Pliers are a very versatile tool that can help complete many repair jobs and projects

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Pliers offer tremendous versatility, but some are used for highly specialized tasks. Because they are so valuable, it is best to keep several types in your toolbox to help you navigate specialized repair jobs more efficiently.

This buying guide highlights the different types of Pliers, along with the uses of each.

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.

Pilers Uses Features and Points to Consider


  • 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


  • Combine the functions of a crimper and stripper
  • Ideal tool for electrical applications
  • May feature sheaving holes for cutting screws


  • 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


  • Designed especially for use with electrical wire
  • Double-sided cutting edges allow for use with all types of wire


  • Cutting and pulling staples from fencing
  • Feature two wire cutters
  • Possess a heavy head that can be used for hammering


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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 Stripper

  • Removing the outer covering from wires
  • Feature adjustable stops to prevent wire from being damaged during stripping