LAST UPDATED: December 10, 2020

The Best Tin Snips (Review and Buying Guide) in 2021

Best Choice Midwest Aviation Snip Set Midwest Aviation Snip Set
Best Value Crescent WISS MetalMaster Aviation Snip Set Crescent WISS MetalMaster Aviation Snip Set
Premium Pick Genesis GES40 Power Metal Shears Genesis GES40 Power Metal Shears

When it comes time to start trimming sheet metal to match the stencil, there’s no replacement for tin snips. These special cutting devices allow one to cut through steel as though it were butter. Though they may appear simple, there’s no time to mess around with a set that’s flawed in its design. Leaving behind twisted and jagged edges creates nothing but headaches. In many cases, it may even force you to start over. All of the rage and time wasted could be avoided by using a suitable set from the start. But let’s face the facts, metal fabrication is already time-consuming. You don’t have time to shop around for a good set of tin snips. Quality goes a long way when it comes to any kind of metal-working tool. To help, we’ve curated a list of the best tin snips on the market.  Let’s take a look at the contenders, along with some tricks on how to find the tool.

The Best Tin Snips

Our favorite option on the market is the Midwest Aviation Snip Set. This set includes a total of three different tin snips to ensure a job well done. These tin snips feature different offsets to ensure the user can make clean cuts without bending or misshaping the piece they need. The sheers are constructed of drop-forged alloy steel, which is also heat-treated to ensure a long-lasting edge. The handles also use high-strength steel to prevent bending during operation. Both of these features are how this tool works to achieve straight cuts without damaging the project. They also feature super-comfortable grips, which makes a big difference during extensive projects. This set can be purchased completely, but customers also have the option to select only which offset they need.

Though these tin snips are really useful, the snippers can be a bit tricky to handle for those less experienced with these tools. With more experience, handling the snips gets much easier.

Key Features
  • Comes in a set of four
  • Offset for easy handling
  • Easy surface to grip
  • Made of high-grade steel
Specification
  • Brand Midwest
  • Model MWT-6510RLS
  • Weight 2.7 pounds
PROS

Highly durable construction

Cuts through metal quickly

Doesn’t lose sharpness easily

CONS

Can be bulky to handle

Size makes dexterity challenging

Better for experienced users

For hobbyists who need a decent set of sheers and want to save a few bucks, we highly recommend the Crescent WISS MetalMaster Aviation Snip Set. This is another complete set of sheers but lists at a fraction of the cost of comparable options. The low price is no indication of inferior quality, though. Each snip uses cast molybdenum with machined edges to ensure a long life. They are capable of cutting through 18-gauge steel with no compromise of the work-piece. The handles have built-in stops to provide precise and consistent cuts. Additionally, each sheer features an ergonomic color-coded handle to help users quickly identify the offset of the snips as well. This works to reduce the risk of curling edges or damaging the final product.

While these tin snips are very affordable, the design is so compact that it can be hard to control the force. If you put too much pressure on the center, these tin snips can break.

Key Features
  • Unique handle for easy grip
  • Strong clippers ideal for tin
  • Cuts well for curves and edges
  • Designed for single-handed use
Specification
  • Brand Cooper Hand Tools
  • Model M1R
  • Weight 3.52 ounces
PROS

Slices through materials quickly

Available for a reasonable price

Works precisely and stays sharp

CONS

Center of the handle can break

Prone to damage at the bending part

Can get damaged with too much force

The Genesis GES40 Power Metal Shears is our top premium pick as it reduces any, or eliminates, the fatigue of the hands during cutting. These power sheers automatically cut through steel via corded power. This may not be the best option for delicate projects but definitely cuts down on time spent removing the bulk of the material. It does, however, feature variable speed control. This will ensure accurate cuts can be made without causing damage to the work-piece. This control is complimented by the swiveling head that makes it easy to change direction without adjusting the angle of approach. The powerful motor and hardened sheers make this model able to cut right through 14-gauge steel. That makes this model far more capable than many other power sheers.

Keep in mind that, though this power tool is really useful, it still relies on electricity. As a result, you either need a generator or to be working close enough to an outlet for it to be viable.

