The SS210M Manual Shear takes some effort, but it's great for rake cuts up to 21 inches long -- no electric power needed. (PHOTOS COURTESY OF BOB RUDD) I've been working with fiber-cement siding and trim for the last several years and have seen it become an increasingly popular alternative to wood siding. One of the problems builders have had to deal with, though, is that although fiber-cement is a great product, until recently there weren't a lot of choices for cutting it. The regular carbide blade in a circular saw makes a great cut, but the resulting dust is horrible, both for the workers and the customers. Fortunately, as the popularity of these materials has grown, a wide variety of specialized tools and accessories has emerged. Although I specialize in residential construction, here in Texas these products are being widely used in commercial construction as well. On the majority of my job sites I've used the 8-inch lap, but the 4x8 sheets of siding, with or without texture, have become quite popular, too. No matter the size, though, it's the materials you use and the size of the jobs you do that will influence how you think about cutting this material.

I plugged along with a regular 7 1/4-inch circular saw with a carbide blade for years until, luckily, I discovered fiber-cement shears (or as they're called around here, "nippers"). I wouldn't recommend them as the only tool, but they are a "must have" for anyone installing fiber-cement siding on a regular basis. The...

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