Although pliers are often thought to be fairly basic tools, there are a substantial number of different models. Each is designed for a different purpose and the best performance will be achieved by using the right plier for the job. Pliers can be divided into two categories, one for gripping and twisting and one for cutting. A few models such as engineer’s combination pliers combine both functions. Features of quality pliers include well forged steel, the heat treatment to provide a positive cutting edge without making them brittle, the geometry of the jaws, a firm positive joint and, if required, good quality insulation. The body and handles of all pliers should be hardened and then well-tempered back. On cutting pliers the cutting edges are then induction hardened. Traditionally there are three main types of joints: box joints; where one handle is literally forged onto the other handle, or lay-on and slip joints; where the 2 handles are riveted together.
Most types of pliers listed below will also be available in VDE form. All VDE pliers should have been properly tested and have heavy duty handles. Only genuine VDE approved pliers conforming to IEC 9000/VDE 0860 Part1 tested should be used on electrical work.
Most pliers will come under either cutting or gripping pliers, the exception is Failed to find Class, these are sometimes called engineers (or electricians if VDE) pliers. They are strongly made with a serrated part of the jaw for flat gripping, a curved part for holding pipes etc. and a cutting jaw for cutting wire. Cable cutters are also cable of cutting and gripping, they have curved jaws to grip cable and stop it being pushed out, there are two types of cable shears; croppers for cutting soft metals such as copper and aluminium and cutters for more heavy duty work.
Toolbank have an excellent range of cutting pliers, the most heavy-duty (and not really pliers) are bolt croppers, and these come in 3 different types:
Centre cut have jaws in the centre of the blade and are the most common. clipper cut have jaws which cut at the edge of the blade, ideal for where bolts have to be cut at an obstruction. end cutting have jaws shaped like a pincer to cut at the edge of the blade, they are suitable for trimming protruding bolts.
Side cutting pliers are for cutting wire, and have a cutting edge at a slight angle to the handle to allow the user to cut flat to a surface.
End cutting pliers are sometimes called top cutting, and their cutting edge is at 90° to the handle for close cutting. Carpenters pincers are very similar but are not as sharp, as they are used for pulling nails rather than cutting them.
Electronic cutters are designed for frequent regular use, mainly on production lines etc. Tinsnips are basically metal cutting scissors with blades that are hardened in order to provide long lasting sharp cutting edges.
Toolbank also offer a wide range of gripping pliers.
Locking pliers are designed to be controlled by a screw in the handle and the jaws are controlled by a spring action and they grip until a lever is pulled, releasing the work piece. Long nose pliers have flat serrated jaws, they are designed for lightweight work and use in narrow, hard to reach to crevices. Bent nose pliers are similar to long nose but have a light bend hallway up the jaws to allow working in awkward areas. Slip joint pliers are formed by laying one handle on the other and riveting together, the hole for the rivet is elongated to allow for wide opening of the jaws.
There are also types of pliers which are used for specialist jobs. These include; Wire stripping pliers which are designed especially for stripping away insulation from wire, and crimping tools which are designed for electrical crimps. Circlip pliers are available in two types, external open the circlip and internal close it up. Fencing pliers are designed for wire fencing. They can cut, pull, stretch and squeeze wire fence hog ring pliers can normally do the same jobs as the fencing pliers, but also have the option for connecting hog rings to the fence to hold together. The Maun sprue cutters are designed specifically for cutting sprue - the excess material left offer from the passage when moulding. Revolving punch pliers are designed for making holes in soft materials. They will have different diameter punches to make different size holes in the material. Eyelet pliers are similar to the revolving punch plier but also puts an eyelet in the hole it punches.