clock menu more-arrow no yes

The 5 Best Mini Bolt Cutters (2021 Review)

Mini bolt cutters are simple handheld tools that help DIY homeowners cut through wires, bolts, and other materials. In this review, the This Old House Reviews team outlines the five best mini bolt cutters on Amazon and our experience using each product during our in-depth testing process.

ARES Eight-Inch Mini Bolt Cutter Courtesy ARES

Bolt cutters are offered in a variety of sizes that cater to different needs and the material they need to cut. Mini bolt cutters, which are typically around eight inches in length, are compact tools that are used to snap bolts, chains, and wires up to 3/16 inches in diameter.

To help you find the right pair of mini bolt cutters, the This Old House Reviews team tested five of the best mini bolt cutters on Amazon and scored their effectiveness based on a series of rigorous tests. Here are our top picks and our thoughts on how each pair performed during testing.

Most Effective: Capri Tools Eight-Inch Klinge Mini Bolt Cutter

Capri Tools Eight-Inch Klinge Mini Bolt Cutter

This mini bolt cutter from Capri Tools is built with quality steel blades and rubber-gripped handles that can cut through rods, bolts, chains, and wires. The cutter comes with comfortable, molded grips that provide added leverage to help you cut through materials with ease. Additionally, this product has a unique blue and black design that’s easy to spot in your tool bag.

Key Features

  • 12.7 ounces
  • Limited 10-year warranty
  • Double heat-treated steel blades

What Customers Are Saying

These mini bolt cutters from Capri Tools received an average customer rating of 4.6 stars out of 5, which is slightly above the average customer rating of 4.5 stars across all tested products. At the time of this review, 92% of customers rated this product 4 stars or more, with just 4% of customers giving the product 2 stars or less.

Positive reviews centered around the product’s quality construction, with many reviewers saying that the cutters were effective in snipping thin wire and cable. Other positive reviews complimented the product’s affordable price. Negative reviews complained about the bolt cutter’s inability to cut thicker bolts and wire.

Our Experience

This product from Capri Tools was the top performer in our series of tests. On average, it demanded the least amount of force and cut through each material with ease. Even when tested on thicker materials, like the 3/16-inch toggle bolt and 0.063-inch piano wire, its ergonomic grip padded the additional force that was required to cut through the materials.

This mini bolt cutter produced quality cuts on thicker items like the 0.031- and 0.063-inch piano wire. However, its cut quality saw a decrease when tested on the thinner wire, which could potentially signal a lack of blade sharpness.

Our Score

Metric Product
Metric Product
Required force 4.9/5
Grip 5/5
Quality of cut—cutting 3/16-inch toggle bolt 5/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.016-inch piano wire 4/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.020-inch piano wire 4.5/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.031-inch piano wire 5/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.063-inch piano wire 5/5
Overall score 4.8/5

Best Design: TEKTON Eight-Inch Bolt Cutter

TEKTON Eight-Inch Bolt Cutter

This mini bolt cutter from TEKTON is built with powerful alloy steel jaws that can cut bolts, chains, rods, and wires up to 3/16 inches in diameter. To control its powerful jaws, the bolt cutter is outfitted with ribbed handles for additional grip. This product also includes an easy-to-use locking mechanism that keeps its tubular steel handles shut.

Key Features

  • 5.6 ounces
  • Alloy steel jaws

What Customers Are Saying

This mini bolt cutter received an average rating of 4.4 stars out of 5 from over 3,000 customer reviews, which is slightly below the average customer rating of 4.5 stars across all mini bolt cutters in this review. Despite its lower-than-average rating, 86% of customers rated this product 4 stars or more, with just 5% of customers giving it 1 star.

Satisfied customers emphasized the product’s effectiveness at cutting thin materials, with many reviewers praising its ability to cut fence wire and ¼-inch bolts. Negative reviews highlighted customer concerns over the product’s inability to cut thick items like padlocks, with one reviewer complaining that their bolt cutter’s jaws were damaged after trying to cut thick material.

