Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Pliers

Among handheld tools, pliers are among the most common and fundamental. The basic construction is the same: two lengths of steel are welded together nearly in the middle to form a pivot, with clamps on one side and handles on the other. They come in a wide range of sizes and are intended for numerous purposes. The clamps could be heavy-duty, broad, ridged, and long and thin and pointed, or somewhere in between.

Among portable instruments, pliers are among the most common and basic. The basic construction is the same: two lengths of steel are welded together nearly in the middle to form a pivot, with clamps on one side and handles on the other. They come in a wide range of sizes and are intended for numerous purposes. The clamps could be heavy-duty, broad, ridged, and long and thin and pointed, or somewhere in between.

History of Pliers

In their most basic form, pliers are an old innovation, but neither the exact year of the invention nor the identity of the inventor is known. What is certain is that plier-type tools would have been necessary for casting and smithing by the time early metalworking was in use.

The first pliers were probably initially fashioned of wood and were thought to have been created more than 5000 years ago, about 3000 BC.  They were eventually made of iron and steel, which were stronger materials than bronze.

The oldest known depictions of pliers show the Greek god Hephaestus, who is the patron of forging, employing them at a forge; these pliers were more like tongs in appearance. Ancient Egyptian sculptures appear to have been made with the use of a form of spring-loaded plier, once more resembling tongs or tweezers.

The Roman god Vulcanus, who is the god of fire and forge, is associated with pliers and the hammer. In ancient Roman society, forgers were highly valued, and individuals with military and economic clout were skilled in the craft.

Since around 1000 BC, pivot joint-based pliers have been discovered in what is now Europe. They most likely emerged in Roman society at the time iron was first forged. Since then, pliers have been created and forged for a variety of uses, such as making ammunition, baking over a fire, and operating on patients.

Parts of Pliers

Several components of a typical set of pliers are fairly universal across most plier types. The following are the most common plier parts.


The handles of pliers are the components that the user squeezes. They’re frequently coated with a nonslip material, such as rubber or silicone, and they offer the leverage needed for the jaws to bite down on and control an object. Consider a pair with insulated handles for added comfort.


The jaws of pliers are the parts that hold the object. To improve grip, they frequently have serrated or cross-hatched teeth. Some jaws are angled, while others may have numerous grasping parts of varying forms.

Pivot point:

The hinged portion that allows the operator to open and close the jaws. The pliers rotate at the pivot point as the handles open, opening the jaws. When the user closes the pliers, the pivot point rotates again, providing leverage on the jaws.


The pliers’ teeth are the components that make contact with the object. They are affixed to the inside of the jaws and can be serrated, angled, or cross-hatched, depending on the primary purpose of the pliers. Keep in mind that the serrated teeth on most locking pliers can cause permanent damage to the parts they are clamped to.


Many pliers have cutter parts. Between the jaws, these are tapered blades that pinch together to sheer wire. Cutters are not found on all pliers, but they are frequent.

What are the best uses for pliers?

A pair of pliers is mostly used for gripping. Users with a firm grip can loosen or tighten bolts, handle things with better precision, and remove fasteners such as rings, pins, and nails

The essential parts of this hand tool remain the same, even though several varieties of pliers have somewhat varied designs to make them better suited for particular jobs. The parts of the pliers are handles, pivot joints, jaws, cutters, pipe grip, and tips. 

Pliers are the best tool for any construction, maintenance, engineering, or repair operation that calls for gripping, twisting, tugging, or shearing because they enable the user to grasp an object considerably more firmly than they otherwise would be able to and apply “torque” — rotating force.

Common applications include connecting or disconnecting small parts or cables, such as nuts from bolts or TV aerials from their sockets. Due to their specific design for cutting metal wires, such as steel, copper, or aluminum, diagonal pliers are also known as “wire cutters.”

Pliers are, at their core, straightforward instruments: squeeze the handles to grab the desired object between the clamps; leverage increases the user’s pressure. Specialized pliers can necessitate more amplifications of your method.

Types of Pliers

Pliers are an essential tool that almost every DIYer and professional has in their toolbox

Pliers come in an unexpectedly large variety of varied designs for a wide range of purposes.

Circlip Pliers

Circlip pliers are made for one specific purpose: installing and removing circlips. These circular metal clips are used to secure rotating bearings and components that are mounted vertically to pipes, shafts, or housing. Washing machines, bicycles, and food blenders are all common sites.

Circlip pliers are physically different, with long thin clamps with tips designed to be put into the circlip grip holes. Check that your pliers are compatible with the circlip size you want to alter.

They are normally designed to work with either internal or exterior circlips, however some types can handle both: these are known as’reversible’ or ‘convertible’ pliers. When the handles are closed, a spring opens the points of pliers designed to function with external circlips.

Other models have interchangeable tips that can be unscrewed and replaced for compatibility with different circlip sizes – and for easy tip replacement. Circlip pliers are also referred to as holding ring pliers or snap ring pliers.

Combination Pliers

Combination pliers have serrated jaws that combine wire cutting with insulation stripping, allowing users to bend, twist, and compress. Some models include extra functions or increased leverage.

The gripping jaws of combination pliers typically have a circular depression to aid the user’s grip on the target object. The versatility of combination pliers enables widespread use by both professional technicians and do-it-yourself enthusiasts.


Cutters are a type of plier that is used to, you guessed it, cut materials. Diagonal cutters can be used to grab and splice wires as well as cut them, and they can also be used to strip insulation for crimping and other similar procedures. They can even be used to remove nails and do indentation work. Diagonal cutters are often referred to as side cutters or wire cutters.

