Hand Pliers: Types, Parts, and Application (A Comprehensive Guide with Pictures)
Updated: Sep 1
There is no doubt that hand tools are a staple in any handyman's or woman's tool box. And one of the most versatile and important hand tools is the pliers. Pliers come in all shapes and sizes, with many different specific purposes. But, at their core, all pliers do the same job: they provide a grip for holding something in place.
There are a few different types of pliers that you're likely to encounter. The most common type is the adjustable pliers, which include slip-joint pliers and locking pliers. Diagonal pliers are specifically designed for wire-cutting, while nail puller pliers are perfect for removing nails from wood. There are also hobby pliers and automotive pliers, which are each designed for their own unique purposes.
Pliers come in all shapes and sizes, with each type serving a specific purpose. In this comprehensive guide, we will take a look at the different types of pliers, their parts, and their applications.
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What are Pliers?
Pliers are a type of hand tool that provide a grip for holding something in place. They come in all shapes and sizes, with each type serving a specific purpose. They can be general-purpose tools or have a specialist design, for specific tasks. Pliers are commonly used for bending and cutting wire, as well as gripping and pulling nails.
The word "pliers" is derived from the French word "pincers," which means "to pinch." Pliers have two jaws, with each jaw having a serrated or toothed grip. This grip allows pliers to firmly grasp objects of different shapes and sizes.
History of Pliers
The Origin and Early Evolution
Pliers, like many hand tools, have a long and storied history. Their earliest known use dates back to the Bronze Age, where they were mostly used for handling hot objects. These early versions were simple and rudimentary, typically made from a single piece of metal bent into shape.
The Middle Ages and Industrial Revolution
The Middle Ages saw the development of various specialized forms of pliers for different trades, such as blacksmithing, armory, and jewelry-making. However, the real transformation happened during the Industrial Revolution. Advanced manufacturing techniques allowed for the production of more complex and precise designs, leading to the creation of the many types of pliers we see today.
Today, there's a wide array of pliers available, each designed for specific tasks. From needle-nose pliers for electrical work to locking pliers that can grip and hold objects tightly, the evolution of pliers has been driven by the ever-growing needs of different industries.
Anatomy of a Plier (Parts)
Pliers are comprised of only a few components, but each component has essential responsibilities. No set of pliers could accomplish its primary function without these characteristics.
The jaws (or nose) is the part of the pliers that do the gripping. Combination pliers have both jaws and pipe grips and/or cutters.
The fulcrum, or pivot point, of the pliers, is where the jaws and handles connect. This area also generates the power needed for the jaws to work properly.
The Pipe Grip is an oval or round-shaped opening in the jaw designed to grip pipes and other circular items.
Handles: The part of the pliers you hold. They can be curved or straight, and their surface can usually be plastic-coated or even bare metal.
Some pliers are intended to cut wire and metal. The cutters are typically near the fulcrum.
Materials and Manufacturing
Commonly Used Materials
The majority of pliers are made from steel due to its strength and durability. However, some are made from special alloys like chromium-vanadium for added toughness and resistance to wear. Additionally, handles may be coated with plastic or rubber for improved grip and comfort.
The manufacturing process of pliers involves several stages. It begins with the cutting and shaping of the raw material, followed by heat treatment to enhance hardness and durability. The jaws and cutting edges are then precision ground for accuracy. Finally, the handles are covered, often with a non-slip material, for enhanced grip and user comfort.
Quality Control and Testing
Quality control is a crucial step in the manufacturing process. Each pair of pliers undergoes rigorous testing to ensure it meets certain standards of performance and durability. This can include tests for hardness, tensile strength, and resistance to corrosion.
Ergonomics and Design
The Importance of Ergonomic Design
Ergonomic design is crucial in pliers as it significantly impacts user comfort and efficiency. Pliers with ergonomically designed handles can reduce hand fatigue and increase productivity, especially during long periods of use.
