Essential Tools for Makers: Compound Lever Tin Snips

Give your free time creative purpose
A pair of compound lever tin snips
They may look humble... but don't be fooled!

"The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt"

- Sylvia Plath

Tin snips are an essential tool for ALL makers and crafters.

Don’t agree? Think again, they REALLY are one of the most useful hand tools you can own!!

Not only will they open up new creative opportunities, they will also save you time and money. But only if you buy the right type…

…that’s right, you absolutely must buy compound lever tin snips and not the basic scissor style of tin snip.

Why?

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Because it’s the compound levers that make these types of snips so powerful, even a gentle squeeze is enough to cut through tin.

They are also surprisingly nimble and precise, their unique cutting edges allow intricate curved shapes to be cut with ease.

This Is How I Use Them

While their primary purpose is to cut through thin sheets of metal, they are exceptionally versatile.

I use them to cut a wide range of materials… like these:

Plastic stuff!
Illustration of the different materials you can cut using compound lever tin snips

I’ve made intricate cogs from the lid from a can of spray paint, and an entire birdfeeder by cutting up a thick plastic folder (1).

Soda cans
Illustration of the different materials you can cut using compound lever tin snips

Soda cans (2) are made from a very thin plastic coated aluminium, they are super easy to cut, but not a great material to work with.

Biscuit tins
Illustration of the different materials you can cut using compound lever tin snips

It’s increasingly difficult to find biscuits that are packaged in tin boxes (3) but if you do… buy them! It’s an awesome resource.

Tin Cans
Illustration of the different materials you can cut using compound lever tin snips

One of my other favourite things to cut are tin cans (4)… especially empty cans of Heinz Baked Beans (yummy!).

More stuff

  1. Vinyl Tiles
  2. Furniture Felt Pads
  3. Wire (upto around 1.5mm)
  4. Wooden stirring sticks
  5. Popsicle sticks
  6. Craft sticks
  7. Tupperware containers
  8. Wellington boots
  9. Space hoppers

Can they really save you money?

Yes, take a look at the tea light holder below… it’s as elegant as anything you might find in a shop, but cost nothing to make!

Tea light lantern made from a tin can
Look what a pair of tin snips can do to a baked bean tin!

If you want to make one, go check out my Tin Can Lantern project.

How much do they cost?

It’s definitely one of the best hand tools I own, excluding my craft knife! If you’d like to look at costs, here’s a link to Stanley’s compound lever tin snips on Amazon.

Written by
Photo of Scott Bedford
Scott Bedford

Maker, Illustrator and Author