Pliers (plyers) are handheld, manually-powered hand tools, often employing serrated jaws, designed for holding, cutting, bending, or manipulation of tough or difficult materials such as wire, sheet metal, or fine machine components. They are usually simpler and more lightweight than most wrenches, which allow users to quickly and easily manipulate objects too small or too dangerous for fingers.
Pliers typically vary in length from 4” to 20” and consist of three basic components: a pair of handles, a pivot where the handles join, and the head section that contains the gripping jaws or cutting edges. Pliers are most commonly made from steel alloys containing additives such as vanadium or chromium for strength and corrosion resistance. Some specialty-use pliers may be made from softer metals depending on the application, such as musical instrument repair or jewelry making, where the amount of pressure on an object should be lessened.
These tools are often included in one of two broad categories, solid joint pliers or slip joint pliers. Solid joint pliers are fixed with a solid pin or rivet and are therefore not adjustable. Slip joint pliers are adjustable and can be either multiple-hole pliers, or tongue and groove. The slip, or adjustable joint, of these pliers allow the tool be adjust to the size of the object.
Within the broad categories of pliers, there is also a variety of common types that vary per application. Common types of pliers include combination or linesman’s pliers; groove joint pliers; duckbill or flat-noose pliers; snub-nosed or round-nose pliers; bolt cutters; needle-nose pliers; locking pliers; gripping pliers; special purpose pliers for nail-pulling, wire-stripping, fencing, electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection, etc.; cutting pliers, which can provide wire cutting, side-cutting, end-cutting, and diagonal cuts; crimping pliers for use in solder-less electrical connectors, crimping metal seals or rings, creating an impression onto a document, etc; and rotational pliers. Other, unlisted types of pliers may also be commonly available.
Special features commonly offered for pliers include an optional soft grip for comfort, wire cutting abilities, the option of being electrically insulated, and bent nose options. Additional special features and options for pliers may also be available.