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Best wire cutters for old barbed wire?

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  • Best wire cutters for old barbed wire?

    Now that the vegetation has died back, this is the perfect time of year to try to get rid of the decades-old barbed wire fence lurking in my treeline. Any recommendations on the best wire cutters for the job? I'm not the strongest gal, and I'll happy fork over some money for a really good tool.
    Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.

  • #2
    We use bolt cutters for that.
    They come in many sizes, from 8" to feet long.
    For barbed wire fencing work, we use one that is about 12" long, but you may like a longer one, if you are wimpy.

    Here is a 36" one, so you can get an idea of what they look like:


    Here is an 8" one:


    Take a piece of barbed wire with you, go to a hardware store and see what size cuts it best for you.


    • #3
      I usually use the wire cutter part on the fence tool. I'm carrying a bucket for collecting stables with a hammer and fence tool anyway so I'm not too concerned about size. Sometimes I'll grab the "dikes" (diagonal cutting pliers) or lineman's pliers if I'm cutting a lot of fence. Klein's are good, but even though I'm not a small person, they're a bit to bulky for my liking. I really like Channel-lock brand. The absolute best cutters I've used are the Knipex brand that DH got for Christmas one year.


      • #4
        Ours is like this one, but red and a better brand, has lasted for decades:


        Fencing pliers wire cutters will wear you out when you have to cut as much as you will have to cut there, although they are ok to cut a bit here and there while building fences.
        Any more, we use the bolt cutters practically all the time, except when going along fences, where you rarely have to stop to fix something, then wire cutters fencing pliers fit better in your saddlebag.


        • #5
          You asked for the best.


          Felco clippers have every part in them available for purchase, and are easy to replace.

          My 97 year old Mother is hard to buy a present for. She doesn't want anyone to spend money on her, and she doesn't want anyone to make anything for her that she has to find somewhere to put. She's a better cook than anyone else, so you can't cook a gift for her.

          For this past Christmas, I stole her pair of Felco clippers that she uses to cut her roses. I think I gave them to her in the '80s. They had 6 or 8 little parts that were worn out. I looked online and found every little part, sharpened them, and gave them back to her as good as new. It was a big hit.


          • #6
            I would carry a magnet on a stick (like a farrier has) to pick up broken pieces on the ground. Really old wire that has rusted can break into pieces sometimes.


            • #7
              I use fencing pliers and carefully watch and pick up every little piece.
              Life doesn't have perfect footing.

              Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
              We Are Flying Solo


              • #8
                BOLT CUTTERS...trust me I know....
                "As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use."- William James

                Proud member of the Wheat Loss Clique.


                • #9
                  In my wire cutter case for fox hunting I have a pair of those 8" bolt cutters. Easy to use and they do not require brute strength to get the job done.


                  • #10
                    Bolt cutters or really huge wire cutters.
                    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                    -Rudyard Kipling


                    • #11
                      How can I pass up Felco Commando Barbed Wire Cutters?



                      • #12
                        Bolt cutters. Don't get too big a pair -- they're really heavy to carry around. Mine are about 12" long. I fold each piece of the old wire into about 18" folds. I'm storing it outside the pasture in an old metal stock tank that I got at an auction for $5. When it's full, I'll get the scrap metal dealer to take it away.
                        My Equestrian Art Photography page


                        • #13
                          Another vote for Bolt Cutters


                          • #14
                            bolt cutters! Barbed wire is usually thick and double stranded. Save your hands and use bolt cutters.
                            Derby Lyn Farms Website

                            Derby Lyn Farms on Facebook!


                            • #15
                              If you do use bolt cutters, notice that there's an adjustment on the jaws. They need to almost meet each other but not quite. Otherwise you have to twist them to cut something all the way. The jaws are hardened, and you can sharpen them, but be careful not to get the jaw too hot with the grinder or it will ruin the temper in the steel, and then they won't hold a sharp edge in use at all.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Tom King View Post
                                If you do use bolt cutters, notice that there's an adjustment on the jaws. They need to almost meet each other but not quite. Otherwise you have to twist them to cut something all the way. The jaws are hardened, and you can sharpen them, but be careful not to get the jaw too hot with the grinder or it will ruin the temper in the steel, and then they won't hold a sharp edge in use at all.
                                I am surprised by that.
                                We have used in our shop several sizes of bolt cutters, that some may be now a good 70+ years old and are still cutting fine, never were sharpened.
                                Bolt cutters work by leverage, not by an especially sharp edge.
                                We generally cut bolts and chain links with them, even sizable chains and those bolt cutters keep on cutting.
                                They have parts you can replace, but we never needed to do so.

                                For someone not working with them, but cutting the occasional barbed wire, I don't think they need to worry about how sharp those may be.
                                Bolt cutters go thru fencing wire like a knife thru butter, that is why they are so nice, makes the cutting effortless.

                                I expect if someone does use them all the time, all day long, there would then be some maintenance to them.


                                • #17
                                  The old, made in the USA ones will work fine forever. I've seen a lot of them that have been abused, by cutting stuff that was over sized for them which can bend some of the parts enough so the jaws don't quite come together close enough to continue to cut well. Most of the ones for sale now are made in China, so if someone goes out to buy a pair now, they won't hold up like the old ones did.

                                  I have one four foot pair (made in China) that someone borrowed, and cut some rebar with. I had to work on those, including sharpening the jaws, to get them to cut anything with again. I try not to loan tools, but it's hard not to do sometimes.

                                  Most people I see who use screwdrivers for something other than screws, and have files bouncing around loose in a toolbox, also have bolt cutters that won't cut anything without having to twist them around.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Awesome, fantastic suggestions from everyone. I am seriously tempted by those Felcoes.

                                    This weekend involves trying to finish out the second floor in our house, so no wire-cutting today. But I'll report back when we do get back outside.
                                    Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.


                                    • #19
                                      Note to ya. I think I messed up my wrist trying to cut that type of barbed wire with fence pliers.....that was 3 months ago and still twinging with the wrong twisting movement.

                                      I DO wish I'd had shorter bolt cutters...mine are monster 24" ones!
                                      "As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use."- William James

                                      Proud member of the Wheat Loss Clique.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Ouch, Melelio, that doesn't sound fun!
                                        Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.