Key Features
  • Electric cutter works quickly
  • Swivelling head makes curves easy
  • Powered by 4 amp motor
  • Long cord for easy access
Specification
  • Brand Genesis
  • Model GES40
  • Weight 5.4 pounds
PROS

Shear uses electricity to work faster

Long-lasting head that’s easy to control

Trigger is highly responsive to pressure

CONS

Can result in sacrificing precision for speed

Requires electricity to function

Loses versatility through large size

We find the Craftsman Aviation Snips Set to be another worthy contender for budget-minded individuals. This three-piece set includes sheers with different offsets to ensure the proper cut can be made to any project. These snips use an induction-hardened cutting edge as well. This provides a long life and also makes it easy to cut through 18-gauge sheet metal. The ergonomic handle design is far superior to many other offerings as well. Not only does it conform nicely to the hand, but it is also made from a comfortable material. These handles are also color-coded to aid in proper selection for cutting. The most notable feature, however, is the lifetime warranty. When paired with the low cost, this ensures users will get more than their money’s worth for these snips.  

Despite the high performance value, these aviation snips are vulnerable to damage at the lock. Be careful when turning it to ensure that it doesn’t break or get hard to turn.

Key Features
  • Comes as set of three pliers
  • Lets you cut left, right, and straight
  • Spring controls for easier function
  • Quarter-inch blade markers
Specification
  • Brand Craftsman
  • Model CMHT735558
  • Weight 3.04 pounds
PROS

Made of high-quality steel

Handles coated in polymer for comfort

Lasting sharpness for limited upkeep

CONS

Lock can wear down and get sticky

Springs inside are vulnerable to damage

If the grip wears down, rust can occur

The DeWalt Metal Shears Attachment is a powered alternative we highly recommend. Unlike other models, these sheers do not rely on chorded power. Instead, they are designed to fasten to a cordless impact driver. This not only adds versatility to an existing tool but makes quick work of cutting through the bulk of materials that must be removed. Despite being compatible with an impact, it still has plenty of power. This model can quickly cut through 18-gauge steel. As a power tool, it does not offer the level of precision manual snips can. That’s why it’s a great thing this tool can come with a complete tin snip set. With the entire kit, one can easily cut through sheet metal on any job site, regardless of whether or not 12-volt power sources are available.

Even though this is a really powerful option, there are a few drawbacks. Namely, since there are power tools involved, this cutter only really works indoors and in good weather.

Key Features
  • Large structure for improved leverage
  • Moves over 360-degree angle
  • Connects to quarter-inch hexagonal shank
  • Powered by 20-volt drills
Specification
  • Brand Dewalt
  • Model DWASHRIR
  • Weight 1.59 pounds
PROS

Uses electricity to improve efficiency

Cuts through thick materials well

Retains sharpness over long periods

CONS

Requires power to operate

Need a drill and compatible attachment

Vulnerable to moisture (only for indoor work)

If you are focused on finding a user-friendly tool that isn’t too complicated, the Finder Straight Cut Aviation Snips are a good way to go. They come with an ergonomic handle, meant to help you avoid the challenges of muscle strain. In terms of the blade, it is oriented straight forward, letting cut straight lines with ease. Crafted out of high-grade steel, this material is built to withstand all types of rust and corrosion. Through the galvanization process, the metal became much harder. This, coupled with the advantages of the sharp head, make it a really good choice for bulk work. The size of the head means that you have an easier time keeping to one direction, without angling off. With a reliable safety lock, these snips are both safe and simple to use. 

It warrants a note that, though these snips are easy to control, the blades can get dull quickly depending on how they are used. Stick to tin and metals to get more time out of the sharp edges.

Key Features
  • Grip-friendly handheld design
  • 10-inch long structure
  • Cuts various types of material
  • Heat-treated steel for strength
Specification
  • Brand Finder
  • Model 15141955
  • Weight 1.1 pounds
PROS

Ergonomic handle built for comfort

Lightweight design for added ease

Strong metal that resists rust and corrosion

CONS

Blades wear down quickly in some situation

Doesn’t have spring for easier cutting

Won’t work on metal over 20 gauge in size

The KOTTO Sheet Metal cutter is an ideal selection for those who plan to take their tools on the go. It has a small size and lightweight structure, letting you pop it into any tool box. You can get this snipper in a variety of packages, ranging from multiple pliers to those with different grips. Each of them is crafted using high-grade metal. The ends are extremely sharp, letting you cut through metal quickly. Plus, the structure is there to maximize the force you can apply. It enables quick work, even on more sizable projects. The snips work well when you need to take turns, given the lack of serrated parts on the head of it don’t hold you back. Featuring a strong jaw and comfortable grip, this is a popular set of cutters. 

Bear in mind that, despite the amount of strength the tool offers, it is best suited towards straight cuts. While you can take a turn, the size means it will take a lot more effort to do so than otherwise.

