Upright Aviation Snips

An upright aviation snip is a tool used in an ergonomic-friendly position to cut sheet metals.


Upright aviation snips are an engineering control designed to minimize awkward and forceful hand exertions while cutting sheet metals. Sheet metal workers and other construction workers use aviation snips to cut sheet metal. In many situations, the construction worker must place their wrist in an awkward posture to reach the area to be cut. Aviation snips with the blades offset from the handle, also called upright snips, may help reduce these awkward and painful postures. 


Cutting sheet metal with aviation snip takes a lot of hand force.  You often need to work with your wrist in an awkward position. If you do this work frequently or for long periods of time, you may experience hand or wrist pain. Eventually you may develop a serious injury. 

Upright/offset aviation snips help to maintain the wrist in a neutral position which may reduce the hand force necessary to cut sheet metal. Upright aviation snips are those with the blade offset approximately 90° to the handle. They can be used with the blade up or down. They can produce the same amount of grip force with less effort.

Advantages of upright aviation snips include:

  • Ergonomic design (90° handle and blade) that helps maintain a neutral position at the wrist
  • Makes work in tight over the shoulder areas easier, faster, and less fatiguing
  • Easily rotates around circular cutting patterns
  • Elevates hand and fingers above the surface of the metal for safer cutting
Regardless of the type of snip, use the right size and style of snip for the task. Any snip you use should be sharp and the hinges and springs should be tight. Construction workers should avoid using dull or damaged snips. Where necessary use compound snips, which provide much more power. Some compound snips will increase your cutting strength by 12 times. 
Figure 1. Midwest Snips Upright Aviation Snips

Risks Addressed:

Stressful hand and wrist activity can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as muscle strains; tendonitis, which is inflammation of elbow and wrist tendons; or carpal tunnel syndrome, which is compression of a wrist nerve, resulting in finger numbness and loss of hand strength.  The upright aviation snips can help reduce stressful hand and wrist activity by allowing workers to complete tasks with a neutral hand and wrist position. 

How Risks are Reduced:

An upright snip helps keep your wrist in a more neutral position when working in confined areas or overhead. Keeping the wrist in a straighter potentially reduces the amount of hand force necessary to perform the cut.  This design may also help keep your hand away from sharp metal edges as you make the cut.

Manufacturers report that upright aviation snips reduce the pressure placed on hands compared to other sheet metal cutting tools. The hand force required to use these aviation snips falls far below the industry standard maximum.

An independent published study measured the effect of aviation snip type on wrist posture and muscle exertion. Upright aviation snips used at shoulder height produced optimal wrist position. However, muscle exertion was less when using upright snips at waist height than at shoulder height. The twenty-three sheet metal workers who participated in the study preferred using the upright aviation snips at shoulder height.

Effects on Productivity:

Sheet metal workers frequently sustain injuries to their hand, wrist, and shoulder. Using aviation snips reduces the stress on these areas. 

Additional Considerations:

Improvements found in the newer snips include less space between the handles, soft grips and curved handles.  Using a curved handle can help keep your wrist straight.  A soft grip lowers the pressure on your hand and fingers.  When the space between handles is less, you may be able to get a better grip on the tool.

No pair of snips will work well for every task.  Decide what the job requires and select the correct snips.  Manufacturers make specific snips for left and right cuts, straight cuts, and wide or tight curved cuts.  Manufacturers color-code snip handles for the type of cut they make— yellow for straight, green for right, and red for left. 

There are specific snips for different gauges of sheet metal.  Always wear eye protection when using snips.


Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC and Cassie Malecha, DPT – Eastern Washington University

Hazards Addressed:


Midwest Snips
To obtain information, visit Midwest Tool and Cutlery or contact (800)782-4659 midwest@midwestsnips.com

Klein Tools
To obtain information, visit Klein Tools or contact 800-553-4676 sales@kleintools.com

Return on Investment

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