Pin header sizing machine

[Ammon Allgaier] built a tool that can break apart pin headers with a high level of precision. In the video after the break he demonstrates the built-in features. They include an adjustable stop to select the number of pins you’d like in each chopped segment. There’s also a small groove in the input side which the plastic frame of the header rides in. Just insert until it is touching the stop, and push down to break the header at the correct location. A couple of springs return the cutting tooth to its resting position, allowing you to make quick work of chipping up a 40-pin blank. This machine will become a nice companion for that automatic wire cutter.

This is great for single headers but we’ve long been on the lookout for a reliable way to snap off double pin headers. Far too often we make mistakes when trying to use two pair of pliers. If you know of a better way, please share your method in the comments.


  1. wwwhizz says:

    I always use nail-clippers. Works like a charm.

  2. skitchin says:

    Nice! I always have a hard time getting clean breaks. Looks easy enough to make

  3. Amperand says:

    “There’s also a small grove in the input side…”
    >< "There's also a small groove in the input side…"

  4. realEngineer says:

    2 words….hot knife

  5. spiderwebby says:

    2 more words: flush cutters.

  6. alex says:

    x-acto knife

  7. fartface says:

    It wont work on double row or triple row headers.

    Epic fail.

  8. Chris says:

    Last time I did headers, I cut them on my scroll saw, just because it was handy. Worked great.

  9. osgeld says:

    x-acto saw for me

  10. Garreth says:

    I line mine up with one of those razor scraper things for paint. mine is nice and straight from the back of the handle to the end of the razor, so if I cant do it by hand, a good tap with a hammer will push the blade cleanly through the headers.

  11. Macpod says:

    karate chop

  12. Karl says:

    Modify a Weller soldering Gun – replace the standard tip [FYI - I make replacement ones from a length of #14 copper wire flattened at the tip area and bend to shape]. A length of nichrome wire between the two terminals of the gun make a hot wire cutter for the headers.

  13. vtl says:

    I use a screwdriver as a chisel. I line it up and hammer it with a heavy pair or pliers. I like using tools for non intended purposes. But seriously, it actually gives a pretty clean edge for double row headers

  14. Alex B says:

    Screwdriver/Chisel and Hammer for me as well.
    No wrong way to break a header.

  15. MoJo says:

    You can separate two or three at a time with two pairs of pliers. Just make sure you use them to grip either side of where you want the split and there is no way the break can form anywhere but where you want it.

    Alternatively you can do the same sort of thing with a vice and one pair of pliers.

  16. I just use fingers and sometimes teeth… that said ths is a very elegant design, Leonardo da Vinci would be proud :)

  17. meh says:

    ummmmmm. it needs an ardunio. Right now it has absolutely no blog cred.

  18. Eirinn says:

    Just snap them off using a pair of pliers – there’s absolutely no need to cut them… well ok i guess if you cut them you avoid those annoying ones where it snapped off a little too much.

  19. HackerK says:

    Over Engineered.

  20. Tom says:

    I’ve never really considered any way to cut header, other than flush cutters (kudos spiderwebby), any decent set of cutters will make quick work of single, double or triple (yes, triple) headers.

    Though this is obviously handy for large quantities of single row header, and it’s quite nicely made = job well done. +1.

  21. Jake says:

    LOL. This takes a simple task that can be quickly performed by hand, and makes it a complex task which requires a large wooden apparatus.

    This is like killing a mosquito with an ancient black powder cannon. It’s not just overkill, it’s a pain in the ass!

  22. DarkFader says:

    What about a veroboard cut in half, perhaps double height for strength. Then place the header and bend the two halves.

  23. Seshan says:

    >x-acto knife
    >nail clippers
    >hot knife

    I just use my freaking fingers.

  24. whoolie says:

    I use a single pair of pliers and the edge of a table.

  25. Fallen says:

    +1 for flush cutters.

    But this is a nifty little machine, kudos.

  26. borgar says:

    what, wirecutters going out of fashon?

  27. Jakezilla says:

    If you were building a bunch of boards and needed say 150 of the exact same header I can see something like this being extremely useful. A sharp X-Acto and a cardboard covered work surface is all I have ever needed. Diagonal pliers if I don’t care about the smashed plastic on the end.

  28. Lucky says:

    Needs automation

  29. James Jarvis says:

    We use hundreds and hundreds of headers at my business. It is way more economical to buy longer headers and cut to length than each exact size. Gotta go check out the device. Thanks!

  30. tc says:

    +1 for fingers, but mine are really small. it’s pathetic.

  31. strider_mt2k says:

    Okay, but can you re-size 2.5mm spacing down to 2mm?

    I’m trying to scrounge the other pin header to put in my Spy Gear Video Trakr and the 2.5mm stuff is all over the place. I just can’t seem to find any industrial stuff in our scrap area with the small stuff in it right now. :|

    Meh. It’ll come around.
    Something always does. ;)

  32. Aviator747 says:

    Hobby Razor Saw

  33. Bill D. Williams says:

    @ the dudes saying “I use a __________”

    Yea, but you don’t do several hundred at a time, do you?

  34. Jack Sprat says:

    This is like an ugly stapler with a way to adjust how many staples come out at a time.

  35. jeditalian says:

    Use the Force.

  36. Ben says:

    Pretty sweet construction. Still, who really has the space on their bench to devote to a machine like this? If it isn’t taking up that precious, very accessible space, it is certainly a lot more work than using a knife or just hands.

  37. Tyler says:

    I definitely see the usefulness in large builds. This could be handy at work.

    I’ve always used the plier method, but many times I get in a rush when breaking off multiple of the same size and make a mistake or two. So this could definitely be useful when breaking hundreds of headers. We never oder the exact size of header either, so breaking is always necessary.

  38. Nathan says:

    seems like the adjustment bit is a bit awkward and would require fine tuning each adjustment.
    Maybe you could use an example pin header, and use the pins themselves to control the spacing, so that the adjustment would be a simple lift and set onto the appropriate number of pins.

  39. Nathan says:

    The knife could be stationary, and the stop held in place by another one or two strips of headers.

  40. McGuiver says:

    I just use my pocket knife & my wife’s wooden cutting board. I may use 2 rows worth in a year. Way to much work to build a machine to do this. It is a good idea if you have time to kill.

  41. biozz says:

    i use wire cutters for this … i thought they were built to cut them with wire cutters O_o

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