Walts DIY is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.
Only a plumber would know how awesome they are. Everyone else just needs to find one that works for them.
In this article, we explain the nine most popular types of pliers and their uses. Pliers are a must-have item for plumbers, electrical contractors, and DIYers. They play an important role when working on different projects, despite their small size. Like all other tools, they come in different variations, so you need to be careful when acquiring a pair lest it fails to meet your intended purpose.
Here’s a quick rundown of what we discuss in these types of pliers article:
- Firstly, we define some of the main uses of pliers
- Next, we take a look at the 9 most popular types of pliers and how you can use them
- Then, watch a video that shows you the different types of pliers you can use
- And finally, we’ll showcase our top picks in an easy-to-read comparison table
Sound good? Let’s begin!
What are pliers?
Pliers are hand tools used to grip, position, twist, cut, tighten and loosen several things. They are therefore needed for several applications, making them an essential tool. They mainly consist of two handles, a pivot, and a head. Some pliers are made for highly specialized jobs, and for most people, those aren’t required.
Types of pliers
Here are some of the common variations of pliers:
Slip joint pliers
This tool has a slip joint, as the name suggests. It is pretty different from the standard plier type, thanks to the adjustable pivot joint that allows for the shifting and extension of the other pieces. You will need adjustable pliers if your work involves gripping materials of different thicknesses. The serrated jaw of slip joint pliers has a flat, jagged mouth used for gripping flat surfaces. They then curve out to create room for gripping rounded surfaces.
Slip joint plier uses include bending and holding, crimping metal, cutting wire and soft nails, and looping wire. You can also use this to loosen or tighten nuts, depending on your skillset.
Here are recommendations for the best slip joint pliers.
This is the type of pliers that you need if your projects mainly entail clamping down things. Thanks to their double lever action, they can be used as hand-held tools. They have standard jaws, which close just like the regular pliers—however, these lips lock down with more significant pressure than the other variations.
If you’d like this tool to release its grip, you will have to trigger the lever on the handle. The jaw width is adjustable, thanks to the screw drive, which is found at the end of the handle. You can use them for different purposes. You can use one on reusable fasteners, but you will need a level of skill and precision.
This is a standard tool in electrical tool bags. The cutting pliers have a short jaw set that deflects from the handles. You can easily snip wires using this tool, and it’s also perfect for cutting small nails and screws, thanks to the diagonal cutter. You can settle on the ones with longer handles, depending on what you need.
Here are our best wire cutter reviews.
Wire strippers are a must-have item for electricians. It usually comes with wire cutting blades used to cut wire gauges as stripper holes cover along, thanks to the crimping tip. The cutting edges are circular to make way through insulation without touching the bare wire. The crimping pliers are used for high-precision wire stripper jobs. This is an everyday multi-tool for any electrician. You can use this type of pliers for several applications that are performed by individual tools.
You can read our best RJ45 Crimper reviews here.
Usually referred to as electrician’s pliers, side-cutting pliers, or Circlip pliers, this variation lacks an adjustable pivot point. Their jaw typically has a flat front and shallow serrations and is best used for gripping flat surfaces.
Electricians mostly use these linesman pliers to twist wires together. Behind the front jaws are side cutters that are used to cut wires. Before you use these pliers on live connections, make sure that you ascertain whether they are insulated or not.
Needle nose pliers
Needle nose pliers have a longer nose jaw that reduces in thickness when it reaches a given point. The long nose pliers are mainly used for challenging projects that need a high level of precision. Some of the applications include bending wires, holding fittings, placing fasteners, and cutting.
You will realize that this tool does more work than the standard heavy-duty pliers. Similar to the lineman’s pliers, they are set at a given point. The jaws also consist of side cutters, which you can use to cut wires. Other variations have a bent nose for accessing challenging surfaces. This is a must-have tool for most fishers too.
Here are our recommendations for the best needle nose pliers.
Fencing pliers are not your ordinary models. It is unique and more or less resembles a hammer. The most detailed description is a hammer with two thin handles and a pivot. Fortunately, there is a reason why this specific tool is designed in this particular manner.
You will need the fencing hammer to drive staples into any wooden fencing. You can also easily remove the nail with the pincers strategically located at the top of the pliers. While still using this tool, you can grab and twist several wire gauges to connect the fencing wire.
These work similarly to the slip joints and have a curved jaw. They are mostly known as water-pump pliers, multi grips, or Channellock’s and are mainly used by plumbers for plumbing projects. Like most of the pliers on our list, they have an adjustable pivot.
Keep in mind that this variation comes in different positions, depending on the size you pick. You will mostly find the jaws parallel, but you can open them wide enough. The head of the pliers is usually angled with longer handles to enable you to access tight spaces. You will also notice that the jaws have a serrated, flat end with a characteristic curve to act as pipe grip.
Brake splitting pliers
This type of plier is primarily used in automotive work. It has a distinctive design that makes it pretty unique. They are used to remove and replace the springs found in drum brakes as the jaw tips are somewhat different. Whereas one is large and rounded, the other is smaller and has a smaller curve for replacing the brakes. Other pliers, including grommet pliers and oil filter pliers, are primarily used for specific purposes.
Video: Types of Pliers
Those are some of the most common types of pliers available in the market. If you have a job involving pulling, bending, shaping, crimping, or cutting wire, then you will need a set. The question is, which one?
Here are some other articles you may like:
Here are our favorite snap ring pliers
CLICK any image to see Ratings & Reviews on Amazon
- 6 Best Bathroom Paints | Reviews & Buyers Guide - October 8, 2021
- 8 Best Paint Strippers For Metal | Reviews & Buying Guide - September 30, 2021
- 9 Best Spray Paints for Metal | Reviews & Buying Guide - September 29, 2021