Features Enhancing Ergonomics
Several features enhance the ergonomics of pliers. These include padded handles for comfort, spring-loaded designs for easy opening and closing, and non-slip grips for secure handling. Some pliers also feature adjustable pivot points that allow for varying jaw openings, providing more flexibility and ease of use.
The Impact on User Experience
These ergonomic features greatly improve the overall user experience. They make the tool easier and more comfortable to use, which can lead to better work outcomes. For instance, a pair of pliers with padded handles can enable a user to work for longer periods without discomfort, while a non-slip grip can prevent accidental slips, promoting safer usage.
Pliers vs. Other Tools
When to Use Pliers
Pliers are versatile tools that can grip, bend, cut, and manipulate various materials, making them a staple in most toolboxes. They're ideal for tasks that require precision and control, like bending wires or holding small parts. Their adjustable jaws can accommodate a wide range of sizes, making them more flexible compared to other hand tools. However, they're not designed for high-torque applications, where a wrench would be more appropriate.
Wrenches: An Alternative for High-Torque Tasks
Wrenches are designed to apply torque to turn objects, such as nuts and bolts. They come in various types and sizes to suit different tasks. For example, an adjustable wrench can fit various sizes of nuts and bolts, while a torque wrench allows precise control of the applied torque. While they lack the versatility of pliers, they excel in tasks that require substantial force, such as tightening or loosening fasteners.
Cutters: Specialized Tools for Cutting
Cutters, on the other hand, are specialized tools designed for cutting wires, cables, and other materials. They usually have sharp, hardened blades that can cut through materials with ease. While some types of pliers, such as diagonal pliers, can also cut wires, they may not perform as well as dedicated cutters when dealing with thick or hard materials.
The Advantages of Each Tool
Each tool has its advantages. Pliers offer versatility and precision, making them suitable for a wide range of tasks. Wrenches provide the ability to apply high torque, making them ideal for working with nuts and bolts. Meanwhile, cutters offer superior cutting capabilities, especially when dealing with hard or thick materials. Understanding the strengths and limitations of each tool can help you choose the right tool for the job, improving efficiency and results.
Types of Pliers And Their Uses
Pliers have come a long way from their rudimentary origins to become one of the most versatile and essential tools in various industries. Their evolution, driven by advancements in materials and manufacturing processes, coupled with a strong focus on ergonomics and design, has ensured their unceasing relevance in today's toolkits.
Whether you're a DIY enthusiast, a builder, or a contractor, understanding these aspects can help you appreciate the value that a good pair of pliers brings to any general-purpose or specialized job.
1. Slip Joint Pliers
Slip joint pliers are the types of pliers whose fulcrum can be easily moved. Here, the size range of the jaws is easily increased due to the movable fulcrum. The key feature, though, is the so-called slip joint. The fulcrum, or pivot point, of these pliers, is adjustable.
The size range of the jaws is easily increased due to the movable fulcrum.
They’re often used in plumbing applications and can do a lot of the duties that a wrench can do.
2. Tongue and Groove Pliers
Tongue and groove pliers are another type of slip-joint pliers. They are also termed water pump pliers or channel locks. For more leverage, their handles are very long. The size of the handles of the Tongue and groove pliers is around 9.5 to 12 inches.
Tongue and groove pliers are used for turning and holding the nuts as well as bolts.
They are widely used for gripping irregular shaped objects and for a wide variety of plumbing tasks
3. Diagonal Pliers
Diagonal pliers are also known as diagonal cutters, side-cutting pliers, or side-cutting pliers. Their primary function is to cut any type of wire. The job of the diagonal pliers is similar to that of a basic pair of scissors, but they separate the wire by indenting and wedging it apart instead.
Diagonal pliers are used for cutting copper, brass, iron, steel, and aluminum wire.
For cutting the wires of the tempered steel then, you require very high-quality diagonal pliers. Piano wires can be cut with the help of high-quality diagonal pliers.
