I inherited this, and guess it's a tile nipper? I'm curious why it has a flat side. Anyone use one of these?

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6 Answers 6


The tool is definitely a tile nippers The rounded edge/side is for removing large amounts of tile at a time. The straight side/edge is for finer cuts and removing small chips at a time. It's good for removing tile along a scored line. The two knobs on the inside of the handles would normally hold a spring to re-open the nippers after cutting.

  • 2
    Must not have had enough coffee yet this morning. Which is the "rounded edge/side" and where is the "straight side/edge"? They look reasonably symmetric to me...
    – FreeMan
    Dec 16, 2022 at 12:51
  • OK. We need to get you more coffee...the straight edge is on top and then curve down to the other edge.
    – JACK
    Dec 16, 2022 at 14:28
  • 5
    I see the round and straight sides but I also see why Freeman didn't see them because I don't see what they have to do with the function of the tool. Obviously the business end is the two opposing sharp claws. How do the two sides of the tool get involved in nipping?
    – jay613
    May 26, 2023 at 0:54
  • I'm with the others... I'm not seeing how the straight edge / round edge stuff comes into play. Can we have a more detailed explanation please? Maybe even with a little drawing in your answer? Aug 21, 2023 at 21:43

There are multiple different tools that look similar - tile nipper, end cutters, nail pullers. Hoof nippers for horses, too.

They differ in details.

Tile nippers generally have very hard blades and often those blades do not actually touch when the handles are fully closed (because they would damage each other, and it's not required for nipping tile). The hard blades are brittle, so they they won't do well as nail pullers. Nail pullers won't do well as tile nippers because their blades are not hard enough or sharp enough.

In this case, I don't see the separate hunks of harder material typical of tile nippers - tungsten carbide blade inserts brazed into steel handles - so I doubt they are tile nippers. Normally the seam is visible, even after paint.

Detail of blades lacking any sight of hard inserts

The angle of the blades suggests that these are not hoof nippers (these are sharpened to a less acute angle than hoof nippers generally have.)

Sometimes the brand can be a clue - i.e a Greenlee would almost certainly be an electrical trade item. But I can only partly see a model number on the one handle in this picture, no brand. Clear pictures of that and anything stamped/cast into the other handle might yield more certain identification.

Detail of handle not quite legible number

  • The depression you zoomed in on most reasonably would expected to have a model number or a brand name. It doesn't. There's a little D-ish figure containing a small circle. I'll do a search for, thanks.
    – J D
    Dec 17, 2022 at 1:00

Pincers for nail-pulling have rounder ends, to give better leverage, & blunt blades so you don't cut the nail accidentally.

These are either end cutters or nippers. I'd go with nippers because of the overall blade size & little 'step' to the right, which offsets the blades to the handle for better access. It also looks like the blades are not exactly square to the handles, again a tile nipper common feature.

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End cutters
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Tile nippers
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Yes, it's a tile nipper, useful for patiently nibbling off small pieces for odd shapes or if you don't have a longer straight cut tool (if you won't really see the eaten edge under a cabinet and grout can conceal it, or an edge trim, or sanding).

tile nipper


Pretty much all answers above are correct to what it is: a tile nipper.

However, I don't believe the reason for the shape is covered well or correctly in the answers. I think it is simple, but is my speculation. Having a flat side makes the casting/drop forging of the two pieces simple and the curved design of the cutter minimizes material (steel) usage while providing strength.

  • For casting, you don't need to have an impression on a top mold, so it halves the work needed for the mold making.
  • For drop forging, there is no need to make a second die for the flat side, which saves a good deal of cost in manufacturing.

If you look at higher-end tile nippers, they don't normally have a curved, half-moon profile coming off the cutting edge, because they are making a more durable tool that is less likely to break/chip at that end. They also, are more likely to not have a flat side at all and be a double die forging.


Flat side on this sort of tool is usually because the manufacturer thought you might occasionally find it useful to use it as a hammer. Not a good hammer, but if your hammer is halfway across the worksite and you just need to do something like driving a single nail half an inch into the wood to anchor a chalk line to...

  • 3
    Remember kids, every tool is a hammer.
    – FreeMan
    Dec 16, 2022 at 12:52
  • Screwdrivers make bad hammers, but hammers make worse screwdrivers.
    – keshlam
    Dec 16, 2022 at 14:42
  • Well, if you've got a big slotted screw and a claw hammer... :)
    – FreeMan
    Dec 16, 2022 at 14:49

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