You are in the right place if you have lost your padlock keys, master lock combination or if you have other items that need chopping such as chain links, nails, screws, and much more.
Have you heard about drop forged hardened steel or compound cutting action?
The right tool for a job will save you time and money and this review will help you purchase the best bolt cutters worth your time.
Read on to discover the best bolt cutters for padlocks, best bolt cutters for hardened steel and other items in 2021.
Coming up after the review is a buyer’s guide for bolt croppers to help you avoid second-guessing.
Top 7 Best Bolt Cutters in 2021
Best for durability
Best for power transmission
Best for power transmission
Best high end
Best for adjustability
Best for leverage
Best folding bolt cutters
The Best Bolt Cutter for Durability
Arguably the best bolt cutters on the market, Fiskars PowerGear is a next-gen bolt chopper, designed for the ultimate strength, comfort, and control.
Weight: 9.8 pounds
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Best Bolt Cutters for Power Transmission
HK Porter has had a leading worldwide reputation for the quality, strength, and durability of their industrial cutters. True to this, Powerlink bolt cutter is not your ordinary bolt cutter and is rated .
Weight: 4 pounds
If you are looking for a heavy duty bolt cutter with one of the highest power transmission and the toughest steel blades, then Neiko is the deal.
Weight: 12.9 pounds
Best High-End Bolt Cutter
Klein Tools 63RBCHD Heavy-Duty Ratcheting Bolt Cropper might be too high-end for master locks but if you need an all-in-one solution for all your cutting needs, then this is the most powerful and easiest tool available.
Weight: 10 pounds
Best Bolt Cutter for Adjustability
TEKTON is a high quality and versatile bolt cutter that lets you adjust and even replace its jaws.
Weight: 6.61 pounds
The Best Bolt Cutter for Leverage
You might be having a lock for which you’ve lost the key or forgotten the combination, protruding nails, rods and rivets and the drop forged WorkPro bolt slicer is your best work mate for this mess.
Weight: 5.7 pounds
Best Folding Bolt Cutters
A good bolt cropper is almost a meter long tool and Olympia Tools have made an easier to carry power grip bolt cutter by making its handles foldable.
Weight: 6.97 pounds
A buyer’s guide for the best bolt cutters for locks
Not all bolt cutters will help you cut open your combination padlock and the wrong tool can end up breaking. To avoid wasting your money, it is important to consider some of the factors below when searching for the best bolt cutter for cutting locks.
(i) Steel strength
Most padlocks have hardened steel shackles and the bolt cutter needs to be harder for it to chop the shackle.
Go for cutters with drop forged hardened steel blades for the best results.
(ii) Bolt cutter size
Most domestic keyed and master locks for home, gym, school lockers and so on are medium security with shackles of up to ¼ inch diameter.
A typical 24 inch bolt cutter has a jaw capacity of 5/16 inch and this should suffice for a standard padlock.
To be on the safe side, consider the 24-36 inch range of bolt cutters.
Anything larger will mean unnecessary burden of high budget, weight and storage space.
A ridiculously heavy cutting tool will make you a beast of burden and if you can get the same performance at a lower weight, the better.
Good bolt cutters for locks should weigh between 5 and 10 pounds.
(iv) The cutting mechanism
A bolt cutter worth your time should provide mechanical leverage that will make you do more for less effort.
Most of the steel cutters in our review feature a compound cutting action that scales down the required muscle effort by up to 30 percent compared to run of the mill bolt cutters.
(v) Handle design and build
Handles are not just for holding but ergonomically designed hand grips can increase leverage and comfort.
In our review of the best bolt cutters for locks, we found that long handles with a slight curve required the least pressure application.
Handles should also have sturdy non-slip rubber pads so that the tool doesn’t slip as you work or they leave you with nasty blisters.
How do bolt cutters work? – Here’s how to use bolt cutters
The basic principle of the best bolt cutters for padlocks is the lever. This is a simple machine that uses a pivot to transform much less pressure to a great amount of force on the opposite shorter end of the bar to perform some mechanical work. In short, a lever scales down the distance of force while scaling up the amount of force.
The mechanical work includes lifting or moving rigid loads, and in the case of cutters, chopping hardened materials such as steel, something that wouldn’t have been possible using bare arms.
Typical padlock cutters transform 50 pounds or less of human arms’ force into 4,000 pounds of cutting pressure, enough to slice typical metallic materials such as padlock shackles and hasps, chain link fences, rebar, nails, bolts, and so on.
Some specialized hydraulic bolt cutters can transform the human arm force to a high of 16k pounds of cutting force, appropriate for industrial and emergency applications.
A point to note is that unlike scissors which slice fabric between their two sharp blades, bolt cutters crush a material by concentrating the massive force on the small area where the blades come into contact with the item.
Here are the basics of how to use bolt cutters