, in a situation where the thing that needs to be cut through is stiff, you may need to repeatedly cut through the objects until the bolt cutters are able to cut through eventually.
If the material you are cutting is very hard, brace one arm of the bolt cutters on the surface you are working on so that you can use both hands to press down the other arm of the tool.
Safety Considerations while Using Bolt Cutters
There are some necessary safety measures to take when using bolt cutters.
When using bolt cutters, wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, safety goggles, boots, and gloves. This is because metal pieces can fly off during the cutting process, so it is better to protect yourself, especially your eyes. The safety Google is meant to protect both sides and underneath the eyes.