Are you a professional electrician, a crafter, hobbyist, or jewelry-maker? Do you own a 3-D printer and do plastic molding?
Perhaps you are a keen DIYer who simply enjoys doing maintenance around the house? Maybe you are a florist, trimming and cutting wire and artificial flowers for arrangements?
If you do any of these things, you will most certainly have come across an indispensable little tool called a flush cutter, and you will know that there are certain jobs that only this tool can get to grips with.
If you do any of the above and you don’t yet own a flush cutter, then now is the time to purchase one. It will change your life!
If you already have a flush cutter, but are looking to replace it or upgrade it, then the following information will help you to make an informed decision about which would be the best cutter for your present or changing needs.
As a hobbyist and a general home handyman, my first choice of flush cutters is the Hakko-CHP-170 Micro Cutter. It does everything I need it to – from intricate hobby work to home electrical wire cutting – and it is available at a very competitive price. It also has the MOST comfortable handles of any cutter around.
Depending on what you will use it for you might need a slightly different option though. I’ve therefore made a complete top 6 of the best flush cutters around.
|Best flush cutter||Image|
|Best overall flush cutter & best for wiring: Hakko-CHP-170 Micro Cutter|
|Best flush cutter for jewelry making: Xuron 170-II Micro-Shear|
|Best flush cutter for precision work & tight spaces: Klein Tools D275-5|
|Best full-size flush cutter & best for artificial flowers: IGAN-P6 Spring-loaded Clippers|
|Best flush cutter for 3D printed plastics: Delcast MEC-5A|
|Best heavy-duty multifunctional wire cutter: Neiko Self Adjusting 01924A|
In this post we'll cover:
- What is a flush cutter and what does it do?
- Buyer’s guide: keep the following in mind before you purchase
- Best flush cutters on the market
- Best overall flush cutter & best for wiring: Hakko-CHP-170 Micro Cutter
- Best flush cutter for jewelry making: Xuron 170-II Micro-Shear
- Best flush cutter for precision work & tight spaces: Klein Tools D275-5
- Best full-size flush cutter & best for artificial flowers: IGAN-P6 Spring-loaded Clippers
- Best flush cutter for 3D printed plastics: Delcast MEC-5A
- Best heavy-duty multifunctional wire cutter: Neiko Self Adjusting 01924A
- Frequently asked questions about flush cutters
- What are flush cutters used for?
- What is the difference between side cutters and flush cutters?
- What are flush cut pliers?
- What is a micro flush cutter?
- How do you sharpen a flush cutter?
- What are side cutters used for in jewelry making?
- What is the difference between the angle flush cutter and flush cutter?
- Can professionals use a flush cutter for jewelry-making purposes?
- Is the flush cutter good for cutting jump rings?
- Can a flush cutter be used for cutting gauges and materials?
What is a flush cutter and what does it do?
To the uninitiated, a flush cutter is a wire cutter with ‘panache’.
It is particularly suited to crafters, electricians, and DIYers who need to be able to create smooth, neat, and very precise cuts. It is ideal for jewelers and crafters who need to cut beading wire and clip eye pins and headpins in very precise ways.
If you have a 3-D printer, a flush cutter is a perfect tool to cut filament, trim strings, and strip wires (I bet you didn’t know that).
An electrician or home handyman knows that it is the perfect tool for cutting cables or electrical wires as it gives a smooth, neat cut.
Wondering what is the best way to strip wire? Here’s how to do it fast and efficiently
Buyer’s guide: keep the following in mind before you purchase
So, a flush cutter is an extremely versatile tool, with many applications. However, when purchasing a flush cutter, it is important to select the right one to suit your specific needs and your pocket.
Decide what jobs you generally need your flush cutter for. There are several flush cutters on the market, each of which is best suited to certain tasks.
Some are designed for fine, intricate work, for clipping and trimming thin wires, and for very precise cuts. Others are more robust, with very strong blades designed to cut through thicker cables and wires.
Some have handles that are ergonomically designed for constant and daily use, others have handles that are simpler and adequate for occasional use.
Check out the blades
The general rule for blades is that the blade must be tougher than the material you will be cutting.
You need to decide whether you need heavy-duty blades for cutting thick metal wires or whether you need sharp, fine blades for more delicate work.
Will you be using the flush cutter daily for crafts and jewelry-making or occasionally for home maintenance?
Don’t forget the handles
The design of the handles is particularly important if you need this tool for daily use. The handles should be made of steel or aluminum, covered with rubber or tough plastic, for a comfortable hold.
The grip should be firm and slip-resistant. The cutter itself should be easy to operate with the minimum amount of pressure.
For more creative projects, check out this list of the best glass bottle cutters available
Best flush cutters on the market
Let’s keep all that in mind while we have a look at some of the best flush cutter options.
Best overall flush cutter & best for wiring: Hakko-CHP-170 Micro Cutter
The Hakko CHP Micro Cutter is a precision cutter, designed for accurate cutting and ease of use. It is ideal for a wide range of applications, from electrical wire cutting to jewelry making.
