The world of diagonal cutters

David Barnes from KNIPEX looks at the different types of specialist cutting tools available to electricians and when to use them.

As any electrical contractor knows, different size cables, wires and materials can require a specialist cutting tool. In fact, KNIPEX differentiates between diagonal cutters, front cutters, oblique cutters, centre cutters, high leverage and special diagonal cutters and many others – there is a whole world of cutting pliers out there!

From the ambidextrous, very heavy duty use of a bolt end cutter to the sensitive use of a mini diagonal cutter, with KNIPEX you can rely on well thought-out construction solutions and easy handling. The company’s high leverage diagonal cutters, for instance, are a good example of this. Thanks to their higher transmission ratio and particularly hard cutting edges, they are among the most robust and powerful versions of a diagonal cutter. Here are some of the company’s most important types:

The diagonal cutter

Unlike a front or centre cutter, the cutting edge of a diagonal cutter is arranged sideways. The sharp tip of the pliers is mainly used to cut thin materials.

The centre cutter

The effort required is generally lower thanks to the favourable wedge angle of a centre cutter. For example, the bolt cutter is a centre cutter: thanks to its two long levers combined with the high-ratio joint, the pliers are even suitable for cutting thick iron. It is used with both hands and has the ability to cut chains, bolts or rivets in various industrial areas. A variant of it is the concrete mesh cutter – a bolt cutter with an angled shape.

The front cutter

As the name suggests the cutting edges of the front cutter are at the front. They are also used, for example, to cut wires. Thanks to a higher transmission ratio, a high leverage front cutter enables the cutting of even harder materials.

The oblique cutter

Thanks to their special cutting-edge arrangement, an electronics oblique cutter can be used at different angles to the workpiece, depending on the version.

Diagonal cutters from KNIPEX are available in four series. Together with the different versions, this results in a total of 75 different models.  This means that every user can find the tailor-made solution for their specific application. Depending on the construction, the hand force required when cutting a 3mm thick nail can vary greatly.

Must-have cutting tools

The biters

The KNIPEX TwinForce is an exceptional tool for hard wires and large cross-sections (with repositioning). Its patented double-joint construction achieves an impressive 39-fold amplification of manual force. The TwinForce not only cuts both fine and thick wires easily and reliably – it also effortlessly cuts through unusual materials such as steel strips. The tool cuts even 4mm thick wires with two to three repetitions. Repositioning means notching the wire with a strong press of the hand, opening the pliers again and pushing the wire in the notch towards the joint. Then press again. Repeat the process until the wire touches the joint. This way you can take full advantage of the constructive force transmission and cut thick wires very easily. KNIPEX says that other high leverage diagonal cutters of the same size do not cut such diameters at all or only with extreme effort.

Another clean cutting tool in the series, the KNIPEX X-Cut, features a box joint which gives maximum stability with low weight and yet can multiply hand force up to 16 times.

The classic

The Diagonal cutter 70 02 160 is an indispensable cutting tool for versatile use. It’s the latest evolution of the company’s classic. Thanks to extended cutting edges and the optimisation of joint and cutting angle, the diagonal cutter has become even more versatile in use. Thanks to its inductively hardened precision cutting edges, it is the ideal solution cutting soft, medium-hard and hard wires. The clean cut even of thin copper wires including with the cutting tips and the slimmer head shape for use in hard-to-reach work areas make it a classic among diagonal cutters.

The robust one

For the toughest, long-term use. The high leverage diagonal cutter 74 02 180 from KNIPEX is right wherever a particularly robust tool is needed. The forged hinged joint and a very high-quality steel alloyed with chrome and vanadium ensure long life, stability and a high cutting performance. It cuts all types of wire including piano wire. At the same time, the effort required is significantly lower compared to a conventional diagonal cutter of the same length. When it comes to hard and permanent stress, the high leverage diagonal cutter is the right choice.


Of course, safety should be paramount. A range of insulated, VDE-tested pliers, are essential for use in electrical installation work and examined, certified and monitored by the Association of German Electricians (VDE). KNIPEX manufactures a wide range of VDE insulated tools, from crimping and cutting pliers to cable shears, from screwdrivers to insulation strippers.

Each design of KNIPEX insulated pliers is authorised by the independent VDE Institute concerning safety features before a type approval is granted. Added to all this are rigorous random tests.

All of these production and test standards offer the greatest possible protection when working with a voltage up to 1000V AC and 1500V DC. Every single KNIPEX insulated tool from its VDE range is first tested at a voltage of 10,000V AC. This represents a test load that is 10 times as high as the maximum voltage permitted during work. This safeguards the user when working.

KNIPEX then tests the tools’ electrical insulation. After a submersion in water for 24 hours, the tools are tested for three minutes at 10,000V AC with a simultaneous measurement of the leakage current. The reading of the leakage current must stay below the strict limits defined in the standards. After storage for 168 hours at 70°C, the adhesion of the insulating coating is tested with a tensile load of 500 N. The insulating material must remain firmly bonded to the basic tool. KNIPEX only uses flame resistant, self-extinguishing plastics for insulation. The insulation heated to 70°C must prove under standardised test conditions that its shape also remains sufficiently stable in a warmer environment.

The tools are also cooled down to -25°C and the insulation material must retain the toughness necessary to prevent it breaking if the tool is hit or knocked. Tools capable of being assembled are checked for voltage and flashover resistance in a bath of steel balls at 10,000V.

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