Many different types of fencing are available, and various methods are used for installation and maintenance. Post and wire fencing remains a favorite, particularly over large areas, because it’s cost-effective and relatively fast to install.
While you could tackle this type of fencing with a standard claw hammer and pliers, a hammer can be a bit cumbersome. And your pliers may not have the power or leverage required. Without fencing pliers, the job soon can get frustrating.
Fencing pliers are designed for this task. With fencing pliers, you can drive staples or remove them, grip wire for twisting, splicing, and tensioning, or cut right through it. You won’t find a professional fencing contractor without a pair, and the best fencing pliers are relatively affordable and cost-effective even for a smaller job.
- BEST OVERALL: IRWIN VISE-GRIP Pliers, Fencing, 10-1/4-Inch
- RUNNER-UP: Allied Tools 30576 10-Inch Fence Pliers
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Bates- Pliers, Fencing Pliers, Fence Pliers
- BEST MULTI-FUNCTION: Channellock 85 10-1/2in. Fence Tool Plier
- BEST PROFESSIONAL: Tekton 34541 10-1/2-Inch Fencing Pliers
- BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Crescent 10″ Heavy-Duty Solid Joint Fence Tool Pliers
- ALSO CONSIDER: Draper Fencing Plier 260mm
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Fencing Pliers
At first glance, even the best fencing pliers look fairly basic. However, while they all perform similar functions, certain design and manufacturing elements make a big impact on their performance. Consider the following features before making a purchase.
Steel is the material of choice for fencing pliers, but the type of steel varies. Alloy steel and carbon steel are often labeled as something special, but all steel is an alloy of carbon and iron, so the terms are a little misleading.
Other elements added to carbon steel increase strength and durability. For example, both nickel chrome steel and chrome vanadium steel are harder and have a higher tensile strength—ideal for tools that are subject to repeated impact and are built to apply leverage. Chrome also helps prevent rust. However, both add to the cost. Tempered steel, which is heated to near melting point and cooled rapidly in oil or water, is stronger and more durable.
The handles on fencing pliers need to do two jobs. Like ordinary pliers, they must open and close to grip or cut. On fencing pliers, they also need to provide a firm hold when closed for hammering and applying leverage.
On budget fencing pliers, the handles may be dipped in molten polypropylene (poly) to create a thin skin. It’s better than hard steel, but thicker nylon or rubberized plastic sleeves are better. On many of the best fencing pliers, the handles are ergonomically molded, which provides both superior grip and increased comfort. Ergonomic handles can make a considerable difference when using them all day, even while wearing gloves.
Size and Weight
The overall size of a pair of fencing pliers varies little. The optimum length for leverage and manageability is between 10 and 10.5 inches, and it’s unusual to see tools outside this length. However, head size may differ. The head is often flat, but some have a rounded end, more like a conventional hammer shape, which makes striking easier, particularly when using large staples.
When hammering or pulling staples and twisting or tensioning wire, a lot of wrist action is involved. So, fencing pliers shouldn’t be any heavier than necessary. A few ounces can make a difference in both maneuverability and hand fatigue.
Fencing pliers are designed to provide every function necessary for erecting or repairing a fence.
- The striking area on the front of the head hammers staples into wooden posts.
- At the other end, a curved claw can lever out even well-embedded staples.
- In the middle of the head, a pair of pincer jaws removes small staples and twists or splices wire. Serrated areas grip wire when tensioning or bending.
- Two wire cutters are within the central link, where the handles are attached to each other. The length of the handles provides excellent leverage and makes it easy to cut even thick high-tension fencing wire.
Our Top Picks
Now that you know the key features to look for in the best fencing pliers, it’s time to concentrate on individual models. Each of the top picks is a versatile and durable tool, so it’s no easy task to choose between them. The different categories below will enable shoppers to select the best fencing pliers for their particular needs.
