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  1. #1
    Lanterne Rouge
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    Cutting cables, do I need the special cutters??

    I have to cut one dang cable to finish the basics on refurbishing an old bike. I had a hell of a time using a pair of pliers with a cable snipper when I was taking the old cable off, any advice on shortening the new cable?

    Do I actually need to spend 20 bucks for a specialty tool that I'm going to use all of once in a blue moon? Any reasonable substitute? I guess I could just cartop the thing over the LBS and have them snip the brake cable, but it seems kind of absurd...

  2. #2
    40 something and counting forensicchemist's Avatar
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    dremel.....

  3. #3
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    If you're talking about cutting the inner wire, any good pair of needle-nose pliers with a sharp cutting section should be fine. On the other hand, if you are referring to cutting the casing, a dremel with a cutoff wheel works awesome.
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    Senior Member acape's Avatar
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    Sometimes cutting a multi-strand wire like that can be tough with plain old diagonal cutters. You could try some garden shears or tin snips if you have some.

  5. #5
    Lanterne Rouge
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    Just the inner cable... I did it with needlenose pliers with a clipper to get the old cable off, but it got pretty frayed. Any trick that I was too thick to catch on to?

  6. #6
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    I've had them fray using needlenose pliers too. The trick is to make sure they are sharp: close the pliers and hold them up to a lamp to see if part of the cutting section shows light shining through. If so, don't use that section. The best section to use (if it's sharp) is the part closest to the joint. When you make your cut, do it fast and hard using a sharp section of the cutting area.
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  7. #7
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    Any good cable-cutter (non-bike-specific) will do the job. The needlenose pliers have 2 straight blades pinching the cable, which tends to flatten it and get the strands unraveling; cable cutters have v-shaped blades, and shear the cable rather than pinching it. A $5 cable cutter from the hardware store will work on inner cable and brake and shift housings.

  8. #8
    semifreddo amartuerer 'nother's Avatar
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    Do you *need* them? No. As discussed, there are many other ways to cut the cable (and housing). However, having tried all of the above alternatives, then eventually a pair of dedicated cable/housing cutters ($12 @ Performance?), my conclusion is that they're the best (fastest, most efficient, best quality) for the job.
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  9. #9
    Lanterne Rouge
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    Truth be told, I don't mind buying them, just can't find anyplace locally that sells them, and I want to ride the rebuilt bike, not wait yet another three days for yet another small piece of the puzzle to get delivered. The one thing that I assume is that it's a big difference for cutting housings, which would be nice to have over time (though I have rare use for it, I guess you need it occasionally.)

    Edit: found a place locally that has a few different ones. Is the Park version worth the upcharge for a "civilian" user? They have the Cyclepro cutters for $24.95, and I might just go ahead as I'm too impatient to wait for a delivery.
    Last edited by superslomo; 12-01-06 at 10:39 AM.

  10. #10
    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    I've been very successful with the brute force approach, a pair of linesman pliers and a big hammer. Put the cable in the pliers, place the pliers on a hard surface and give em a good sharp whack with the hammer.
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

  11. #11
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by superslomo
    Truth be told, I don't mind buying them, just can't find anyplace locally that sells them, and I want to ride the rebuilt bike, not wait yet another three days for yet another small piece of the puzzle to get delivered. The one thing that I assume is that it's a big difference for cutting housings, which would be nice to have over time (though I have rare use for it, I guess you need it occasionally.)

    Edit: found a place locally that has a few different ones. Is the Park version worth the upcharge for a "civilian" user? They have the Cyclepro cutters for $24.95, and I might just go ahead as I'm too impatient to wait for a delivery.
    The Cyclepros should be good for a number of years. Not that different from the Park actually. And they are tons better than regular wire cutters.
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  12. #12
    Bike Junkie aadhils's Avatar
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    Go to your local hardware store and get a pair of aviation snips, also commonly known as Metal snips...

  13. #13
    Senior Member
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    You probably have two brake cables and two gear shift cables on each bike. These will need periodic replacement, and with a nice pair of cutters you wont procrastinate when the job should be done.

  14. #14
    got to ride
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    If you mean avaiation shears, don't do it. they're like scissors. it has the strength to cut it but the scissoring action will cut the strands unevenly. Any good wire cutter will do the job fine, Read that Good! The cable wire is hard and not all cutters are hard enough to hold an edge on any wire harder than copper for which most of them are made. A good one will work on the cable as well as the housing. then just hold the end lightly to a grinding wheel to true up the end.

  15. #15
    Lanterne Rouge
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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but for cutting the housings you definitely need a pair of real cable cutters, correct?

    The wire cutters I've seen that aren't "bike specific" aren't that much cheaper to make it seem a reasonable trade-off if the housings need the real cable cutter anyhow.

  16. #16
    one word, not two braingel's Avatar
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    you can get a good pair of bolt cutters in the $20 range too, and not only do they cut cables + housing really well, but they also cut through 8000 other things too. and they're fun to use.

  17. #17
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    Wrap the cable with electrical tape enough times to double the thickness... then cut it with a pair of side cutters.

    Perfectly clean cut.

  18. #18
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by braingel
    you can get a good pair of bolt cutters in the $20 range too, and not only do they cut cables + housing really well, but they also cut through 8000 other things too. and they're fun to use.
    Side cutters, aviation shears, dremels, bolt cutters, lineman pliers ????? A good pair of bicycle cable cutters cost about the same as all of the above and much less than some (Dremel!?). They'll last almost forever and cut housing and cable cleanly. Why mess with the other stuff. Right tool, right job.

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    Side cutters, aviation shears, dremels, bolt cutters, lineman pliers ????? A good pair of bicycle cable cutters cost about the same as all of the above and much less than some (Dremel!?). They'll last almost forever and cut housing and cable cleanly. Why mess with the other stuff. Right tool, right job.

    I've been known to use a rock for a tool but never at home
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  20. #20
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    I prefer the Shimano cable cutters to the Park ones. They crush the housing less and gives a nice clean slice without any fraying.

  21. #21
    Senior Member capwater's Avatar
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    +1 on the linesmen' pliers. Theres a cutter on the outside edge that is very precise. No frayed ends and a very clean cut.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Bikedued's Avatar
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    I use a pair of heavy duty wire cutters. If it frays, just twist the strands in the direction they're wound. They fall right back into place usually.,,,,BD
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  23. #23
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    I ;use side cutters on brake cable with no problems. I then use needle nose pliers to squeeze the cable back to round, file the end smooth and insert an awl point to open up the inner cable. Heat shrink tubing on the end finiishes it off. Easy as pie. bk

  24. #24
    Senior Member Cadfael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dobber
    I've been very successful with the brute force approach, a pair of linesman pliers and a big hammer. Put the cable in the pliers, place the pliers on a hard surface and give em a good sharp whack with the hammer.
    I know your method works...but you cannot carry them in a toolkit. As mentioned before, a dedicated pair of cutters, with a V shaped notch will pinch and cut, as opposed to spead and cut. I work on the assumption that at sometime I will need to cut a cable whilst by the roadside, so I need something I can pack in a small toolkit. In a workshop it is different, you can then maybe use a tried and tested alternative method.. that is maybe not the prescribed method.

  25. #25
    Senior Member FlatFender's Avatar
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    Wrap the cable with masking tape, then cut with any old pair of dykes. The tape keeps the wire from fraying.

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