Key Features
  • Compact and lightweight structure
  • Non-serrated head for easy cutting
  • Can manage wide turns
  • Designed to prevent strain in hands
Specification
  • Brand Fstop Labs
  • Model 3P_DT_CTER
  • Weight 3.04 pounds
PROS

Made of durable materials

Features ergonomic handles

Ideal for cutting straight lines

CONS

Can’t take quick turns as well 

Lacks serrated teeth for cutting

Works best on thinner metals

For those who want a set of tools that can perform any tin-snipping function, the Tekton Straight Pattern Tin Snips are worth looking into. These cutters are effective on a whole host of materials. Need to slice some aluminum? Looking to cut through leather or even steel? These snips have it covered. Plus, since the tools come in a set of three, you can get a left, right, and straight angle. It makes taking turns easier. Since these snips are designed for single-handed use, it also makes it easier for those who aren’t ambidextrous. Each of the snips is ten inches long and constructed using a heat-strengthened steel that’s high in molybdenum. Meant to last, these snips are useful in almost any cutting situation. 

Keep in mind that, though the cutters are versatile, the spring component is relatively limited. This means it can be more straining on the hand to keep cutting over long periods of time.

Key Features
  • Made with galvanized steel
  • Cuts through aluminum, leather, and steel
  • Set of three cutters (left, right, straight)
  • Features and ergonomic grip
Specification
  • Brand Michigan Industrial Tools
  • Model 35104
  • Weight 1.25 pounds
PROS

Long-lasting material for durability

Meant to cut at difficult angles

Blades are sturdy and stay sharp

CONS

Lack of spring mechanism

Can cause hand strain with repeated use

Lock can grow sticky with time

Want an option that is less industrial and more geared towards performance around the house? Malco AVM6 Mini Offset Aviation Snips are a worthy candidate. The tin snips here are fairly compact and include a powerful spring mechanism. The difference is the elongated handle and the leverage point for the cutting blades. Given the design, it is easy to apply enough force to the metal surface. Thanks to the sharp blades, it is also a lot easier to cut through other textiles. You can use this on aluminum, tin, or fabric with equal ease. The handles are coated with a thick material, there to prevent issues with grip. As a whole structure, the stainless steel is there to ensure the whole structure lasts. User-friendly and easy to maneuver, these are handy tin snips. 

It’s worth a note that, while the cutters are really effective, they are vulnerable to rust and corrosions. Keep them dry to prevent these issues and add to the overall durability.

Key Features
  • Simple snips with 3/4-inch blades
  • Meant to cut straight ahead
  • Includes a padded grip
  • Works with both left and right hands
Specification
  • Brand Malco
  • Model AVM6
  • Weight 6.4 ounces
PROS

Easy to hold and control

Features spring control for ease

Sharp blades cut through various materials

CONS

Not meant for industrial use

Vulnerable to rust and corrosion

Small size can reduce efficiency

If your top priority is ensuring absolute precision, the Performance Tool Aviation Tin Snip has a lot of value. You can get this set as a single or with added padding and supplies. As a standalone, it incorporates a thin handle. Ergonomically structured, it works to limit the amount of strain in your hand. This is especially useful during larger projects. Plus, since these snips work for either the left or the right hand, you can trade out if one gets tired. The snips themselves are created using high-grade steel. It is there to ensure the overall durability of the snips. Handling turns with relative ease, these snips are best-suited towards straight cuts. This is largely due to the lack of sweating on the blade. Overall, it gives you a quality cut fairly quickly.

It’s worth a mention that the lack of sweating makes the snips good for thinner materials and straight lines. The structure and blade design make these less equipped to handle tight curves.

Key Features
  • Thin handle coated for grip
  • 10-inch structure with long blades
  • Non-serrated design 
  • Lock mechanism for security
Specification
  • Brand Wilmar Performance Tool
  • Model W2043
  • Weight 14.4 ounces
PROS

Lightweight and easy to handle

Well-suited to straight cuts

Made of high-quality steel

CONS

Material is vulnerable to rust

Won’t cut through very thick metal

Snips can’t handle tight turns

Best Tin Snips Buying Guide & FAQ

When you’re on the lookout for a new tool, there are a few things to keep in mind. Performance value is directly related to the purpose of the snips, so before you get started, figure out what you plan to use them for. What material are you going to cut? There’s a difference between snips for professional and household use. 

The next thing to consider is the quality of the snips themselves. You’ll want to see the type of material used in manufacturing. Usually it is a high-grade steel, which, ideally, should have gone through the galvanization process. Be sure that the cutters can get through the material you need to cut without wearing down prematurely. The main idea is to figure out what you’ll need the snips for and find a pair designed for that purpose. 

Do You Need Tin Snips?

