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Would Like Advise on Buying a 12" Guillotine Shear

I am a Metal Arts student who is building a studio. I finally saved enough to add a guillotine shear to my arsenal of tools. I recently bought a Used Durston 300mm guillotine from the Rio Outlet, but I am returning it because of a problem with the blade not completely closing when the guide plate is attached. The shear’s handle hits the guide plate only allowing me to make a 250mm cut. Now I’m trying to decide if I should spend the money for a new Durston shear or invest in a Potter 12" guillotine shear. Has anyone else experienced a similar problem with a Durston shear? Does anyone have experience using the Potter shear? All advise and recommendations are appreciated.
Thank you,
Dee Ryder

Dee Ryder, did you call Rio and ask about
your issue?
From the picture it looks like the way the
guide fits, you cannot cut a full 12" you
might have a new guide made there might
be enough room for the knobs to
move left enough to use a narrow strip
with holes drilled appropriately. The right
side of the guide needs to be in
alignment with the frame upright.
I bought a used Di Acro 12" shear off EBay,
I can cut full 12" lengths.
I see some for $800-1200, bought mine
15 years ago for $1,200. It has held its value.
I can cut 16 gauge, I have to put a
block against the guide to get the handle
down low enough for me to have the leverage
to shear it.

Hello Richard,
Thanks for responding. I sent pictures and have spoken to Rio tech multiple times. They agree there is a problem and I’m shipping the shear back to them.
Yes, the feed plate could be altered so the handle cleared it to make a full 12" cut, but for a tool that sells for $1,345 alterations shouldn’t be necessary.
I’m just curious if this is a design flaw in the Durston shear or if the one I received was defective. After this experience I trying to decide whether I should take the plunge and order a new Durston shear or if the Potter USA 12" shear would be a better choice for my studio. I’m hoping to get some feed back from the Orchid community.

Hi Dee,

I bought this tool from Rio year or so ago. It does lots of things really well. Without a custom alteration it cannot cut 12 inch width. MIne also “binds” up periodically so that I cannot get the handle to go all the way up or all the way down. So on balance should I cannot recommend it at all.

I have a 24" Diacro. Bought it on EBay years ago. Love it. I was teaching in Austin this last week at Creative Side. Used their Durston. Really sweet shear. Either one is fantastic, given that they are in good working order.

Please excuse any typos-- curse my clumsy digits…

Hello Cmackellar,
Thank you for your feed back. It sounds like you’re confirming what I suspected, that you can’t get a full 12" cut with the Durston shear because of the clearance between the handle and the guide plate. If I hadn’t taken the blade guard off the shear I wouldn’t have noticed this until I had to make a long cut. Right now I’m not fabricating anything that requires a cut that long. But after listening to the advise on this blog I was trying to buy the biggest and best tool I could afford as an investment into future work. After watching Kevin Potter demonstrate his 12" shear on YouTube it looks like his shear doesn’t have this problem.
Thanks again for responding,

Hi AndyC,
I’ve checked EBay for the DiMarco shear and I see there are quite a few 12" and 24" Used shears available. And, in reading the Orchid blogs I see many people love their DiMarco shears. My concern is how to determine the condition of the shear by looking at the pictures. I guess I’m a little nervous about buying something Used that’s so expensive (for my budget) without being able to check it out in person, Especially since shipping can be several hundred dollars. I’ve never bought anything on EBay before, do you have any advise for a first timer?
Thank you for responding,

Hi Dee,
If you buy on ebay check the person’s rating. Also, I believe that if you buy via paypal (3% fee) you will have a buyer protection plan. Check the fine print, but I believe the guarantee is that you can get a refund if the item is not AS DESCRIBED. So if it is supposed to work right and it does not, you can get a refund…perhaps you have to be responsible for return shipping, IDK…as I say, check the terms of the guarantee. All that said, I buy on ebay all the time with a reasonable amount of caution and very seldom have any problem. I do not buy items which are specified as non-returnable or which have vague descriptions. Hope this helps,

Di Acro. NOT DiMarco

Hi Dee,

I rarely need to cut 12" too, but every so often it would be really handy.


The Di Acro shear is the best built shear.
It is so heavy duty that if packed correctly,
there should be no damage.
I have had a used Durston rolling mill,
Di Acro shear, heavy magnetic pin polisher,
and an antique wire draw bench shipped
with only one piece suffering minor damage.
Usually the company selling a shear is
familiar with proper packing for shipping.
The main issue would be condition of
the blade, worst case scenario, it would
need to be resharpened.
I have had my shear 15 years, never
had to sharpen the blade, cuts like butter up to
18 gauge, 16 requires a bit of strength,
and starting two inches from the left
( use a steel block against the guide) makes
the handle easier to pull down.

Hello Richard,
A lot of people say the same thing you do, that they love their DiArco shear. The only downside I’ve found in my research is the maximum gauge of metal it will cut. The description on EBay and the DiArco website says it cuts up to 16 gauge mild steel. Durston claims their guillotine shear cuts up to 12 gauge mild steel and 8 gauge non-ferrous metal. Right now I’m working with 14 gauge bronze, so the Durston looks like the better shear for what I’m doing.
I think after considering what I’ve just learned, I’m going to invest in a new Durston shear. I might not get a full 300mm cut but it appears to be the shear that cuts the thickest gauge metal.
Thank you very much for your feed back,
Dee Ryder

Bought a Potter last year. Works well. Only problem I had was its lack of a ruler on the table. Ultimately I bought a sterret peel on so that I can get a more accurate cut than having to eyeball my scribed line. Been using it for 12"

Hi James,
Thanks, you’re the first person to provide feedback about the Potter 12" shear. According to their website the shear will cut steel up to 14 gauge and non-ferrous metals up to 12 gauge. I think I’m going to go with the Durston shear, it might not cut a full 12" but it will cut up to 8 gauge which is my higher priority.
Thank you for the response.