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Buying Guide

Types of Pliers

Plier Types

Pliers can have either a fixed design or adjustable

  • Fixed or solid-joint pliers have a rivet attached to the pivot that allows them to open only to a set width.
  • Adjustable or slip-joint pliers offer two or more widths to accommodate a wider range of tasks.
  • Handles are used to grip the pliers, a pivot allows the jaws to open and the head grips or cuts the material you are working with.
  • Pliers are designed to transfer the power of your grip from your hand to a more precise point.
  • Pliers can have a long, short or curved nose.
Uses of Pliers

There are approximately 9 different types of pliers and some can duplicate tasks while others are specialized

  • Pliers can tackle a variety of jobs including installing and shaping wire, tightening and loosening nuts and bolts, removing nails and a host of other functions.
  • Not all pliers are designed for electrical work. Make sure the handles are insulated to protect from electrical shock if you use them on or around wires.
  • Protect polished pipes by wrapping a cloth around them prior to gripping with a pair of pliers.
  • Avoid using light pliers for heavy-duty jobs.
  • Use wrenches and other tools for turning nuts when possible.
Description Feature/Benefits Recommended For
all trades tongue & groove pliers Channel Working on larger objects, such as pipes Removing a P-trap Also called angle-nose or groove-joint pliers Feature an adjustable sliding jaw Half of the jaw is curved while the other half is straight Available in multiple sizes
crimpers Crimper/Stripper Combine the functions of a crimper and stripper Ideal tool for electrical applications May feature sheaving holes for cutting screws
Cutting Pliers Cutting Cutting through a variety of wires, bolts and more Removing small nails Also called wire cutters Feature very sharp blades Side cutters may have long, curved or short noses End cutters can be used on wire, rivets and bolts
Electrical Pliers Electrician Designed especially for use with electrical wire Double-sided cutting edges allow for use with all types of wire
all trades specialty pliers Fence Cutting and pulling staples from fencing Feature two wire Possess a heavy head that can be used for hammering
locking pliers Locking Function similar to a wrench Allow for pulling and twisting without risk of losing your grip Sometimes called vise grips Feature a knurl screw that allows you to lock pliers into position Feature a release that disengages the lock Provide greater torque and leverage May have a curved jaw or long nose Serrated jaws provide a better grip
needle nose Needle-nose Working in tight spaces Handy for a wide range of tasks, including cutting small-gauge wire Detail, craft and jewelry work Feature long, slender jaws Pointed tip gets into small areas with ease Some types may be used to cut wires
slip-joint Slip-Joint Working with smaller objects Tightening and gripping applications Feature two curved jaws Often available in both 6" and 8" lengths Joint "slips" to allow jaws to open to two different widths
wire strippers Wire Stripper Removing the outer covering from wires Feature adjustable stops to prevent wire from being damaged during stripping