We were recently given the opportunity to test out one of Bullet Tools’ siding shears (the company makes shears for siding, flooring, and insulation). Over the course of several months this past fall and winter we tested Magnum Shear #620 – a 20-in. version that can cut material up to 1-in. thick and includes two bevel guides. We used the Bullet siding shear over the course of several months to completely reside a large farmhouse with 5 1/4" x 12’ James Hardie Fiber Cement Siding. Talking to our guys in the field, there were many features they loved, and a few tweaks that they felt could make a great tool even better. This type of cutter is often referred to as a “guillotine cutter”. Gruesome as the reference is, it’s pretty accurate. A super stiff, very sharp blade mounted beneath a lever shears the material when pressure is applied on the lever. The resulting cut is crisp and smooth, and this method allows the user to skim material off in very small increments.
Accurate, Clean, and Dust-Free Cuts
With a focus on jobsite cleanup, a strong pro for us as well as the homeowner was no dust. Especially given the new rules on silica, the no-dust feature just can’t be beat. And compared to our traditional cutting method, which required huge amounts of effort to contain dust, the simplicity of this tool’s design made using it a nice change of pace for us. The lever system allowed for a full day of use without fatigue. Additionally, the cuts were very clean and precise, even down to 1/16”. The Bullet cut very cleanly even at sharp angles. While it took a moment to set the angle, once an angle was found, repeated cuts were very simple. And one more nice thing about this and other similar type models is that it doesn’t require any power. So there’s no noise, and no cords to trip over or deal with either.
Room for Improvement
Angle cuts took some time to setup because the blade and table do not swivel. Instead, to cut an angel you have to move the side arms, which pivot and tighten via thumb screws. And even when mounted on the stand (which is sold separately), you still have to find a way to support the material. We set up a series of saw horses around the circumference of the Bullet to help support our angle cuts on 12’ siding. Checking for square frequently was necessary because we found that after making repeated cuts the stops would move. Possibly incorporating a snap point feature or swivel base similar to that of a chop saw would increase the versatility and downtime between angle cuts on this tool. And while we loved the built in laser it was tough to see; a green laser would have made it much more functional for outdoor daylight usage.
This is an excellent tool that’s substantially well-built and durable, and performs very well on the jobsite.. With some minor tweaking in angle operation and other features (tighter stop locks) to improve overall efficiency, we could see this tool elevating to replace chop saws in siding installation. Priced at $1099, it’s not an inexpensive investment. But given the ease of use, and all of the pros outlined above, I do feel like it’s good value. I might hesitate to spend $189 on the stand, though. Like the shear, the stand is very well made as well but we struggled to find its usefulness. Our crew preferred setting the shear up on a site-built table and supporting the material as needed. The company says that one shear blade outlasts over 20 saw blades. We didn’t note a significant drop in blade performance, so our sense is that these blades will hold up for quite a while. A replacement blade sells for $189 online.
With a 20” wide base, there’s plenty of room to cut wide material – even at an angle. For example, the max. cut capacity for an 8-in. wide board is 6/12 pitch. Though we only tested this model out on fiber cement siding, the manufacturer lists these materials as suitable – all with a maximum thickness of 1-in.:
- Siding, Fiber Cement Board
- Siding, OSB
- Siding, Pressboard Lap
- Siding, Vinyl
- Siding, Wood
- Trim, Fiber Cement
- Trim, OSB
- Trim, Vinyl
- Shingles, Tar or Wood
Kyle Diamond is the owner of New Dimensions Construction in Millbrook, NY.