Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Shear Stupidity


I have some stainless steel mesh made out of 16 gauge wire, which I
attempted to cut with my Beverly shear. Imagine how utterly stupid I
felt when the wire made these very deep dents in the blades! However,
in thinking about it, how was I to know this would happen? The shear
is designed to cut sheet steel up to 14 ga; 16 ga wire is well within
its capacity; and I cut stainless welding rod up to 1/8" all the time
with lineman’s cutters, without denting them. So it never occurred to
me that the wire would trash the blades on my Beverly.

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? Also, what
can I use to cut this stainless mesh? The lineman’s cutters won’t work
because the mesh prevents the jaws from completely closing. If you
know of a cutter (which doesn’t cost a fortune) which is suitable for
stainless wire, I’d appreciate knowing about it.

(P.S. Fortunately, Beverly has a blade sharpening service, so I’m not
kicking myself too awfully hard.)

Thanks for not giving me too hard of a time…
Rene Roberts


Dear Rene, I don’t know what a Beverly Shear is, but if the blades
can be detached, perhaps a friendly engineering shop or skilled
blacksmith might be able to harden and temper the blade components for
you. Just a thought… Kind regards, Rex from Oz


Rene’, Try using Sheet Metal shears (“Tin Snips”). Also wire cutters
will work, just don’t use dikes that are too small. At least 6"-8"
dikes should cut with almost no effort. Depending on your strength the
larger, the easier to cut. Please note that I said Dikes not Linemans
Pliers! Linemans pliers are great, but not for cutting wide mesh!


Its not stupidity . Its the kind of thing you learn by failure…
Stainless mesh is going to be very hard due to all the workhardening
the wire gets in weaving it. In this case its harder than the tool
blades. I am pretty sure your mesh vendor cuts it with a shear since
ss mesh has been arround a lot longer than plasma cutters have been
in wide use. You might check with them about what they use. Also
Beverly probably doesn’t harden their blades hard enough for what you
tried to do. Its a compromise thing, , if they ae too hard they may
chip or break , too soft and and the blades deform before the stock.
Beverly might have harder blades . You could call them (773-
238-0003). There is a Swiss or Italian? tool called Felco that has
blades hard enough to cut wire this hard and they do make hand shears,
but I don’t
know if they cut as hard stock as the wire cutters. Jesse

   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

Peter Rowe


Rene, In your questions you give the answer. The hardness of the blade
make the quality of the sheer. Cutting stainless steel Is harder than
normal steel or gold and silver. The alloy elements in the stainless
steel, chromium and nickel and other (depending of the steel quality),
will make this material tougher and harder during the deformation
between the sheers. Good sheers have to be harder than 60-64 HRC. But
they are not cheep. When you want to cut stainless steel cheep, and
you are not afraid of a some noise, buy a hand grinding piece in the
hardware store and cut your steel with that.

Martin Niemeijer