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Hagerty Employee

Wrenchin’ Wednesday: Make your own flush cutters at home—for free

We’re a slightly more addicted to zip ties than we’re comfortable admitting. These handy strips of plastic are invaluable for organizing and fixing just about anything on a car. While a litany of impromptu fixes spring to mind, it’s their use in a more premeditated job—organizing things under the hood—that we’ll talk about today.


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New Driver

Thanks for the great tip.  I don't have a flap wheel for my angle grinder so I will use my bench grinder to remove the bulk of the material and finish with a file. Being careful to 'social distance' if the neighbor comes over to check out the noise I'm making.

Advanced Driver

I have three pairs of flush cutters, some people call them Nippy Cutters, I will have to move the most worn out set from the electronics use only or your hand will fall off and die box to the automotive and general use tool box for cutting zip ties. Good tip.


As an electrician, now retired, I've installed miles of cable in cable tray in the Detroit area auto plants.  T&B makes a little tool about $25.00 for cinching and cutting nylon ties.  The trick with this tool is to pull the tie up tight, then give it a twist.  That cuts the tie and won't leave a razor blade tip, requiring a box of bandaids.


Now a special tool for installing, then cutting wire tie tails is nice, the cheap option for tightening and cutting wire ties is a pair of lineman pliers, or even regular pliers.  Just pull the tie up tight with the pliers and give it a twist with the pliers close to the wire tie. One turn is usually all it takes. 


Nothing worse than sticking your arm down past wire bundles on someone's car, only to get bit by sharp zip ties. One restoration shop I worked at had a very sharp (no pun intended) wiring and electronics guy that had never heard of flush cutters. I bought him a six dollar pair from Radio Shack just to save my own skin.

Knipex makes some nice ones in different sizes.


I have had trouble with ties pulling back when you clip them to close to lock.  I found that a small melt after you clip them takes the sharp edges off and leaves a bubble that does not pull back through latch.  I keep some of the little (cheap) BIC type gas lighters that work perfect for this.  Also handy for lots of other uses where an end or edge needs smoothing.