Ever get confused as to which types of pliers you should be using for a particular DIY project?
If someone in your family likes being handy, your garage or tool shed might have more than a single pair of pliers.
But if you don’t have one, you better check out the different types before purchasing from your nearest hardware depot.
Different types of pliers are designed for specific purposes, but let’s discuss what pliers are and how they work before we go over the most common types.
What are Pliers?
Pliers are one of history’s simplest tools invented for handling and manipulating objects with ease.
Like any other invention, pliers are designed to help us carry out both simple and complicated tasks.
Pliers may have been a development from tongs, which have also been used to hold hazardous objects in several industries.
But tongs require a firm grip from your hands to secure whatever it is holding.
Pliers are designed to minimize the stress on your hands and to make holding objects more comfortable.
A pair of pliers can be made from several different materials. The most common are hardened steel alloys, which are great for heavy duty applications.
Manufacturers infuse steel with other metals, such as vanadium and chromium, to add strength and reduce corrosion risks.
Parts of Pliers
A pair of pliers is generally composed of two bent metal levers joined together at a pivot joint that functions as a fulcrum.
Pliers come in many shapes and sizes, each having a unique purpose.
The pair of levers make the jaws of the pliers on the shorter side of the fulcrum.
The design of the jaws usually indicates the type or function of the pliers. Opposite the jaws are longer levers that constitute the handle.
Most modern pliers have rubber or plastic coatings on each of the handle levers.
These coating materials add traction and grip to secure the pliers when your hands get slippery or when the pliers are wet or dirty while in operation.
Purpose and Uses of Pliers
Pliers are a hand-operated tool for holding or gripping objects that are somewhat difficult to handle with bare hands.
It amplifies the force applied by the hands on the handle to become a much larger force exerted by the tip of the gripping short jaws.
You can also use a pair of pliers to handle objects, which may be too small for your fingers to manipulate with precision.
Additionally, a pair of pliers can be useful for cutting, bending, and compressing a wide range of materials.
Popular Types of Pliers
So, which particular task are you gearing up for at the moment? Consider the following popular types of pliers and each of their functions.
Tongue & Groove Pliers
Tongue and groove pliers have an adjustable fulcrum that can allow various jaw opening and locking sizes.
Its jaws are bent at an angle between 40 and 60 degrees with respect to the handles to allow position changes of the lower jaw for multiple functions.
You can use a pair of tongue and groove pliers to fix different sizes of nuts and bolts.
The other names associated with tongue and groove pliers are channel locks, arc-joint pliers, multi-grips, water pump pliers, and groove-joint pliers.
Needle Nose Pliers
If you are into jewelry making, crafting, model-making, electronics, and cable engineering, a pair of needle nose pliers is a must-have for you.
It has a pair of thin, elongated jaws, called the nose, which is very useful for handling tiny objects and hard-to-reach places.
You can use the long nose to bend objects and create loops with some materials.
Usually, a portion of the jaws close to the fulcrum has edges that you can use for cutting wires.
Needle nose pliers are also called long-nosed pliers because of their appearance.
A pair of crimping pliers can join two metal pieces such as a wire and a ductile plate by deforming or crimping one or both metals to hold them together.
Crimping tools have vast applications in electronics, cable networking, and jewelry making.
You can use diagonal pliers to cut different types of wires.
The jaws of these pliers have cutting edges that intersect the fulcrum on a diagonal, hence the name.
Diagonal pliers are also called wire cutters, snips, or nippers.
Slip Joint Pliers
Slip joint pliers are like tongue and groove pliers, but the jaw position is parallel to the handles.
Some slip joint pliers have tongue and groove adjustments, while others have two or more joint holes for repositioning the fulcrum.
Hose Clamp Pliers
The primary function of any hose clamp pliers is to tighten or loosen hose clamps.
Hose clamp pliers come in many designs due to the considerable variation in hose and clamp sizes.
As the name implies, locking pliers are designed with a locking mechanism on the lower handle lever that strengthens or locks the grip on the object being held.
The upper handle lever houses a twistable adjustment bolt that changes the grip size of the lower jaw.
Also called lock pliers or vise-grips, locking pliers come with jaws in various shapes for different purposes.
Combination pliers combine a grip tip, a curved, serrated grip, and a cutter, all in the jaws.
The grip tip can either be flat or serrated – the serrated ones have a tighter grip.
The curved grip is almost always serrated so that it can easily hold bolts, nuts, pipes, and other objects.
The cutter portion can cut wires or nails.
A simpler version of combination pliers is the linesman pliers.
It is very commonly available in hardware stores and construction sites.
Linesman pliers usually combine a flat grip tip with wire cutters.
In addition to tongue and groove pliers, long-nosed pliers, diagonal pliers, and vise-grips, you can find combination pliers in most households.
Other Less Popular Types of Pliers
Years of research and innovation have made specific designs of pliers possible.
Here are less popular types of pliers having very specific uses; you might opt for one of these depending on your task at hand.
