With so many different types of pliers on the market these days, you may not know exactly how to use them to fix your problem properly.
In this article, we'll go into the most popular types of pliers, as well as how to use them.
How to use pliers safely
First of all, let's make sure you're working with your pliers safely:
1. Eye protection – make sure to wear eye protection whilst working with pliers. This is particularly important if you're cutting materials such as hard wire.
2. Use the right type of pliers – you should use the pliers how they were intended to be used, for example if you're looking to cut hard wire, then use a set of pliers designed for this.
3. Never Use on Live Wires – you should never use pliers on live wires, even if they're insulated.
4. Oil Pliers Joints – if you haven't used your pliers for over 1 month, then you should oil them with WD40, GT85, or similar.
Types of pliers and when to use them
Here we'll go over the popular types of pliers and when to use them:
Parallel pliers are designed to provide a firmer grip on surfaces because the jaws grip with a parallel action, spreading the pressure over a larger surface area.
They can be used on square or hexagonal fastenings, as well as wire.
They're really easy to use, simply open the pliers and place them around the object you wish to work on, and squeeze the handles.
Pro Tip: Choose a set of pliers with HRC 57 hardened jaws for extra durability.
Cutting pliers are pliers with cutting edges, designed to cut through a wide range of materials with minimal hand effort.
To use them, simply open the jaws and place the material within them, then squeeze.
Pro Tip: Choose compound-lever assisted pliers to save your energy, such as this set from Maun.
Combination pliers can fulfil multiple functions, speeding up your workflow, as you don't need to swap between different tools.
An example of this are fencing pliers, which have parallel jaws from gripping and bending wire, as well as a cutting edge to cut the wire.
How to use these will differ by the tool type.
End Cutting Pliers
End cutting pliers are designed to cut off loose ends of wire, as well as to remove nails or old bolts from a surface.
To use them for cutting, simply open the jaws over the item you wish to cut, and squeeze.
To use them to remove nails, grip the old nails gently with the cutting edge, and rock it backwards and forwards until it can be easily removed.
Pro Tip: If you're doing a lot of repetitive end cutting, choose a compound-lever assisted set of pliers.
Round Nose Pliers
Round nose pliers have two round jaws instead of flat jaws. These are used to bend wire, helping you to form even loops of multiple different sizes with one set of pliers.
Their primary use is for people making jewellery.
To use, grip the very end of the wire in the jaws of your pliers at the right point of the jaws for the size of loop you want, then twist your hand towards the wire while holding the other piece, loosen your grip on the wire and return to the non-bended part, then twist again, and repeat this until you've formed a loop.
Pro Tip: Choose parallel pliers to avoid damaging delicate metals.
Needle Nose Pliers
Needle nose pliers have very long jaws, designed to grip and bend light materials in confined spaces.
You use them just like a normal set of pliers, by gripping the jaws around your material, and bending as you wish.
Clamping Parallel Pliers
Clamping pliers are pliers with a locking mechanism, which means you can let go of them without them losing grip on an item.
This is ideal if you're trying to do two things at once, such as hold one piece of jewellery whilst bending something else around it.
To use them, simply grip the item like a normal set of pliers, then engage the clamp.
Pro Tip: If using these for jewellery, choose a set with plastic jaws to avoid damaging the piece.
Crimping pliers are designed to install a solderless electrical connection known as a crimp connector. A "crimp" is the connection created by compressing the connectors around the wire to form a seal.
There are different types of pliers to install different types of crimp, and they are used in different ways depending on the type.
Olive Cutting Pliers
Olive cutting pliers are used to cut olives from pipework, and are very popular amongst plumbers.
This is better than pulling the olive off, which can cause damage to the pipework. It's also far safer than using a hacksaw.
To use them, simply open the pliers and place them around the olive on the pipe, then apply pressure until it is cut.
Jewellery pliers are pliers designed explicitly for the intricate tasks involved in the making of small jewellery.
There are many different types of jewellery pliers, so read more about how to use each one here.