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Ever wonder how pros cut those huge cables you see in commercial electrical installations? Here’s the kind of tool they reach for: a power tool that’s like a motorized, ratcheting version of your limb pruner. Greenlee’s ES1000 (pictured) features a 2-1/8″ opening that can cut through any copper or aluminum wire — sheathed or not — that you can stick through its maw.

It draws a tad bit of juice to get the job done, though. It’ll make 35 cuts of the big copper stuff on a single charge. And Greenlee calls it “compact” even though it weighs about 7-1/2 pounds.

I find it a little interesting that we’re not seeing a lot of innovation in terms of lithium ion in these type of commercial tools. Is it because the specialty companies like Greenlee don’t sell enough to justify the research expense? Or are these tools just more than enough for the people who buy them?

One thing’s certain: They’re not cheap. Expect to bay around $1,200 for one. (Though honestly, I suspect if you already knew what one of these is, you probably already own one.)

ES1000 Cable Cutter [Greenlee] (Warning: PDF Link)
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


12 Responses to Cutting Big-Ass Cable The Easy Way

  1. Toolhearty says:

    Actually, last time we had a big cable installation job, the contractor handed out a bunch of limb pruners to their electricians (they were cheaper than cable shears).

  2. lowly says:

    I’ve used a mallet and (heavy duty) knife before, which works quite well. Now that I think about, an anchored, shaped paper cutter with cheater bar might work well also as far as no-power tools go.

  3. george says:

    that thing looks exactly like a car window lifter setup. and i’ve almost lost a few fingers to them. probably where the idea came from. lifter setup and a car battery and yer set to go.

  4. joe says:

    a sawzall or metal cutting skill saw works really well and is quick

  5. Chris says:

    Bet a recip + metal-cutting blade makes a helluva lot more mess and noise than this (or any of the other three options mentioned so far), though.

    Toolhearty: I like the tree loppers idea. Those blades are probably fairly inexpensive to sharpen and/or replace, too, aren’t they?


  6. dm says:

    in the biz we also use portable band saws for this pretty often.

    most of the time you don’t need a motorized version of this kind of tool unless you’re cutting big cable all day long every day. the handheld non-motorized ratcheting kind works just fine for the cables I’ve cut (up to 600mcm so far)

    this is a tool mainly for either industrial electricians or guys who work for the local power company, not for most construction electricians.

  7. Jason says:

    dm is spot on. We use the ratcheting handheld cable cutters for most big stuff. Who the hell uses a bandsaw, sawzall, or other mentioned above LOL. My boss would laugh at that thing, and say, grow some muscles and use the regular one. At $1200 you could buy almost 6 ratcheting cable cutters and probably just hand it out to the crew and have it done faster.

  8. Wayne D. says:

    I use slightly smaller one with a ballscrew drive at work. I use them to build power cable harnesses for network equipment I test. Always keep an extra battery charging, they are power hogs. They are also handy for cutting a bunch of smaller wires too, just tie up a bundle and cut them all at once.

  9. rob says:

    cordless sawzall for mcm250 and up or my hand held large cable shears
    for 250 and smaller I don’t own a ratcheting cable cutter I do how ever own
    a sawzall and a good collection of batteries

    greenlee and others should really just buck up and use a makita or dewalt
    battery system so that this sort of tool could be bought to add to my already large
    collection of cordless tools (makita)

    I think ingrosal rand also makes these and may be reselling to greenlee
    but the only people around here with them are pretty much the utility guys
    who get their tools payed for

  10. Alan says:

    Here’s a question not related to the review but I figure the right guys are looking at it. I’m trying to find a small (6″) piece of a huge communications cable. Once of the old ones with hundreds of conductors (6 or 7″ circumference) to use as a prop in a class. Any ideas? Don’t know or have access to anyone that is in telecom and I didn’t find anything on eBay. Thanks.

  11. matt says:

    @ Rob

    I’ve always thought about building and marketing battery adapters (like dewalt to whatever oddball greenlee or burndy cutter/crimper/whatever.

    Feel free to take my idea, patent it and make millions…

  12. Ben says:

    Where these powered cable cutters really shine are when you are making up a panel.

    A bandsaw or metal cutting circular saw works fine for quick and dirty cuts to length.

    A set of manual shears work fine when you’re not dealing in volume.

    But when you’re elbows deep in a distribution panel, dressing in 250s and 500s, and cutting the cable to exact length to go into your lugs, you need something that is easier to handle/control, more precise, and that you can use one handed.

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