Even if you don’t tackle metalworking projects often, tin snips are really handy to have around. There are options that are handheld and compact enough to fit in any tool box. Some are powered and work through bulk projects quickly in a workplace setting. 

If you need to cut through any type of metal, even if the task is small, it is really the only tool for the job. They come with a wide range of benefits, and have applications beyond simple metal cutting. When used properly, tin snips have a unique versatility that makes them a popular tool for many situations.

  • Cut straight lines through metal with incomparable efficiency
  • Enable you to cut multiple materials without getting dull
  • Require limited force and reduce the strain on your hand and arm
  • Compact design and need for strong materials makes them really durable
  • Able to tackle small curves in the metal to improve your work efficiency
  • Leave behind a smooth result on the edge of the metal

The Most Common Types of Tin Snips

As with any tool, there are a variety of different options. Some are more traditional in design while others employ modern tech to add power or utility. The type of tin snips from which you would benefit depends largely on the intended function. Smaller-scale, analog tools are ideal for personal use and standard projects. For more commercial purposes, modernized selections that use electricity and higher-grade steel might be better suited. 

All tin snip types feature long blades that usually come to a distinct point. Sharp-edged metal meets lengthy handles to give maximum leverage and control. Though all types of tin snips have value, each offers more value to a specific purpose.

Cutting metal box with tin snips
Cutting gold metal sheet with tin snips

Straight-Pattern

This type of tin snip is easily the most common on the market. Used when needing to cut through large amounts of material, the snips leave you with a completely straight line. Despite the straight end of the blade, even the longest snips are able to handle moderate curves. Usually, this type is handheld and incorporates an ergonomic design to limit strain on the arms. 

Straight-pattern snips come in a wide range of sizes. Smaller selections, usually less than ten-inches, tend to be easier to control. Adding precision, the more petite tin snips fit well in tool boxes. Conversely, there are larger selections which give you a lot of leverage. The force is higher though there tends to be less accuracy. 

Duck-Billed

Tin snips with a duck-billed design are useful for those looking to maximize precision on the smallest scale. They stand apart from straight-pattern snips primarily in the cutting blades. The handle is the same, though may be designed to favor use from a single hand. Most have a straight design or gear towards those who are right-handed. 

The duck-bill component is often also called a trojan pattern. It means that there are tiers on the edge of the blade, moving upward from the tip of the blade to the leverage point. This lets workers cut through metal while taking a sharp turn. Keep in mind that while this type of tool offers a lot of accuracy, it can also be more time consuming to use. 

Powered

The electrically powered type of tin snips, also called nibblers, are geared towards those who have to handle bulk amounts of cutting work. Typically, they feature a corded design that connects to any standard wall outlet. Since these tools are vulnerable to moisture (due to the circuitry) it is best to work with them indoors. 

With heads that look the same (two sharp blades that meet like scissors), the motor removes the need for squeezing the snips with your hand. Instead, you simply need to direct the snips forward and let it slide along. It warrants a note that, while the powered snips tend to be able to tackle a higher gauge metal, it takes practice to get the same precision you would with an analog option.

What to Consider When Buying Tin Snips

When comparing tin snips, there are a few key things to consider. Ultimately, you need to be comfortable handling the tool. Consider what you would be the best at using, weighing any previous experience against the demands of the work you need done. From there, the best thing is to identify a reputable manufacturer with a track record of success.

Finally, take a look at the individual snips. Check into all the specifications of each tool and determine which would have the best utility for your purposes. It is a matter of material and design. Be sure that your muscles are able to manage the weight and store it properly in order to get lasting benefits. 

  • Gauge. The first thing that you need to consider is how thick of a metal you plan to cut. If you’re in doubt, check the gauge of the metal in question, cutting wire is inherently different than cutting tin sheets. Compare that to the threshold of each individual tin snips. The standard is roughly 16 gauge metal (or 0.06 inches). So long as you know the thickness you will be cutting, you can find a compatible tin snip. 
  • Type. Think about whether you are going to be cutting in a curve during the project. It will determine whether you need straight or duck-billed tools. Also, you may want to take a look at the serrated edge of the pliers. If you are going to tackle a large-scale project, you may want to look into a powered option. 
  • Durability. Next, take a moment to consider how long you can expect the cutters to last. To get a good idea of this, look first to the blades. Consider how easy it will be to sharpen them (though most designs are quite accommodating). Look at the quality of the steel. Options that are high in molybdenum tend to have the most lasting strength. 
  • Weight. With a handheld tool, you are going to need to both support its weight and add force to it. In order to be able to do this properly, you are going to need a tool that is light enough to handle. It needs to balance against the design and structure of the grip as well. This will enable you to work for longer periods without having issues with repetitive strain injuries. 

