Pliers and Cutters Part 2
Jaw length determines the amount of cutting force that a cutter can exert, the amount of cutting force exerted decreases as the distance from the pivot point increases. This means a short- jawed cutter can exert relatively greater pressure at its tip than a long- jawed cutter. Force rather than reach is the main purpose of this type of these cutters. The long jawed cutter exerts less force and should not be used on thick or bulky metals. Long jawed cutters are more fragile and the purpose here is longer reach and a more delicate touch.
This does not mean that any cutter will cut any metal; cutters are given a rating called their "maximum cutting capacity". This refers to the ability of the cutter to pass through soft or nonferrous metals, which include yellow gold, silver, brass and copper. Nonferrous refers to the fact that most jewelry metals contain no iron and are therefore considered soft metals. Hard metals are denser than soft metals and include white gold, nickel, and steel. For working purposes they are considered ferrous metals. True ferrous metals must contain iron or steel.
The cutting capacity rating is measured from the pivot point to the center of the cutting edge. The cutting capacity from the center to the tip of the cutter is much less because force is exerted through a greater distance.
Cutting capacity is normally measured in wire gauge thickness. The "Brown and Sharpe" gauge measures standard thickness of wire from very thick (0 gauge) to very thin (34 gauge). Below is a conversion chart which includes gauge in both inches and millimeters.