What is a Snips Tool & How to use one?

Snips is the term used for a type of hand shears that are designed to cut thin sheet metal as well as a number of other tough materials. Snips have a similar appearance to ordinary scissors but are made from far stronger metal to allow for the cutting of sturdy materials. 

Types of snips

There are two different types of snips – tin snips and aviation snips. Both of these types of snips tool can be used for cutting sheet metal as well as other types of tough material including plastic and cardboard. However, there are a number of design variations in the two types.

Tin snips

Tin snips are the most common snip tool design, consisting just of two blades that are joined together at a pivot point. They work in the same manner as scissors, being two levers crossing one another and can be used to cut tough materials such as plastic and sheet metal. 

Tin snips can be rather heavy tools and are thus unsuited to continual use. The size of these snips will determine the thickness level of the material that they are able to cut, so larger tin snips will be able to cut material that is thicker and tougher. 

There are still a number of different designs of tin snips for use with different materials. There are in fact around a dozen different types of tin snips and it can be confusing trying to work out how to choose the right one for you. 

It is a good idea to start a collection with offset compound snips that are offset underneath the handle. This allows the hand you use to cut sheet metal to stay above the work, while the compound action allows thicker material to be cut with less effort. 

Aviation snips

The design of aviation snips is a little more complex than is the case with tin snips but still works in a similar manner. Aviation snips actually come with four levers that work in tandem to provide additional leverage and can also be used to cut sheets of metal and the likes of cardboard and plastic. 

Aviation snips tend to be somewhat lighter than tin snips, which makes them easier to carry and more suited to continued or even regular use. Aviation snips were originally designed to cut aluminium for aeroplanes, hence the name, but are now available in different designs for a wide array of uses. 

Aviation snips, which are also sometimes referred to as compound snips, are colour coded. Green aviation snips are intended for the cutting of clockwise curves and red aviation snips are for cutting counter-clockwise curves. 

Snips are a simple tool that works for the purpose of producing a cutting action. Snips were originally mainly used to cut sheets of tin as well as other types of sheet metal but today they are used to cut sheets of many kinds of tough material including the likes of cardboard, plastic and rubber.