Pliers are an essential tool for both tradesmen and DIY enthusiasts. They allow the user to complete a wide range of tasks and fit neatly inside belts and tool boxes.

Like all tools, deciding which one you need for a job can be tricky, especially if you’re not in the trade. So here is our ultimate guide to pliers and their uses.

What are pliers?

Pliers are a type of hand tool. They allow the user to firmly grip an object – usually something like a nail or wire – so it can be tightened or loosened, twisted or cut.

Pliers generally consist of five parts: two handles, a pivot and two jaws. By placing the fulcrum closer to the jaws and further away from the hands of the user, the parts amplify the user’s grip strength, increasing the force he or she can impart on an object.

Plier parts

It’s important to understand the main parts of a plier and their individual functions. Keep in mind that these parts may vary from tool to tool as different pliers are made for specific applications.

Plier Parts Diagram By Mad4Tools


Great for gripping nail heads and small objects, the tip of the plier is often narrower than the rest of the jaw, giving users more control for manoeuvring in small spaces.

Pipe Grip

This area of the jaw usually has small teeth to aid with gripping. It is designed to grab round objects such as pipes.


The cutters are an extra sharp part of the jaw used for cutting wires, cables and stripping plastic sheathing.


Varying widely in size and shape, the jaw is the working end of the plier used for gripping. The jaw is usually made from steel alloy and textured for better grip.

Pivot Point (or Fulcrum)

The pivot or fulcrum is where the two handles meet. This provides a point of leverage and allows the handles to open and close.


The handles are the part of the plier that you hold. These can be curved or straight, and are usually fitted with a grip so your hands don’t slip.

Types of Pliers

Pliers are designed for lots of different applications, from cutting wires to gripping bolts and removing nails. As such, they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

At MAD4TOOLS, we supply pliers from some of the biggest names in tool manufacture. Every single day the tools we sell help people get the job done. If you’re stuck for the right plier, here’s a complete rundown of the most common types available.

Waterpump pliers

Often called waterpump pliers in the UK, but sometimes known as angle-nosed, tongue-and-groove or groove-joint pliers, these pliers are ideal for working on larger objects like pipes. They feature serrated jaws at 45 to 60 degrees, expandable mouths and come in multiple sizes.

Cutting, crimping and stripping pliers

Featuring an extremely sharp end and robust handles, these pliers are ideal for cutting through a variety of wires, as well as crimping and stripping.

They’re an essential tool for electricians or those performing wiring-based jobs around the house. Side cutters have curved, short noses and end cutters can be used on wire, rivets and bolts.

Locking pliers

Locking pliers perform a similar function to that of a wrench, with a knurled screw that allows you to lock your pliers into position to stop them from slipping.

Sometimes called a vice grip, they allow you to pull or twist without losing your grip. Locking pliers have serrated jaws and feature a release for disengaging the lock.

Long-nose pliers

Long-nose pliers, sometimes referred to as needle-nose pliers, are ideal for jewellery making, working in tight spaces or cutting small-gauge wire. They feature long, slender jaws that make it easy to access hard-to-reach spaces.

Fencing pliers

Featuring two wire cutters and a heavy head that can be used for hammering, fencing pliers are primarily designed for working on fences.

Combination pliers

Ideal for DIY-ers, combination pliers allow the user to complete a wide range of tasks, including cutting, crimping, stripping and twisting. They are less specialised than other pliers but are still suitable for a variety of practical jobs.

Circlip pliers

Circlip pliers are used for fastening and removing retaining rings, sometimes referred to as snap rings. They are typically used by engineers working on motors, pistons or turbines.

Duckbill pliers

Similar to long-nose pliers, duckbill pliers are used for reaching small spaces. Their thin, flat jaws give the user more room to move, perfect for working with safety wires.


As the name suggests, adjustable pliers can be adjusted to accommodate larger objects so the user can complete more tasks with the same tool. They are suitable for both professional and home use.

What are pliers used for?

Pliers can be used around the house for any number of applications, but they are primarily used for gripping, cutting, bending and stripping. Keep reading to learn more.


The main use of a pair of pliers is gripping. With a firm hold, users can loosen or tighten bolts, handle objects with greater precision and remove fastenings like rings, pins and nails.


Lots of pliers come with sharpened blades along the jaw so they can be used to cut, clip or sever wires.

Bending or straightening

Pliers provide a mechanical advantage that allows the user to deliver more torque force. This makes them ideal for shaping, bending or straightening metal. Electricians and metalworkers regularly use pliers to manipulate cabling and metal sheeting.

Splicing or stripping

Electricians deal with electrical wires all the time, and as such need a quick and easy way to cut wires and strip them of their insulation. With a pair of combination or stripping pliers, an electrician can expose the tip of a wire and splice two together in a matter of seconds.

Pliers are versatile tools and an essential part of any handyman’s toolkit. Visit our MAD4TOOLS pliers page to discover our full range, where you’ll find models of every type of plier at low, low prices.

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