What Makes a Quality Pliers January 17 , 2017

This article is going to cover what makes a quality pliers. It doesn't matter if it is a slip joint, pump, tongue & groove, arc joint, needle nose, or long nose pliers. Good quality pliers all have the same characteristics.


Bright & shiny is not always good.


Many cheap pliers look great. They are usually bright silver in color. If you look closely at the cheap pliers underneath the shiny coating the metal is rough. There are no smooth surfaces anywhere on the pliers. A quality pliers usually has machined surfaces on at least two sides. While some quality pliers are plated (usually a bright silver color) many of them are not. Some of the best pliers are not plated at all. The parts are usually a dark gray and if you look at them after a few years they will turn to a deep brown. Most quality pliers will rust if left outside. The rust doesn't harm them. Just scrub them with a scotch-brite pad and rub on a light oil. Even if they get really rusty you can sand them with sand paper to remove the rust.


So how do you tell a quality pliers from a cheap pair.


1. The teeth on the jaws are sharp.


For example, Let's say you want to take the end off a curtain rod. You decide to use a slip-joint pliers to hold the round part of the rod while you unscrew the end. With a cheap pliers it will slip and ruin the finish on the rod. With a quality pliers it will grip the rod and not slip. Yes it will make some score marks, but they will be small and you won't see them when the rod is put back up.


The easy way to understand this is to go to your favorite hardware or big box store and look at the cheapest slip-joint pliers and the most expensive ones. On the most expensive pair the teeth or grooves on the jaws will be sharp to the touch. They aren't sharp enough to cut you but they will be noticeably sharper than the cheap pair. You want the teeth sharp so they will grip the item you are using them on. The good pair will grip well and let you hold the item without gouging or scraping it. Yes, pliers will leave a mark on the item they are grabbing, but a good pair will grip well and not slip easily and mar the surface. DON'T USE A PLIERS ON ANYTHING YOU DON'T WANT SCRATCHED.


2. The hinge joint is close tolerance.


On a solid joint pliers like a needlenose grab a handle in each hand and try to wiggle the joint. A quality pliers will have no "wiggle" in the joint. If you have an older set and the pliers get stiff and hard to open and close, spray the joint with a penetrating oil like "LiquidWrench" or "PB Blaster". Leave it set for a few hours and it will loosen up.


On slip joint pliers you can "slip" the joint on a slip joint pliers which increases the capacity range of the pliers. The joint of a quality slip-joint pliers will also be tight like a solid joint pliers. But, the joint should "slip" easily when you move it intentionally.


3. Handles


On a quality pliers the handles have a knurled grip or a cushion grip. The knurling should be rough, but not sharp. In other words, the handles should fit your hand. If they are not comfortable, you won't want to use them. Cushion grips are molded to the handle. Don't buy a pliers where the cushion grips are slipped on. They will slip off when you try to use the pliers.


Lastly, Don't go for hype. If it is advertised as the best invention since the wheel it probably isn't.

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