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pliers technical information

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Basics of... Pliers

Pliers come in a wide variety of configurations but most can be classified into the following categories: diagonal, lineman′s, long nose, slip joint, groove joint, end cutting, locking and specialty.

Diagonal: Only used for cutting. There are several different types but are typically classified into single and lap joint styles.


Single joint diagonals are often smaller in size and used for precision work such as electronics or cutting fine wire. The joint is designed in such a way that one of the plier halves has a pocket machined into it. The other half has a protrusive feature that fits in the pocket. Such a joint is very ridged and helps keep the cutting edges perfectly aligned.

Lap joint diagonals are typically larger in size and used for heavy duty cutting applications. Due to the joint design these pliers often have a high leverage pivot or one that is located close to the cutting edges. A high leverage pivot allows the user to make the cut with less force applied to the handles than a traditional pivot.

Diagonal Plier Cut Styles - Diagonal Pliers are available in various cut styles depending on their application.

Standard Cut can be used when the application is not sensitive to either the amount of the shock transmitted through the wire to the component or to the amount of “pinch�? left on the wire tip after cutting.

Flush Cut should be used for delicate applications, which require minimal shock transmittal and wire tip “pinch�?. Flush cutters produce a clean cut, which facilitates soldering and increases connection reliability.

Semi-Flush Cut can be used for most applications. They reduce shock transmittal and wire tip “pinch�?

Diagonal Plier Head Shapes - Different head shapes are available for easier access in difficult areas.

Oval Head are the most versatile because they have the most material behind the cutting edges and last longer.

Tapered Head should be used when access to the cutting area is limited. These cutters have less head mass and provide proportionally fewer cuts.


Lineman’s: (also known as side cutting pliers) are general use pliers used for cutting, gripping, twisting and crimping.

Combination: perform the same functions as lineman’s pliers but are thinner and have two different types of gripping jaws in the head.

Slip Joint: re used for grasping and turning. These types of pliers have a two position joint which allows the use to adjust the jaw opening.

Hose Clamp: utilize the design of Slip Joint Pliers with recesses in the jaws to install and remove wire spring tension clamps.

Long Nose: used for grasping and bending small objects. Many styles also have cutting jaws or stripper holes for removing insulation from small diameter wire. As the name implies they have a long tapered nose which can be used to reach into areas where space is limited. The jaws can be serrated or smooth depending on the intended application. Some also have a bent nose at 45 or 90 ° to help reach around objects in limited space applications.

Chain Nose: commonly referred to as long nose pliers that are typically shorter and thicker for increased strength.

Needle Nose: have longer and thinner heads for finer work.


Tongue & Groove Joint: used for grasping and turning. Commonly referred to as Channellock®, these pliers have a series of grooves in the joint which allows the user to adjust the width of the jaw opening. Commonly used in the plumbing and automotive trades, these pliers are made with a wide variety of different jaw configurations. Some types have V-notch jaws which can grab and turn fasteners like a wrench. The European market uses a similar type of pliers called water pump pliers.

Water Pump: perform the same functions but typically have thinner and shorter jaws. These pliers also have multiple jaw positions but do not use interlocking grooves like groove joint pliers. Instead, they typically have a series of serrated teeth or scallops in the joint that intersect with a pin or gear.

End Cutting Pliers: also known as pincer pliers or nippers are used for cutting and prying. These pliers have “C�? shaped cutting jaws that allow for flush cutting. In addition, these pliers have a rounded head which allows the user to grasp and pry out nails or tacks much like one would use a claw hammer.

Locking: used for grasping and holding objects with an adjustable amount of force. There are several varieties but most use a simple toggle link mechanism with an adjustable pivot to set the clamping force. These types of pliers are commonly referred to as ViseGrip®. They are made with a wide variety of different jaw configurations for specialty uses such as welding, plumbing and wood working.

Specialty: are often application specific. Some examples include those used for installing or removing snap rings, cutting fiber optic cable, removing springs or stripping wire insulation. There are many types of such pliers used in all industries and trades. A few are shown below: