Another nipper I like to use is the SS306 WhipperSnapper
arch-cutting electric shears ($279 retail from Pacific
International Tool & Shear). This is the absolute best tool
I've found for cutting curves. It is lightweight, and cuts
smoothly, without dust. I use it not only for lap siding, but
also for 4x8 sheets where an arch or even a hole is required.
These shears won't cut 3/4-inch material, though, so don't
throw away the circular saw yet (Figure 3).
3. The SS306 WhipperSnapper is the best tool
I've found for cutting curves.
A good choice for high-volume cutting is the Snapper
14-inch, 110V pneumatic SS110A Platform Shear and Roller Table
($998 retail from Pacific International Tool & Shear,
Figure 4). Although it's excellent on large jobs, I stay away
from this tool on smaller jobs, mainly because it's heavy and
bulky to pack around.
4. If you're a high-volume installer, the
pneumatic Platform Shear and Roller Table are
excellent, but too big for small jobs.
The 24-inch SS210M Manual Shear ($573 retail from Pacific
International Tool & Shear) is a good tool for smaller
jobs. It cuts an almost flawless line for butting siding to
trim, and is especially good at rake cuts or on gable ends,
where running cuts are needed (see photo on first page). It's
somewhat difficult to push down through the material, though,
and multiple cuts are tiring. This tool is also rather bulky
and heavy. Although it is strenuous for the user, it's handy
for those times when electricity is not available.
Improved Cutting With Saws
The one drawback shared by all of the shears is the inability
to cut more than one piece at a time or cut 3/4-inch Harditrim.
So I always keep a circular saw ready for action.
Makita has come out with a unique line of dust- collecting
saws for fiber-cement. The dust collector doesn't completely
eliminate the dust, but does cut it down significantly (Figure
5). By connecting these saws to a shop vacuum, however, they
become almost dust-free. I like the Makita XSV10 type 4, heavy
duty (2 peak HP) wet/dry industrial vacuum ($349 retail from
Makita U.S.A., 14930 Northam St., La Mirada, CA 90638;
800/462-5482; www.makitatools.com). It has a 10-gallon
stainless steel tank with a crushproof 12-foot by 11/2-inch
hose and a 14-inch metalmaster nozzle. The dust collectors on
these saws do hamper your view of the blade while cutting, but
the guide on the shoe allows for accurate cuts.
5. By themselves, the dust collectors on these
saws don't completely eliminate the dust, but they do
cut it down. If you hook up a vacuum, however, they are
just about dust-free.