Our Experience

This mini bolt cutter was an average performer in required force and overall grip. However, what set this product apart from the rest was its cut cleanliness, as this model delivered polished cuts to various-sized strips of piano wire. Although its performance dipped while cutting the thickest and third-thickest piano wire, this mini bolt cutter still had the second-highest average quality of cuts across all tested materials, falling behind the top-rated Capri Tools Eight-Inch Klinge Mini Bolt Cutter.

While the mini bolt cutter delivered clean cuts, its hardened, ribbed grip caused some discomfort during testing, particularly when cutting the large 3/16-inch toggle bolt.

Our Score

Metric Product
Metric Product
Required force 4.6/5
Grip 4.6/5
Quality of cut—cutting 3/16-inch toggle bolt 5/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.016-inch piano wire 5/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.020-inch piano wire 4/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.031-inch piano wire 5/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.063-inch piano wire 4/5
Overall score 4.6/5

Most User-Friendly: KNIPEX Eight-Inch Bolt Cutter

KNIPEX Eight-Inch Bolt Cutter

This KNIPEX mini bolt cutter is built with steel jaws that are strong enough to cut any wire with a diameter of up to ¼ inches. To help users control its strong steel frame, this product has plastic-coated handles that are easy to grip. Additionally, the mini bolt cutter comes with unique gripping jaws that can help you pull small nails and wires while you work.

Key Features

  • 10.4 ounces
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Forged chrome-vanadium steel jaws

What Customers Are Saying

This mini bolt cutter received an average rating of 4.8 stars out of 5 from over 1,300 Amazon customer reviews, which is above the average customer rating of 4.5 stars across all reviewed mini bolt cutters. Along with its higher-than-average customer rating, 96% of customers gave this product 4 stars or more, with just 3% of customers rating it 3 stars or less.

Positive customer reviews centered around the mini bolt cutter’s performance and high quality, with one customer praising the tool for producing a high-powered cut with its compact size. Additional positive reviews focused on the product’s leverage, which many customers explained helped them cut thicker wires and bolts.

Our Experience

This mini bolt cutter showcased its ability to deliver clean cuts throughout our series of tests. The cutter’s plastic-coated grip added control and comfort to the tool as it cut a variety of piano wires and a toggle bolt.

Despite requiring the highest amount of force out of all tested mini bolt cutters, this product was able to deliver clean cuts to each tested material. Although its cut quality steadily decreased as the piano wire increased in diameter, this product didn’t have the sporadic cut quality seen in other models.

Our Score

Metric Product
Metric Product
Required force 4.5/5
Grip 4.6/5
Quality of cut—cutting 3/16-inch toggle bolt 5/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.016-inch piano wire 4.5/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.020-inch piano wire 4.5/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.031-inch piano wire 4/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.063-inch piano wire 4/5
Overall score 4.4/5

Most Comfortable: ARES Eight-Inch Mini Bolt Cutter

ARES Eight-Inch Mini Bolt Cutter

This mini bolt cutter from ARES is a quality addition to any tool bag, with its hardened cutting blades that can snip through heavy-duty wires, bolts, and nails. It has a rust-resistant frame that’s covered in an ergonomic handle for added control and comfort. To help you cut through thicker materials, the mini bolt cutter comes with spring-assisted handles to increase your leverage.

Key Features

  • 10.4 ounces
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Chrome-moly steel jaws

What Customers Are Saying

This mini bolt cutter from ARES received an average rating of 4.4 stars out of 5 from over 240 customer ratings, which is lower than the average of 4.5 stars across all reviewed mini bolt cutters. Despite its lower-than-average customer rating, 83% of customers rated this product 4 stars or more, with just 5% of customers giving it 1 star.

Satisfied customers raved about the compact bolt cutter’s leverage, with one customer highlighting its ability to snip off small nail tips that were poking out of their wall. Negative reviews highlighted customer frustration over the tool’s inability to effectively cut thick bolts.

Our Experience

The spring-assisted and molded grip on this ARES mini bolt cutter led this product to receive full points for grip comfort and control, tied for first with the top-rated Capri Tools Eight-Inch Klinge Mini Bolt Cutter. Despite the mini bolt cutter’s comfortable grip, the product did see a steady decline in cut quality when tested on increasingly thicker piano wire.