Chain Nose Pliers
Chain nose pliers are a subtype of needle nose pliers with both jaws with a flat inner surface and a curved outer surface.
It is an excellent tool for gripping small objects and for making 90-degree bends on wires.
Round Nose Pliers
Round nose pliers are another type of long-nosed pliers that have conical jaws.
These pliers are not the best tool for gripping small objects, but they are excellent for making loops.
Bail Making Pliers
Also called looping pliers or coiling pliers, bail making pliers are designed to make bails, loops, and coils.
They can be round on the outer side of each jaw and flat inside, or they can be round all throughout.
Some bail making pliers have multiple tiers on their jaws for creating loops in varying sizes.
Bail making pliers are excellent for speedy wire forming.
Bent Nose Pliers
As the name suggests, bent nose pliers are long-nosed pliers with jaws bent halfway through at an angle around 45 degrees.
The jaws on these pliers are generally flat on the inside and round on the outside.
The bent jaws allow for unrestricted views and access to unreachable spaces on tiny crafts.
Flat Nose Pliers
Another name for flat nose pliers is duckbill pliers.
They have a broad nose, unlike most long-nosed pliers, which have a narrow tip.
You can use the flat, broad nose for firmly gripping objects, straightening wires, or making sharp bends.
Soft Jaw Pliers
Soft jaw pliers come in different jaw shapes and sizes.
Manufacturers use rubber and plastics to make the soft jaws that hold and grip delicate objects such as gems.
Soft jaw pliers allow handling of objects while preventing any surface damage.
Wire Twisting Pliers
To twist and twirl wires together tightly, you will need some wire twisting pliers.
Jewelers and tension safety wire engineers are the most common users of wire twisting pliers.
Split Ring Pliers
A pair of split ring pliers can help you make effortless chain transitions or insertions in and out of split rings.
Split ring pliers are a primary tool for fishing equipment assembly, jewelry assembly, bag accessories installation, and several industrial applications.
Grommets are small rings or eyelets that you install into holes to protect many thin materials from unwanted damage.
If installed properly, grommets protect the material from tearing by securing the holes with a round metal clip.
To install grommets with ease, a pair of grommet pliers can be very handy.
People usually mistake eyelet pliers with grommet pliers – they both look very alike.
Where grommet pliers are for installing protective grommets into holes, eyelet pliers are for making those holes.
If you are into painting and fabrics, a pair of canvas pliers can be a great aid where you might need an assistant.
Use canvas pliers to stretch out your canvas and prepare it for your tasks.
Canvas pliers have oddly wider jaws for gripping a wider span of a fabric.
Are you planning to put up or tear down a wooden fence?
Fencing pliers can be a multifunctional tool when it comes to fences.
You can use it to hammer, pull out nails and fence staples, pry anything from the surface of panels, or cut anything that can fit its jaws.
Nail Puller Pliers
Nail puller pliers are a simpler version of fencing pliers.
It has the primary function of removing nails or prying objects from wood, but it does not have the broad, solid jaw of fencing pliers that you can use as a hammer.
Welding pliers combine several functions to ease up any welding task.
You can use welding pliers to install nozzles and tips, cut wires, clean nozzles, and remove slag hammers and metal spatters.
Push Pin Pliers
Cars and machines use push pins to keep plenty of their parts in place.
Although push pins are generally easy to install, they are quite tricky to remove.
When doing repairs and part replacements, push pin pliers are convenient.
They can remove push pins with ease and without causing any damage.
Piston Ring Pliers
Like push pins, piston rings are an essential item for pistons in vehicles and machinery – they guarantee smooth operation and piston cushioning.
Piston ring pliers efficiently remove and replace piston rings, which have to be maintained and replaced regularly.
Hose Grip Pliers
Hose grip pliers have oddly-shaped long-nosed jaws that form a loop at the tip when the jaws are closed.
The formed loop can grip any similarly-sized hose, pipe, or fuel line for removal or insertion.
We commonly use hose grip pliers in the maintenance of vehicles and machines.
Brake Spring Pliers
Another type of pliers for use in vehicles is the brake spring pliers.
As the name indicates, you use brake spring pliers to remove and replace brake springs from the brake shoe of tire brakes.
Battery pliers have a specific design for holding for the square-shaped bolts of car battery terminals.
These pliers have angled and serrated jaws for firmly gripping the square bolts.
If you want to break or cut glass into smaller pieces, you might need some running pliers.
A pair of running pliers efficiently “runs” a score along a glass panel and cuts it with ease.
Sheet Metal Pliers
Sheet metal pliers have wide jaws similar to canvas pliers, but they have flat internal surfaces for handling metal sheets.
You can bend, fold, or make seams on metal sheets using a pair of sheet metal pliers.
Engineers design some pliers to have multiple functions, while others have very specific uses in different applications.
If you haven’t noticed, jewelry, arts and crafts, electrical work, vehicles, and machinery require many unique pliers for specific uses.
As we move forward in innovation, we will invent more and more pliers with specific uses, and we will all have more to tailor to our DIY requirements.