How the blazes do I cleanly cut external gear / brake cable outer housing ?

Rooster1

I was right about that saddle
Hello.

I need to cut some lengths of cable housing to replace the freyed remains for my road bike.

I have a pair of pliers with a cable cutter, and also a dedicated cable cutter tool - but they just don't bite through the cable outer housing.

When I eventually manage to eat through the threads, I end up with a messy, ragged end.

I guess it is down to the tools ?
 

Jody

Guru
Does your cable cutter look like this?

I normally borrow my friends when needed but this is the only way I've managed to cut them and get them to look anything like neat.

CN-10_004.jpg
 
Location
London
Will watch with interest as I quite often have the same problem, even though I use Park snips as in @Jody 's pic, which are supposed to be good. Maybe there are better ones? For the other problem, the crushed/obstructed inner sheath, i gave up using the pincer bit on the Park tool (mainly meant for crimping I think) and instead use the straight tool from this set of seal pickers:
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/283811414083?epid=182572131&hash=item42147a8043:g:3zIAAOSwZxZeZ2M8#rwid
Quite easy to open up the inner sheath with that so that the cable can run free.

have sometimes wondered about using my Dremel for the cutting - I know some folks recommend.
 
Does your cable cutter look like this?

I normally borrow my friends when needed but this is the only way I've managed to cut them and get them to look anything like neat.

View attachment 612330
+1 for this type of dedicated cable cutter. Second choice is an angle grinder - great on the outer cable, but the inner cable can unravel, so best to solder the area before cutting :okay:
 

T4tomo

Guru
use a park tools cutter as pictured.

  • leave a piece of old inner cable in place as you cut the outer to minimise compression
  • then you need to file the cut end with a flat file to get rid of any "half coil" that is obstructing the inner hole (as you get better at cutting you get less issues with this and is only really an issue on brake cables, given gear outers aren't coiled). Don't skip on this, its key to having a nice smooth end that doesn't fray your inner.
  • then you also might need to tickle the inner liner with a pin / small bradawl / something pointy.
  • use end caps as you fit the new outer.
 
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T.M.H.N.E.T

Disc brakes - Stopping things since 1902
Location
Northern Ireland
Proper cable cutters, snips etc will just flatten the core
 

wonderloaf

Veteran
Will watch with interest as I quite often have the same problem, even though I use Park snips as in @Jody 's pic, which are supposed to be good. Maybe there are better ones? For the other problem, the crushed/obstructed inner sheath, i gave up using the pincer bit on the Park tool (mainly meant for crimping I think) and instead use the straight tool from this set of seal pickers:
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/283811414083?epid=182572131&hash=item42147a8043:g:3zIAAOSwZxZeZ2M8#rwid
Quite easy to open up the inner sheath with that so that the cable can run free.

have sometimes wondered about using my Dremel for the cutting - I know some folks recommend.
+1 for using these picks for opening the outer casing inner bore, I use very similar, think I got mine from Wilkos or The Range. I use a cable cutter from Halfords which gives a nice clean cut. When I cut an inner cable I smear a small amount of super glue on the cut end to stop the wires unraveling, seems to work well.
 

si_c

Guru
Location
Wirral
Proper cable cutters, then use an awl to open the end up and a file to clean up and flatten the end. Takes about 10 seconds longer than using a cable cutter alone.
 

a.twiddler

Über Member
Dremel with a cutting disc. If using wire cutters, one tip is to superglue the part of the cable to be cut to stop it fraying. This is instead of the old school method of soldering it before cutting. One thing I have found to work. Cheap wire cutters will give you 2 or 3 good cuts before they start just compressing the inner cable causing it to fray. If you're only doing it once in a blue moon, buy a new Wilko wire cutter each time, and recycle them afterwards. Cheap enough, though not strictly ecologically sound. Or splurge on an expensive one.
 

wonderloaf

Veteran
Leave a length of old cable in the outer before you cut it, to stop it from compressing :okay:
Wish I'd known this yesterday, re-cabled a new frame and this would have made things a bit easier! :okay:
I've found cable quality has an effect as well, I tried cutting some cheaper (Planet X I think) outers and they seem to give a 'ragged' end which needed quite a bit of work to clean them up, but more expensive Shimano Optislick cables cut straight and square first time, no clean up required.
 
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