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Best Pliers

Updated November 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 23 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 129 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best pliers

    Last Updated November 2018

    Whether you work on cars, do your own plumbing, tackle projects and repairs around the house, or make jewelry, you need a reliable pair of pliers. From gripping and twisting to tightening and loosening, pliers serve countless purposes for professionals and DIY-ers. They are a necessary tool in any toolbox.

    However, there are different types of pliers for different tasks, and some designs are more suitable for heavy-duty jobs and some for quick repairs. With so many pliers available, how can you be sure you pick the best pair for your needs?

    That’s where BestReviews comes in. It’s our mission to help you find the top products for your home. Keep reading our shopping guide for everything you need to know about pliers before you buy.

    If you do a variety of projects and repairs around your home, workshop, or garage, consider investing in several types of pliers so you always have the tool to match the task you need to tackle.

    Types of pliers

    Slip-joint pliers

    Slip-joint pliers have an adjustable joint that can be slipped into various locking positions to increase or decrease the span of the jaws. These tough pliers are ideal for a wide variety of applications around the house. They feature bowed handles for easy gripping and grooved jaws for holding objects tightly. These basic pliers are the most practical type for many home uses.

    Needle-nose pliers

    As you might infer from the name, needle-nose pliers are designed for gripping small objects with their long, thin jaws. They are commonly found in electricians’ tool bags, as they are useful for gripping and holding small metal components and wires.

    Needle-nose pliers are typically shorter than other types of pliers. They come in several sizes, and some have grooved or serrated jaws. Not only are these pliers ideal for working with small nuts, bolts, and screws, but they also come in handy for crafting and making jewelry.

    Flat-nose pliers

    Flat-nose pliers are similar to needle-nose pliers, with the exception of the jaws. The flattened shape of the jaws is meant for tight spaces and bending or manipulating objects that require a wider grip. Some styles feature smooth jaws, while others have serrated edges to accommodate a variety of uses. Flat-nose pliers are best for working with wires and small components, crafting, and jewelry making.

    Water-pump pliers

    Water-pump pliers are also called multi-grip pliers, tongue-and-groove pliers, arc-joint pliers, pipe spanners, and simply pump pliers. These pliers are a mainstay of plumbers. Their locking, adjustable jaws are grooved and made to fit around pipes.

    In addition to plumbing applications, water-pump pliers also come in handy for numerous other gripping tasks, including turning and tightening bolts, grasping objects in awkward areas, and securing just about any object the jaws can fit around. These pliers have lengthy handles that provide excellent leverage, and they come in various sizes for a wide range of tasks.

    Locking pliers

    You may know these pliers as Vise-Grips, the popular brand name for the tool. Or perhaps you refer to them as lever-wrench pliers or mole grips. These names are interchangeable for locking pliers, which are built for heavy-duty applications that require a firm, reliable grip. With locking pliers, the joint is adjustable and positions can be locked into place by turning a screw located on one of the handles. The grip is easily released using a lever.

    Locking pliers are practical for numerous jobs, from welding to automotive repairs to crafting with larger, heavier objects. They come in different sizes with various jaw configurations to fit almost any task that requires a sturdy grip that can be securely locked.

    Lineman’s pliers

    Lineman’s pliers are designed for heavy-duty work, with a stocky build, fixed joint, grippy jaw grooves, and tough materials, such as thick handle grips, for added protection. They are also known as electrician’s pliers because they are made for cutting, bending, and manipulating many types of wires and cables.

    In addition to their trustworthy grip, most lineman’s pliers also have a wire-cutting feature, or a side cutter. Some have additional features, such as notches and crimpers, for accomplishing other necessary tasks when handling wires, lines, and cables.

