Two models of guillotine shearing machines, one with the drive shaft parallel to the blade and the other with the drive shaft perpendicular to the blade are considered. These machines experience both static and dynamic loading while the shear is in operation. The magnitude of the stress at any location changes as the cutting progresses from one point to another. The main aim of this paper is to compare the static behaviour of the two machines with respect to strength, rigidity and weight, vibrational characteristics and dynamic behaviour under identical operating conditions. © 1998 Elsevier Science S.A. All rights reserved.