How to cut steel wire rope

Written by c.l. rease
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How to cut steel wire rope
Multiple strands of wire give steel wire rope its strength. (Close up steel wire rope image by Paula Gent from

Steel wire rope consists of multiple strands of wire wrapped to form a cable capable of holding heavy loads, creating structural connections or providing a safety barrier. Cutting steel wire rope incorrectly adds stress to the wire strands within the rope, causing the bond between the strands to weaken. A weakened steel wire rope will fail under stress and cause serious injury to people in the area. Keeping the strands in place during the cut and cutting the rope with the proper tool ensures the cut piece of rope retains its strength.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Paint marker
  • Tie wire roll
  • Linemen's pliers
  • .040 abrasive cut-off wheels
  • Angle grinder

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  1. 1

    Measure the diameter of the rope by holding a tape measure across one end of the steel wire rope. Pull the tape measure along the length of steel wire rope. Mark the cut length on the surface of the rope with a paint marker.

  2. 2

    Place a mark off one side of the cut mark equal to the diameter of the rope. Move to the other side of the cut mark and place a second mark equal to the diameter of the rope to locate the starting location of the seizing.

  3. 3

    Multiply the diameter of the rope to determine seizing length. Align the end of the tape measure with one of the seizing marks and pull the tape measure away from the cut length mark. Place the seizing length mark on the surface of the rope. Repeat the process to mark the second seizing length.

  4. 4

    Unravel eight inches of wire from a tie wire roll. Align the wire with seizing location mark. Pull four inches of wire past the top of the wire rope. Wrap the tie wire tightly around the steel wire rope until you reach the seizing length mark. Cut the tie wire --- leaving four inches extending past the top of the rope --- with a pair of linemen's pliers. Pull both ends of the tie wire together. Twist the ends around each other. Repeat the process on the other marked seizing location.

  5. 5

    Grasp the twisted ends of tie wire with the linemen's pliers. Twist the linemen's pliers to tighten the seizing. Cut excess wire from each secured seizing with the cutters located near the hinged section of the pliers.

  6. 6

    Secure a .040 abrasive cut-off wheel to the arbor of an angle grinder.

  7. 7

    Align the blade with the cut location mark. Cut through the steel wire rope with the angle grinder. Allow the cut to cool for 30 minutes before handling the cut length of steel wire rope.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear eye protection when cutting with an angle grinder.

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