Small Metal Shears

I need some suggestions for good shears to cut solder and do general shearing of thinner gauge sheet (16 - 26 gauge). I have a bench shear for larger and thicker material. I have used inexpensive shears over the years, but am now willing to spend a bit to get a good pair. “Someone” used my current pair to cut hard steel and they now won’t cut anything. I have tried to sharpen them on my diamond graver sharpeners, but they won’t sharpen. Any suggestions are appreciated…Rob

If the joint has loosened during the cutting trauma,
sharpening will not fix it.
Have you checked if the joint have a slight slack in it?

It is as tight as I can get it. They were actually a decent pair of shears, but will not sharpen, at least for me.

Are there visible deformation in the shape?


Then I’m afraid said shears are toast :smiling_face_with_tear:

Different shears for different purposes.
For general cutting of sheet aviation snips are your best bet.

For cutting paillons, there is a type of old-fashioned shear that is better than the rest. Most shears have the upper blade to the right, so if you’re right handed the cut line is obscured by the upper blade. You can’t see how much of the solder strip you’re going to cut. An older style, which has a technical name I forget, has the upper blade on the left, so you can see how much of the strip extends past the cut line.

Tinsmiths call this a Berlin pattern shear. There is another name for the particular style I’m thinking of, but I don’t remember. Few places sell them, I got a nice pair off ebay.

Here’s one listing, though it’s hard to say what state the edges are in:

I am ready to buy a couple pair. I realize that 26 - 16 gauge is a big range. My other challenge is that I am left handed and I am used to squeezing scissors and other similar tools in a way other than how a right handed person might. I was hoping for someone to say buy these. I will make a decision tomorrow as I need some other things as well as the shears. Thanks…Rob

I have resorted to going to my gardening store and buying their shears for trimming plants. Better than anything I have bought over the last 50 years designed for cutting metal… 10-15$ a pr. Last pr i bought has lasted 5 years now and counting.

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I know that these Shears don’t really fit your criteria of cutting 26-16 Gauge, but I have used these style of German Straight-Tip Shop Shears for close to (30) years and have never had to sharpen them - I mainly use them to cut Sheet Solder and Thin-Gauge Sheet: Gold, Silver, Copper & Brass, so No Steel or Non-Ferrous Metals… Regardless, I highly recommend them!

For Thicker-Gauge Metal and Steel Sheet, I like Wiss Compound-Aviation Snips (I believe that they Make Craftsman’s Snips too - they’re almost exactly the same), they come in Right, Left and Straight Cuts or a Set of All Three! The only “issue” with them is, that they leave a very slightly-serrated edge to the sheet that’s cut (this edge Files down pretty easily), so if that’s a problem, then I wouldn’t buy these Snips…

Anyway, good luck with your search and please let us know what you end up buying!

Hi Rob,

is there a knife or scissor sharpening place/ person nearby…?…we found a local guy inadvertently when talking to the hot bar/ turkey carving station person in our grocery…(around thanksgiving!)…we learned of a guy with a truck that goes around sharpening (and selling) knives and scissors for grocers, butchers, restaurants…! he even had knives made to sell, and i finally found a replacement vegetable knife (the kind that look like cleavers but are not as heavy…slices onions paper thin!)


It took me a long time to jump on the Joyce Chen cooking shears bandwagon. Lots of my jewelry friends are obsessed with them. I don’t know that they are any better than other well-made shears, but I like that they are fairly accurate, pretty well-made, not too heavy, with extra metal, so you can see what you’re cutting. The other advantage is that they’re available all over the place, even if my rural home town. That’s what I use now for thin metal shears.



I forgot to say that the Joyce Chen cooking shears would be best for 22 ga or thinner.


Hi JPBons,
ah yes…aviation shears…i recall previous threads about aviation shears…

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I managed to sharpen my heavier shears, but ordered a pair of light weight shears for light weight metal. I have a very old set of aviation shears that my father used during WWII building airplanes. He later used them while in the heating business. I haven’t tried them on precious metal, but will. Thanks to all for the help…Rob

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I found these bonsai shears at Lowes and can cut 20 gauge and thinner with them.

Those shears look a lot like these available from RIo Grande Item 111232

I love my Joyce Chen kitchen shears. Purchased on Amazon. Perfect for cutting solder and for cutting out parts of a design that are not detailed.

as long as the blades are tight together, sharpening them yourself using a diamond coated sharpener ($12-13) at a hardware store works very well… I’ve sharpened all of my kitchen shears and ordinary scissors with it, as well as kitchen knives which I keep very sharp, sharpening them a at least twice a week or whenever it doesn’t “bite”… for scissors and snips, DO NOT sharpen the flat side, only the angled edge of each blade, and keep the sharpener at the same angle as the precut angle…
Being “cheap”, a decent pair of regular scissors, including small ones for cosmetic use works well for cutting anything less than 18 gauge, and cuts solder sheets very well. For thicker, then a quality pair of tin snips from a hardware store works for me…

Being left handed definitely is a disadvantage since the blades are made for right handed people…I don’t know what can be done about that.

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Thanks for the great advice. I may make a study of “how to sharpen anything” as I am retired and have a lot of time on my hands. Being left handed as I am is sometimes a challenge. It does force us to look at the world in a different way. As a result, I see solutions that others don’t see…Rob