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Helping picking quality flush-cutters (Knipex vs Ideal-Tek) ; Steel vs Carbide?

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victorhooi:
I’m looking to get a pair of good-quality flush cutters for electronics.

Previously, I’ve used the Knipex Electronics Super Knips (Model: 78 13 125).

However, I’m getting some Ideal-Tek tweezers, and I noticed they also have some wire cutters as well and am looking to try them out.

* High Precision Cutters

* Tungsten Carbide CuttersI assume I’m looking for “full-flush”, if I’m going be cutting wire/component leads.

The nearest equivalent models to the Knipex Super Knips I can find are:

* ES5542M.CR.BGO
* ES552GTX.CR.BGO
The Knipex are specified as 54 RC hardness, whilst the Ideal-Tek normal steel ones are 67 RC, and the Tungsten Carbide ones are 81 RC.

My first question is - what sort of hardness should I be looking at for electronics work? Is a higher hardness better, or are there drawbacks here as well?

Secondly - is tungsten carbide a good choice here? Or is it bad? Or just wasted?

Finally in terms of styles/shapes - are those Ideal-tek models I picked above fairly suitable? Or are there better head shapes/sizes I should be going for? (I figured smaller heads are good for getting into tight spaces, or under things etc.)

Thanks,
Victor

David Hess:
I did a survey not too long ago looking for new diagonal cutters to replace my old Diamond S55RGs, and winnowed the options down to Knipex, Wiha, Tekton, Williams, and Klein.  What caught my eye are these diagonal cutters from Knipex which are rated hard enough to cut piano wire:

https://www.knipex-tools.com/products/diagonal-cutters/diagonal-cutters/diagonal-cutters/7601125

Ideal-tek did not make my list because of their high prices and my dislike of the leaf spring type return springs because I end up getting things caught on them, but maybe they are worth it.

thm_w:
If you only cut copper and leads, then the carbide would last longer. As they say: "Tungsten carbide cutters are the epitome of durability and precision in the realm of cutting tools. Their composition results in a remarkable hardness that enables these cutters to tackle the toughest materials with ease and accuracy. "

The issue is you have to be sure you never abuse them, if you use and abuse them to cut some dirty materials or bend, etc. they are more brittle so will more easily shatter. This is true of the higher hardness steel as well. So, kind of need to find what hardness range works well for your tasks.

For me I don't really see it being worth 2x+ of the price:

$70 for the steel  ES5140.CR.BG
$150 for the carbide  ES141TX.CR.BGO

tooki:

--- Quote from: victorhooi on April 17, 2024, 04:00:16 am ---I’m looking to get a pair of good-quality flush cutters for electronics.

Previously, I’ve used the Knipex Electronics Super Knips (Model: 78 13 125).

However, I’m getting some Ideal-Tek tweezers, and I noticed they also have some wire cutters as well and am looking to try them out.

* High Precision Cutters

* Tungsten Carbide CuttersI assume I’m looking for “full-flush”, if I’m going be cutting wire/component leads.

--- End quote ---
Actually, no, most of the time.

I own some near-full-flush cutters from Erem, and they are great for certain things (like when you need to leave an absolutely smooth surface, which is almost never). So why wouldn’t you want full-flush as your everyday cutters? 1. They require a little bit more force to operate. 2. They’re more expensive. 3. They are MUCH more delicate. (It’s way easier to ruin the edge on them. One unexpected or accidental cut onto steel wire, or on too-thick copper leads, and the edge is done for. Unless you drop big bucks on carbide, which is great, but delicate in other ways as thm_w said.) I certainly do not recommend using full-flush cutters as your everyday cutters.

Is there something you don’t like about the Super Knips? (I just wish they had a fatter grip, which is why I prefer Knipex’s other cutters.)

I’d probably get something like ES5140 (semi flush), or Knipex 79 02 120 ESD (also semi flush) as everyday cutters.

Also, this is just what I use for small solid wire and component leads. For stranded wire, I use wire shears instead, which cut the wire without smushing it. This is much better when dressing wires for crimping or for tinning and fitting into tight holes. I find it a bit perplexing that most electronics folks and electricians seem to smush their way through wires and cables with dull diagonal cutters, rather than use shears, which cut far cleaner and require far less effort.

I have some cheap pair at home, at work I have the Knipex 95 12 160 StepCut shears, which work really well and cut through fat cables like butter, but I wish that they had a spring to open on their own. Unfortunately the StepCut models don’t exist with an opening spring option. So for smaller wires where StepCut has no effect, I’d recommend the 95 12 165 (which have an opening spring) or similar, which I may pick up at some point.

Also, an unsolicited recommendation: the Knipex 34 42 130 ESD precision flat nose pliers, because this version has laser-etched serrations that provide just a tiny bit of grip, yet don’t damage surfaces the way ordinary serrated jaws do. I got one of these at work recently and they’re fantastic.

Gyro:
You didn't say whether you want these cutters for home use or professional.

I don't think anyone cuts just Copper these days, just run a magnet across a bunch of component leads and see how many you pick up.

I keep one pair of decent flush cut (actually they are probably micro-bevel) cutters. I only use them on fine stuff, mainly 30AWG solid and fine stranded etc. for dead-bug type bread-boarding.

For everything else, I (ab)use cheapish ebay small bevel Carbide tipped cutters. In my experience, they are tremendously rugged. I haven't managed to nick a cutting edge yet but I have managed to partially snap one off the underlying brazing - I did say that I abuse them, cutting little bits off panels etc. Even those, I managed to grind down to a high leverage stubby pair, so they weren't a total loss.

Decent cutters are important, but spending a fortune leads to constant anxiety about the composition of what you are cutting. Go for a decent pair (I didn't look up the prices of your alternatives) of semi flush for fine work where you really need fine close cuts, but get a cheaper bevel cut pair for everything else.


Just as an aside for the curious. You can find a wide range of dental and surgical pliers and cutters on ebay for relatively little money, a lot of them are available with Carbide (TC) jaws / blades. There are all sorts of odd shapes that can come in really handy. Many of them are designed for forming and cutting stainless steel wire and you really don't want blades snapping in patient's mouths. About the only downside is that they are all metal (for hygiene and autoclaving), typically with gold plated handles. A little adhesive heatshrink sleeving improves the grip for electronics use though.

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