Is there a tool that can cut flat 5mm-wide aluminum jewelry wire to leave a rounded end? (An as-yet nonexistent extremely heavy duty nail clipper comes to mind).

In the image below, the wire on the left is an example of what we started with. We've used a grinder to round the end of the wire on the right. If we could just cut it in a round shape and then polish the end, it would save a lot of metal dust about a minute of grinding per end (and we may have hundreds to do).

Two flat metal wires. One is cut straight and the other has been rounded by a grinder.

An answer to this other question mentioned the use of a deburring tool, which may be useful after making a round cut.

This metal piece helps snug a medical mask to a person's nose. We wanted it to be rounded to prevent it from breaking through the material. My wife is making medical masks for friends that are health care providers who are worried about the current mask shortage. Hers is a five layered design that I'll encourage her to post soon. Without this metal piece, air leaks around the nose.

UPDATE: "Normal" toenail clippers actually worked well enough. I hadn't thought about actually trying them, but after the accepted answer below suggested something we thought flimsier than toenail clippers, we went ahead and gave toenail clippers a try.

  • Is 5mm the thickness or width of the strips?
    – Joachim
    Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 16:33
  • 1
    @Joachim Wide (I edited it into the question just now). Good question. Thanks! Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 18:04
  • It would also be worth editing in the thickness
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 13:16
  • 1
    Could you adjust the design so that the flat end is acceptable? What does the end go in to? Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 21:02
  • @AndrewMorton The metal piece helps snug a medical mask to a person's nose. We wanted it to be rounded to prevent it from breaking through the material. Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 12:51

6 Answers 6


I popped out a 'net search using "scalloped edge shears" and found a variety of sewing related cutters that may work, if your material is thin enough.

The first link I selected, from Amazon, has a user question regarding the size of the scallop. It's 5 millimeters, although there are others with 3 and 7 mm sizes according to my search results.

It's important to note that the edge on the downstroke will probably have a bit of a burr, but one can remove the burr with a few strokes of abrasive material such as sandpaper. The shears will not last long cutting aluminum, but may provide for a few hundred cuts before needing replacement.

scallop shears image

It's important to note that you'll have to carefully align a 5 mm wide strip with a 5 mm wide cut to ensure you get a smooth profile. It might be more practical (easier) to use a 7 mm scallop to provide a bit of leeway.

A jig of sorts holding one handle of the shears braced against a surface, along with a guide channel to place the material consistently will facilitate production.

  • 1
    Not bad in theory, but having used these, they're way too flimsy to cut wires
    – Allison C
    Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 13:37
  • I never tried these, but your suggestion got us seriously thinking about trying out "flimsy" tools, which led to actually trying a pair of toenail clippers, which actually worked well. Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 1:42
  • The model above probably won't work for long. But you do get more heavy duty pinking shears that are used by furniture upholsterers rather than dress makers. The pair I use belonged to my grandmother and has during its 50+ years of life been used to cut leather, plastic and sheet metal, strip wire, remove nails from wood ... when it needs honing, we just cut a few sheets of aluminium foil and it's sharp and ready to go again.
    – Gwyn
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 20:15

As you're only working in thin aluminium, I suggest a gouge chisel. It will need sharpening fairly often (a diamond file is probably easiest) to go through easily but should do a good job. Use scrapwood clamped down securely as your anvil.

I don't have a gouge, but I've tested a straight chisel successfully. My scrap aluminium is 3mm thick and a cut of about 8mm long took a couple of blows with a carpenter's mallet on the back of my roughest (not very sharp, as well as chipped) chisel. This is bigger than your cut, so you should be able to do it in a single blow. An offcut of oak worktop was a much better anvil than softwood: the cut was easier and the burr on the back much less. If doing a lot you may wish to make a jig, or at least attach a fence/length guide.

The heavy-duty nail clippers you were thinking of do exist, but I suspect that they'd push the strip out when you squeeze them.

There are also curved tin snips, but ones as curved as this old pair are rare nowadays.


I think the best option are sheet metal cutting shears, either manually handled ones (like heavy duty scissors), or electrical ones (power tools), although the latter one seems a little overkill for these small strips.

Here is a demonstration video of both.

You can get quite clean cuts with the 'scissors' variant.

A variant of these, referred to as 'tin snips' or 'aviation snips', seem to be a perfect match for your intended use.


Pure Aluminum melts at 660°C so a soldering iron won't be enough, I suggest you to use a Blow Torch that can reach a temperature of 1300°C, if you keep the wire vertical and melt it the end of the cable would result in a perfect round. Be careful, droplets are very hot, it's much worse than a classic soldering burn!

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aluminium is very soft, maybe you can use some kind of press to get it into shape?

  • 1
    I thought that too, but couldn't find one the right shape. With machine tools and steel stock it would be possible to fabricate something, but that's engineering rather than craft!
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 16:58
  • @ChrisH - that would still qualify as craft, just with bigger tools. Answer seems close, you could use a press to make the round cut. It would have to be a steel cutter either way, and since Al is soft, you could use a small hand press with a concave cutter 5mm wide to nip the ends off the strips.
    – rebusB
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 21:33
  • @rebusB, you're right in a way, but from snipping aluminium to machining steel is a step too far for me in the context given in the question. With the facilities in work I could design a punch with integrated length stops that would do a fast and clean job, but even in my well-equipped garage I couldn't
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 6:32

Ok all you need to do is either get a bag of glue sticks put them in something like a tuna fish can use a sterno can for heat or however you choose to heat the can of glue sticks cut your strips dip the ends in the hot glue im sure the more you keep the hot glue as liquid as possible the thinner the material left after dipping let cool or rapidly put in cool water to instantly set the glue if you have any streamers use a heat gun to quickly clean up the excess streamer/ problem solved think of a bobby pin and how the ends are on one to prevent it cutting skin when put in hair in fact get one and pull the end off and you will see why bobby pins look the way they do there is many other ways to do what your asking you can take a pair of plyers and a dremil with a cut off wheel and grind one face of the plyers jaws smooth the other jaws do the same except you leave a raised section that looks like this U a little profileing to give the shape of the U when viewed from The side it looks like this V hope this helps

  • 3
    There is a lot of unuseful information here, like the whole glue-in-a-can concept. Punctuation would be a very welcome addition, too. Can you edit your answer, please?
    – Joachim
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 17:29

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