Different Types of Pliers & Wire Cutters

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Pliers are a very basic hand tool used by specialists in all fields for holding and cutting wires and other thin metals. Dozens of specialized pliers are available for just about any type of work, but they are all made in a simple lever type configuration, with opposing handles and jaws.

Different Types of Pliers & Wire Cutters
(Jens Lambert/Demand Media)

Also called “combination pliers,” the lineman’s pliers are made with both a gripping surface and a cutting edge. This type of pliers has a universal use of gripping small objects and is used by most electricians because of their insulated handles that reduce the risk of moderate shock. The pliers’ metal components are usually made from high grade steel, but the rubberized grips are usually worn out quickly under daily use.

Jens Lambert/Demand Media

The needle-nose pliers are made with tapering slender jaws and are used most commonly by electricians for both gripping and cutting. The long, slim nose offers good control and reach for work in small and crowding electrical enclosures. Like the lineman’s pliers, these are also commonly made with rubberized insulated handle grips.

Jens Lambert/Demand Media

The diagonal-cutting pliers, despite the name, are actually used primarily for wire cutting by electricians and other tradesman. Like other pliers used by electricians, these are also commonly insulated with a rubberized handle. Many of those in the electrician industry might refer to these pliers by a different name; “dikes” or “diags” are both common.

Jens Lambert/Demand Media

Also called vise or mole grips, these pliers have the ability to be locked into a position using what is called an overcenter action. A small knob at the end of one of the grips is turned to tighten or loosen the locking point, and a lever that lies between the grips is used to release the lock. Locking pliers are usually available in a style similar to the lineman’s pliers, but a needle-nose style can also be found.

Jens Lambert/Demand Media

The round-nose pliers are built with conical jaws that gently taper to the tips. These pliers are used for bending curves in wires and thin metal, and are commonly used to make and alter jewelry and fishing equipment. Some manufacturers of these pliers also make them with an attached wire cutter.

Jens Lambert/Demand Media

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References

  • Hand Tools: Their Ways and Workings; Aldren A. Watson; 2002
  • Dictionary of American Hand Tools; Alvin Sellens; 2002
  • Choosing & Using Hand Tools; Andy Rae; 2008
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