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PHOTO: J. Keeler Johnson
As you might have gathered from reading my columns for Hobby Farms, I’m a big fan of manual hand tools such as pruning loppers and digging bars. My collection of such tools is extensive, and most of the tools are in constant use throughout the year. Wire cutters and bolt cutters are two more tools that I highly recommend, and I’ve been using them with increasing frequency over the last couple of years.
In essence, wire cutters and bolt cutters have similar purposes—they’re both designed to cut through metal. The difference? Wire cutters are a small tool, about the size of pliers, which lets you use them with one hand, while bolt cutters are significantly larger (more like the size of pruning loppers) and designed to cut through correspondingly larger pieces of metal.
Earlier this spring, I was constructing a large garden fence using mesh wire, which had to be cut to specific sizes to span from post to post. For this project, wire cutters were perfect—they handled the relatively thin wire that comprised the fence, and their one-handed design meant that I could cut while holding the fence firmly in place with my free hand.
But as useful as wire cutters might be, bolt cutters are even better. They can be heavy (to the point of being tiresome to use for long periods of time), but they make up for it by being powerful and easy to use. Whereas wire cutters require a strong hand, the long handles on bolt cutters give you extra leverage and makes cutting through thick wires almost effortless.
As an example, on my farm there are several very old barbed wire fences that I’ve been working to take down. The wires are thick—they’re multiple wires twisted together—and I wouldn’t dare try to cut through them with wire cutters. But the bolt cutters do the job with hardly any exertion on my part, allowing me to work efficiently while focusing on safety.
But of course, these tools can be used for more than just fencing work. Wire cutters can make a serviceable pair of scissors and be used to cut through string, rope, or similar items. They’ll chop through thin plastic if you need to open packaging or cut a hole in something. Bolt cutters, as their name implies, will cut through modest-size bolts if you need to, along with all sorts of similar items—chains, padlocks, and so on.
In other words, wire cutters and bolt cutters are versatile tools that all hobby farmers should have in their tool sheds.