Our Score

Metric Product
Metric Product
Required force 4.6/5
Grip 5/5
Quality of cut—cutting 3/16-inch toggle bolt 5/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.016-inch piano wire 4.5/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.020-inch piano wire 4/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.031-inch piano wire 4/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.063-inch piano wire 4/5
Overall score 4.4/5

Best Value: Great Neck Eight-Inch Bolt Cutter

Great Neck Eight-Inch Bolt Cutter

This mini bolt cutter from GreatNeck is built with thin vinyl grips that are ribbed for added control. Along with its easy-to-grip handle, this product features a 3/16-inch capacity for cutting wires, chain links, and small bolts. Additionally, this product is offered in sizes up to 36 inches, giving you the option of choosing long bolt cutters for heavy-duty projects.

Key Features

  • 2.4 ounces
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Forged steel jaws

What Customers Are Saying

This mini bolt cutter from GreatNeck received an average rating of 4.4 stars out of 5 from over 400 customer ratings, which is slightly below the average customer rating of 4.5 stars across all reviewed mini bolt cutters. Eighty-four percent of customers rated this product 4 stars or more, with just 8% of customers giving it 2 stars or less.

Since this product offers bolt cutters in larger sizes, its reviews cover the spectrum of its available bolt cutters, from eight- to 36-inch models. Regardless of its size, many satisfied customers complimented the product’s good quality at an affordable price. Negative reviews contradicted the positive reviews’ claims of the product’s high quality, with some customers complaining about the product’s inability to cut through thin steel.

Our Experience

Although the GreatNeck bolt cutter is our lowest-rated product, this tool tied for second with the TEKTON and ARES bolt cutters for the least amount of force needed to cut through the tested materials. Despite its hard grip that caused discomfort during use, its ribbed construction increased overall control during each test.

While this bolt cutter cut through each of the tested materials, it placed or tied for last in quality of delivered cuts for each tested piano wire. Additionally, its small mouth made it difficult to grip each material during our testing process.

Our Score

Metric Product
Metric Product
Required force 4.6/5
Grip 4.4/5
Quality of cut—cutting 3/16-inch toggle bolt 5/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.016-inch piano wire 4/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.020-inch piano wire 4/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.031-inch piano wire 4/5
Quality of cut—cutting 0.063-inch piano wire 3.5/5
Overall score 4.2/5

Buying Guide

Before purchasing a mini bolt cutter, it’s important to understand how each product’s design and specifications impact its performance. Here are four factors to consider before buying mini bolt cutters.

Handle Ergonomics

Cutting through metal using a bolt cutter requires a significant amount of grip strength and effort. To help ease the strain on your hands, an ergonomic handle is a necessity for a mini bolt cutter. A quality cutter will incorporate a comfortable, yet practical design that minimizes effort and eases strain. Additionally, the handle of a mini bolt cutter should have non-slip properties to prevent injury.

Weight

Although most mini bolt cutters weigh less than one pound, the handheld nature of this tool lends the weight to play a factor in usability. If the product is too heavy, your hand can tire after consistent use. If the cutter is too light, it won’t be able to deliver enough force to effectively cut a wide range of materials.

Adjustability

Adjustability is important because it lets you effectively cut materials of various sizes. Bolt cutters with adjustable blades will provide more control during use and cut through materials of greater widths. Mini bolt cutters are typically adjusted by screws located at the front of each product’s blade.

Diameter Capacity

Each mini bolt cutter is limited in the width of material it can cut, with the majority of models limited to wire, bolts, and rods under 3/16 of an inch. Typically, the diameter size that the tool is capable of cutting is equal to the width of the blades when fully open. For example, a blade that can open ⅛ of an inch can cut material of equal size.

Review Standards

Testing Metrics

To determine the effectiveness of each mini bolt cutter, we tested the products on the required force, grip, and quality of cut.

Required Force

The amount of required force to cut material is closely tied to the effectiveness of a mini bolt cutter. Models with sharper blades can easily cut through materials, while models with dull blades may have a harder time cutting through materials. Additionally, the less force required to cut through materials, the less fatigue you’ll feel after continued use.

