Ultimate Guide to Vice Grips

Vice grips are the extra pair of hands that every DIYer requires. The locking feature enables them to be clamped firmly and remains so while you make a cut, measure, or remove a stripped bolt.

Common vice grips resemble a heavy-duty pair of pliers. A set of several sizes and styles of this instrument, also known as mole grips or locking pliers, is an essential addition to anyone’s toolkit.

History of Vice Grips

Vice grips were designed by William Petersen, a Danish blacksmith from DeWitt, Nebraska. Petersen realized that his work would be easier if he could hold the components, he was working on without using a standard vice. In 1921, he patented his first pair of vise-grip pliers. 

To secure a vice grip on an object, first, grasp it with the pliers and adjust the jaws by rotating the screw at the handle’s end. The jaws lock into place when you squeeze the handles. 

Curved-jaw locking pliers are ideal for releasing frozen nuts and bolts, as well as for general demolition. Long-nose locking pliers allow you to clamp onto small things like staples, nails, pins, and damaged screws and remove them out of their hiding places.

Vice grips are useful for more than just removing damaged screws and freeing frozen nuts. They can be used to hold small objects in place, remove stripped or broken screws, and even open zippers when the pull breaks off. In a pinch, vice grip pliers can be used to seal off a leaking radiator tube until you can get your automobile to the mechanic.

Later, in 1955, M K Mole and Son, a hand tool manufacturing company led by Thomas Coughtrie, began producing nearly identical pliers in the United Kingdom.

In the United States, the brand name “Vise Grips” is nearly synonymous with this type of plier. 

The same is true for the brand name “Mole Wrench” in the United Kingdom.

In Samuel Johnson’s 1755 dictionary, the spelling “vise” is listed. In the United States, this is the standard spelling.

For the clamping sense of the word, the spelling “vice” may be dated back to 1584. Except for the United States, this is the current spelling in the English-speaking world.

Types of Vice-Grips

Curved-jaw locking pliers are ideal for releasing frozen nuts and bolts, as well as for general demolition

C-Clamp Vice Grip

This sort of vice grip, distinguished by long angled arms that create a point, forms the shape of a C in order to clamp around girthier items. C-clamp vice grips are ideal for jobs that require additional clearance to work around items. C-clamp vice grips, for example, are useful for gripping flat pieces of wood together after they’ve been cemented. These pliers also include an adjustable screw and a trigger release grip.

Round or Long-Nose 

You’ll rapidly learn to distinguish between round-nose and long-nose vice grips. Long-nose vice grips are shaped like a pair of needle-nose pliers, whereas round-nose pliers are shaped like a bird’s beak. Both types of pliers have teeth on the inside of the jaws. The main distinction between these two types of noses is that round-nose pliers perform best on circular items like tubes, whilst long-nose pliers work best on flat surfaces.

Curved or Straight Jaw

Jaws are divided into two types: curved and straight. Curved-jaw vice grips have a round snout and serrated teeth inside the jaw that allows them to grab spherical items. On anything cylindrical, it’s best to use a curved-jaw vice grip set. Straight-jaw vice grips are available with either a round or long nose. Long-nose vice grips are almost always straight-jaw, but round-nose pliers can be straight or curved.

Benefits of Vice Grips

When working with heat or manipulating small components into position for gluing or soldering

Excellent clamping power. Vice grips are a trustworthy tool for ensuring a strong hold. You may even boost the pressure to keep things exactly where they need to be once you’ve placed them where you need them the most.

Available in a variety of sizes. A single set of vice grips will serve you well, but having different sizes on hand can prepare you for any project. For a more prepared approach, invest in a variety of sizes, shapes, and varieties.

Adjustability. While other clamps only squeeze as much as they’re designed to, vice grips have adjustment features that allow you to apply or remove the pressure.

Releases one of your hands. When you need another pair of hands to clasp something tight, reach for your vice grips. Most automotive repairs, as well as those around the house, may rapidly get complicated, so use your vice grips to get the job done.

