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Updated August 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
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.Read more 
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best Knipex pliers

Pliers are an essential tool. You can use them to grip, bend, twist, and even cut. They let you work in a tight space, and they do things that no other tool can. When making a list of the best manufacturers on the market, Knipex is often at the top.

Knipex pliers are high-quality tools, and there is a wide variety of models available. To get the one that’s best for you, consider the task you want to perform, from gripping to twisting to cutting. You also have a choice of handles. Some are designed for comfort while others are designed for safety. And when it comes to corrosion prevention, you can choose between chrome-plated and gray atramentized models.

To help you understand the difference between these options and find a suitable pair of Knipex pliers, it’s best to read an in-depth guide that highlights the different features. Also, perusing a top-five list can give you a quick idea of the most popular models.

using pliers
While it isn’t known who invented pliers or when, there is evidence that they were first used more than 5,000 years ago. Those early versions were likely made of wood.

How to buy the best Knipex pliers

How do pliers work?

Pliers are fairly basic tools that can accomplish a wide variety of tasks. But even high-end pliers like Knipex only have three basic parts: handles, joint, and jaws.

Handles: The handles are where you grip the pliers. These need to offer a comfortable, nonslip connection between the hand and the tool. The handles must also be durable because this is where the force is applied.

Joint: The joint is the pivot point across which the force is transferred. Not only does the joint have to be rugged, it must also be tight, allowing for no play between the jaws and the handle so the tool can be precise.

Jaws: The jaws are the parts of the pliers that do the work performing the gripping and/or cutting action. All the force generated at the handles is transferred through the joint so the jaws can work. If the pliers have poor-quality or damaged jaws, they won’t perform as expected.

Types of Knipex pliers

Combination pliers: These are the workhorses of Knipex pliers. They can grip and cut, making them useful in a variety of situations.

Snipe nose pliers: These pliers have a long, narrow nose that makes them useful in situations requiring precision work in tight spaces. Like combination pliers, they can grip and cut. Electricians, jewelers, and other tradespeople find these pliers useful.

Circlip pliers: These pliers have a very specific purpose. They’re used to install or remove retaining rings called circlips. The two basic types are external, which fit on the outside of a shaft and open when squeezed, and internal, which fit on the inside of a shaft and close when squeezed.

Carpenters' pincers: These are used to grasp and remove fasteners, such as nails, staples, and wires. They can also be used to cut these items.

Concreters' nippers: These are primarily used to twist and cut binding wire when laying concrete mesh and reinforcement rods in reinforced concrete.

Cutting pliers: These pliers are required when you need to snip through something, such as hose, wire, or mesh.

Crimping pliers: These are used to press two materials together, such as wires, to create a solid connection.

Electronics pliers: These are precision tools that are used when assembling electronic components. Because they’re smaller than other pliers, they’re also ideal for crafting and jewelry making.

Pipe wrenches: Knipex puts wrenches in its “pliers” category. Wrenches are used to grip and turn fasteners like nuts and bolts. These are also used to grip and twist. Their jaws open wider than those on regular wrenches so they can fit around large items, such as pipes.

“Knipex” is pronounced as a three-syllable word: “kuh-nip-ex.”

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Features to look for in Knipex pliers

Handle covers

Knipex pliers have a few different types of handle covers tailored to specific tasks.

None: Some pliers have no cover so the hand can freely and easily transition to different positions to accomplish different tasks in a single operation.

Dipped: These are the most affordable handled pliers. The handles have a thin coating that makes the pliers easier to hold and provides some protection from the bare steel in cold or hot conditions.

Ergonomic: Pliers with a thicker cover allow greater hand contact with the tool. This reduces pressure points and diminishes the chances of blisters and other injuries.

Insulated: Only insulated Knipex pliers can be used for electrical applications. These pliers meet the requirements of the international standard IEC 60900, which means they're suitable for working live or close to live with voltages up to 1,000 volts (AC) or 1,500 volts (DC).

Electrostatic discharge: These special pliers are designed to safely release electrostatic buildup. This type of handle cover is essential when working with delicate electronic parts that could be damaged by a static charge.

Handle shapes

There are three main handle shapes on Knipex pliers: straight, convex, and curved.

Straight: These handles are required when you need to adjust your hand position while performing a task.

Convex: These handles help you position your hand in a specific location. For most tasks, this shape is adequate.

