Used for bending, compressing, gripping, and tightening, pliers are a multi-purpose hand tool. There are many different types of pliers used for various home improvement projects. Some pliers can cut wire, while some are meant for removing bolts. Just like with hammers and drills, you are bound to run into a project where you will need to have pliers readily available in your toolbox. Know what kind of pliers you have or need to purchase for certain projects before you begin any plying.

What are pliers?

While pliers come in many shapes and forms for different purposes, the most basic design involves the handles and the nose. Designed for comfort and functionality, the handles are squeezed to close the nose of the pliers and consist of grip, making it easier to hold on to. Some handles are electrically insulated so that the user won’t get shocked if working with electrical wiring. The nose is the head of the pliers where the clamping occurs. Some noses are pointed while others are wide and have steel jaws to maximize grip and pressure. In addition to the nose, some pliers have a cutter, which is a sharp blade either beneath the nose or between the jaws of the nose for wire or thin metal cutting.

Type of pliers

Pliers come in many shapes, sizes, and forms with different handles and noses for specific tasks. The following are a few kinds of pliers that are handy to have for home improvement projects.

Slip-joint pliers

The main function of these pliers is their pivot mobility to increase the range of their jaws. The adjustability of slip-joint pliers sets them apart from other types. The average household project or repair can be completed with slip-joint pliers due to their ability to open wider or smaller for varying sizes. This versatile set of pliers is mainly used for bending or straightening nails, gripping nuts or bolts, and pressing objects together. While slip-joint pliers can be very handy, they can also be dangerous if used to hold an object tightly, as they tend to slip out of place. Try Lowe’s Kobalt Slip Joint Pliers with ergonomic bi-material anti-slip grips for only $5.98.

Needle-nose pliers

Also known as long-nose pliers, these pliers are meant for cutting and holding smaller objects. The long and pointed shape provides greater control and precision for reaching the unreachable by hand. Typically used by jewelers or electricians, needle-nose pliers can manipulate wires with their fine point. Whether you’re making jewelry and need to hold on to small pieces or need to reach into a small space to draw out a wire, Lowe’s Kobalt Needle Nose Pliers for $7.98 will get the job done.

Diagonal pliers

Meant primarily for cutting wires, diagonal pliers have similar abilities to other pliers, but are not used for turning or grabbing objects. Specifically used for cutting materials like steel, aluminum, brass, iron and copper wires, diagonal pliers have bladed jaws that are formed at an angle to wedge the wire apart when cut. Try a pair of Kobalt 7-in Diagonal Pliers at Lowe’s for $7.98 for easy to use clippers.

Lineman pliers

For a greater amount of force and leverage, lineman pliers are designed for a combination of purposes. Typically used by electricians, lineman pliers can grip, bend, twist and cut wires and cables. With a ridged nose and bladed jaws, these pliers provide strength for tougher projects. The Kobalt 8-in Lineman Pliers for $12.98 at Lowe’s is a durable and affordable option to add to your toolbox.

8 quick-tips for using pliers

  1. Never use pliers as a hammer, they will break or crack
  2. Only cut wires with pliers that are specified to do so
  3. Always cut at a right angle
  4. Do not bend a wire back and forth until it breaks
  5. Never expose pliers to excessive heat
  6. Wear eye protection when cutting any wire or metal
  7. Be sure to use insulated handles for electrical work
  8. Maintain the life-span of your pliers by oiling the joint