Flexibility and adaptability. Vice grips can be used for a number of tasks, from pinching a hose to larger projects requiring an extra pair of grippers. Vice grips are available in a variety of sizes, allowing you to select the best one for your needs.

Toolbox essential. Having a pair of vice grips on hand might mean the difference between a simple solution and having to fudge your way through a project. Get a set of vice grips and you’ll be grateful every time you need one.

Key Features


The size is the most important feature in distinguishing one pair of vice grips from another. The size is the distance between the jaws when completely extended. When you open the vice grips, the distance from one jaw tip to the other represents the tool’s size. Five-inch vice grips, for example, will have jaws that open to five inches.

Easy-Release Handle

Setting a pair of vice grips may appear to be the simplest portion of the operation, but the best vice grips contain an easy-release handle that reduces the pressure of the hold and allows you to easily remove the pliers. These handles are sometimes covered with gripping material, but even in their naked metal form, they save a lot of muscles. These are commonly referred to as trigger release handles.


Vice grips are composed of a variety of tough metals, ranging from steel to chrome vanadium. The vice grips will be strong and long-lasting, able to bear the abuse that is common in any mechanic’s garage. Teeth should be broad-based and angled to avoid coming off at an inopportune time. In short, all of the greatest vice grips’ components are incredibly durable.

Pressure and Adjustment Screw

A pressure adjustment screw, like the trigger release handle, should aid in the clamping operation. Tighten the screw to apply pressure, and loosen it to release it. The pressure adjustment screws on the vice grips will be simple to grip thanks to knurling. You can tighten the screw before or after clamping the pliers.  

Grip-Enhancing Handles

The greatest set of vice grips will have grasping handles composed of rubber-like materials. These handles are designed to go over both arms of the vice grips, but they can also be put over the trigger release handle for increased gripping force. These gripping handles also help to reduce hand fatigue.

Other Considerations

Metal Type:

When it comes to vice grips, there are numerous metal varieties to pick from. Most are made of high-strength steel designed to withstand the harshest conditions. Others can be electroplated or chrome vanadium. Before making a purchase, consider what metal types you prefer based on the type of work you do.

Multiple-Sized Pliers:

Consider acquiring a set of vice grips in various sizes. Having multiples of each measurement can often be advantageous. That is, if the object you’re clamping is less than the size of the vice grips, there’s no limit to what you can clamp together.

Vice grips-How they Work

If you’ve never used a pair of vice grips before, the basic principle is the same: a screw at the back of the tool is used to adjust the spacing of the jaws, and it usually takes a few seconds of trial and error to achieve the required setting for whatever object you want the pliers to grip. When the perfect position is found, the jaws will tighten together with an audible “click” and lock into place. When locked in place, the pliers literally grip material like a vice; to release the jaws, a separate lever built into the handle disengages them instantly when pressed.

Vice grips–Uses

Vice grips are a one-of-a-kind instrument that evolved from vices and pliers (as a blacksmith, Petersen was dissatisfied by the restrictions of his workshop’s vices and pliers and had the notion to merge the greatest aspects of each into one gadget). As a result, they can be used for many tasks where clamps or pliers would be employed, as well as a variety of other applications where no other tool would be acceptable. Let’s look at some of the most prevalent applications.

1. Clamping

These tools locking vice grip makes them a go-to choose for many clamping tasks; certain vice grips are intended specifically for clamping, but all varieties are useful for this duty. Vice grips are popular among welders because of their strong-duty metal construction, and it is usual to find specialist vice grips designed for the metalworking industry. Vice grips are also useful in woodworking applications for firmly clamping jigs and components, but they can quickly harm bare wood if clamped directly onto it.

2. Holding

Vice grips can be used to handle materials when directly gripping them would be awkward or painful, for as while working with heat or manipulating small components into position for gluing or soldering. Long nose vice grips are among the most often used precision tools, and their tapered jaws allow the operator to access more tight workspaces and recessed regions.

