So I have a couple of questions: how can I tell when a cutter
will or won't cut stainless without ruining the blade to find out?
Keep in mind that stainless is always tougher and harder to cut than
plain mild steel. Those specs usually refer to low carbon mild steel,
and they’ll be the outside limits of what you can/should attempt to
cut. Stainless is sometimes pretty nasty. As to how to find out,
beyond calling the manufacturer, the only real way is to assume that
you should never use any sort of expensive or precision cutting tool
on stainless unless you KNOW it will work. Bottom line, just be real
conservative with what you put through precision tools in general.
Another similar example is what can you run through a rolling mill…
In theory, rolls are partially hardened and tempered. So mild steel
should go through, right? In practice, you can roll print with a mild
or even tool steel plate, IF it’s the full width of your rolls and
smooth on the side contacting the rolls, a plate narrower than the
rolls will mark the rolls every time, even though the rolls are a good
deal harder. Hardness is a relative thing. In this case, the rolls
are not damaged/compressed as much as the steel plate. but each
affects the other. Your beverly shears, for example, did much more
damage to the stainless wire than vice versa. After all, the wire got
cut in half, the shears only dented. See the relationship?
Remember that the steel in the tool is always also a metal, and
subject to similar deformations as the stuff we work with. Even
silver will eventually dull your beverly shear, for example.
As to a suggestion for what to use, lineman’s cutters are a nipper,
so they crush, more than cut. Try aviation shears, also called
aircraft snips. Several shapes are available in most hardware stores.
I like the offset style that lets you easily cut various curves from
flat sheet. They have a jaw designed quite like a small version of
the beverly, but a bit sturdier. And at a cost of about 20 bucks or
less, you don’t need to be so careful