Woodenspoke Posted February 21, 2009 Report Share Posted February 21, 2009 I guess i have the tool building bug this month. Went down to my friendly Harbor Freight store to see what they had. I looked at a set of end nippers and a HD Cable cutter (not shown, used for cutting fret wire as well, rough cut only). The cable cutter was on sale for $5 the nipper was $6. even though I have a set of nippers, I said what the heck I can always use another pair. My original nippers I bought already ground from Stumac. The Channel Lock 356. The harbor freight nippers needed a bit of work to grind, now the jaws met and are almost flat on the top. I recommend not using a grinder for this procedure but a belt or disk sander. Looked great, 30 minutes of work and a new pair of nippers, I was so proud. So I pulled out a piece of fret wire and had a go, after several tries with marginal results this was a bust. Tried the Channel Locks and they cut easy. What did I do wrong? I knew why I and other members always recommended Channel Locks, the tool steel. So they cost $20 not $6 they will last longer everyone said. This is still true. Now I have another more important reason, "these nippers will not cut fret wire properly"! OK I heard that, no I'm not nuts and yes they are nippers just like the Channel Locks. Lets just look at the two cutters side by side and I will explain. The first thing I noticed is the the head is very big on the HF Pittsburgh Brand. Even if it did cut properly this may be a difficult fit trying to nip fret ends against the fingerboard. I may be wrong here since this is day one with the tool. The second and most important issue is the inside grind. Look closely at the two tools, you can clearly see the wide sweeping grind of the Channel Locks and the narrow tight grind of the HF nipper. This is a major problem cutting fret wire. As you cut, the fret wire is pinched in between the two jaws long before it is fully cut. So now in addition to cutting the wire it needs to be mashed down in order to finish the cut. Not so easy. I was also using a medium gage wire, imagine a Super Jumbo wire. Maybe some of you are saying "Thats why I have so much trouble cutting fret wire". So this is why it is not always easier to go the cheaper route. Now I have the tooling to grind down the inner bevel, I will do it just because I want another nipper even if I only use it to rough cut fret wire. But grinding down the inside is no easy task, figure another hour of work with the proper tools. Now if I bought the Channel locks and I didnt mess up the grind I would have saved $8 over the Commercial fret nippers. Not a huge savings. Have a look at the current Stumac Nippers. Looks like they are using a different brand now as well. Notice the wide angle below the cutter which allows the wire to clear the cutting jaws. Hopefully this helps some of you. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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