4. Needle-nose Pliers
Needle nose pliers are primarily used by jewelry designers and artisans for applications that require precision handling. They have a long, narrow shape and are thus more commonly known as long-nose pliers. They may also be referred to as pointy-nose or snipe-nose pliers.
They are the pliers that are used for cutting as well as holding applications
Can be used in recessed areas where we cannot reach using other types of pliers
5. Bent Nose Pliers
Bent nose pliers have a nose that is bent at an angle, as the name implies. The role of the bent nose pliers is similar to that of needle-nose pliers, except they have a bend in their noses to some angle usually 45 degrees. We can easily identify the bent nose pliers by looking at their curved beaks.
They are used in jewelry applications and in the field where we can’t use the needle-nose pliers
Used to easily access awkward or angled positions
6. Round Nose Pliers
They have other names like rosary pliers and chain nose pliers. Round nose pliers can be easily noticed after seeing their rounded and tapered noses. They have the spring fitted at their joint. This spring allows easy opening and closing of the pliers.
Round nose pliers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the job.
The plier's small, delicate nose makes them ideal for creating tiny accessories like bail rings, toggle clasps and jump rings.
7. Locking Pliers
They are a very special type of pliers and are also called Vise-Grips or Mole Grips. In locking pliers, an over-center toggle action is used to lock into position so jaws are kept on the gripped object. They have a wide range of applications in the manufacturing as well as in design industries.
They can be used for generating more force as their lever action is way stronger than other types of pliers.
A very common application of the locking pliers is found while holding the metal parts or pipes without squeezing them.
Locking pliers are also used for gripping rounded nuts or bolt
8. Sheet Metal Pliers
These pliers have wide and rectangular jaws and are used in industries where we have to deal with sheet metal. The rectangular jaws of sheet metal pliers are distinct. These jaws are flexible and can be used to bend sheet metal and create seams.
Sheet metal pliers are an essential tool for anyone working with sheet metal. They can be used to bend, cut, and shape sheet metal into the desired form.
By allowing for more manual force to be applied, sheet metal pliers can do the work of a more expensive power tool
9. Canvas Pliers
They are also termed canvas stretching pliers and are often used by artists as they allow a single person to do something that usually will take two. Their jaws usually are padded to avoid damage to the surface of the canvas while you’re stretching it onto a frame.
Canvas pliers ensure a good grip on the material and an even application of pressure.
The extra surface area in the gripping face provides better traction when pulling the canvas
10. Crimping Pliers
Crimping pliers are also known as crimping tools. Their objective is to crimp metal parts.
When you crimp a wire or other connection, you essentially crush or otherwise deform the two pieces being joined together so that they’re rendered inseparable.
Crimping pliers offer multiple slots in their jaws to accommodate different gauges of wire
Crimping pliers are used in the field of computer networking or quick electrical connections for audio, alarm, or power supply applications
11. Bail Making Pliers
The jaws of the bail-making pliers consist of two cylindrical rods where one rod is slightly larger than the other. Primarily used in making jewelry, the wire is wrapped around their jaws to form ear wires, clasps, and many other loop components.
Bail-making pliers are used to make delicate things like jewelry and other precious things.
12. Battery Pliers
Primarily used in automotive applications for maintaining cars the bolts found on jumper cables and car batteries, these kinds of pliers have angled, short jaws. The lower jaw is somewhat smaller, and the jaws are also thicker to ensure they are sturdy.
Battery pliers are used in the automobile industry for maintaining the bolts on the battery.
They are used for both top-post and side-post battery terminals.
13. Brake Spring Pliers
The brake spring pliers allow mechanics to handle the springs located inside drum brakes.
The brake spring pliers' jaws are quite distinctive — one is rounded, while the other is curved. One jaw is used to remove the spring, while the other is used to put it in.
Brake spring pliers are mainly used in the automotive industry.
They can be also used in applications where we have to deal with removal as well as insertion of springs.
14. Combination Pliers
Combination pliers are the most common pliers found in the household and are multi-purpose tools with three sections in their jaws. From their tip, there’s a serrated surface for gripping. Behind that, there’s a round serrated section that makes gripping thick round items like tubes much easier. They are universally used for many daily applications.