End cutters, often known as ‘nippers,’ are similar but more focused on a clean slice, and they can also be used to cut more substantial things such as bolts, nails, and rivets.

Bolt cutters are made to have a lot of cutting force in order to break open metal locks.

Wire rope cutters are self-explanatory, having a tight grip to slice without causing the material to flare out.

Flat Nose Pliers

Flat nose pliers are used to reshape wire, either straightening or bending it, as well as to attach ‘crimp beads’. Such beads are used to secure attachments – ‘crimping’ refers to attachment by compression.

Jewelers frequently use flat nose pliers.

Locking Pliers

These are used when a task requires pliers that will lock firmly into place, such as when doing metalwork, welding, or other similar tasks. They have a bolt and lever system that locks the clamps before releasing them.

Locking pliers are available in a variety of configurations and sizes for various applications, and are usually known as Vice Grips in the United States and Mole wrenches in the United Kingdom.

Long Nose Pliers

Long nose pliers are a more delicate form used by electricians and engineers in restricted locations such as electrical boxes to grip, bend, shape, and cut wires. Craftspeople and jewelry makers make great use of them as well. The expanded jaws give flexibility, allowing the user to pick up small things and reach into difficult-to-reach regions. Normally, cutting is done near the pivot point.

Longnose pliers may also be referred to as needle nose pliers, long nose pliers, pinch nose pliers, or snipe nose pliers. Another type is bent nose pliers, which have curved clamps as the name implies.


Pincers are characterized by rounded jaws that close together at the end to apply force and grab materials. They have a variety of applications, including pinching, twisting, and cutting wire, including difficult materials like steel. They are also a fantastic alternative for operations requiring pulling force, such as removing nails from wood.

Pincers are commonly used in engineering, building, industrial applications, carpentry, and do-it-yourself projects. There are several sizes and styles available, including ones with soft grips for comfort.

The following are examples of key types:

The concreter: these have hardened edges and powerful twisting and cutting strength.

The carpenter: for removing nails and other such things cleanly.

High leverage pincers: These are good for extracting nails from difficult locations since they have long handles for a better grasp and a rounded tip.

Slip Joint Pliers

Slip joint pliers contain adjustable pivots that may be changed down the device’s length to expand the distance the jaws can open. Channel pliers are similar, but the jaws are adjusted by sliding rather than pivoting.

Straight slip joint pliers feature jaws that are parallel to their handles, but tongue-and-groove pliers, sometimes known as ‘water pump’ pliers, have offset jaws. The latter are commonly used by plumbers, electricians, and mechanics to adjust nuts and bolts, as well as other fittings with irregular shapes. Serrated jaws are commonly positioned at a 45 to 60 degree angle from the precisely matched handles.

Water pump pliers are sometimes referred to as arc junction pliers and pipe spanners.

Wire Twisting Pliers

These are the best choice for precise wire work in high-vibration environments, such as vehicle or airplane engines. Wire twisting pliers enable users to easily cut and twist various lengths of wire into robust strands in tight quarters.

How to Clean and Care for Pliers

Pliers can last a lifetime if properly cared for

The key to keeping your pliers clean and cutting like new all the time is to keep them clean. However, because it is difficult to avoid using pliers in dirty and greasy situations, you must make it a habit to clean them on a regular or at least after-use basis. This keeps them clean and clear of dirt and extraneous elements that might lead to deterioration and corrosion.

Furthermore, the cleaning exercise allows you to examine your pliers closely to determine when it is time to replace them. In this article, I will give helpful cleaning and maintenance recommendations for pliers to maintain them in good working order at all times.

Why Do You Need to Clean Pliers?

The best approach to clean dirty pliers is to use dish soap and hot water

Pliers, like other tools and equipment, accumulate filth and foreign debris when in use or storage. These materials can corrode or make the pliers less effective. To prevent dirt and grime from building, make it a routine to clean your pliers after each usage.

Another reason to keep pliers clean is to make them last longer. Dirt reduces the lifespan of your tools. So, if you clean your pliers after each use on a regular basis, they will last longer.

The third reason to keep your pliers clean and corrosion-free is to keep them looking nice. Even when well organized, dirty equipment, including pliers, appear sloppy. Cleaning and arranging your tools, in other words, go hand in hand.

The fourth reason you should clean your pliers is to restore them. This is especially true for ancient, filthy pliers that require rigorous cleaning and polishing to be restored. If you collect antique hand tools, you already know this. The first step in restoring your collection of antique rusted hand tools is to clean them.

Cleaning your tools allows you to thoroughly inspect them. This detailed study of your tools allows you to determine which ones require servicing and which ones must be replaced. If you don’t clean and inspect your pliers on a regular basis, you’ll never know when it’s time to service or replace them.

They always break up with you at work, which is frustrating and embarrassing.

Finally, taking care of your pliers is the right thing to do. In response, the pliers will show their gratitude by not failing you when you need them the most.

Which Pliers Parts Should You Clean?

Pliers are made up of three parts: the head, the fulcrum or pivot, and the handles. When cleaning, each component requires special attention. For example, the handles are more impacted by oil and stains, whereas the head and joint are prone to rust and corrosion. A rusted joint or fulcrum makes it difficult to open and close pliers’ jaws. When crud accumulates in the grooves on the jaws, it becomes difficult to have a strong bite on an object. That is why, when cleaning your plier, you should pay particular attention to each section. Furthermore, different contaminants necessitate different cleaning methods.


Before purchasing any pair of pliers, make sure to test them out and ensure that they fit comfortably in your hand. Like many other small hand tools, buying them in a set might be an excellent way to get started and then personalize from there. You will have a much more enjoyable experience if you use the proper set of pliers for the job.