It has an 8mm long jaw with an angled head that can cut up to 18-gauge copper and other soft wire. The steel blades have a 21-degree reverse angled cutting surface which, as electricians know, is ideal for cutting terminal wires and leaving a 1.5mm stand-off.
The sharp blades and carefully machined surfaces provide accurate cutting with less force and smooth movement.
The dolphin-style, non-slip handles are slim and lightweight and offer maximum control and maneuverability in tight spaces. The built-in spring returns the tool to the open position which reduces hand fatigue.
Made of heat-treated carbon steel, this cutter is tough and durable, and corrosion-resistant. It is also a quality tool available at a very competitive price, which is why it’s top of my list!
- Uses: This is a precision cutter, designed for accurate cutting and ease of use. It is ideal for a wide range of applications, from electrical wire cutting (up to 18-gauge wire) to fine, intricate craftwork.
- Blades: The 8mm long jaw has an angled head that can cut up to 18-gauge copper and other soft wire. The carbon steel blades have a 21-degree reverse angled cutting surface which is ideal for cutting terminal wires and leaving a 1.5mm standoff.
- Handles: The slim-style handles offer easy access to tight places. Handles are non-slip and the built-in spring returns the tool to the open position, which reduces hand fatigue.
Best flush cutter for jewelry making: Xuron 170-II Micro-Shear
The Xuron 170-II Micro-Shear Flush Cutter is designed to fit comfortably into the hand and its slim, ergonomic design makes it easy for the user to get inside tight and difficult spots.
Its overall length is just five inches, and its cutting capacity is up to 18 AWG for soft wire.
Made of tough alloyed steel and it has several design enhancements – chiefly its effort reducing micro-shear cutting action, which requires half the effort required by a conventional cutter.
It has a lifetime warranted ‘light touch’ return spring. The ergonomically shaped handle grips are covered with Xuro rubber, and they have a black finish that eliminates glare.
This cutter is ideal for trimming copper, brass, aluminum, and steel wires as well as for precision work and jewelry making.
It cannot be used on hardened wire and because the jaws don’t have a wide opening ability.
It is not the tool for thick, industrial wiring jobs – rather use a dedicated heavy-duty wire cutter for the tougher jobs. This is the ideal tool for fine intricate work.
- Uses: This flush cutter is regarded as one of the best for jewelry-making. Its micro-shear cutting action requires minimal effort and it has a ‘light touch’ return spring. This compact tool is comfortable for repetitive use.
- Blades: Blades are made of tough alloyed steel which makes them tough and durable and ideal for daily use.
- Handles: The slim-line design of the handles makes this tool very maneuverable and the handle grips are covered with Xuro rubber with a black finish, which eliminates glare.
Best flush cutter for precision work & tight spaces: Klein Tools D275-5
The Klein Tools precision flush cutter is your go-to tool for cutting applications that demand precision and control – cutting fine wires on circuit boards, cutting the tails off plastic zip ties, and for other thin materials.
The improved blade design, with its beveled cutting edges, snips wire up to 16 AWG, producing a flat, flush cut with no sharp edges.
The slim style design increases access in confined areas. The steel return spring ensures comfort when making repetitive cuts.
The cutter’s pinch cutting reduces the cutting effort and minimizes the chance of fly-off. The hot-riveted joint ensures smooth movement and minimal hand fatigue.
- Uses: This flush cutter is ideal for jobs that demand precision and control, like cutting fine wires on circuit boards, gaming console modifications, and other fine work.
- Blades: The improved blade design, with its beveled cutting edges, snips wire up to 16 AWG, producing a flat, flush cut with no sharp edges. The steel return spring ensures comfort when making repetitive cuts.
- Handles: The slim-style handles are made of tough, non-slip plastic material which gives the uses excellent hold and control.
Best full-size flush cutter & best for artificial flowers: IGAN-P6 Spring-loaded Clippers
The IGAN-P6 flush cutter is forged from quality alloy – Chrome Vanadium Steel. The blades feature heat-treated and induction-hardened cutting edges without bevels.
The improved blade design ensures a smooth, flat, and clean cut.
This flush cutter can snip soft wire up to 12 AWG, and is ideal for anyone who enjoys arranging artificial flowers as they cut through the wire precisely and smoothly.
It can also be used for jewelry making, floral wire, plastic, and edge banding.
- Uses: This flush cutter is best for softer materials used in hobbies and 3D printing. It is great for cutting through the wires of artificial flowers, electronics, floral wire, tie wraps, and edge banding. It can also trim plastic off 3D printed items.
- Blades: The chrome vanadium steel blades are heat-treated for strength. The 13/16 inch extra long cutting edge can easily snip soft wire up to 12 AWG.
- Handles: The matte handles and spring-loaded jaws make for comfortable and easy handling.
