Choosing the Right Shears

Shears are mainly used for cutting sheet metal in workshops and industries. They have the advantage of cutting parts without deforming them and without producing shavings, unlike sawing, which always involves some loss of material.

Although they have the same function, handheld shears are portable tools, while guillotine shears are generally machines, used mainly in industry because they offer greater production capacity.

This guide is not about pruning shears.

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  • What are the different types of shears?

    The main types of shears are guillotine shears, handheld shears, and snips.

    Guillotine shears

    Guillotine shears are industrial machines capable of cutting large sheets of metal. They have a high production capacity and are widely used in industrial boilermaking, the metallurgical sector, and other industries where thin metal parts are frequently cut. Guillotine shears have two blades: The upper blade holds the workpiece against the lower blade and penetrates the material (usually metal). In most guillotine shears, the vertical movement of the blade is carried out by a hydraulic system operated by a foot pedal. The drive can be manual or automatic.

    Snips and handheld shears

    Snips are hand tools users can easily take from place to place. In industry, they are used to cut sheet metal and metal bars. In addition to snips, there are also handheld electric, pneumatic, and hydraulic shears, although the latter are much rarer.

    Jouanel guillotine shear

    Jouanel guillotine shear

    SAM handheld shears

    SAM handheld shears

  • What are the different technologies for shears?

    Mechanical handheld shears or snips

    Certain handheld shears are also known as snips. There are tin snips and compound action snips available on the market. Both have two handles and two blades that move on a common axis. The difference with compound action snips is that they have a leverage system, which reduces the cutting effort required by the user. For example, using the same force, tin snips can cut a 1.2 mm sheet with a strength of 400 N/mm², while compound action snips can cut a 1.5 mm sheet with the same strength.

    Bench shears

    Bench shears are suitable for cutting sheet metal and round bars thicker than 2 mm. They resemble a small manual guillotine, with a lever to lower the blade and make the cut. The larger the lever, the less force the operator has to exert.

    Electric shears

    These are portable tools that either have a cord or are battery-operated. Electric shears allow you to cut corrugated and trapezoidal sheets (4 to 5 mm) quickly and efficiently.

    Pneumatic shears

    REHOBOT hydraulic handheld shears

    REHOBOT handheld hydraulic cutters

    Pneumatic shears are similar in every way to electric shears, except for their power supply. A compressed air source is required to use these shears. Pneumatic shears can cut all types of plastic, as well as aluminum, tin, and steel up to 1.2 mm thick.

    Hydraulic cutters

    Less common, these shears, or cutters, offer a cutting force of several tons, but their movement is slower. They are used to cut metal pipes, wires, cables, etc.

    Guillotine shears

    The majority of guillotine shears for cutting sheet metal are hydraulic. They can cut mild steel up to 6.5 mm. Electric guillotine shears are cheaper and are suitable for cutting thinner sheets. They offer the possibility of installing several blades to cut several sheets simultaneously. There are also mechanical guillotine shears.

  • What are the main characteristics of shears?

    The most important features of shears:

    • The maximum cutting thickness
    • The cutting force
    • Power (non-manual shears)
    • The number of strokes per minute (electric and pneumatic shears)
    • The number of cuts per minute (guillotine shears)
    • Air pressure (pneumatic shears)
    • Compressed air consumption (pneumatic shears)
  • What are the applications for shears?

    Guillotine shears

    Guillotine shears are used for cutting sheet metal in various industries and workshops, including metallurgical and metalworking shops, locksmiths, and industrial boilermakers. They are used to cut hard and/or highly resistant materials such as metals, reams of paper, etc. They are also widely used in recycling industries to reuse waste (cars, industrial waste, etc.).

    Handheld shears and snips

    Handheld shears and snips are used by professionals who install and repair metal roofs, by plasterers, locksmiths, and plumbers, among others, to cut aluminum, copper, PVC sheets, or metal cables.

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