Milwaukee Aviation Snips
Hand tools from one of the power dynasty’s
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted – 12-13-2011
Over the last 40-some years I must have cut miles of steel bar, tube and sheet with various Milwaukee powered cutting tools, most often the venerable Milwaukee Sazall® that anyone working with metal just feels funny without. I frankly don’t know why it took Milwaukee this long to apply their tool-building expertise to hand tools but that inexplicable disturbance in the tool force is forever calmed and we have more nifty tools that make metal-cutting chores easier.
The Milwaukee Aviation Snips start out with tough forged cutting heads that make already good steel a bunch tougher. Then they machine the blades to insure clean, consistent cutting edges. That kind of forming and machining insures very consistent cutting which makes you more accurate. The specially serrated cutting edges allow the Milwaukee Aviation Snips to cut up to 18ga cold rolled steel and 22ga stainless steel. The jaws are hard chrome plated for additional durability and to help keep the material sliding along smoothly. To help keep them pretty Milwaukee adds rust protection as well.
Though Milwaukee tools are designed to perform for a long time on the jobsite the Milwaukee Aviation Snips are also versatile and more than up to cutting aluminum, cardboard, copper, leather, screening and vinyl siding. To prove their confidence in the built-in quality and durability Milwaukee covers the Aviation Snips with their Limited Lifetime Warranty. It doesn’t get any more convincing.
Milwaukee also designed a flush pivot bolt that helps keep the material sliding by rather than catching on the bolt head. That might sound like a small detail but actually getting it on the finished tool probably was considerably more difficult than it sounds. They made the idea work though and the metal curl slips right by the pivot bolt as if it wasn’t there.
The handles of the Milwaukee Aviation Snips are ergonomically designed and have been given a rubber-like overmold that makes them comfortable to the hand and surprisingly slip resistant. The handles are sized so that they are comfortable to the bare hand or with work gloves. Along with that comfort Milwaukee added a one handed locking mechanism that allows you to lock the snips in the closed position with the flick of a button built into the handle. That means getting the Milwaukee Aviation Snips back into the tool belt doesn’t require setting the workpiece down or mastering a minor magic feat with your lone free hand. When you want to use the Milwaukee Aviation Snips again just give the handles a little squeeze and the spring-loaded lock releases and the jaws open for use.
Milwaukee offers the Milwaukee Aviation Snips in a variety of models to handle all of your metal cutting needs. The #48-22-4030 10” snips are good for straight cuts. The #48-22-4020 10” snips make cutting to the right easier. Their #48-22-4010 10” snips are for cutting toward the left. The #48-22-4000 10” Bulldog Snips are great for straight cuts while their #48-22-4021 10” snips are comfortable in right angled cuts. Finally the # 48-22-4011 10” snips are designed to be easier in left cutting. So you don’t have to remember all of the numbers the packaging has diagrams showing the cut directions for which that model is best suited.
In the Shop
There are two things that we most want from metal-cutting snips – the ability to cut metal easily and to be able to make those cuts accurately at the same time. All of the Milwaukee Aviation Snips have those traits and more. A significant property of the Milwaukee Aviation Snips is their rugged construction and the service life that offers. For all but the heaviest of users the Milwaukee Aviation Snips are forever tools.
The properties of modern steels and forging techniques employed by Milwaukee allows the Aviation Snips to use a serrated cutting edge that would have been impossible not so long ago. Without the extreme toughness of the steel a serrated edge would wear away quickly. The cutting edges of the Milwaukee Aviation Snips starts out very sharp and remains effective because that edge does not degrade significantly when cutting common steels and all of the soft metals we are accustomed to using.
The thumb-operated lock is a great idea that lets you drop the Milwaukee Aviation Snips into your tool belt already in the closed configuration. I thought this was a relatively minor design feature until I started using the Milwaukee Aviation Snips in the shop and realized how nice that locking mechanism really is. To disengage the lock simply squeeze the handles slightly and the spring loaded lock disengages. I like automation – even at its most basic level.
The Milwaukee Aviation Snips are well-designed, well-made cutting tools that handle the tasks for which they were designed with ease. They cut easily and that efficiency along with the handle design makes controlling those cuts simple. I like power tools as much as anyone but there are times when the slow control of a snips makes way more sense for small or delicate jobs.
Despite their durability and ease of use the Milwaukee Aviation Snips carry a surprisingly small price tag. I was able to find these nips with street prices between $16.99 and $24.99! (12-12-2011) That is short money for any good tool but was a bit surprising for this kind of quality on the American market. If you don’t have good snips in your shop, make sure you see the Milwaukee Aviation Snips.
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