Best Bolt Cutters

Do you need to cut a bolt, chain, padlock, or another metal-made object? If so, a bolt cutter is your go-to tool. It’s incredibly strong jaws and forceful mechanics allow it to snap through metal objects with ease.

Whether you’re completing routine tasks around the home or office or working in construction or an industrial trade, a bolt cutter can come in handy. Our guide features some of the best bolt cutters to help you get the job done fuss-free.

Bolt Cutters Reviewed

Let’s look at some of the best bolt cutters for virtually any job:

WORKPRO Bolt Cutter


Specs:

  • 14 inches
  • Anti-slip handle grips 
  • Molybdenum steel jaws
  • Powder-coated finish

Pros:

  • Compound cutting hinge action for ultimate leverage
  • Affordable pricing
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Perfect for mesh wiring and small piping

Cons:

  • Not suitable for thick metals
  • Metal jaws may chip

The WORKPRO Bolt Cutter is one of the most versatile of its kind. Made with chrome-molybdenum steel jaws that are finished with a powder coating, this bolt cutter is incredibly strong and capable of cutting small to medium-sized metal threads, piping, chains, and more. The powder finish gives it some longevity, protecting it from rust and corrosion.

One of the best features of these bolt cutters is its grips. They’re not only comfortable for your hands to grasp, but they also give you a better grip on the handles. You shouldn’t feel like you need to exert a bunch of pressure to get the jaws to do their job swiftly. The grips work with your force to add pressure.

WORKPRO offers this same design in larger sizes, too, including 18-inch and 30-inch so that you can choose the right size for the job. This specific tool is 14-inches, so if you’re doing any heavy-duty cutting, it’s best to go with one of the bigger sizes.

Tekton 8-inch Bolt Cutter


Specs:

  • 8 inches
  • Forged alloy steel jaws
  • 3/16-inch capacity
  • Non-slip grips

Pros:

  • Super compact for small jobs
  • Has a locking mechanism to prevent accidental injury
  • Works seamlessly on small wire threads, chains, and bolts
  • Lifetime guarantee

Cons:

  • Not for use on thick metals
  • May be uncomfortable to grip for some users

Compact bolt cutters like this one from Tekton are handy to have around the workshop. You can cut smaller, thinner metal objects with them, like wiring and small chains, and they’re small and agile enough to use one-handed. 

Still, the strength of the jaws on this set is no joke. They’re made with forged and hardened steel alloy, allowing them to remain durable as they cut and help you out with extra force. The gripping handles give you further control over adding pressure and keeping the tool in place as you work.

If you love the idea of this Tekton bolt cutter but need something a little larger for thicker metals, you can find the same model in various sizes up to 36 inches. But for quick, casual jobs around the home or workshop, the 8-inch size could provide the perfect mix of convenience and efficiency.

Knipex Tools CoBalt Compact Bolt Cutter


Specs:

  • 1/4-inch capacity
  • Heavy-duty forged steel
  • 11.8-ounce weight
  • 8 inches

Pros:

  • High leverage and control
  • Induction hardened edges
  • Angled shape for extra force
  • Compact and lightweight for easy carrying and storage

Cons:

  • Plastic coated handles don’t allow a controlled grip
  • Won’t handle cutting thick metals

Another compact bolt cutter option to have in your toolbox is the Knipex Tools CoBalt Compact Bolt Cutter. This model comes in 6-inch, 8-inch, and 10-inch sizes, but we really love the 8-in set for its fantastic grip and easy-to-maneuver shape. It has up to a ½-inch cutting diameter, which is a bit larger than similar models of its size.

The rigid blades feature a mix of steel, carbon, vanadium, and chromium to make it fully capable of cutting metal without slipping on the object or chipping. Knipex designed these jaws to last, hardening them with an induction hardening processing to seal and strengthen them.

The cutting edge of the Knipex Tools CoBalt cutter has an HRC of approximately 64, putting it right in line with the metal hardness of larger bolt cutters. You will pay a little more than other 8-inch cutters to get this exceptional quality, but it could be worth it for you if you prefer longevity over affordability.

