British Army Tin Snips

Tin snips are used to cut thin sheet metal. They are effectively a heavy duty set of scissors that can be used by hand to cut tin, brass or lead sheet. They come in a variety of sizes from small pairs not much bigger than a standard pair of kitchen scissors to extremely large sets such as today’s example which is 14 inches long:

A pair of tin snips works by using a fulcrum to transfer the pressure from the hand to the cutting blades. The longer the handles in relation to the side of the cutting blades the greater the increase in force that will be achieved, therefore as this pair of snips are particularly large, the handles are approximately three times the length of the actual cutting blades. The blades themselves a straight and can be sharpened to ensure a clean cut. The fulcrum can be seen just behind the blades and is a heavy duty rivet:

The length of the handles of the tin snips can be seen stamped into the handles where a 14 is marked:

The opposite handle has the usual /|\ property mark:

A tinsmith is a skilled tradesman who can make items from sheet metal, cutting folding and rolling items before soldering them together to make boxes, funnels, covers and other thin metal items. The trade has always been an important one to the army, although the work undertaken by tinsmiths changed over time. In the nineteenth century the tinsmith often worked on personal items such as canteens, cups and boxes for powder. By the twentieth century the growing mechanisation of the British Army provided new avenues for the tinsmith to ply his trade with bodywork repairs, fuel cans to repair and a myriad of other light metal working projects required by the military.

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