Slip-Joint pliers. Photo: Getty Images
Say the word 'pliers,' and you're bound to conjure up a bunch of different images. Some people will immediately think of the pointy prongs of a needle-nose; others will default to the compact head of the Linesman; and so on.
Different pliers are necessary for different jobs, but they're tied together by a few shared characteristics. They all consist of two lengths of metal, joined at a central hinge. One side of the hinge acts as a handle
and the other as a clamping or cutting jaw
. As anyone who has made it through 10th grade physics knows, this kind of set-up amplifies the pressure applied, thus making the jaws of the pliers much stronger than your hands could ever be.
Here are the four most common types of pliers.
Slip-Joint and Groove-Joint Pliers
These pliers are used for clamping; they're marked by an adjustable jaw. Slip-joint pliers have a two position jaw, while groove-joint pliers usually have approximately six positions, allowing them to grab onto much larger objects. Groove-joint pliers are also known by the nickname, Channellocks
, after the company that invented the style. Both of these types of pliers are good for tightening down and loosening nuts.
You probably know these pliers by the common term Vise-Grip
, which is the name they were sold under when Irwin Tools
first invented them. Locking pliers have an adjustable locking mechanism that makes them perfect for grabbing onto and removing stripped nuts and stripped screws. They can grip with fantastic pressure, so they're a popular all-purpose tool for carpenters, plumbers, electricians, metalworkers, and just about any DIYer.
As the name implies, these pliers have a long, narrow snout and are good for getting into tight spaces or working with small, delicate objects.
Linesman Pliers (a.k.a: Combination Pliers)
Although this style was created to suit the needs of electricians, they have a multitude of uses. The 'combination' is the pairing of a small clamping area with a cutting edge. These features make the tool a natural for working with wires.
Tip: If you're in the market for pliers, make sure that they have a solid, durable feel to them. Stay away from pliers that have a loose hinge. If you're going to be using them a lot, invest in pliers with strong grips.