Best flush cutter for 3D printed plastics: Delcast MEC-5A
The Delcast MEC-5A flush cutter is a compact tool, made of strong manganese steel alloy, which makes it rust-resistant and durable.
The maximum cutting capacity is 12AWG. This cutter is ideal for cutting plastic and light-grade metal.
It’s an excellent tool for anyone using a 3D printer to cut off any protruding pieces and smooth out edges. The handles are spring-loaded which makes them easy to operate.
- Uses: This flush cutter is ideal for cutting plastic and light-grade metal.
- Blades: The cutting blades are made of strong manganese steel alloy which makes them durable and rust-resistant. Their maximum cutting capacity is 12AWG.
- Handles: The handles are covered in non-slip, plastic material and they are spring-loaded for easy operation.
Best heavy-duty multifunctional wire cutter: Neiko Self Adjusting 01924A
Ok, so this tool is not a flush cutter in the strictest sense. And, yes, it will be heavier on the pocket than the traditional flush cutter.
But I slipped included it on my list because it is a quality wire cutting tool that has a wide range of applications and should be the tool of choice for anyone working with the wiring.
This exceptionally versatile tool is a wire cutter, a wire stripper, and a crimping tool, all in one.
This all-aluminum tool is the ideal cutting device for wires, cables, wire jackets, and wire insulation. It has a safe, self-adjusting mechanism that can be used on copper and aluminum cables from 10 to 24 AWG.
It has heat-treated blades that cut wires cleanly and smoothly and it crimps insulated wires rated 10-12AWG and non-insulated wires rated 4-22AWG.
It adjusts automatically to specific wire gauges and pulls insulation off as you squeeze the molded grip handle. Precision-machined teeth grab, hold and remove the outer wire jacket with ease in a quick, one-handed movement.
The adjustable gauge also allows you to select the length of the exposed wire, up to ¾ inch.
The heavy-duty spring-loaded handle is comfortable to use and offers maximum control and minimal hand fatigue, even during the toughest of jobs.
- Uses: This versatile tool is a wire cutter, wire stripper and crimping tool-all in one. It has an extensive range of uses and can be used on copper and aluminum cables from 10-24AWG. For professional electricians, this is an almost indispensable tool. Only one hand is needed for the removal of insulation and the cutter adjusts automatically to different wire gauges.
- Blades: The heat-treated, aluminum blades cut wires cleanly and smoothly and crimp insulated wires rated 10-12AWG and non-insulated wires rated 4-22AWG.
- Handles: The heavy-duty spring-loaded handles are comfortable to use and offer maximum control and minimal hand fatigue, even during the toughest of jobs.
Frequently asked questions about flush cutters
What are flush cutters used for?
A flush cutter creates a cut that is smooth, neat, and just perfect. The best part is that you may not only use it for jewelry cutting. These same flush cutters are useful in cutting cables and electronic wires.
What is the difference between side cutters and flush cutters?
The term “flush” means level or straight and on the same plane, so flush cutters cut a wire level. Side cutters, or angle cutters, cut on an angle, meaning the wire edge will be cut to one side.
What are flush cut pliers?
KNIPEX diagonal flush cutters are ideal for cutting soft materials such as tie-wraps, plastics, and soft metals. They provide for nearly flush cutting of molded plastic components from the sprue.
This design features an opening spring for ease of use and is crafted from vanadium electric steel, forged and oil-hardened.
What is a micro flush cutter?
A micro flush cutter is perfect for detailed flush cutting. Use the micro cutter to cut wire, mono and braid knots, and the ends of zip-ties to make them flush for a cleaner look.
How do you sharpen a flush cutter?
You can sharpen a flush cutter with a hand file with a fine texture. A fine texture is required because the surface of the blades is very small.
Christina shows you how to approach it:
What are side cutters used for in jewelry making?
There are 4 basic types of pliers that are the most commonly used tools for jewelry making and these are:
- side cutters
- round nosed pliers
- chain nosed pliers
- flat nose pliers
Side cutters have sharp jaws that can come in a variety of shapes; these are used for cutting soft wires, threads, or metal sheets.
What is the difference between the angle flush cutter and flush cutter?
Flush cutter gives a flat cut on one side and a diagonal cut on the other. The angle flush cutter gives a diagonal cut on each side.
Can professionals use a flush cutter for jewelry-making purposes?
Yes, the tool is the perfect choice for jewelry cutting and shaping.
Is the flush cutter good for cutting jump rings?
Yes, it would be an excellent option to use the flush cutter for cutting jump rings.
Can a flush cutter be used for cutting gauges and materials?
You can cut up to 18 gauges using a flush cutter, but if you cut steel, it is not recommended.
I have researched some of the best flush cutters on the market, highlighting their strengths and specific uses.
Whether you’re a professional electrician, a jewelry maker, an artificial flower enthusiast, or a DIYer, there’s an ideal flush cutter just for you.
I hope my list has helped you decide which one will suit your needs and your pocket best.
Here’s another great precision tool: needle nose pliers (I’ve reviewed the best options)
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.