What are pliers?
Pliers are among the most basic and familiar of handheld tools. They are available in a wide variety of sizes, designed for many different tasks, but the fundamentals remain the same: two lengths of steel riveted together close to the midpoint to create a pivot, with clamps on one side and handles on the other. The clamps may be long and thin and pointed, broad, ridged and heavy duty – or somewhere in between.
Whilst specific types of pliers have slightly different designs to make them more suitable to different tasks, the main components of this hand tool stays the same.
What are pliers best used for?
Pliers allow the user to grip an object much more firmly than they otherwise would be able to and apply "torque" – rotational force - making them ideal for any building, maintenance, engineering or repair task that requires gripping, twisting, pulling or shearing.
Typical uses include attaching or detaching small components or cables – for example nuts from bolts or TV aerials from their plugs. Diagonal pliers are specifically designed for cutting metal wiring – for example steel, copper or aluminium: hence the alternative name "wire cutters". Fundamentally, pliers are simple tools: squeeze on the handles to grip the target object between the clamps, leverage amplifies the pressure exerted by the user. Very specialist pliers may require additional refinements to your technique.
Except for pliers, clamps are also necessary hand tools. Clamps are versatile tools that serve to temporarily hold work securely in place. They are used for many applications including carpentry, woodworking, furniture making, welding, construction and metal working.
Clamp styles include C-clamps, bar clamps, pipe clamps, deep-throat bar clamp, one-handed bar clamps, spring clamp, ratchet-action band clamp, mitre clamp, and hand screws. Bar clamps have adjustable arms that are easily widened or narrowed to fit the workpiece and, therefore, requires fewer turns of the screw spindle, compared to a C-clamp, to hold the piece tightly.
What are some general safety tips to know when using clamps?
1. Wear safety glasses or goggles, or a face shield (with safety glasses or goggles).
2. Select the proper clamp style and size by matching the work-holding requirements of the job with the clamp features of strength and weight (e.g., consider rail size and nominal clamping pressure), opening (length of reach), throat depth (depth of reach), ease of adjustment and clamping surfaces (material used and size)
3. Ensure that the swivel at the end of the screw turns freely before using.
4. Dispose of clamps with bent frames; replace bent spindles, if possible.
5. Ensure that the pressure plate and anvil parts of the clamp are in full contact with the workpiece before tightening.
6. Close the jaws until the clamp feels tight. For example, when gluing, some glue will be squeezed out, a sign that it is tight enough.
7. Use pads with C-clamps to avoid marking the work.