Combination pliers are used for cutting, gripping, twisting, and bending.
Their jaws have a rough surface which is perfect for removing stuck nuts or bolts
15. Eyelet Pliers
Eyelet pliers are a special type of pliers which are mainly used in the clothing industry. Its main purpose is for the addition of laces and drawstrings into the cloth. They have a ring and an elongated hub that have to be crimped down.
The newest type of eyelet pliers has dies that can be easily interchanged.
The hole for the button on the shirts as well as on the jackets is made with the help of eyelet pliers.
16. Grommet Pliers
Grommet pliers do the quite same function as that of eyelet pliers but grommets are much more heavy-duty when compared with eyelets, which makes these pliers perfect for those crafts that involve sturdy materials eg. creating holes in materials such as tarp,
Grommet pliers can be used for complex and heavy-duty applications.
For making holes in hard materials, grommet pliers are highly used
17. Hose Clamp Pliers
These are also called hose, radiator hose, and spring clamp pliers for the automotive industry. This type of plier is made for compressing spring and hose clamps to make connections tighter. Because of this, they come in many designs. The models that are best known have peg-shaped teeth on each of the jaws, and these are used for pinching the clamp. Some of the models also may be used right on a hose.
They offer the ability to hold different types of hose clamps (the most common being flat or ring clamps) and allow you to access the clamps at various angles.
18. Snap Ring Pliers
These are also called retaining ring pliers, lock ring pliers, circlip pliers, and C-clip pliers.
This type of plier has round, short jaws to help with closing a snap ring these types of rings are loops with open ends that fit into round objects such as dowels. Once it’s closed, it’s possible for the ring to freely rotate, but they can’t slide sideways.
They’re commonly used for gears on vehicles such as mountain bikes
They offer jaws that can reach down into the often tight space where these snap rings rest
19. Chain Nose Pliers
Chain nose pliers are very similar to bail-making pliers in design, construction, and use.
The main difference is that chain nose pliers have a flat gripping surface. This surface is smooth, not textured or serrated, allowing for use on the softer metals and wires
The design of the jaw allows for shaping, bending, and crimping wire and in jewelry making
Their tips are helpful in opening or closing jump rings and bead tips
20. Fencing Pliers
Fencing pliers are intended for wire fencings, like barbed wire, chicken wire, hog wire, etc. This resembles a hammer with two handles when you look down on them from above. The fulcrum has notches which let you cut different gauged wires while the left jaw’s side has the hammer surface to drive in staples.
The right jaw’s claw is for removing the staples, and the jaws contain a rounded grip hole and a gripping surface
21. Flat Nose Pliers
Duckbill pliers are another name for these. Their jaws are flat and tapered, and they're used for twisting metal as well as wires and leads. These particular models come with long or short noses, to accommodate different needs.
They’re also good for straightening out kinks or twists
Commonly used in model making and other hobby and craft applications
22. Hose Grip Pliers
These specialty pliers, known as grabber pliers, are designed to help you easily get hoses out of or into tight spaces. Just grip the hose and twist it off or on. They're designed to protect the hose from harm, with grabbers jaws and a form that prevents it from being damaged. They're employed for things like petrol lines, heater hoses, and vacuum hoses.
They work great for spark plugs, clamps, and a lot of other little items
Plumbers use hose grip pliers in many applications related to plumbing with tubing
23. Linesman Pliers
Linemen’s pliers are specialist combination pliers; made for heavy-duty work and with specially insulated handles, for safety around live electrics. This is because a lineman works with power lines or communication cables outdoors.
Lineman’s pliers are mostly used in outdoor electrical applications
They are used for bending, cutting, and straightening the wire much like combination pliers
24. Nail Puller Pliers
Their pincer construction is designed to get as close to the surface of the nail as possible before clamping down on it. These specialized pliers are essential for anyone who wants to be able to quickly and easily remove nails. This is a brute-force tool that’ll leave a mark, making it inappropriate if you’re concerned about surface scratches or other damage.
