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MARTINSR 11-14-2010 10:19 PM

Tin snip suggestions on cutting straight cut in sheet metal.
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I have brought this up before. Today I was cutting some sheet metal and I thought I would bring it up again. I do so because I am still amazed at how I can cut a straight line in sheet metal as long as I want with this little pair of offset tin snips. I am not kidding, you could cut an eight foot by four foot sheet of metal in half with this little $25 tool. When I think of how long it took me to figure this out! I bought all the tin snips and shears that I could get my hands on that said it was for a straight line. These "Offset" snips are made in both "left" and "right" versions. I think this is where I got confused, "left and right" doesn't sound like "straight" line to me!

Well the thing is they will cut around a corner just fine and you need the left and right cut so you can go in that direction too. A quality pair of these offset snips will shave off a mm wide piece of metal without distorting the metal!

They handles are color coded with the yellow being straight, the red being left hand cut and the green being right hand cut. I VERY rarely use the straight ones, the offset seam to do everything I need.

The long cut I did was kinda crude so it may not look perfectly straight to you. But if you have a straight edge drawn line you can cut RIGHT ON IT making a cut darn near like a shear. The photo with the long cut is the one that has the pair of offset snips on it. The other snips are for example of other types.

Here is a pair of Offset snips.[ekm].jpg

They are the cats meow for working with tin.


Shelby1 11-15-2010 07:47 AM

Brian they are also called aviation tin snips....supposedly invented for aviation sheet metal work, I worked in the aircraft industry most of my adult life and have heard all kind of descriptions for the reasons for the way they are made and used......for use by right or left handed people ,to make right or left cuts in blind areas of aircraft,to make right or left cuts in sheet metal to make complex curved objects. But yes you are correct in saying they make excellent straight cuts, in fact those are the only cutters I have ever used in the sheet metal work that I have done, using them to cut large sheets of metal untill I got a foot shear.

MARTINSR 11-15-2010 08:01 AM

I don't know the terminology and most scary I write something all jacked up on passion to get it to the board and could miss something. :) But I am with you, I use my left hand offset probably 95% of the time with my right hand pair 4% with the reminder of them the last 1%. I also have a cheapie "shear" I got from Eastwood or low buck tools or something like that years ago.

It "works" though honestly the offset snips do a better job for most projects.


Shelby1 11-15-2010 08:24 AM

Brian I also had a" throat shear " that was very similar to what you have pictured ,I never used it much cause it weighted more that a VW Beetle ,and had to be mounted to a bench so it was not portable .A man that came in my shop saw it and offered me a 100 bucks for I let him have it only to find out later that model sold new for close to 500 bucks! ...Oh well I didn't use it much but it did do real nice curves in sheet metal and it was alot easier on these arthritic hands.

MARTINSR 11-15-2010 11:18 AM

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This is the one I have, I bolted it to a piece of angle iron so I can mount it in the vice and move it around if I need to.

I have had for about twenty years and last night a roll pin in it broke. It was an easy fix.


chip_127 11-15-2010 11:45 AM

A company by the name of Pro-Snip used to make offset snips like that. I used them a lot in a sheetmetal fab plant I used to work for. I still have the red handle ones - the green ones gave out on me a few years back. I wish I could still find this brand because for me they work the best.

cyclopsblown34 11-15-2010 11:46 AM

Brian, I bought another good set of Irwin tool tin snips last week. They beat the heck out of the harbor Fright ones I had been contending with for quite a while. I generally just grabbed my grinder for cuts, now I grab my snips. Thanks for all the knowledge you share with us so graciously.

MARTINSR 11-15-2010 12:42 PM

I have to tell you, for any precision tool Harbor Frieght BLOWS. A high quality tin snip like Wess or Irwin or the like are SOOOOO much better it isn't even funny.

And thank you for your kind words.


Shelby1 11-15-2010 12:57 PM


Originally Posted by chip_127
A company by the name of Pro-Snip used to make offset snips like that. I used them a lot in a sheetmetal fab plant I used to work for. I still have the red handle ones - the green ones gave out on me a few years back. I wish I could still find this brand because for me they work the best.

Chip they still make the Pro-Snip line off a Google search.....Fine tools.....

chip_127 11-15-2010 02:33 PM

Thanks Kenny! I had no idea they were still around. I will check it out - I would love to have another pair.

I did find a picture of the ones I use:

TubeTek 11-15-2010 09:15 PM

Left hand offset snips are made to cut straight and cut curves to the left. Rights cut straight and cut curves to the right.

Snips marked as straight cut are only good for making short cuts from an edge, like cutting a notch in sheet metal.

I've owned about every major brand of offset snips on the market, and my favorite brand is Midwest.
A lot of the snips on the market with other names are made by Midwest with private branding. At one time Snap On was selling Midwest, but don't know if thats still the case or not.

The pic Brian posted is of a Proto branded snip, but I'm pretty sure its actually made by Midwest based on overall appearance.

Wiss offset snips are decent, but not as good as Midwest IMO. The Wiss offsets are shorter and more stubby, and just don't feel as good in use.

Klenk is another big brand of snips, but I've never run into anyone who likes their offsets. I had one set of them, given to me in near new condition by a buddy who said he hated them. Later, I gave 'em away too :D

Don't know if they're still made or not, but Wiss used to make a pair of snips that cut out a narrow strip of metal by using 2 upper blades with a lower blade between the two uppers. They're really handy in some applications because they'll cut with the least distortion of any type snip.

MARTINSR 11-15-2010 10:31 PM

Thanks, I'll be trying a pair of those Midwest snips.


deadbodyman 11-19-2010 06:33 AM

Theres a snip that uses the throatless shear desigh that wont make those curly Qs or want to bend one side the steel up or down,I want to say pro shear but I'm not sure...
Glad to see ya workin on that rambler Brian

Irelands child 11-19-2010 07:06 AM

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.....ahhh my favorite tin snips. I have all three - straight, left and right. Had 'em for probably well over 20 years. The straight ones are dull, so I do need to cough up some bucks for some new ones.

I also have these and they do an even better job of cutting a straight line without distortion, but do leave a 1/16" curly cue.

Dave W

timothale 11-19-2010 07:24 AM

metal shears
I bought a good used Black and Decker model 3210 # 12 elecrical shear, I was helping my son and a piece of flat stock had a tab on the back I didn't see and I broke the bottom edge cutter, They wanted $ 75 for the little 1/2 square cutter die, I bought the HF tool they copied for $ 30. and it works just fine I use the hand snips to start a cut then finish with the Elect shear, I have clamped a piece cut straight with a shear for a guide.

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