Durable, 9-inch model stands up to tough tasks. Contoured grip is comfortable in the hand, and plastic coating helps prevent slipping. Limited lifetime warranty.
Initial operation may be stiff, but this issue resolves itself over time.
Features sturdy 8-inch design for a low price. ProTouch grips provide comfortable padding for increased leverage. Lifetime guarantee.
The cutting feature has a tendency to dull, especially when cutting thick wire.
High-carbon steel construction withstands heavy use. Razor-sharp cutting mechanism. The 9.5-inch length delivers precise leverage. Ideal for electrical and wire tasks.
The quality of the finish doesn't match the strength of the tool. It also has a tendency to rust.
Easy-to-use screw adjusts pressure precisely for sturdy and delicate tasks. Rubber stops, 8-inch design, and streamlined handles are ideal for crafts and glass work.
Consumers comment that they arrive covered in grease. They also tend to rust over time.
A 10-inch model that's both lightweight and rugged. Streamlined design easily fits awkward spaces. Easy to adjust and comfortable to use.
Not as effective on smaller items, because the grip tends to slip off smaller objects.
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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.
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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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