RIDGID S30 Bolt Cutter


Specs:

  • Hardened alloy steel
  • 30-inches
  • 8.88 lbs.
  • Up to ½-inch cutting capacity

Pros:

  • Internal cam mechanism keeps blades aligned
  • Works on soft, medium, and hard metals
  • Non-slip handle grips
  • Replaceable jaws available
  • Full lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Higher price point than others on our list
  • Somewhat heavy to hold

If the price isn’t a concern for you and you need a large set of bolt cutters, consider the RIDGID S30. This 30-inch tool is designed to handle heavy-duty cutting jobs, like cutting padlocks, large chains, bolts, rods, and even concrete ties with this beast. It offers superior leverage from both its mechanics and its long, gripped handles.

A serious benefit of these cutters is that you can replace the jaws if they do wear out. Unlike other cutters that require you to replace the whole tool, these cutters have removable jaws to swap out, preventing you from paying full price for a bolt cutter replacement. 

These bolt cutters are pretty heavy, so some people might find that they’re difficult to maneuver for challenging cutting jobs. Still, the handle design and strong jaws take a lot of the work off your shoulders, quite literally.

Neiko Heavy Duty Bolt Cutter


Specs:

  • 36 inches
  • Black
  • Ergonomic handles
  • Lever-fulcrum mechanics

Pros:

  • Heat-treated blades to resist chipping and damage
  • Affordable price point
  • Adjustable blade for larger cutting capacity
  • Converts 50 pounds of force to 4,000 pounds of pressure 

Cons:

  • Heavy for some to hold and maneuver
  • Blades may not last as long as pricier bolt cutters

Are you in need of a 36-incher that won’t break the bank? This affordable solution from Neiko could do the trick. Its jaws might not quite match up to the supreme quality of the RIDGID S30, but if you’re not planning to cut thick pieces of hard metals like steel and tungsten, this set is a good, budget-friendly option.

This set of bolt cutters is on the heavy side, making it challenging for some to hold. But, we do really like its non-slip handles. They’re textured and slightly padded to prevent hand fatigue and keep your hands solidly on the handles for ultimate leverage.

The bolt cutter’s jaws are made with chrome molybdenum to improve their strength, rigidity, and resistance to chipping and corrosion. This design, combined with the lever-fulcrum system, allows you to exert a relatively low amount of force to equate to thousands of pounds of pressure on whatever material you’re cutting. 

If that power still isn’t enough, Neiko has similar bolt cutters available in a 42-inch size, too.

Bolt Cutters Buyer’s Guide: How to Find the Best Bolt Cutters

Not all bolt cutters are created equal. Even the best bolt cutters may work for one job and not another. To make sure you get the best bolt cutters for your needs, consider the following features as you shop:

Grip

Bolt cutters can be a bit difficult to hold, especially as they get larger. A compact 8-inch bolt cutter is simple to control without special handles or grips. But a 36-inch bolt cutter could be extremely challenging to maneuver without handle grips for ergonomic use.

Purchasing bolt cutters online doesn’t allow you the opportunity to feel the tool and get an idea of how effective its grips are. Still, you can take a few minutes to look at close-up photos of the grips to see where and how long they are.

You can also read customer reviews of the bolt cutters you’re considering. A chief complaint from bolt cutter users is that the grips fail to protect their hands or allow them to have a comfortable and safe grip on the tool, so their reviews could inform your decision.

Size

Bolt cutters come in various sizes, generally from 8 inches to 48 inches, although you might find some that are smaller or larger. The size relates to the handle length of the tool. 

Compact bolt cutters between 8 and 12 inches are best for cutting thin, lightweight metals, like sheet metal, mesh wiring, and metal wires. Opt for a medium-size bolt cutter between 18 and 24 inches if you need to cut small pipes, screws, nails, locks, or bolts.