Grip

A mini bolt cutter needs to have an ergonomic and comfortable grip to generate the force required to break bolts, wires, and other materials. A mini bolt cutter with a non-slip and easy-to-grip handle will make it easier to generate force and use over long periods.

Quality of Cut

The performance of a mini bolt cutter is determined by the width of the material it can cut and how clean of a cut it delivers. For example, an effective model will not just cut through 3/32-inch piano wire, but it will do so without leaving behind frayed cords or half-cut wire.

Testing Process

Required Force

We tested the effectiveness of each mini bolt cutter against a ¼-inch hex bolt, 3/16-inch anchor bolt, and 0.016-, 0.020-, 0.031-, and 0.063-inch piano wire. We cut each material with every mini bolt cutter five times for a total of 30 tests per mini bolt cutter. During our testing, we noted how much force was required to make each cut.

Note: During testing, no mini bolt cutter was able to cut through the ¼-inch hex bolt, which led to its removal from each product’s overall score.

Grip

While we tested each product’s ability to cut through various-sized materials, we also paid attention to both the comfort and grip strength each mini bolt cutter’s handle provided. We noted the number of times each bolt cutter slipped during testing and compared the comfort level provided by each bolt cutter’s handle.

Quality of Cut

To test the quality of each mini bolt cutter’s performance, we rated the cleanliness of each cut after it was performed. To determine the cleanliness of the cut, we looked for signs of frayed wire and jagged bolt edges. We then compared each bolt cutter’s performance to its competitors.

Note: No bolt cutter had a clear advantage over another in its quality of cut for the 3/16-inch toggle bolt. This led to each bolt cutter receiving full points for the quality of cut for the 3/16-inch toggle bolt testing.

Scoring

Required Force

During each test, the mini bolt cutter that required the least amount of force received all 5 possible points, while the second-best received a 0.5-point deduction, the third-best received a 1-point deduction, and so on. If two bolt cutters performed the same, they received the same score. Once all six tests were performed, each mini bolt cutter’s required force was calculated by averaging the score from each test.

Grip

We measured the effectiveness of each cutter’s handle through a two-fold test that measured the non-slip properties and comfort of the handle.

The mini bolt cutter with handles that slipped the least during testing received all 2.5 possible points, while the second-best received a 0.2-point deduction, the third-best received a 0.4-point deduction, and so on. If two bolt cutters performed the same, they received the same score.

The mini bolt cutter that had the most comfortable grip during testing received all 2.5 possible points, while the second-best received a 0.2-point deduction, the third-best received a 0.4-point deduction, and so on. If two bolt cutters had handles with equal comfort, they received the same score.

Quality of Cut

The bolt cutter that was able to cut through the tested materials and deliver the cleanest cut received all 5 possible points, while the second-best received a 0.5-point deduction, the third-best received a 1-point deduction, and so on. If two mini bolt cutters performed equally, they received the same score.

Note: This score was calculated for each material, including a 3/16-inch anchor bolt and 0.032-, 0.047-, 0.062-, and 3/32-inch piano wire.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size bolt cutters do I need to cut a padlock?

When determining what size bolt cutters you need to cut through a padlock, the jaw capacity of the tool is more important than its length. Most padlocks have a diameter between 3/16 and 7/16 inches, which means a bolt cutter needs to have at least an equal jaw capacity to cut through the material. The maximum diameter that most eight-inch mini bolt cutters can puncture is 3/16 inches, so a larger bolt cutter with more jaw capacity will be needed to cut most padlocks.

Can bolt cutters cut screws?

Yes. Bolt cutters are designed to cut through a variety of materials and items, including screws. It’s important to know the material you need to cut through before purchasing a bolt cutter to ensure the tool has enough jaw capacity.

What are mini bolt cutters used for?

Mini bolt cutters are used for snipping thin wires, bolts, and nails. Typically, mini bolt cutters are effective at cutting materials up to 3/16 inches in diameter.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews team at reviews@thisoldhousereviews.com.