The Most Important Features of Tin Snips

All tin snips have some features in common. Though there are different types, makes, and models, all share the ability to slice through metal. In order to achieve this to a high degree of excellence, some things are necessary. It is a matter of the pivot point, the blade design, and the handle structure. So as to get the most value out of your tin snips, keep an eye out for these essential components. 

Handles

This is an essential part of any tin snip. These cutters set themselves apart from other tools through the iconically lengthy handles. Paired with short blades, it enables you to slice through thick material with ease.

Though length is a distinct feature, there are other aspects to keep an eye out for. The first is that the handles require an ergonomic design. Though the blades make cutting easy, it takes a lot of repetitive motion to achieve the cut. You want a handle that’s easy and comfortable to grip. 

Finally, be cognizant of the padding on the handle. Whether yours is a traditional or powered set of snips, you don’t want to slip mid-cut. A good coating, whether it’s rubber or polymer, prevents this from happening. It also contributes to overall comfort. 

Blades

Naturally, the snips require a set of blades. Functioning similarly to standard scissors, there is a pivot point close to the cutters. It allows for the most force possible to be applied at the right angle. You want snips that are sufficiently sharp. The blades should come with an extremely fine edge that meets the other blade smoothly. 

The other consideration for blade quality is in the steel from which it’s manufactured. Undergoing the galvanization process is essential to avoiding damage. It helps the blades stay stronger over a long period. Check the quality of the steel and be sure that it is heat-treated in order to achieve the best results. 

Lock and Spring

Another big aspect of snips is the lock and spring component. It’s there to balance utility with safety. The spring puts force outwards. After you push the handles together, instead of waiting for them to return to place, the spring speeds the process along. As a result, without any intervention, the snipper’s natural placement would be with exposed blades. 

This is where the lock comes into play. It acts as a safety. The small, swiveling piece holds the blades shut while you aren’t using the tool. Simply squeeze the handles together and slide the lock. It ensures that there are no sharp edges exposed. Plus, this limits the risk of damage through rust or corrosion.

Care and Maintenance for Tin Snips

Cutting metal with tin snips
Cutting through metal sheet with tin snips

In order to get the most out of your tin snips, practicing proper upkeep is essential. While some aspects of maintenance are straightforward (like keeping them dry), others are more nuanced. Generally speaking, there is very little upkeep required on the handheld tools. Since there is no circuitry involved, it is as simple as preventing rust and storing them responsibly. 

Powered options are a bit different. For one thing, you have to unplug them after use and be sure to avoid surges. Because those with a motor are heavier, it is also important to prevent drops and falls. It can damage the circuitry and result in failure of the whole system. There are also some other steps you can take to keep the snips working for longer. 

  • Clean the snips occasionally. Dry them thoroughly afterwards. 
  • Lubricate the snips if necessary to prevent damage to the pivot.
  • Avoid dropping the tin snips to prevent spring or circuitry damage.
  • Wipe down the blades before you get to work to get rid of dust build-up.
  • Store the tin snips with the blade closed and the lock in place. 
  • Keep them in a dry area that is free of dust and debris. 
  • Sharpen the blades after large projects to get the best cutting results. 

Best Tin Snips FAQ:

With all tools, it’s normal to have a few questions as to performance. Though there are some things that are specific to each set of snips, some facts are true across the board. Since results rely on finding the best-suited set of snips, doing research goes a long way. To help you along, we’ve addressed some of the most common inquiries. 

Q. How do I pick a tin snip?

A: The first step is to figure out the type of snip you need. If you aren’t sure, opt for a set to cut straight, right, and left. Balance strength with precision for best results. 

Q. What thickness can tin snips cut?

A: Standard tin snips are able to cut through 16 gauge metal. This translates to roughly 0.06 inches. Powered tin snips are often able to handle thicker material. 

Q. What is the difference between tin snips and aviation snips?

A: Tin snips and aviation snips are synonymous nowadays. Originally, aviation snips were made for aircraft use. Tin snips were first designed to cut sheet metal. 

Our Top Pick

After careful consideration, we’ve determined that the Midwest Aviation Snip Set is the leading choice. This set of snips is strong, effective, and easy to use. They are able to work with thick metals of all sorts. Working for projects of all sizes, the comfortable grip and classic design makes these a good pick overall. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the nuances of tin snips, you can pick to find the best fit. It might be the versatility of the Midwest Aviation Snip Set or the value of the Crescent WISS MetalMaster Aviation Snip Set. There’s a set of tin snips for any job. Happy cutting!

Sources:

  1. Tin Snips – Wikipedia