I need to cut some steel wire/cable (the type that's a bunch of little wires twisted together--not sure the technical term for it). The wire is maybe a bit more than 1/16in in diameter.

The access is pretty limited. The wire is set back a few inches from an opening that's only 3 inches wide and 4 inches tall.

I've tried cutting it with some cheap snippers: they aren't powerful enough. I'm not sure I'd be able to fit some real bolt cutters or the like.

What might I use? A narrow hacksaw blade and some elbow grease?

  • Do you have tin/aviation snips? Those might be just long enough. Mar 18, 2016 at 18:42
  • The term you are looking for is probably "stranded". I'm guessing an oxy-acetylene torch or thermite are out of bounds? ;-) Mar 18, 2016 at 19:49
  • I've got cheap cable shears that would do that. My bike brake/gear cable cutters wouldn't. But with stranded cable you can often nibble it a stand at a time. For this, smaller cutters are better as the cheap chunky ones tend to have a bit of a bevel on the tip that makes it hard to attack a single strand
    – Chris H
    Mar 18, 2016 at 20:00
  • 3
    Can you include a photo?
    – Tester101
    Mar 18, 2016 at 22:03

6 Answers 6


You could try a wire rope cutter like the Felco C2.


You need a pair of cable cutters, where the blades engage each other before any cutting begins, to cut steel safety cable aka, aviation wire. Otherwise, with standard cutters, you'll probably just mangle the end.

Pulling the wire towards the front of the hole should allow you to cut it with almost any tool but if you need to put a connector back on it later, you'll wish you cut it cleanly.

If there's no play in the cable at all, I'd have to ask why you haven't taken the load off it first.

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I generally cut wire rope with an angle grinder using a metal cutting blade. Given that this is a miniature version of that, a Dremel or similar high speed rotary tool would be what I'd reach for first.


Usually it is easier to cut stranded wire if you first wrap the spot your going to cut with (electrical) tape. A few tight wraps might allow your cheap snippers to work.


A long-nosed wire cutter sounds like the right tool for this job:

long-nosed wire cutter

Unlike long-nosed pliers, these have the pivot very close to the nose, but just move the pivot far forward from the wire, so you still have the leverage to apply decent force on the snip. With a 3"x4" hole, you'll be able to part the handles 5", which should be plenty.


rotary dremel tool with fibre reinforced disk. just put into the recess, support the tool and slowly cut through the cable.

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