Tin snips differ from aviation snips by their lack of a spring component, which can make them a bit harder for those without sufficient strength. They also have less moving parts and are easier to use for long, straight cuts which make them superior for some purposes.
Let’s take a look at 4 of the best tin snips readily available, then we’ll help you figure out exactly what you’re looking for.
TEKTON 35105 12-Inch Straight Pattern Tin Snips
These snips from Tekton are large, coming in at twelve full inches. The straight pattern is ideal for most purposes, and the edges are precision made. It’s a big pair and ideal for some of the heavier projects you might undertake. The grips are two-layer and soft, so you won’t have to worry about any additional hand fatigue setting in just from the handles, but with a three-inch cutting surface and twelve inches of length, this heavy duty tool may take some getting used to.
IRWIN Tools Tinner’s Snip, Flat Blade, 7-inch (22007)
If you’re looking for something a bit less substantial, these small tin snips (seven-inchers) are ideal for HVAC work and quickly tearing through sheet metal for smaller projects. They’re still flat bladed, so the best curves you’ll be able to take are going to be pretty wide, but for straight snipping and thinner materials, you definitely can’t go wrong with these snips from Irwin. They’re among the best tin snips on the market.
IRWIN Tools Tinner’s Snip, Duckbill Blade, 12-inch (23012)
Irwin’s large duckbill snips are just what you need if you’re looking to be able to cut curves with your snips. The designs (see full specs) are just as high quality as their straight snips but come with the addition of being able to cut much tighter corners than a regular pair. They’re pretty large tin snips, so don’t expect to use them for super delicate work but if you need to rip through some sheets in more than a straight line they’re perfect.
Wiss V19N 13″ Duckbill Combination Pattern Snips
For those who really need to get some serious work done in the field, Wiss makes these fantastic duckbills. They’re (see full specs) high-quality and a bit bigger than almost anything else on the market, which makes them great for those who are regularly working with ducting even if they’re not exactly suitable for more artistic endeavors. They’re a bit more expensive than most pairs, but the quality will more than make up for the difference in price.
Picking out the Best Tin Snips
Chances are, if you stumbled across this article, that you’re looking for your tin snips for a specific reason. That reason can make all the difference, while these tools will mostly do the same jobs you’ll find that some are simply better for the task at hand. So let’s check out several types of tin snips.
The first thing to take into consideration is the size of the snips. Tin snips, as a general rule, are pretty large tools since they need to accommodate both a cutting edge and the leverage to cut through metal with their blades.
Large tin snips will not only have longer blades, they’ll also be able to cut through thicker materials. Small tin snips are easier to handle, and anything seven inches or bigger is adequate for most household purposes. Professionals may want to err on the side of larger snips.
Double layered handles are pretty important, while cheaper models might even employ uncoated handles you’ll find they make a mess of your hands in a hurry, and tin snips already take a good amount of forearm and wrist endurance to use for an extended period of time.
The other thing you’ll have to decide on is whether you want straight snips or duckbills. If you’re primarily cutting straight lines in the metal, straight snips really are the better option. They’ll make cleaner cuts along a single axis although all but the best jobs will still require some clean up afterwards.
Duckbills, on the other hand, are ideally suited for jobs which require some curvature in the cuts. You’re not going to be able to cut super complex patterns, but with a little bit of practice, you’ll be surprised at just how tight you can get things with a good pair.
Are Tin Snips Right for My Job?
Keep in mind that tinner’s snips aren’t really the right tool for artistic endeavors involving sheet metal. If that’s your goal, you’ll probably be better served with compound snips since they use shorter cutting surfaces and the curved ones work to make much tighter curves with the cut.
What they are good for is rough fabrication, duct work, or anything that simply requires that you cut through a lot of metal during the day. The main advantage over compound snips or aviation snips is pretty simple: less moving parts will always win out when it comes to durability.
Simply put: a high-quality pair of tin snips are likely to last you for a lifetime. That’s not really an exaggeration, if you have even basic skills with a grinder you can keep them sharp even if you use them daily. It’s a pretty small investment for the lifetime you’ll be able to get out of a tool.
While this is an impressive quality, they’re definitely not suited for every sheet metal job, sometimes you’ll have to break out more complex tools or power tools in order to get things done properly.
You also need to keep in mind that unlike aviation snips, they will require some muscle power, especially for larger jobs. They’re a powerful tool, but the large size required to give you enough leverage to cut metal can be a bit much for those with weak wrists.
Think of them as a workhorse tool for just powering through metal in relatively rough chunks and you’ll be fine. Every craftsman should have a pair around, however, and with the low cost of even the best tin snips on the market, there’s really no excuse not to have them.