Aviation Snips vs. Tin Snips: Which One Do You Need?


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There are a couple of tools available to help you cut sheet metal – aviation snips and tin snips. Cutting sheet metal can be tricky, especially if you need right or left curves where more accuracy is required.

As with any tool, the right one will make the job easy but, which one do you need? Read on, and we’ll explain the difference between them and their uses.

 Tin Snips

These have the appearance of a pair of scissors, only with shorter blades. Tin snips work best to cut straight and long cuts, although you can achieve clean and tidy curves.  

Duckbill snips are used to cut thin sheet metal, but they are better at cutting sharper curves than standard tin snips.

Tin snips are used to cut round ducts as they afford more versatility, but it does depend on the thickness of the metal.  

We highly recommend the IRWIN Tin Snip.

These are easy to use, durable, accurate, and excellent value for money.

Aviation Snips

Of the two, aviation snips are more common. Use these for cutting gutters, metal flashing, and ductwork. They feature a spring-loaded handle that prevents hand fatigue.

There are different models to purchase which will help with straight and curved cuts. To make identification more accessible, many of the handles are color-coded, for example, a red handle for left-angled cutting, green for right-angled cuts, and yellow for cutting straight.

Aviation snips will give you more accuracy and precision. They will also enable thicker metal sheets to be cut.

Are you looking for a quality set of aviation snips? We recommend MIDWEST Aviation.

Available to buy individually or as a set, these are favored by the professional’s thanks to their comfort, accuracy, and value.  


The main difference between tin snips and aviation snips is their accuracy at cutting curves. For thin sheet metal, tin snips will work out just fine. Just watch the thickness as you’ll struggle to cut accurately.

Aviation snips are best for angled cuts and for slicing through thicker gauge metals. A decent set will have the correct color-coded handles to identify a left, right, or straight cut quickly.

Further reading: Best Tin Snips & Aviation Snips – Reviews

Walter Snyder