How to Cut Steel Cable

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Steel cable is a versatile and durable product. It's useful for building fences, tying down objects, reinforcing buildings and a bevy of other useful applications. Steel cables come in a variety of thicknesses, suitable for whatever job you're considering. Cutting steel cable to size is a job that requires the right tools and attention to safety as well. Here are some simple safety principles to follow and tips on how to find the right tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Cable cutters
  • Safety glasses
  • Work gloves
  • Tape measure
  • Prepare yourself and your work area. Before cutting steel cable, put on safety glasses and heavy leather work gloves. A small shard of metal can easily blind you, and a quickly moving cable can burn your hands or cause contusions to unprotected hands. Be sure your work area has sufficient lighting and a vise for holding the cable if necessary.

  • Measure your cable. Trying to cut steel cable with the wrong tools will be a frustrating exercise, with poor results. Measure the thickness of your cable with a ruler or tape measure, and use the appropriately sized cable cutters (see Resources for information on cable cutters).

  • Measure the amount of steel cable you'll need, then pull off the appropriate amount from your coil or spool of steel cable. Follow the old carpenter's adage of "measure twice, cut once," when measuring the cable and the length of cable that you need.

  • Place the cable into your cutter and apply steady and consistent pressure. With the proper cutters, you'll get a quick clean cut the first time. If you don't, check the sharpness of the cutting blades or make sure the cutters you have are the proper size.

Tips & Warnings

  • Exercise caution if cutting a taut or guyed cable. Cutting the cable can cause a sudden kickback or whipping of the cable, resulting in injury. Tie down the cable or otherwise restrain it before cutting if the cable is under tension.

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