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CATEGORIES (articles) > Tools of the trade > Hand Tools and supplies > Pliers, Needle, Cutting, Crimping, Gripping

Pliers, Needle, Cutting, Crimping, Gripping

Needle-nose pliers

Pliers are hand tools, designed primarily for gripping objects by using leverage. Pliers are designed for numerous purposes and require different jaw configurations to grip, turn, pull, or crimp a variety of things. They are a tool common to many dexterous trades and occupations. Many types of pliers also include jaws for cutting.


Pliers were first invented in Europe around 2000 BC to grip hot objects (principally iron as it was being forged on an anvil). Among the oldest illustrations of pliers are those showing the Greek god Hephaestus in his smithy. Today, pliers intended principally to be used for safely handling hot objects are usually called tongs. The number of different designs of pliers grew with the invention of the different objects which they were used to handle: horse shoes, fasteners, wire, pipes, electrical and electronic components.


The basic design of pliers has changed little since their origins, with the pair of handles, the pivot (often formed by a rivet), and the head section with the gripping jaws or cutting edges forming the three elements. In distinction to pair of scissors or shears, the plier's jaws always meet each other at one point.

In technical terms, pliers are an instrument that convert a power grip, the curling of the fingers into the palm of the hand, into a precision grip, which directs the power of the hand's grip in a precise fashion on the object to be gripped. The handles are long relative to the shorter nose of the pliers. Therefore, they act as levers, concentrating and, in effect, amplifying the force in the hand's grip on a work piece.

Common types

Lock jaw pliers, also called vise grip or "mole grips".
NOTE: Vise-Grip is a trade name of IRWIN Industrial Tools pliers

Gripping pliers (used to improve grip)

  • Combination pliers or lineman's pliers
  • Flat nose pliers
  • Round nose pliers
  • Long-nose or needle-nose pliers, which have long, narrow jaws for gripping in confined spaces
  • Water pump or channel lock pliers - with adjustable jaw sizes, which are designed to grip various sizes of round, hexagon, flat or similarly shaped objects
  • Retaining ring or circlip pliers, which are used for fixing or loosening retaining rings
  • Locking pliers
  • Nail pulling pliers - an adaptation of the end nipper used for cutting wire; the jaws may be asymmetric, allowing the nail to be pulled out with a rocking motion on the surface in which it is imbedded

Cutting pliers (used to sever or pinch off)

  • Combination pliers or lineman's pliers
  • Diagonal pliers (side cutting pliers or side cutters) not really pliers as it is only used for cutting
  • Pinching pliers (end nippers)
  • Wire stripping pliers - cuts and removes insulation on electrical wire while leaving the wire intact
  • Needle-nose pliers - designed for gripping, but typically incorporate a cutter for 'one-tool' convenience.

Crimping pliers

  • For crimping electrical terminals and connectors (solderless connections)
  • For crimping metal rings or tags on livestock
  • For crimping metal security seals on cargo carriers
  • For crimping an impression on a document - as in a notary's seal

Rotational pliers

  • developed by NASA engineers to enable an astronaut to turn a nut in zero gravity. The clamping motion of the hand is converted to rotational motion to drive a socket wrench

Slip joint pliers
Diagonal pliers or side cutters
Lineman's pliers or combination pliers
Electrical wire stripping and terminal crimping pliers

WikiProject Metalworking: This article is part of Metalworking hand tools.

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CATEGORIES (articles) > Tools of the trade > Hand Tools and supplies > Pliers, Needle, Cutting, Crimping, Gripping

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