If you’re a DIYer, there are some tools you simply cannot be without. One of those tools is pliers. These are hand tools made of metal, like carbon steel, used to grasp, hold, bend, manipulate, rotate or compress an array of materials like wires, bolts, nails or metal sheets.
The general shape is similar to scissors, as they consist of two parts intersecting to create the necessary force. The handles are longer and usually covered in a non-slip rubberized or plastic material. The spring-loaded mechanism is meant to reduce hand cramping. The jaws are generally shorter than the handles and have many specialized shapes for specific tasks.
There are several different types of pliers, each suited to various applications — from home repairs to crafts. Understanding the various types of pliers can help you find the right tool for your next project.
Flat Nose Pliers
Flat nose pliers have flat jaws with serrated tips for a better grip. These are used for holding small objects, bending wires, jewelry making and electronics repair. They are also great for holding nails in place when hammering and pulling out the nails that didn’t go in as straight as intended.
Bent Nose Pliers
These pliers have a fine bent tip and are also serrated for a firmer grip. The bent nose allows better positioning when working with metal jump rings or soldering jewelry or electronics. Bent nose pliers also allow for picking up small items like jump rings in jewelry making or small nuts and bolts in electronics like RC car repair.
Needle Nose Pliers
When flat nose pliers are too bulky to work on that intricate project, needle nose pliers are the preferred pliers. Like their name indicates, the jaws are longer and thinner, allowing them to easily grab and hold smaller, more delicate objects and place them in harder to reach places. These are great for fine jewelry making, placing stones and arranging small objects like beads or rhinestones. The serrated tip ensures a hold on the small object.
Needle Nose Pliers with Side Cutter
Just like the needle nose pliers, these have long and narrow jaws that are tapered at the tip. They’re serrated at the tip as well, and an added feature is the side cutter toward the back of the jaws. This feature allows for working and manipulating wire and cutting it without switching tools.
Long Needle Nose Pliers
Sometimes, a project calls for a specialty tool and long needle nose pliers are one of them. The jaws are narrow and very long when compared with standard pliers. They are used in electronics and jewelry making for delicate placement or manipulation and difficult to reach areas.
Round Nose Pliers and Round Nose Pliers with Side Cutter
These types of pliers have rounded tips, cone-shaped with a flat top. Round nose pliers are perfect for bending and coiling wires. The tips are shorter for better control when making the loops. They are typically used in jewelry making and electrical wiring where making a wire loop is necessary.
As an added option, the round nose pliers are also available with a side cutter. They are a two-in-one tool for looping wire and then cutting it to quickly move on to the next step in the project. They’re great for projects with repetitive steps where not switching between tools helps the work to move along faster.
Wire Cutter Pliers
Sometimes called diagonal pliers, carbon steel wire cutting pliers are made for precise cuts of metal wires or plastic and leather cords. The jaws are shaped more like short scissors; however, the blades do not intersect but meet at the straight edge allowing for that precise snip of rigid materials.
End Nipper Pliers
End nipper pliers are also designed for cutting wires, nails or other materials cleanly from the surface – unlike the pincer, which is meant for grip or pinch in addition to cutting. The end nippers have two angled cutting edges that meet and, with the lever action, they easily cut the wires or cords flush with the surface they’re protruding from.
Another popular type are slip joint pliers. These pliers have an adjustable pivot point that allows them to open in several positions. Crimping pliers are specifically designed to strip and terminate wiring and are mostly used by electricians.
Bigger projects require stronger and bigger pliers. The locking pliers are an American invention from the 1920s that grip and clamp down to lock in place for a more controlled use. They’re a heavy-duty tool available in many sizes.
Fastener pliers are handheld tools with jaws designed to fasten or remove various types of hardware, such as nails, staples, eyelets and rivets. They typically have a spring-loaded mechanism that facilitates easy operation and a non-slip handle for a comfortable grip. Fastener pliers come in various sizes and shapes and are used in construction, upholstery and DIY projects like jewelry making and sewing.
Linesman pliers, also known as combination pliers, are a type of hand tool used for gripping, cutting and bending wires and cables. They have a pair of flat jaws with serrated teeth for a firm grip and wire cutters near the pivot point. They typically feature a comfortable grip and are used for electrical work and by technicians for tasks such as cutting and stripping wire, twisting wires together and tightening nuts and bolts. They are essential for people who enjoy DIY home repairs and renovation.
Water Pump Pliers
Water pump pliers, also called tongue and groove pliers, are a type of hand tool used for gripping pipes, hoses and other round objects. They are also a great alternative to wrenches for turning nuts and bolts. This makes them highly useful for plumbing, automotive and mechanical applications.
They have a pair of flat jaws with serrated teeth that can be adjusted to different widths, which makes them versatile for gripping objects of various sizes. They also have a unique fulcrum mechanism that allows the jaws to be opened wider than the handles, making it easier to grip larger objects so they can be used as clamps.
Fencing pliers are a versatile tool commonly used in agricultural, ranching and construction applications and are designed specifically for building and repairing fences. They typically have a long, narrow nose that allows for precise manipulation of fence wire and staples. The jaws are serrated and designed to grip and twist wire, while the cutting edge can be used to snip wire, cut through staples and trim excess materials.
In addition to the standard pliers' features, fencing pliers often have several specialized features to aid in fence construction. Many fencing pliers have a staple puller on the cutting edge’s opposite side. This can be used to easily remove fence staples, which is essential for repairing or modifying existing fences.
Fencing pliers also have a hammerhead on the tool's back end. This allows for easy installation of fence staples and nails and quick repairs to fence posts and other structures. Some fencing pliers also feature a wire cutter near the base of the handles, which can cut through heavier gauge wire.