    EXPERT TIP

    Some pliers feature contoured handles, which provide added comfort when working with the tool.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Pliers with cutting features are useful for more than just electrical work. This handy capability makes them practical for crafts that involve working with wires or cables.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Features to consider for pliers

    Sturdy craftsmanship

    Pliers should be sturdily constructed of a durable metal that can stand up to the pressure of repeated use. Most pliers are steel alloys that resist breaking, rusting, and corroding. Some feature added metals, such as chromium, nickel, and vanadium, for extra strength.

    Jaw grooves

    Most pliers have jaws with a pattern of grooves to provide a strong grip that won’t slip. Some pliers have serrated jaws for added gripping, stripping, and cutting power.

    Coated handles

    The handles of most pliers on the market have some type of coating, such as rubber or a dense foam-like material, to make working with the tool more comfortable. Also called grips, coated handles prevent your hands from slipping off the pliers while you work.

    Size

    Regardless of the type of pliers you are considering, most come in a variety of sizes to suit various needs. For instance, you may need pliers that are just a few inches long to work on crafts. Or, for a major job, you may need pliers that are 12 inches long or longer. The right combination of handle and jaw length will deliver the perfect balance of strength and leverage.

    Cutting capabilities

    Some pliers are like having two tools in one thanks to a handy cutting feature, which can trim wires and cables. This feature is commonly found on pliers designed for specific trades, such as lineman’s pliers for electrical work.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    In addition to projects that require compressing and bending, locking pliers also come in handy as clamps. Because they can be locked firmly in a variety of positions, they can hold components together in an emergency or while other repairs are being completed.

    Prices for pliers

    The price you can expect to pay for a quality pair of pliers varies depending on the type.

    Needle-nose and flat-nose pliers are the most affordable, ranging from around $7 to $15.

    Slip-joint, water-pump, locking, and lineman’s pliers are pricier, ranging from around $6 to more than $50. You can find durable pliers from reputable brands in the neighborhood of $14 to $30.

    Tips

    • While pliers definitely come in handy for gripping hardware like nuts and bolts, care must be taken. Too much pressure, especially when using pliers with serrated or heavily grooved jaws, can strip away the material and potentially damage or ruin the hardware.

    • Take good care of your pliers to make sure they last for years, if not decades, of work. Keep pliers clean and dry in between uses, and lubricate the joint as needed. Store them in a safe place so they are ready to grab and use when you need them.

    • Make sure you have the appropriate pliers for the project you need to complete. Don’t expect water-pump pliers to handle jobs that require manipulating wire, just like you wouldn’t use lineman’s pliers to do plumbing work.

    • Remember that needle-nose pliers are not built for heavy-duty use. Attempting to use them to bend heavy-gauge wire or clamp down on thick metal components can bend or break their delicate tips.

    • Don’t forget to protect yourself while using pliers. Never use pliers to cut or bend live or hot wires, and be sure to wear eye protection when bending and cutting metal wire.
    Always keep in mind the jobs that pliers are meant to do to keep from damaging them. Pliers aren’t meant for hammering, bending, or prying jammed objects.

    FAQ

    Q. How important are the grips when it comes to using pliers?

    A. It’s important to find a pair of pliers with coated grips. Not only does the coating add cushioning to the handles, but it also improves leverage and reduces slippage. Some grips, such as those on pliers used for electrical work, may even protect against minor shocks.

    Q. What’s a good length for pliers that will be practical for a variety of uses around the house and garage?

    A. Pliers are available in a range of lengths, but not everyone needs a short pair for intricate work or extra-long handles for heavy-duty leverage. For most work around the house and garage, pliers in the eight- to 10-inch range are ideal.

    Q. I need pliers for minor plumbing repairs, but I also occasionally do other types of home-improvement projects. Will I be able to use the same pliers for any type of work?

    A. You will probably need two different types of pliers. For example, if you are working on a task and feel that your pliers aren’t giving you proper leverage or strength, chances are you either need a different type or larger size. It’s a good idea to invest in water-pump pliers and either lineman’s pliers or slip-joint pliers so you have the type you need for a variety of tasks. You can also buy pliers sets.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Katherine
      Katherine
      Editor
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor

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