Whenever you use a zip tie to fasten anything, it is good to trim off its tail to make your work look neat and tidy. You can trim off zip ties using different cutting tools including a knife, scissors, and various types of cutting pliers.
The bad thing about trimming off cable ties by cutting is the risk of leaving sharp ends that can cause injuries. Many people who work with zip ties have scars and scratches on their hands and bodies from cuts by razor-sharp edges of badly cut cable ties.
Sharp zip tie ends can also damage your clothing. If the edge catches your shirt or garment, it might tear it off making it unwearable.
But why risk the injuries and damages from zip tie ends while you could avoid the sharp edges? Well, in this article, I share four easy ways to avoid the deadly sharp edges on cable ties.
4 Ways to avoid sharp cable tie edges
Method 1: Trim off cable tie tails with flush cutters.
Flush cutter pliers or electronic snips are precision cutters. They cut things straight and flush with the surface. You can use them to cut off excess cable tie ends flush with the head so that nothing is left protruding dangerously.
Unlike diagonal cutters, flush cutters have flat cutting edges on the outside. This ensures that after making a cut, the part that is left will have a flat surface while the offcut is angled.
In contrast, diagonal cutters have beveled edges on the outside. So, the edges enter a material at an angle leaving behind sharp ends. The beveled edges also make it difficult to use dikes to cut anything flush with the surface.
The only limitation of using flush cutters to remove sharp ends from cable ties is the difficulty to use the pliers in tight spaces. Most flush cutters a small with cutting blades in the same plane with the handles. So, cutting in tight and awkward spaces can be a challenge.
Method 2: Cut off cable tie ends with cable tie cutters
Besides removing zip ties, cable tie cutters are also good for cutting off excess tails from zipties. These specialty cutting pliers are more or less like flush cutters with hooked ends. You can use them to cut off zip tie ends straight and flush without leaving precarious edges.
Unfortunately, zip tie cutters have the same limitation as flush cutters. They are difficult to use to trim off zip ties in tight and awkward spaces. This is because the cutting blades are in the same plane as the handles.
Method 3: Twisting off the tail instead of cutting
One of the best ways to avoid sharp ends on cable ties is to twist off the tails instead of cutting them. This method does not leave any point or edge sticking out.
Follow these steps to effectively twist off the tails of commercial and industrial grade cable ties.
1. Grab your favorite gripping pliers
Grab any pliers with good jaw grips. You can use combination pliers, linesman pliers, needle nose, vise grips, or any pliers you have that can grip tightly.
2. Grip the cable tie tail with pliers and hold
Grip the zip tie tail tightly with your pliers of choice. Try to grip as close to the the cinch-point as possible to avoid leaving a protruding end.
2. Twist off the zip tie tail to clip it off
While gripping the excess plastic tightly, twist it off in one direction until it comes off. You may have to twist 3 – 5 turns before the tail breaks off.
Twisting off excess zip tie ends has two advantages. First, twisting smoothens the cable tie end so that even if an end sticks out by any chance, it will not be sharp and dangerous. Secondly, you do not need a special tool to twist off zip ties. You just need pliers that can grip properly and to know where to grab the cable tie tail.
Method 4: Melting the tail with lighter
You can eliminate the dangerously sharp zip tie ends by melting them with a lighter. This is the most effective way to soften sharp ends of zip tie tails that have already been cut. Unless you want to redo the zip ties.
To smoothen a sharp zip tie end by melting, simply pass the flame of the lighter over the edge. Then tap the end with your finger to flatten it.
As you melt the zip tie end, make sure it does not catch a flame as this might compromise the integrity of the fastener. Sometimes a fire hazard can occur. So, make sure you take all the precautions.
Well, there you have it. Those are the 4 ways to trim off zip tie tails without leaving razor sharp ends. Twisting off the tails is the best way to avoid the sharp ends and melting the ends with a lighter is the best way to remove existing sharp ends. If you have any other hack, please feel free to share it.