Types of pliers

If you open any toolbox or any drawer with tools you’re definitely find some kind of pliers in them and often there be more than one type of pliers in there. Pliers allow you to grip an object much more firmly than with just your hands or other tools. That makes pliers ideal for any building, maintenance, engineering or repair task that requires gripping, twisting, pulling or shearing. As a DIY homeowner you probably don’t need every type of pliers in your toolbox but it’s hard to know which one do you need if you don’t know all types of pliers and their uses.

different types of pliers

In this ultimate pliers guide we’ll go through all the types of pliers and explain you their purpose. In that way you’ll learn what type of pliers do your need in your toolbox.

Pliers design

It doesn’t matter which type is it, all the pliers are made from two lengths of shaped metal joined together by a screw at a pivot point. In that way it creates a handle on one end, and jaws on the other. All the pliers have the same basic parts but they’re shaped differently on each type. Here are the main parts of pliers:

  • Jaws are the working head that opens and closes to grip or cut.
  • Tip is the end part of the jaw is used to grip small objects and get into tight spaces.
  • Pipe grip is the middle part of the jaws forms a hole for gripping pipe when the jaws are closed.
  • Cutters are the bottom part of the jaws with blades for cutting wires and cables and stripping insulation.
  • Pivot point is the place where the two handles meet and pivot to open and close the jaws.  
  • Handles are the part of the pliers that’s held by the user.   

All pliers are used in the same way. You grip the handles to close the jaws around the object to be worked on. Then, when force is applied, the pliers increase the pressure exerted by the user by using a lever force. That force makes it easier to manipulate the object easily. 

pliers parts

Combination pliers

Combination pliers are the most popular type of pliers and they can be found in almost every toolbox. They combine wire cutting and insulation stripping with serrated jaws. In that way combination pliers allow users to bend, twist and compress objects. There are some variations that add additional functions or extended leverage but the basic shape remains the same in every variation of combination pliers. The gripping jaws in combination pliers most often have a circular indentation. In that way the user’s hold on the target object is much better. Combination pliers are widely used, both by professional technicians and amateur DIY enthusiasts.

combination pliers

Flat nose pliers

Flat nose pliers, also known as needle nose pliers or long nose pliers have long, thin jaws, allowing the user to have greater precision. Also, they’re great in accessing the areas other types of pliers can’t reach. Flat nose pliers also have short handles and slim profiles. This type of pliers is primarily used by electricians and engineers to carry out detailed work with wire, such as bending, gripping and cutting wires in confined spaces. They’re also an ideal choice for craftspeople and jewellery makers. If you plan to buy flat nose pliers for electrical work always look for VDE handles. That is a special rubber insulated safety handle that protects you from accidental electric shocks.

Locking pliers

Locking pliers are used for clamping down on things. This type of pliers have a double-lever action that allows them to act as a hand-held vise. The jaws on locking pliers close like on any set of pliers, but they have a locking down mechanism with much you can grip the object with even greater pressure. Locking pliers are released once a lever on the handle gets triggered. With dialing a screw drive at the end of the handle you can adjust the width of the grip. Locking pliers can successfully replace pipe wrenches, adjustable wrenches, and clamps making them a perfect tool for plumbing repairs.

locking pliers


Pincers is the type of pliers that have rounded jaws that close together at the end to apply force and grip materials. Pincers have many different uses, including pinching, twisting or cutting wire. They are also the best choice for jobs that require pulling power like removing nails from wood. This pliers type is used in engineering, construction, industrial environments, carpentry and DIY. Pincers come in many different sizes and designs depending the specific industry for which they’re intended.

Slip joint pliers

Slip joint pliers feature an adjustable pivot point that allows the two pieces of the pliers to shift. In that way you can extend the range of the jaws. This type of pliers can grip materials of varying thicknesses and that makes them a very versatile tool. The jaws of the slip joint pliers consist of two parts. At the mouth, the jaws have a flat, serrated texture to help with gripping flat surfaces. Behind the mouth the jaws typically curve out to grip rounded surfaces, like pipes and rods. Slip joint pliers are most commonly used in bending and holding, crimping metal, looping wire, and cutting wire and soft nails. You can even use slip joint pliers for loosening and tightening nuts.


Cutters are the type of pliers designed to cut materials. They have few most common variations like: diagonal cutters, end cutters, bolt cutters and wire rope cutters. Diagonal cutters are used for gripping and splicing wires in addition to cutting them. This type of cutters are commonly used to strip insulation for crimping and similar procedures. Diagonal cutters or wire cutters can be used even for removing nails and doing work via indentation. End cutters or nippers are similar but more focused on a clean slice and they can also be used for cutting more solid objects like bolts, nails and rivets. Bolt cutters, as the name suggests, are primarily designed to provide significant cutting power in order to break open metal locks. The last type of cutters are wire rope cutters and they’re designed to apply a firm hold in order to slice without causing the material to fan out.


Now when you learn all that you needed to know about pliers you’re ready to get the types pliers that you need. Before you buy a pliers always make sure to try them out first and check that it fits in your hand well. Sometimes buying pliers in a set is a good way to start out and then you can customize from there. If you’re buying pliers in a set then you need to know that those probably aren’t the pliers designed for professional usage but rather for home use. Professional pliers which will last you a lifetime very rarely come in sets and they’re price is significantly higher. You probably don’t need professional tools but we advise you to buy only well known brands. No name tools are often made from low quality steel and they often brake during first serious grip. By choosing the right pair of pliers for the job and the right brand of pliers, you will have a much more pleasant experience.

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