David Frane

Last week the FedEx guy showed up with an unexpected delivery: new Vise-Grip 8-inch Max Leverage Diagonal Cutting Pliers from Irwin and a locked technician’s case. There was no combination for the cable lock; I was supposed to open the case using the diagonal cutting pliers, which use compound cutting action to reduce the force required for cutting. The pliers cut through the steel lock cable with no more effort than it takes to cut a 14-gauge copper ground wire with regular wire cutters.

I was impressed—until I tried to cut the same steel cable with regular diagonal cutting pliers and realized that the cable was not so tough. So I decided to try something harder and test the Irwin tool against other 8- and 7-inch cutters I had in the shop, none of which were compound cutters. First I cut 16d galvanized finish nails. The 8-inch tools cut them one-handed; the 7-inch tools required two hands. Next, I cut #8 gold drywall screws. Only the Vise-Grip Max Leverage Pliers cut them single-handed.

It was a simple but instructive test: compound cut pliers, such as Irwin’s, are easier on your hand and muscles when making difficult cuts or making heavy cuts all day long.

David Frane is editor-in-chief of Tools of the Trade, where a detailed review of these pliers originally appeared online.

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