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What Are Excavator Shears?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

One of the many optional attachments for the excavator are the excavator shears. These shears are actually very high-strength cutting jaws that mount on the boom and stick in place of the bucket on an excavator. The excavator shears are able to cut through pipe, steel bar and concrete. Acting much like a pair of super-duty scissors, the excavator shears can cut through reinforcing bar (re-bar), tires and other materials often found on a construction site. Used primarily for cleanup and demolition, the shears are also prime candidates for scrap processing and breaking up concrete sidewalks.

Many construction job sites are located within residential areas and noise is a specific concern when demolishing buildings and other structural components. The use of excavator shears instead of air hammer attachments is often a welcome option when removing sidewalks and other structural components. The excavator shears allow the excavator operator to simply grab and cut the concrete sidewalk sections instead of pounding them with an air hammer. This usually makes the job much more palatable for residents who live close to the project. The shears can also be used to cut through any re-bar that happens to be inside of the concrete.


Mounting to the same hydraulic system used by the excavator bucket, the excavator shears require no additional hydraulic cylinders or controls to operate. The excavator shears mount to the excavator stick using the same pins that the bucket used and are operated using the same controls as the bucket. This allows the excavator operator to open the jaws, grasp the object requiring cutting, and close the jaws forcefully to complete the cutting action. The shears are available in different sizes, which are related to the size excavator the attachment is intended to be attached to. Often, an experienced operator is able to pick up sections of pipe with the shears and move or stack them in an orderly fashion.

Some of the better excavator shears pivot in a 360-degree circle, allowing the shears to pull and cut pipe and re-bar that may be exposed and coming from any number of directions. The pivoting or rotating excavator shears add another dimension to the capabilities of the excavator in a demolition role. The rotating shears allow the excavator operator to reach high into a steel structure and cut steel spans with precision, removing independent pieces of steel bar stock in a specific order prior to completely toppling the structure.

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