Aviation shears are the tool of choice for cutting sheet metal. They can usually handle up to 18 gauge CRS (cold rolled steel) or 22 gauge SS (stainless steel). Because every cut is different, manufacturers have been color-coding scissor handles for years. You want to use the correct scissors because those color coded aviation scissors are not for show. The color you choose should match the specific cut you need to make.
Sheet metal parts have very sharp edges when cut. It also becomes very difficult to maneuver and cut without the right tools. When trying to cut clockwise, the last thing you want is a pair of straight scissors. Steel does not bend easily. Using the right tool for the job will save your hands and save you time.
It goes without saying that you should use cut resistant gloves for cutting sheet metal. Having the right tools can make all the difference. The industry associates three basic colors with various types of clips:
- Red Handle – For making "left" or counterclockwise cuts in sheet metal.
- Green Handle – For making "right" or clockwise cuts in sheet metal.
- Yellow Handle – For straight cuts in sheet metal.
Companies such as Milwaukee Tool have also introduced white to indicate seaming and crimping tools. However, there are some exceptions for simple colors. For example, you can use scissors with yellow handles to cut nice wide arcs out of a piece of metal. Likewise, you can grab a pair of green or red scissors for straight cuts. Some people think that color screenshots are suitable for whether the user is left-handed or right-handed. That's not true. A pair of Green snips can only snip straight or straight curves. The same goes for the red scissors with the left curve – it doesn't matter which hand you hold them with.
Final Thoughts on Cracking the Color Code of Aviation Tin Clippers
Some yellow straight cuts come with an offset. Tools such as 45 degree Milwaukee Offset Shears place the handle up and away from the cut. These are ideal and my go-to type for longer cuts in sheet metal. Everyone should have at least one set of two-piece shears in their shop, shed, or tool bag.
about the author
Clint De Boer
When he's not playing with the latest power tool, Clint DeBoer enjoys life as a husband, father, and avid reader—especially the Bible. He loves Jesus, has a degree in recording engineering, and has been involved in multimedia and/or online publishing in one form or another since 1992.
Clint's career spans nearly the entire spectrum of audio and video production. After graduating top of his class with an Associate Degree in Recording Engineering, he began working in 1994 at the renowned Soundelux Studios, one of the largest post-production houses specializing in feature film and television audio. Clint has worked on countless feature films, honing his skills as a dialogue editor, foley editor and sound designer. Years later, he moved into the ever-expanding field of video editing as a senior AVID video editor for three years.
Clint DeBoer has worked extensively with clients including Universal Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Paramount Home Entertainment, NASA, Universal Studios, Planet Hollywood, SEGA, NASCAR, as well as film and video editing, color correction and digital video and MPEG compression. He also holds several THX certifications (Technician I and II, THX Video) and is ISF Level II certified.
After founding the publishing company CD Media, Inc. in 1996, he went on to help launch or grow several successful online publications, including Audioholics (where he was editor-in-chief for 12 years), Audiogurus, and AV Gadgets. In 2008, Clint founded Pro Tool Reviews, followed by OPE Reviews in 2017 with a focus on landscape and outdoor power equipment. He also leads the Pro Tool Innovation Awards, an annual awards program that recognizes innovative tools and accessories across industries.
The success of what is now the industry's largest power tool review is a credit to God and his wonderful staff, and Clint DeBoer hopes to see the company continue to grow as it rapidly expands its reach. Pro Tool Reviews rigorously reviews hundreds of hand tools, power tools, and accessories each year to help users stay abreast of the best and newest products in the industry. Targeting everyone from construction industry professionals and tradespeople to serious DIYers, Pro Tool Reviews helps tool consumers shop better, work smarter, and learn which tools and products can help them stay ahead of their game .