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Cutting Wire Rope

Cutting Wire Rope

Broadly speaking, there are two significantly different kinds of wire rope – ‘normal’ and non-rotating. The difference is explained elsewhere however the difference greatly affects how the wire rope should be cut.

When cutting any kind of wire rope, care should be taken to protect the ends of the material from impact or damage.  To protect the immediate ends of the cable as it is cut, wrapping it tightly with several layers of stretchy vinyl electrical tape. Cut at the middle of the tape and both ends stay un-damaged. You then remove the tape or seizing wire to thread the cut end through crimp-sleeves (oval or hourglass) or end-stops.

For wire rope cutting tools, using a manual or ratchet cutter – ensure that the length of arms are matched to the diameter of wire rope you are cutting as well as your upper body strength.  This is necessary to get adequate leverage. Ratchet cutters act to further multiply your mechanical advantage.

Our tools are a good example as each is ‘rated’ to the maximum wire diameter and type of wire that it can effectively cut. Please note that cutting different structures (1×19 vs 7×7) of wire will also put different loads on the cutters – stiffer wire is much harder to cut.

One other point is that up to 3.2mm (1/8th inch) wire, a good 1 handed set of cutters is both fast and accurate. For wire in the 4.0mm to 10.0mm range, a good 2 handed cutter is accurate and capable.  Above 10.0mm wire, you will need a specialised approach – and if you are reading this and you don’t already know this, please go find someone who can help before you hurt something vital.

When cutting ‘normal’ wire rope, a good, carefully used cutter will suffice without a lot of preparation

When cutting non-rotating wire rope it is important to seize the cable with multiple wraps of safety wire (typically 0.032″ wire for 1/4″ cable). Do this on both sides of the cut point so the cable deformation is minimized. This will also keep the cable from fraying/un-ravelling after it is cut.

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