How to Cut Wire

There are a lot of situations you might run into that require you to cut wire.

Maybe you’re working on an electrical project that needs wires cut and stripped, or maybe you’re attempting to cut through heavier-gauge wire such as that found on wire shelving.

Whatever the case, it can be slightly intimidating to cut wire for the first time, but it’s actually very easy.

Learn this skill now so that you’re capable of cutting wire of any thickness whenever the project arises in the future.

Here are the top ways how to cut wire.

What You’ll Need

Cutting wire is a simple and straightforward task most of the time.

Other than a cutting tool, it typically doesn’t require any additional tools, equipment, or materials.

You can use any ONE of the tools below to get the job done: 

  • Lineman’s Pliers
  • Long Nose Pliers
  • Diagonal Cutting Pliers
  • End Nippers
  • Bolt Cutters

Method I: Lineman’s Pliers

Lineman’s pliers, also known as side cutting pliers, are one of the best tools for cutting wire.

They’re the perfect choice for thinner wire, especially electrical wire, because you can not only cut wire with them, but you can also strip and splice the wire with ease.

Lineman’s pliers will result in a crisp, clean cut.

Method II: Long Nose Pliers

Another option for cutting wire is a pair of long nose pliers.

These pliers are particularly beneficial for working with wire in tight and awkward spaces where normal tools won’t fit.

Another specific use of long nose pliers is for cutting very small, thin wire.

Method III: Diagonal Cutting Pliers  

Use a set of diagonal cutting pliers when working with skinny wire that needs to be cut.

The angled head makes them highly effective for cutting wire down to the surface. The end result is typically a very clean cut.

These pliers are also capable of cutting heavier wire (such as baling wire). You can even cut several wires at the same time.

Method IV: End Nippers

End nippers, also known as end-cutting pliers, are a great option for cutting strong, thick wire.

They work best for electrical wire but are also capable of cutting cleanly through piano wire and other heavier materials.

End nippers typically have longer handles than other types of pliers, giving you more leverage to cut through tough materials.

Method V: Bolt Cutters

I guess you can cut through almost any type of wire with a set of bolt cutters, but the tool is designed for cutting through thick wire.

One of the best uses is to utilize bolt cutters to cut wire shelving. The bolt cutters easily snip through this thick wire with ease.

Bolt cutters are also an effective option for cutting wire mesh.

So, How Do You Cut Wire?

Cutting wire is so simple and straightforward it barely needs explanation.

Most of the time, all that it really requires is eyeballing the measurement and then using your tool (pliers or bolt cutters) to make the cut.

In some instances, such as when you cut wire shelving, you’ll need to measure the cut with a tape measure and make a mark first to achieve the most accurate cut possible.

What About How to Strip Wire?

According to, many of the same projects that require you to cut electrical wire also require you to strip that wire.

Luckily, you can use a set of pliers, such as lineman’s pliers or diagonal cutting pliers, to strip the wire after making your cut.

A dedicated wire stripping tool is another option.

Basically, you just have to use the sharp edge of the pliers or wire stripping tool to shave off the outside coating of the wire.

The Family Handyman states that this is done similarly to sharpening a pencil.

Take care not to nick or ding the wire during the stripping process. If you do, it’s usually best to cut off the nicked or dinged area and try for a cleaner stripping.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to cut wire is a simple skill that everyone should learn.

Though you might not use the newly learned skill on a regular basis, it is a helpful thing to know when working on home projects, especially anything involving electrical wire.

When you’re done learning how to cut wire, why not check out some of our other best DIY projects for the home?

About Gus Donaldson

I built houses for over 30 years and recently retired. I've made lots of mistakes and hopefully teach you not to make the same ones. I still love to build and have a garage workshop that I use for hobby projects like the walnut bookshelf I made for my wife. I like to write and let people know that working with your hands and tools does not need to be intimidating.

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