Wiss® Metal Snips
They make cutting steel a low-stress event
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted – 6-20-2012
Wiss® has been making metal snips as long as I can remember and they have been a favorite of pro sheet metal workers about as long. I know metal snips look simple but how they evolved to the level of effectiveness we enjoy today was anything but simple. There is a bunch of technology behind choosing the right steels to make snips from and learning to heat treat that steel correctly for the job not to mention designing a process that can quickly but properly shape the cutting edge so that it is both efficient and durable. The folks at Wiss® have had lots of practice and it shows in the snips we look at in this review.
Across the range of Wiss® Metal Snips variations available there are common features that make them so effective. Many of these snips use a compound leverage handle system that helps you develop the pressure necessary to cut sheet metal easily and accurately. The handles themselves are long enough to be effective and covered with a non-slip material that is comfortable to the hand. And, with the exception of the W7N 14.5” straight snips which are made in China, all of the remaining snips in this review are Made in America!
All of the Wiss® Metal Snips are precision cast from high-end steel and then heat-treated to withstand the use for which they were designed. Even the cutting edges are given special attention with many of the snips getting a serrated-type edge that reduces the force needed to cut steel considerably. Those edges also make it easier to cut accurately in part because you are not bearing down trying to close the handles. The cutting edges grip the metal as you are cutting to help you follow layout lines.
Even the pivot screws are specially made to withstand many years of use. I know this seems like a small point but these pivots are crucial to how a snips performs today and 20 years from now. Wiss® even uses staked locking nuts to insure that the pivots stay adjusted.
The many configurations within the Wiss® Metal Snips line can be confusing if you are not a pro metalworker. To make choosing the right snips for your jobs Wiss® adds a graphic to the merchandising display card attached to the snips that tells you the thickness of metal it will cut the directions it is designed to cut in. If you have ever picked up a right turn snips and tried to make a left hand curve with them you know exactly what I am talking about. It is not fun. The right jaw design makes a huge difference and the Wiss® Metal Snips cutting edges make your job easier yet.
In the Shop
I don’t have a lot to say about using the Wiss® Metal Snips because they work exactly as advertised. If anything they work a bit easier than I anticipated. The cutting edges and compound handle system really do work together to make cutting metal easier than I can remember. It would appear that the only way to have trouble with the Wiss® Metal Snips is to be using the wrong one for the job. Considering the graphic on the merchandising card that shows exactly what that snip is deigned to do this error would be all yours, not the fault of the Wiss® Metal Snips.
All of the Wiss® Metal Snips work easily and leave cut edges that are surprisingly clean. If a cut edge is going to be exposed I would run over it with a fine file to blunt it some but that is really all of the prep work these snips leave behind.
After using the Wiss® Metal Snips the only maintenance I could find is brushing off any metal slivers that might hang on and wiping them down before returning them to the drawer. These really are simple machines that have been made and designed well.
If you have the need to cut sheet metal and like tools that are Made in America, the Wiss® Metal Snips should be at the top of your must-see list. These are nicely designed tools that are also well made to insure a very long useful life with nothing more than common sense care on your part.
Making the Wiss® Metal Snips even more attractive is their price. The Wiss® M6 and M7 9-1/4” offset right and left cut snips have a street price of $21.00 (6-19-2012) each. The M1 straight and left cut $15.98, the M2 Straight and right cut $13.95 and the M3 Straight, left and right cut snips $15.95. The M8 and M9 Overhead snips each sell for $30.00 on the street. The Wiss M300, 3” capacity straight and curved cut snip sells for $16.95 and the Wiss M400 3” capacity straight and left cut offset snips also sells for $16.95. The Wiss W7N Industrial 14.5” inlaid industrial snips sells for $45.95. All of these prices were current as of 6-19-2012.
If you work with sheet metal the Wiss® Metal Snips certainly appear to be a wise investment if you want to get your work done easily and right the first time. If you like buying Made in America tools the decision should be easier yet!