With all the best features of these versatile tools, these IRWIN VISE-GRIP fencing pliers are made from strong, rust-resistant nickel chrome steel. They’ll last a long time and can handle the occasional night out in the rain. The hammer face is grooved for positive contact, and the claw is thin enough to dig into embedded staples and strong enough to resist damage. The central pincer section isn’t as large as some, so perhaps it’s not for the heaviest gauge wires.
The ergonomic ProTouch handles provide excellent grip and good comfort. The tool is competitively priced.
These basic pliers are imported from China. While these may not be made to the highest standards, these budget-friendly fencing pliers offer everything the DIY enthusiast needs in home fencing.
In fact, drop-forged steel is a hard-wearing material often found on more expensive tools. The cushioned grips provide good hand comfort, and the handle design delivers excellent cutting power and leverage. However, the pincer section is blunt and might struggle to remove small staples.
At first glance, it can be difficult to tell the difference between cheap fencing pliers and more expensive models. Their overall appearance is very similar, and most share the same features. These Bates pliers are made of polished steel, so they look as good as any of their competitors’ versions. While the specs don’t include the composition of the alloy, carbon steel is a tough, durable material. The plastic-coated handles provide a good grip.
The claw is not quite as sharp as it could be, and the pincer area is a little small. However, this won’t keep them from working properly, but it might take a bit of extra effort. Nevertheless, these are functional, affordable fencing pliers and a good choice for occasional repairs and maintenance.
The heat-treated steel in Channellock’s fencing pliers is tough enough for frequent impacts, but its elasticity makes it more pliable. Slender-looking handles maximize grip when tensioning, twisting, or cutting wire, while rubberized sleeves provide a secure hold.
The cutters are different sizes to accommodate various wire thicknesses. The central portion can double as a staple starter.
However, the claw could be sharper, and the pliers themselves will eventually show signs of rust. However, an occasional wipe with light machine oil should help keep corrosion at bay.
Tekton makes some of the best fencing pliers for the professional tool kit. Chrome vanadium steel is strong, resilient, rust-resistant, and arguably the optimum metal for this kind of tool.
A look at the overall machining, with the crisp, well-defined edges throughout, demonstrates the high manufacturing standards. The claw and pincer, areas of weakness on some fencing pliers, offer the right combination of finesse and power. The slender handles, which have high-quality, nonslip grips, minimize weight while maximizing leverage.
Putting up new fencing is relatively easy. Repairing old fencing, however, in which wire and staples are rusted and embedded in age-hardened timber, can be much more difficult.
Forged steel is extremely durable. The claw on these pliers is sharp enough to hack at rusty staples buried in old posts. The central pincer, which is divided in two, can grasp small or large staples with equal force. The hardened cutters make light work of any fencing wire.
These pliers may be at the higher end of the price range, and the rubber handle grips can come loose, which is frustrating, but overall, this rugged tool is a worthy choice for heavy-duty demands.
While not as well known in the United States, Draper Tools have an excellent reputation for quality and value in the UK and Europe. Drop-forged steel is tough and retains its sharpness. The head is broader than some models, so less skill is needed when hammering. The claw has a fine point for lifting stubborn staples. Strong rubberized plastic casing on the handles provides a sure grip and good comfort.
FAQs About Fencing Pliers
By now you probably have an excellent understanding of the way the best fencing pliers perform, and you might well have chosen the pair you want. However, even the most comprehensive guide to fencing pliers might still leave a few questions unanswered. The following are those that crop up most often.
Q. What do fencing pliers look like?
The head has a hammer surface on one side and a curved claw on the other. For increased leverage, the two handles are usually longer than those on standard pliers. Areas for gripping and cutting wire are in the center of the head.
Q. Should the handles of fencing pliers have a cushion grip?
It’s a good idea to have some form of cushioning on the handles to improve grip and comfort.
Q. How do you use fencing pliers?
Fencing pliers are multipurpose. You can use them like standard pliers to grip wire or to cut through it. When holding the handles, you can use the head to hammer staples into posts, or you can reverse it and use the claw to lever them out.