The larger bolt cutters between 30 and 48 inches are best for cutting thick metals, like ½ inch pipes, copper cable, large bolts, and chains. They have long handles, strong hinge mechanisms, and large jaws to accommodate thicker metal between them. 

Adjustability

An adjustable or adaptable bolt cutter has extendable handles that help you mold the tool to the task at hand. You can keep the cutters compact for small cutting jobs or extend them to allow you to put more force on the handles for more challenging cuts.

If you choose an adjustable bolt cutter, make sure it has easy-to-adjust handles that safely lock in place. The handles typically have locks that you unscrew to adjust them and screw back in place to lock them.

Blade

Some of the best bolt cutters have the most capable blades. The size and strength of the blade, also known as the jaws, of bolt cutters will determine what types of materials you can cut with them. Large-handled cutters usually have larger blades and can cut thicker materials. Compact cutters have smaller blades to accommodate smaller, thinner materials.

Weight

Your bolt cutters’ weight can affect how you maneuver them and how they convert your force to pressure to cut metal objects.

Generally, a lightweight bolt cutter is best for light tasks. They won’t be as forceful for cutting heavy-duty metals, but they can be a lot easier for you to carry with you throughout the day. They’ll also be easy for you to hold and maneuver as you cut.

In contrast, heavy-duty bolt cutters are efficient force-converters. These bolt cutters can tackle the largest jobs, like thick chains and wiring. Unfortunately, they’ll take more force on your part to exert enough pressure on the object to cut through it. Their weight can make them difficult for some people to handle and move safely.

Rockwell Scale

Information about where bolt cutters fall on the Rockwell Scale can sometimes be challenging to find. Still, it’s an important metric that can help you decide if the cutters you’re considering are ones that will meet the needs of your cutting job.

The Rockwell Scale measures the hardness of the materials the bolt cutters consist of. The higher the number, noted by the value HRC, the harder the bolt cutters’ blade. A number between 55 and 60 or higher indicates that the bolt cutter blades will likely be strong enough to handle cutting some of the most rigid metals.

This set of bolt cutters is on the heavy side, making it challenging for some to hold. But, we do really like its non-slip handles. They’re textured and slightly padded to prevent hand fatigue and keep your hands solidly on the handles for ultimate leverage.

The bolt cutter’s jaws are made with chrome molybdenum to improve their strength, rigidity, and resistance to chipping and corrosion. This design, combined with the lever-fulcrum system, allows you to exert a relatively low amount of force to equate to thousands of pounds of pressure on whatever material you’re cutting. 

If that power still isn’t enough, Neiko has similar bolt cutters available in a 42-inch size, too.

FAQ’s

Here are a few answers to commonly asked questions about bolt cutters to help you learn how they work and what kind of bolt cutters you might need.

How does a bolt cutter work?

Bolt cutters rely on force rather than sharpness to cut through metal. Bolt cutters have compound hinges that work as you open and close the handles. When you open the handles, the jaws also open. Closing the handles causes the hinges to pivot in a way that closes the jaws with force around the metal object.

What can bolt cutters cut through?

Bolt cutters can cut through various materials and objects, including wires, mesh, pipes, bolts, padlocks, screws, nails, and padlocks. This tool is especially helpful for cutting through metal of various thicknesses, something most other cutting tools can’t accomplish.

Will 18 inch bolt cutters cut a padlock?

Padlocks made with cheap materials might be a match for an 18-inch bolt cutter, but even the best bolt cutters can’t cut through heavier metals at only 18 inches. Heavy-duty padlocks generally need a larger 30-inch to 48-inch bolt cutter. This video demonstrates the difference between cutting two padlocks with 18-inch bolt cutters. The larger size helps you get the leverage you need to slice through thick metal that makes up most padlocks.

Final Thoughts

Bolt cutters are a necessary tool to have in your toolbox if you need to cut metal objects, whether it’s sheet metal or thick metal rods. With various bolt cutter sizes and qualities available, there is probably one that can match your task requirements and budget. Make sure you have the right size and strength for the job to allow your bolt cutters to take on the brunt of the work.

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