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Image of two pairs of flush cutters

Flush Cutters:

You’ll need a good pair of these to cleanly cut your wires…

My choices:

  • Beadsmith #PL270 for 18 ga wire and skinnier materials
  • Xuron Maxi Shear #2175 for 16ga wire and heavier materials

Both are available through my local supplier – C&D Silver as well as other jewelry supply sources.

Flush cutters offer a flush (or blunt) cut.  We commonly use side cutters – meaning you approach from the side to cut, but there are also end cutters which cut from the end instead. The blades are shaped where the angle is cut from one side of the blade, so the flat (flush) side leaves a clean, blunt or “flush” cut and the angled side leaves an angled cut which is meant to be faced toward your scrap bit.  The idea is to use the flat or “flush” side of the cutter on each end of the length of wire you are using.  This yields a precise length with a crisp cut at the ends.

If you try to use another type of wire cutter (like one you would find on electrical pliers for instance), you’ll find the blades are shaped with an angle on both sides of the blade which leaves your wire with an angled end and lots of material to file off to smooth the end.  This takes away from the precision of the length you cut.

There are a couple of basic features to consider when purchasing:  

  • Length of the handle – A longer handle provides more torque allowing you to cut heavier wire with less effort. Conversely, if you have small hands, they may become unwieldy. 
  • Size of the blade – If you work with small detail, you’ll want a nice sleek little tip to your cutters so you can get into small places nice and snug. But the small tips can get bent out of shape with continued use and are not appropriate for heavier wires.  If you are working with 16 and 14 ga wire you’ll want a larger pair for durability. 

There’s also a wide range of pricing when it comes to flush cutters. 

This generally speaks to the quality of the tool.  Here are a few factors that come into play:

 

  • Quality of the join – The join at the pivot point can vary greatly in quality. The durability of this join determines how long the blades remain aligned.  Once this join wears down, the blades are no longer as flush on the flat side resulting in a poorer quality of cut over time.  This is why you don’t want to use fine cutters for heavier material.
  • Precision – Flush cutters are available in various degrees of precision in the alignment of the blades. There are flush cutters and then there are ultra flush cutters.  Flush cutters leave a slight line in the end of the material where the blades meet, but ultra flush cutters claim to omit this “seam” line.
  • Durability of the blades – The quality of the steel, the hardness of the steel and the thickness all play a part in how well the blades will perform over time. Of course, you can help the longevity by storing them properly and not using them to cut hard metals like steel or memory wire.  The silver copper and gold we commonly use for jewelry are softer so they don’t strain the blade or cause notching.  If you cut something that is close to the same hardness as the blades, you damage the edge and degrade future cuts on the proper materials.

Bonus tip: 

If you damage your flush cutter and decide to replace it – don’t throw away the old one!  Mark the handle to easily identify that it’s the damaged pair and then you have a tool to use for the next time you have to cut something harder than average.  This allows you to keep your new cutters more pristine for longer periods of time.