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Going to buy a shear

Just wondering if anyone has anything wise to say to me before I buy
a shear. With American Metalcraft not selling copper any more and
their lack of interest in my offer to buy a shear from them I’m
looking to buy.

I need one that will cut 16g to 18g copper up to 12" wide.

Thoughts? Favorite providers? Anyone to avoid?

I’m looking on Rio, Indian Jewelers and Harbor Freight. Other ideas?


I’m also looking for a shear without spending a fortune. Anyone
familiar with this?,8228.html


Hi Karen,

What you really want is one of the old Di-Acro shears. Good luck
finding one of those though.

Currently, I’d avoid harbor freight like the plague. My old shop had
one of their guillotine shears. It was marginally better than
hacking the sheet apart with an axe, but not much.

I’ve heard good things about the new Durston shear. Haven’t seen
one, but the build quality on their rolling mills is impeccable, so I
can’t imagine the shear is anything less than very good. The drawback
is price. (on the other hand, if you can possibly stretch to afford
it, you won’t regret it.)

16-18 ga copper is pretty thick. You’re going to be right at the
very edge of what the cheapo shears can handle, and they won’t do it
well. You’re probably better off biting the bullet, and getting a
serious shear.

Might be worth contacting some of the used tool folks to see if
there’s a used shear floating around anywhere. (Otto Frei sometimes
has used tools, Gold Machinery in RI is nothing but used tools.
There’ve been others listed here on Orchid recently, but I can’t
remember under what thread.)

For whatever that all’s worth.


Don’t overlook eBay for this - I got my shear from a sign engraving
shop that went out of business - they used it to cut brass stock for
engraving nameplates. I only paid a fraction of what a new one costs,
and it works fine. Even if you had to get a blade set resharpened (I
didn’t) it could still be a deal as compared to a new one.

Bob Edwards
Chromis Designs

How do you like YOUR bench shear?

Thanks for the help Brian, but does anyone have thoughts on who a
good manufacturer is because they bought one they like?

I think Diacro is out of my price range. I did look though.

I have googled “used shear” and variants on it and mostly end up
with many huge machines that are too big for my studio to
accommodate. I think I really need guillotine style to ensure many
straight cuts quickly.

Micromart not big enough size, Durston is in the UK and appears to
be out of my price range, There is one on Rio’s sight but with no
manufacturer, their operator tells me they are really backed up and
someone might not call back till tomorrow. IJS has one that is too
light weight and one by Pepe tools which has a sideways pulling
action which I think will curve metal.

Has anyone spent more time (than the several hours I have already
spent) researching these and ended up with one they liked? One they


Hi Karen,

What you really want is one of the old Di-Acro shears. 

Brian is right. That is what we use. They are very expensive, but if
you find one within your budget that is in good condition, it will
serve you well for a lifetime. “I’m also looking for a shear without
spending a fortune. Anyone familiar with this?,8228.html” Heavy duty is
relative. For your 16-18 gauge copper, you may not be happy

with it.

Don't overlook eBay for this 

That’s how I got mine. I learn all I can about the item I want and
then figure out the best way to get it, within the often very
limited budget.

The Jewelry Equipment Dr.

What you really want is one of the old Di-Acro shears. Good luck
finding one of those though. 

Ours (12") cost us $50, but that’s dumb luck. Diacro is still there and the Durston looks like a fine shear, too. The
Micromark only cuts 5 inches, standard sheet is 6 or more in all
metals jewelers use.

Problem with the Micromark type is they give you curved sheet and
edges - gullotine shears are dead flat, if you can afford one.

I have some big, stout foot long aircraft shears that do a fine job
-cost me $20 new long, long ago. I used to cut out circles in
16-18ga silver all day long with them. It’s a thought, unless you
just have to have mounted shears.

Cyndy, I have had that very shear for 5 years. I use it a lot,
usually on sterling and cut 18 ga with no problem. The blade is only
5 inches long so if you are cutting anything longer than that, you
have to line the metal up correctly to get a straight cut. It’s not
hard after a bit of practice on copper.

Donna in VA

We were very lucky in my studio. A few months ago, one of my
students bought a used bench shear he found at a used tool warehouse
that has “Chicago Steel Slitting Shear 1922” in raised letters on the
long steel handle. He had the 4 1/2 in. blades sharpened, and the
entire shear powder-coated “Barbie Pink” with shiny black bolt heads.
He donated it to our studio. Another of my students made a custom
sticker for it that says “BARBIE Dream Tool Collection” that makes it
look as if a life-sized Barbie actually had it in her Dream Workshop,
once upon a time.

It works beautifully, and when I tell a student to “cut it on the
Barbie Shear”, they know exactly where to go.

It’s a very macho tool…in a pink dress!

Jay Whaley

I love my shear by Pepe Tools. Stoutly built and easy to use.


I bought the 8" shear here, Mounted it on a raised wooden box on a
work bench. works fine.


Yes, I bought one and didn’t like it. That round gizmo on the side
doesn’t come off and it makes it very difficult to line things up
accurately when you’re cutting. I’ll sell you mine if you want it.


That round gizmo on the side doesn't come off and it makes it very
difficult to line things up accurately when you're cutting. I'll
sell you mine if you want it. 

Claudia, the round thing on the side is on threads. If you don’t
like it, you can turn it and make it go higher and out of the way.
If you use it with larger sheets of metal it will help keep the
sheet steady and lined up when you screw it down so that it is just
barely touching the sheet.

Donna in VA

Thanks for all your help.

Since I need a 12" my current leader is the Contenti Shear. I had a
talk with a Rio tech and he politely told me their shear might not
make me happy. I really appreciated the honesty!

Hope everyone is happy with their shears from Conteni, I really wish
I could find a used one that didn’t weigh 1000 lbs. and have a 36"
blade! That seems to be all I find at the myriad equipment sale
sights. I had one guy say “yeah, sounds like hobby stuff”.


There are two shear threads going. I’ll repeat my note on the other

I don’t how you would use a shear but rather than buy a sheet metal
tool, consider a paper cutter. A paper cutter is a shear. A heavy
duty paper cutter is a heavy shear. Paper cutters are relatively
inexpensive but are shears.

I have one that is light duty and have used it for a long time. It
effectively shears 18 gage silver and has no problems at all with
thinner material leaving a good edge.

I would suggest testing one by finding a friend who has one and
testing it for proof of the pudding.;

Ben A Harris

it works beautifully, and when I tell a student to "cut it on the
Barbie Shear", they know exactly where to go. 

Oh wow, please post a picture!


Elaine, There are photos of “Barbie Shear” on the web site, Jay’s student Pat has a quixotic sense of humor,
his hand designed Hydraulic Press, is an interesting Green with
Finials. It all sure beats industrial bland designs and colors.


Not long ago, less than a year, maybe, there was a long Orchid
discussion on how much some of us like our big, old, wooden-bodied
paper-cutters as metal shears.

Judy Bjorkman

I am the happy owner of a Beverly shear which I use to cut large
pieces of metal The Beverly can cut straight lines, or curved. In
addition I havean inexpensive paper cutter which I use to cut fine
silver for bezels. I like to cut my own bezels as I can make the the
width and thickness that I desire Several years ago I got the idea
of using a paper cutter to cut bezels from one of the generous
posters on Orchid and am grateful to him/her for the suggestion.


If only I cut something lighter than 18 gauge copper I would happily
use something lighter weight!

Maybe I’m going at this wrong…is there anyone who knows of a place
in Chicago area that might let me use a guillotine shear on

I don’t have an “in” at a local college with one any more.