3. Pulling Nails, Staples & other Fasteners

Vice grips can be used to extract hard nails and other fasteners since they clamp down on objects with significant force. Many ordinary pliers would struggle to give sufficient hold under strain. They’re especially handy for retrieving broken fasteners that don’t have a head to allow for levering with a pry bar or claw hammer.

4. Extracting Rounded Nuts & Bolts

Similarly, if a nut or bolt has become sufficiently rounded that a spanner or socket will not fit, vice grips can be used to grab the damaged part and revolve the component in its threads, allowing the fastener to be removed (or tightened if necessary). If you’re in a pinch and don’t have any spanners or sockets, vice grips can be utilized to drive intact nuts or bolts. This can cause additional wear to fasteners and is normally only used as a last resort; however, certain vice grips have jaws built specifically for hex bolts, and appropriateness varies by model.

5. Replacing a Broken Knob or Lever

When a knob, lever, or another control handle on a piece of equipment is damaged or removed, the operator is frequently left with an unergonomic stub or shaft that can be difficult or impossible to turn by hand, especially if it is recessed or otherwise difficult to access. In these cases, vice grips make excellent replacement handles; once securely locked in place, they often allow enough turning or levering force to be applied to restore functionality until the component can be repaired or replaced.

6. Wire Cutting

Though not a universal design feature, many locking pliers are built with an additional functionality built into the back section of the jaws: an integrated wire cutter, making them a useful tool for snipping wire as well as bending, shaping, and holding it. These cutters are also suitable for pallet strapping, string, cable ties, and a variety of other materials.

7. Pinching off Pipes, Lines, and Tubes

Vice grips are a quick and straightforward option for closing a tube or pipeline, such as to suppress a leak or temporarily shut down a system for maintenance or repair. Many commonly available vice grips will suffice for this application in a pinch (pun intended), but professional plumbers, mechanics, and maintenance engineers will frequently purchase specialized variants designed specifically for the needs of the refrigeration industry.

8. Driving Screws

If you break or misplace your trusty screwdriver handle in the middle of a project, vice grips can be used as an emergency screwdriver bit holder. Simply lock the bit between the jaws and it will be securely held in place to apply adequate torque for most light-duty applications. It’s not the most comfortable approach, but it gets the job done quickly enough to finish off a half-driven screw or remove a few of fasteners.

9. Light Duty Demolition and Shaping Tasks

Vice grips can be a valuable piece of equipment if you need to bend or shatter materials such as plastic and thin metals. The locking jaws grasp for you, allowing you to focus your efforts on twisting, levering, and prying. Smaller long-nose variants are useful for holding material in tight locations, whereas larger models allow for greater force to be utilized for heavier-duty operations. Using pliers not only considerably increases the strength that might be achieved by hand alone, but it also reduces the risk of getting harmed by any sharp edges encountered during the operation.

10. Pressing and Squeezing

Vice grips can also be used to secure or assemble components such as chain links and crimp wire connectors due to the force they can exert.

How to Take Care of Vice Grip

Quality hand tools are an investment in the long run. Follow these steps to care for your locking pliers to extend their life and keep them fully functional when you need them:

  • Oil the tools on a regular basis, especially the moving mechanism.
  • Use the tools just for their intended use and do not abuse them.
  • Always use the appropriate tool for the job. Using instruments that are too large or too little can result in an injury.
  • Never use the tools to sustain a structure.
  • Never leave the tools exposed to direct heat or electricity.


Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a weekend warrior with a can-do attitude and a toolbox in your closet, your toolkit should contain the best vice grips.

They’re inexpensive, multifunctional, and can serve as pliers, wrenches, breaker bars, and clamps. They can unfreeze frozen fasteners, remove them even if their heads are crushed beyond recognition, and twist, grab, or squeeze almost anything.

Vice grips are commonplace tools for welders, machinists, and manufacturing workers. The rest of us don’t always know when we’re going to bust them; those who have been there merely know that it will happen at some point. There are a variety of eventualities that you cannot account for on almost any assignment. Vice grips keep any work running smoothly and successfully despite hiccups and head-scratchers.