Are these snips OK?

jallyNovember 17, 2013

Hi, I just bought a used Midwest snips.

Then last night tried cutting into the depicted tin coffee can (for hobo stove), but it was tough going for me. The seller had stated the snips were in good condition.

Would a snips that's in truly good condition be able to easily cut into a tin coffee can without such extreme jagged edges?

Please see my 2 pics below, so you can see the jagged results which it was impossible to fix with these snips. Do they need sharpening? These cost me $13-$14 with S&H. My local tool rental charges $6 for sharpening snips. Is it worth it? (I mean, maybe all snips cut like this anyway - and how often do these things need sharpening anyway?

P.S. FYI, note I recently bought a yellow+blue Shear Sharp scissor sharpener, that turned out to be no good. I grow weary of my endless accumulation of disappointing stuff.

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Even the finest of snips must be held with the plane of the handles movement perpendicular to the plane of the material being cut. And this is even more true with thinner metals. Not familiar with that brand. I use Wiss.

I would not pay much for used snips. Not much reason that they would be sold used except that they are bad or the owner has died.

Video showing snips in use.

Here is a link that might be useful: snip use

This post was edited by bus_driver on Sun, Nov 17, 13 at 19:24

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 5:15PM
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Unfortunately, you'll get the same result with sharp, new snips. Midwest is supposedly quality stuff.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 5:24PM
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There is a learning curve and tin cans are easily accumulated.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 5:52PM
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I bought a used staple gun for $1.00
at a yard works great.

tin snips take practice as bus driver wrote
there is a method to use.
sometimes it isn't the tool in the hand,
but the hand of the tool.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 6:58PM
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Thanks so much to all of you.

Do you think they're worth sharpening (for $6 at local tool rental place? Or is it worth getting a snips-sharpener and if so, which?

btw, you better believe, it's the "hand of the tool"
My hands are tiny AND weak.

I'm also considering a wire cutters, and the choices out there are mind boggling too. My BIL has a large old-fashioned one with medium-blue handles that are Excellent. They have round handles like a scissors. I can't even find a pic of it online! He had another which was a long-nose pliers that wasn't 1/2 as good.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 3:33AM
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Based on your pic, i think your snips are sharp.

"Hand of the tool" means which way it cuts, i.e left, right or straight. That's the reason for the different color grips.

This might be worth a try ( I stress "might"): Jigsaw with a fine metal blade. Use a drop of oil for lubrication and proceed slowly. First somehow wedge the can into a tight space to minimize vibration. Then file the edges gently.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 6:10AM
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Cutting a tin can is difficult to start with. There is no real good way to hold it solidly and the curved surface makes it worse. If the OP is having trouble with the snips I suspect it would be much more dangerous with a jig saw.

The opening looks pretty good to me. If the concern is the sharp/rough edges, I sugget cutting a smaller opening than desired, then making 45 degree cuts at the corners. Take some pliers and bend the resulting "flaps" inside the can leaving the smooth fold at the sides of the can and putting the cut edges inside.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 10:23AM
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I agree that cans are tough to cut.
thick metal & rigdes are tough going.
hard to hold in place while working on them.

I have both straight & handed cut snips.
in cutting large areas it is easy enough if someone
can raise one side of the cut metal so that
tool doesn't bind up.

I also have a pair of sheet metal shears.
look like big heavy duty scissors
round holes like scissor handles, long
handles(about 12") & blade area about 2" long.

like snips..great tool!

keeping tools sharp helps ease of work..
but I've never had to sharpen either snips or
sheet metal shears. I usually replace snips
every few years.

some tools are tough for me to work as I too have small hands & onset of arthritis in my hands.
I gave up using my skill saw (circular saw) because
I can't pull the trigger, hold the safety button in
for long.
they should make name brand tools for women..
modified for smaller hands to grip.
and not pink tools!

I didn't think of how 'hand of tool' comment
could be taken when I posted. thanks
homebound for explaining!

by sdello's explanation is exactly as I'd do it.
it is easy to rip yourself up on rough edges.

what is a hobo stove??

best of luck.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 4:24PM
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homebound & sdello thanks for the followups.

I don't own a jigsaw, rather just circular & reciprocating which came with the PorterCable set. I've never used the circular saw (too scared).

Re: the red, green, yellow handles - I definitely had seen that Eastman video (as part of my snips-preparatory research). When I saw the above comment re: "hand of tool" - I thought it was a similar expression as "man makes vocation"


As for danger, you better believe it! Someone on Yanswers suggests filling can with water & freezing to provide stability. That sounded innovative!
I'm ...uh... sorta regretting having gotten this snips, because when I just now compared it to both a Hoffritz "junk" shears AND an old Industrial Wiss shears I have in the house, they both seemed to cut into a tin-can-lid more "controllably & cleanly" than the snips.

See both my upload-Hoffritz-pic, and this online Wiss-pic.,
both of which I own - and possibly better than snips

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 5:36PM
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energy_rater_la: if you google images for a hobo stove you'll see what jally is trying to do.

jally the link is to an instructional page on how to make one. they used a dremel which would be great if you have one. I think with some effort and your snips and pliers you should be able to get a workable one. Have fun.

Here is a link that might be useful: hobo stove

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 8:53PM
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The cut on the right side of the can is a nice cut. The vertical cut on the left can indicate a dull blade.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 8:55PM
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Thanks again for the feedback & link. I already finished my hobo - see attachment.

I'm wondering if it's safe to try it out under my overhang (where concrete patio juts out beyond the garage beneath it).

When I step outside the basement exit, I'm under the overhang - with concrete floor beneath me, and garage door on left side, and sorta-deteriorated driveway on right side.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 3:29AM
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