Common Myths about Pliers
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Prying open the truth about pliers
The plier is an ancient tool based on the principle of leverage and has evolved from what were essentially tongs into a feat of engineering and design that makes life easy for electricians, plumbers.
As pliers have developed over many years the designs have branched off into a range of uses and abilities, creating different families of pliers that have their own specific jobs. Global distributors like RS Components often sell a whole range of different types, all with their own stories.
Let’s have a look at some of the truths about pliers.
Pliers are not just for picking up and turning.
There are around sixteen different types of pliers designed and engineered to perform their individual job. Diagonal pliers or side cutters, for example, are for the purpose of cutting wire and are not designed to pick up or turn objects. The cutting edges of the jaws intersect the joint rivet at an angle, which allows the wire to be separated by indenting and wedging it apart. Round nose pliers, by contrast, are used to forming a loop at the end of a wire in electronics or for jewellery making to form different shapes with the wire.
Wire cutting is not a one plier job.
Lineman’s pliers are designed to cut, straighten, and bend wire, and twist wires together when making splices. For wire stripping, a wire stripper is the best tool. An electrician might also carry side cutters, electronic cutters and a ratchet cable cutter in his pliers’ belt.
Pliers can be used as a wrench but not a hammer.
The Channellock or tongue and groove plier are actually designed to tighten and loosen nuts and bolts It can be adjusted to fit any size nut and is built with a PermaLock to eliminate nut and bolt failure.
Pliers will last longer if you use them as directed – banging in nails is best left to a hammer.
There are famous pliers
The most high profile pliers are Linemans’ pliers, the Vise-Grip and the Channellock, all named for the company who designed them and all of which have a different function in the workshop.
The vise-grip or locking pliers uses an over-centre clamp to maintain a spring pressure on the jaws to allow them to remain clamped on an object without requiring external pressure on the handle levers. The bolt is set to a slightly smaller size and maintains this pressure without damaging the object being gripped.
Blunt pliers can’t be hand sharpened.
Grandad may have sharpened his pliers but today’s tools are a different matter. Take the Knipex Needle Nose Cutting Pliers as one example. The long flat rounded jaws have serrated gripping surfaces that are separately induction hardened to 61 HRC and are forged from a high grade of vanadium electric steel, oil-hardened for added strength and durability. These pliers are not going to be sharpened by a file.
Check the rating and manufacturers instructions for the correct use of your plier. If you are not sure, ask for assistance before you make a plier purchase.