Curved: These handles provide greater support and more precise positioning. These are a step up from convex handles and are best when greater force is needed.

Corrosion protection

Knipex pliers have two different types of corrosion resistance: chrome plating and atramentizing.

Chrome plating: A chrome-plated finish gives tools a bright, shiny look that makes them easier to see in a dark environment. The plating is durable, but the coating can affect the ability to grip, and the pliers are more expensive than atramentized pliers.

Atramentizing: These pliers cost a little less than chrome-plated pliers and have a darker look. It takes a bit of care and maintenance to keep these tools from corroding, but they grip better than chrome-plated tools.

pliers
DID YOU KNOW?
Knipex originated in Cronenberg, Germany, in 1882. It has been an independent family company since that time.
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Accessories for Knipex pliers

Tool box

Keep your Knipex pliers organized and easy to find in a toolbox suited to your personal preference or occupation.

Tool belt

Don’t risk damaging or losing your pliers by setting them down in your workspace. Keep them within reach and protected in a tool belt, apron, or pouch.

Safety glasses

Loose pieces of wire or other particles can fly up or drop toward your face, especially if you're working overhead. Always protect your eyes with protective eyewear.

Jewelry-making kit

The 5.25-inch Knipex round nose jewelers’ pliers are great for crafting. If you like to make earrings, bracelets, and necklaces, a kit contains all the beads, wires, and fasteners you need in one place.

How much do Knipex pliers cost?

Inexpensive

You can buy a single pair of Knipex pliers for roughly $25 to $50. If you decide that you need more pliers in the future, you can gradually add to your collection.

Mid-range

A two- or three-piece set of Knipex pliers costs between $50 and $100. If you need a pair of insulated pliers for electrical work, they also fall in this general price range.

Expensive

Specialized Knipex pliers can cost over $100. For general home use, once you get into this price range you’re looking at tool sets with a variety of pliers. Also, you can find automotive starter sets and combination packages that include both pliers and wrenches in this range.

While you can purchase spare parts for your Knipex pliers, they aren’t often requested and so aren’t always listed in the sales documents.

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Tips

  • Oil your pliers. You can use any industrial or motor oil to lubricate your Knipex pliers. After applying the oil, wipe the pliers with a soft, dry microfiber cloth. The oil will keep the pliers in good working order and help prevent rust, especially on atramentized tools.
  • Don’t sharpen pliers. While it might be possible to sharpen your Knipex pliers, doing so will negatively impact their functionality. The company’s official stance is that it takes a lot of time and effort and risks damaging the tool, so resharpening isn’t recommended.
  • Check out the company’s website. If you have specific questions about any of your Knipex tools, the company’s website has an extensive collection of data sheets and operating instructions for download so you can educate yourself or your work team on how to use each tool.
  • Protect your working surfaces. If you don’t want to mar the surface of whatever you’re gripping with the pliers, cut the fingers off an old leather glove and slide those pieces over the pliers’ jaws. That way, when you grip the object, the leather will protect the surface from scratches and damage.
choosing pliers
The only Knipex pliers that can be used on or near live electricity are those with insulated handles. The handles are marked with “1000 V,” so you won’t forget which ones they are.

FAQ

Q. Can I use the pliers if the insulation on the handles is cracked?

A. No. Knipex pliers have two layers of insulation on the handles for added safety, and they're rated to protect up to 1,000 volts (AC). However, if the handles are worn, damaged, or cracked in any way, the tool must be discarded. Damage to the handles means the tools are no longer insulated because electricity can travel through the damaged section of the pliers.

Q. What does “atramentized” mean?

A. While the word “atramentous” means “black as ink,” when talking about Knipex pliers, atramentizing is simply another term for phosphating, a process commonly used on components made of steel or iron. The coating reduces wear and helps protect the pliers from corrosion without sacrificing grip. The dark gray Knipex pliers are atramentized, while the silver ones are plated in chrome, which is another process that helps protect against corrosion. In general, chrome offers more corrosion protection but is a slightly slicker surface.

Q. Do I need to buy an extended warranty for my Knipex pliers?

A. No extended warranty is needed because Knipex offers a lifetime limited warranty that, according to the company, protects the original purchaser against deficiencies in materials and workmanship. To learn exactly what type of coverage you have, it’s best to review the warranty policy for your Knipex pliers.

 

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