Nail puller pliers can be used for removing the staples.
Carpenters or people interested in woodworking use this type of plier
25. Oil Filter Pliers
Their toothed jaws are C-shaped, and one is a lot longer than its mate. They’re used to remove casings on oil filters in vehicles. The jaws of the oil filter pliers are long and curved, designed to fit snugly around the barrel of an oil filter.
Oil filter pliers are used in the automobile industry.
Secondly, they are used for the removal of the oil filter casings
26. Piston Ring Pliers
There are two distinct varieties of these pliers, and they're both used for removing and replacing piston rings in engines. The first type has curved jaws on its jaws that can be used to spread piston rings for easy removal. The other type's jaws are much larger, supported by a few braces that also reduce the risk of warping.
Only used in the automobile industries and in the field where engines are present.
Providing a seal between the piston and cylinder wall
27. Push Pin Pliers
Push Pin Pliers are used for the removal of plastic push pins with jaw tips that are wedge-shaped. This allows them to get beneath plastic anchors’ pin caps. When the pliers are squeezed, it pops a push pin out, which allows the anchors to be safely removed.
Used in automotive work, along with other types of industries where these anchors are used
Also used in the processes where pin-style anchors are dominantly used
28. Running Pliers
These are used to make crafts out of stained windows and provide clean breaks along a scored line in glass. They have wider-tipped jaws that can be adjusted to match the glass thickness. The majority of these include center lines to ensure that the score is properly aligned when you're running it along its length.
Use with panes of glass, whether you’re moving, installing, cutting, scoring, or breaking glass
29. Split Ring Pliers
A split ring is a metal ring that you pry loose a bit, then slide your key on and around until it’s hanging loose on the ring.
make opening them very easy. One side of the jaw is a straight jaw, the other hooked, and then clamp it onto the ring and pry it apart.
Fishermen often use split rings when creating fishing tackles
30. Soft Jaw Pliers
The plier jaw's cushioned interior prevents the metal of the pliers from marring the surface being adjusted, which is a major difference between them and tongue-and-groove pliers. These are mainly for keeping visible, decorative plumbing fixtures looking clean, since chrome and other metals can get scratched easily.
Jaws are padded so that scratches are prevented on exposed surfaces or soft metals kitchen or bathroom decorations
31. Spark Plug Pliers
The jaws of these pliers are narrow, and they're equipped with cylindrical or insulated tongs. The tips of these grips help to hold on to spark plugs by the boot or plug wires, which makes automotive repairs much easier.
These pliers offer the ability to remove the spark plug from other angles
32. Welding Pliers
Their thin jaws are used to clean a MIG welding nozzle, from removing the tip of the MIG welder to cleaning it inside and out. The jaws usually have multiple types and arrangements of teeth to hold many different shapes of objects.
For cutting and pulling wire of various diameters
Heavily used in the welding field
33. Wire Twisting Pliers
When you secure a wire piece in their jaws and pull the knob back, the whole tool spins, and the wire twists with it. They are often used in the jewelry-making industry and by electricians.
Easily make lengths of twisted wire for crafts and construction
Check our catalog for clamp and vises
How Can I Get Started And Manufacture My Own Pliers Brand
Research the different types of pliers and find the right ones for your customers. There are different types of pliers and each one is good for a particular job. Once you have found the right type of pliers, you will need to find a manufacturer who can produce them for you.
Many manufacturers can produce pliers for you. You will need to find one that is reputable and has experience in manufacturing pliers. This manufacturer should be able to help you with the design of your pliers and make sure they are produced to your specifications and requirements.
You will need to provide the manufacturer with your specifications and requirements. This will typically include the type of pliers you need, the quantity, and the delivery date. Once the manufacturer has all your specifications, they will be able to provide you with a quote.
Take a look at our list of top private label tool suppliers and manufacturers
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