The Best Pliers for Everyday Jobs
Trust these pliers to give you the leverage you need to get the job done.
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- Best OverallKNIPEX Tools 12-Inch Cobra PliersCheck Latest Price
- Best SetIRWIN Tools VISE-GRIP Locking Pliers SetCheck Latest Price
- Upgrade PickChannellock TOOL ROLL-3 5 Piece Pliers SetCheck Latest Price
It doesn’t matter if you’re a new homeowner, an apartment dweller, or an old-school DIYer, you should invest in the best pliers needed for the job. In fact, no toolset is complete without a few different sets of handy, reliable pliers. These grip-magnifying tools help you grab hold of an object that you need to remove, tighten, pull, or cut. There’s one issue: There’s a lot of different types of pliers out there.
If you aren’t sure which types of pliers you need for your toolset, you’re not alone. The job you’re doing determines which pliers are the best for your application. Whether you’re tightening metal pipes, wiring an outlet, or trying to keep a grip on a tiny fastener, there’s a plier that’s best suited for the job.
If you ask five tradespeople which pliers they think are the best, you’ll probably get six different answers. This guide will help point you in the right direction, as it crowns some of the best pliers of each style.
Our Top Picks
There’s a saying: “Get the right tool for the job.” It’s never been more applicable than when it comes to choosing the best pliers for a project. Certain styles of pliers can be helpful for some jobs but can be failures at others. This guide points out some of the best pliers in each style, and for which tasks they are best suited.
1. BEST OVERALL: KNIPEX Tools 12-Inch Cobra Pliers
When it comes to finding a do-all style of pliers, there’s no beating a set of groove joint (or water pump) pliers. These 12-inch pliers are not only a great size but they’re also of top-notch quality. They’re at the top of their game when it comes to material, grip, and convenience. Common pump pliers need to open completely to adjust. The KNIPEX Tools pliers, on the other hand, use push-button adjustments. This allows the user to adjust the grip while the plier is on the workpiece, without opening the jaws. These forged chrome vanadium and oil-hardened pliers are incredibly durable. The jaws will provide a solid grip against the hardest and smoothest materials. They’re perfect for plumbing pipes and fittings, as well as nuts and bolts around the house. Just be aware that these pliers create a lot of leverage and might mar a workpiece.
2. BEST SET: IRWIN Tools VISE-GRIP Locking Pliers Set
If you’re looking for a quick boost for your toolbox, this set of pliers from IRWIN Tools will do the trick. It can also save you some cash. This set includes diagonal cutters, slip-joint pliers, needle-nose pliers, and a set of adjustable groove-joint pliers. Each of these has comfortable non-slip grips. The grip design reduces discomfort and pinching when the user has to apply a lot of leverage. All pliers in the set are constructed from nickel chromium steel so they’ll be strong and long-lasting. IRWIN Tools also does a great job of reducing the wobble and play found in most adjustable pliers. The precision joints make each of these pliers a pleasure to use. They also come with a tool wrap to roll them up and store away in a drawer or at the bottom of a toolbox.
3. UPGRADE PICK: Channellock TOOL ROLL-3 5 Piece Pliers Set
Channellock is so well-known that the industry refers to all groove-joint pliers as “Channellocks.” This set of five pliers includes slip-joint pliers, diagonal cutters, needle-nose pliers, and two sets of groove-joint pump pliers. Having two sets of groove-joint pliers is important for plumbing applications. A set of two can even come in handy for installing caps on metal fence posts. The user can hold the pliers in opposite directions and apply lots of torque and leverage. This results in a very tight fit that will stay that way for a long time. The other three pliers are also high-quality. They use the same well-known non-slip, comfortable grip.
This is an excellent set for serious DIYers and budding tradespeople. They come with a handy tool roll to keep them stored away neatly.
4. BEST FOR GENERAL USE: Channellock 626 6-Inch Slip Joint Pliers
Most people picture a set of slip-joint pliers when they think of pliers. They’re useful for almost any gripping task around the house, and their small size makes them easy to stow away in a drawer. This set of 6-inch slip-joint pliers from Channellock uses the company’s patented PermaLock fasteners, which replaces the nut and bolt that hold most low-end pliers together. The result is a tight set of slip-joint pliers with a reliable and predictable action that reduces failures, injuries, and the stripping of nuts and bolts. The non-slip grips make them easy to hold onto, but comfortable enough for prolonged use. The included shear-type wire cutter is also a nice feature, making these tools perfect for cutting strips of wire and cord.
5. BEST FOR ELECTRICAL WORK: Klein Tools 9-Inch Side Cutters
For DIYers in the middle of a renovation or those that do their fair share of electrical work, these linesman-style pliers from Klein Tools are the definition of dependable. They also have some great features, including a hot-riveted joint for smooth opening and closing, knurled jaws for gripping wires and fasteners, and induction-hardened cutting knives for slicing through tough cables with ease and scoring and stripping wire coating. Klein designed these tools to increase leverage by moving the riveted joint closer to the cutting teeth, so even users without a lot of grip strength can cut heavy gauge wires. One of the best features is the handle tempering that absorbs shock—an excellent feature for those making repetitive cuts. All of these features add up to a great set of pliers for electrical projects.
6. BEST FOR CUTTING WIRE: IRWIN Tools VISE-GRIP Diagonal Cutting Pliers
Diagonal cutters are a very purpose-specific type of pliers. Their only job is to cut things, and when a tool has only one job, that tool better do its job well. This pair of diagonal cutting pliers does not disappoint. It makes short work of long wires and cables. Their nickel-chromium steel construction makes them tough and durable, while the cutting edges are induction hardened. This means the edges will stay sharp for plenty of typical DIY projects. Whether you’re using them to cut electrical wires or to nip an errant nail shot from a nail gun, they’ve got the bite to do the job. And for extremely tough materials, the over-molded and rubberized grips are non-slip and comfortable, allowing the user to squeeze hard without hurting their hand. Keep in mind, though, that these pliers aren’t for fasteners like nuts and bolts, as they have very little surface area for gripping.
7. BEST FOR SMALL SPACES: KNIPEX Tools Long Nose Pliers
There are plenty of scenarios where a good set of needle-nose pliers is the only tool for the job. When repairing electronics, automotive wiring, or even your child’s trampoline, needle-nose pliers are the way to go. They can reach into tight spots, increase your leverage, and even coerce springs into place. This set from Knipex is a high-quality choice for both DIYers and pros, as it’s constructed from the same chrome vanadium steel as the other tools in the Knipex lineup, with the company’s oil-hardened finish for longevity. The built-in cutting edges will cut and strip wire without issue, while the half-rounded jaws make bending wire ends into perfect hooks an easy task. With all of those features, these pliers are an excellent tool for wiring projects and low-clearance situations.
8. BEST LOCKING PLIERS: IRWIN Tools VISE-GRIP Original Locking Pliers
These pliers are so well-known that tradespeople refer to all locking pliers as “vise grips.” These are the Original Locking Pliers, with a knurled adjustment knob and trigger release for easy on and off. The knurled adjustment knob has a hex-key fitting for fine-tuning the pliers’ grip when it’s already clamped in place. They’re perfect for DIY mechanics, cycling enthusiasts, and all-around handy-types, as they provide a firm grip with lots of leverage. They also allow your hand to focus on dexterity instead of squeezing to remove stubborn fasteners. For many projects, they can lock on to a fastener or fitting and stay in place, freeing both hands for other aspects of the project. Whether it’s for clamping onto fasteners, holding materials in place, or clamping hoses in an emergency, the IRWIN VISE-GRIP is a great tool to have in your toolbox.