The 10 Best Bolt Cutters
10. Olympia Tools 39-118
- perfectly aligned blades
- wide handles minimize hand fatigue
- locking mechanism can break off
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
9. Tradespro 831714
- small but powerful
- easy-to-see bright yellow color
- jaws should open wider
|Rating||3.6 / 5.0|
8. Knipex Lever Action
- cutting edges are induction-hardened
- won't rust in damp conditions
- requires significant hand strength
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
7. Neiko Heavy Duty
- converts 50 lbs of force to 4000 lbs
- nonslip soft-grip handles
- very heavy to lift and hold
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
5. GreatNeck BC30
- blades are built to last
- made of forged s2 steel
- two-and-a-half-foot reach
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
4. ToughBuilt Compact
- collapses and unfolds in seconds
- rubber-coated handles
- best for smaller bolts
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
3. Ridgid Model S24
- internal cam alignment mechanism
- works on a variety of metals
- precise center-cut design
|Rating||4.2 / 5.0|
2. Capri Tools Klinge Mini
- high-leverage design
- good budget option
- double heat-treated blades
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
1. Klein Tools 63342
- also available in 5 smaller sizes
- all-purpose center-cut jaws
- comfortable flat grip ends
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
Bolt Cutters: A Perfect Application Of Force
Before we get to the topic at hand, the bolt cutter, let us first discuss an underlying principle without which this mighty tool would not even exist.
A simple machine is, in the simplest terms, a mechanical device that creates or directs force. Simple machines create what is sometimes called a "mechanical advantage" but what is more commonly referred to as leverage. The term simple machine is almost always used to refer to one or more of the six devices defined during the Renaissance era. They are the lever, the pulley, the wheel and axle, the wedge, the inclined plane, and the screw.
If you examine almost any item with moving parts, from a computer to a cruise ship to a carousel, you will find multiple examples of simple machines within. Likewise you will find simple machines being used -- though often in advanced applications employing multiple examples at once -- in industries ranging from construction to manufacturing to medicine and beyond.
Now let's focus on one particular simple machine, the lever. A rigid lever can be used to generate great amounts of force to an object located a short distance from a fulcrum when much lesser force is applied at a greater distance from the fulcrum. If you have ever used a jack to raise a car before a tire change, you have seen this device at its finest, lifting a vehicle weighing many thousands of pounds with the strength of your own arms.
Given the right circumstances, a lever can theoretically generate enough force to lift any object. Levers can also be used to generate enough force for you to chop through solid steel with your arms alone, provided that the simple machine in question is being used in the form of a pair of bolt cutters.
The Bolt Cutter As An Everyday Tool
A typical bolt cutter can generate around 4,000 pounds of pressure in the hands of a reasonably able bodied person. That means they can easily chop through almost any material that will be found around the house or on a construction site, making them a great asset for the carpenter, electrician, plumber, or the DIY enthusiast looking to cut through anything from nails to wiring to chain link fencing to many types of pipe and even through sheet metal and rebar.
While bolt cutters are hardly precision tools (a pair might bend and crimp a pipe before severing it, for example) they are great for the rough and ready work of demolition that often precedes renovations or new construction. If you have to remove a section of concrete supported by rebar, for example, a sledgehammer (or jackhammer) will only take care of half of the project; a powerful bolt cutter can remove the iron bars. And if you need to cut away nails, screws or, of course, bolts, you can use a good pair of bolt cutters to make multiple cuts with minimal strain to your arms or hands. The leverage inherent in good bolt cutters will always be appreciated.
Don't forget that just because a bolt cutter was designed for use chopping metal, it can still be used to cut through other materials. A handheld bolt cutter (some options are small enough to be operated with one hand) can make amazingly swift work of the branches and brambles you need to prune, for example. They can also easily cut through dowels, zip ties, thick rope, and much more.
The Bolt Cutter For Law Enforcement Or Emergency Work
There are a few specialty bolt cutters available that cost many hundreds of dollars, but that can generate many thousands of pounds of force. Keeping in mind that about 4,000 pounds of force is an average figure for most bolt cutters, it is astonishing to realize that some hydraulic style cutters can generate as much as 16,000 pounds of cutting force using nothing more than a person's arm strength.
Such amazing cutting power is certainly excessive if you are simply trying to remove a lock whose combination has been forgotten or if you are snipping away excess fencing material, but there are multiple situations in which such power is of the utmost importance. If you are tasked with quick entry into a property to execute a warrant, for example, you and your fellow law enforcement professionals can't afford to waste a second, as every delay can put your team in danger and/or risk giving a suspect the advantage he or she needs to make an escape.
So too can a powerful pair of bolt cutters allow for quicker and easier access to a building that firefighters need to enter in order to fight a blaze or that paramedics need to get into before they can assist a sick or injured individual. If a lock stands in the way of a police officer or a first responder, it's important to have the best, most powerful tool available to get that lock removed. Bolt cutters can also help these types of professionals cut through fencing, chains, security cages over windows, and much more.
And for the repossession professional who has the legal right to tow away vehicles or other property that is being unlawfully held, a great pair of bolt cutters is an essential tool of the trade.