I found Aircraft Tool Supply Company a few years ago in an exhibit hall at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Every year I seem to migrate there to buy some useful tool or item for my hangar. This year I came out with three such tools all of which are incredibly useful and very inexpensive.
The tool I’m writing about today is called Safe Wire Nippers and is essentially a side cutter like you’d buy in a hardware store for clipping wire, cable ties, and other similar items. I have two toolboxes, one at home and one in the hangar, both filled with multiple side cutters, but none are like this. So, what’s the big deal about these nippers? Let me describe the problem and why this is a solution.
In my airplane there are numerous locations that are tough for my hands to fit in. In those areas are lots of cable ties. Wires are bundled together all over. While we used to use waxed string and other methods to tie these together, it’s much quicker and more convenient to use nylon cable ties. When cable ties are long and uncut they are flexible and easy to work with. When you pull one tight and clip the end off with a side cutter, what’s left is very stiff and sharply pointed. It seems that it is inevitable that I will give myself a laceration on my hands and arms while moving my hands around an area that I’ve installed cable ties in. A side cutter always leaves a very sharp point and I always seem to hit that point. The end result is that I’m always putting band aids on my hands and arms after working on the plane.
Enter the Safe Wire Nippers. The nippers are fairly small and will fit anywhere that your hand can fit. This is a good attribute for a tool used in a wing or under a panel. The above photos show me cutting the tail off of a nylon cable tie and the cable tie with absolutely no sharp point left after the cut. You can rub your arm against that end all day long and not cut yourself. This is an amazing little tool for the hangar and I don’t know how I got along without it. Now I have to buy a second one for the house for all of my electronic and home projects.
You can get this nipper, part number E200-082, from ATS for $9.95, almost free in the aviation world.