Bolt cutters were originally developed to open up the bolt seals found on shipping containers, but are now primarily used for cutting wire for wire shelving, opening up locks and padlocks, as well as cutting metal chains and threaded metal rods. A typical bolt cutter will have long handles, short blades, and compound hinges. They will come in as either clipper, shear, center, or angle cut and are available in 12, 14, 18, 24, 30, 36, and 42 inches. The best bolt cutters work by using leverage to apply force over a long distance (over the length of the handles) and converts that leverage into a massive force over the jaws of the cutters. When this force is applied over the long distance of the handles into the central hinge, the force gets magnified by the hinges and results in a massive amount of crushing force. Here is a general guideline on how to use bolt cutters.
1. Check to see if your bolt cutters are stiff to open, if they are then you may need to add a few drops of lubricant oil to the hinges.
2. Next, you will want to check to see if your blades need to be adjusted. Close both the handles of your bolt cutters and look to see if there is a significant gap between the blades. If the gap is thicker than a piece of writing paper, then you will need to take a few minutes to adjust the blades so that they come together when the handles are closed.
3. Next, take a look at the item that you want to cut and choose an unobstructed and clear place to cut. If you cannot get a good grip on the metal placement, then you will need to either pick another spot or choose to use end cut jaws that work better for smaller and confined spaces.
4. A good trick to use is to move the best bolt cutters around the material so that the material lies as far down the blades as possible. The closer you can get the material to the hinges, the less likely the material will fall out of the jaws during the cutting process. Plus, the closer the material is towards the hinges, means you are getting the strongest cutting/crushing power.
5. Keep in mind that you may be required to brace one of the arms of the bolt cutters on the surface you are working on. Typically, this means placing your foot to hold down one of the arms, while you use your two hands to press down the other arm of the cutter. This makes cutting tougher metals a lot easier than just using two hands to squeeze the bolt cutters together.
6. Next, push both of handles together to get the blades to close. This should be done slowly to ensure that the material does not slip out when the tool bites down. Do not twist or turn the blades when cutting as this damages them.
7. Finally, apply pressure by pressing the handles together until the material yields. Do not do this quickly, and do not twist the blades. If the material is relatively hard, then you will need to apply repeated pressure.
When researching some of the best bolt cutters, determine whether you need one for durability, one that has a really good grip, one that has more leverage than others, and what size you will need. Compact bolt cutters are great if you are working with thinner chains and bolts, medium models are good for about 4,000 pounds of pressure, whereas large bolt cutters are what you need for thick rods and steel chains.