Pincers and Pliers
Although Roman blacksmiths made and used tongs of various kinds, the carpenters in those days seem to have relied mainly on their c!aw hammers for dealing with ecalcitrant nails. Joseph Moxon made this point as late as 1685, speaking of the carpenter’s claw hammer: “its chief Use is for driving Nails into Work and drawing Nails out of work”, and makes no merntion of pincers. These appear occasionally in medieval pictures, but only when the carpenter is using an ordinary flat-peened hammer.
Pliers were special tools for cutting and manipulating wire which, apart from jewelry, was not in general use until comparatively modern times. Felibien in 1676 illustrates a pair of what we call "Glazier's pliers", but calls them tenailles (pincers). The French word for pliers is, of course, pinces, which is confusing.
OTHER NAMES: Combination pliers, linesmen's pliers
SIZE: 5 to 10in.
USE: To grip and bend sheet metal and crop wire
Engineer's pliers are the standard type of pliers. The larger kinds are versatile, and incorporate a variety of functions. The various facilities of the engineer's pliers are operated by the simple action of opening and closing the handles.
The flat serrated jaw is used to grip and hold thin sheet metal. The side or ends of the jaws are carefuly aligned with the marked line to produce an accurate bend. To prevent the serrations marking the metal, wrap the jaw in insulation tape. Keep the metal clear of the side cutters to avoid accidental cutting. Some pliers include a curved section in the serrated jaws for gripping round section metal rod.
Immediately in front of the pivot, where great force can be applied, is a pair of side cutters for cropping wire. The cutting edges are situated to one side of the jaws so that they can cut close to a surface. Even greater cutting force can be exerted by the pair of croppers situated above the pivot. When the handles of the pliers are open, the two sections of the cropper are aligned so that a length of wire can be laid across them. Squeezing the handles together closes the croppers and shears the metal.
Holding the pliers
To control the pliers with one hand, hook the little finger on the inside of the handle to provide the opening force.
Bending a rod
Hold a long rod in your hand and bend it against a pair of pliers. For shorter lengths you will need two pairs of pliers.
Parallel Action Pliers
SIZE: 5 to 6-1/2in.
USE: To grip metal with the jaws flat on the work
Parallel action pliers do the same job as standard pliers, but the jaws are kept parallel to each other as they close and open. This insures that when the pliers grip the work, even at their widest capacity, the serrated surface is flat on the work. The jaws of parallel action pliers are opened automatically by tension springs in the handles.
Although pliers are not a good substitute for a wrench, in an emergency the parallel action pliers will at least grip the flats of a nut securely.
Flat Nosed Pliers
OTHER NAMES: Square nosed pliers, duckbill pliers, pendulum pliers
SIZE: 4 to 7-1/2in.
USE: To grip and bend sheet metal or wire
Flat nosed pliers have flat serrated jaws. They are designed for lightweight work such as bending thin sheet metal or wire. The greatest force can be applied immediately in front of the jaws.
OTHER NAME: Linesmen's pliers
SIZE: 6 to 8in.
MATERIAL: Steel; plastic handle covers
USE: To grip, bend and crop electrical cord
Electrician's pliers are basically the same tool as engineer's pliers, but they are fitted with two insulated handles. As a precaution, switch off the power before working on any equipment connected to the electrical supply. A large pair of pliers are needed to crop the thicker sections of cord and twist them together to make connections.
Snipe Nosed Pliers
OTHER NAMES: Needle nosed pliers, long rosed pliers, long chain pliers, radio pliers
SIZE: 4-1/2 to 8in.
USE: To grip small objects in confined spaces
Snipe nosed pliers are manufactured in a variety of shapes and proportions but they all have serrated tapering jaws to work in confined spaces. Some models have side cutters to crop soft wire.
Needle nosed pliers are a variety of snipe nosed pliers with extra thin tapering jaws. The ends of bent snipe nosed pliers are bent to an angle of 45° or 90° to give better access in a confined space which is very useful for certain jobs.
Do not apply too much force when using snipe nosed pliers, as it is very easy to strain the jaws out of line.
Handling small objects
Snipe nosed pliers are invaluable for placing small washers or nuts on to fittings and assembling delicate wiring.
Round Nosed Pliers
SIZE: 4 to 6-1/2in.
USE: To bend wire into loops
Round nosed pliers have a pair of smooth conical jaws, which are used to form loops in wire or thin strips of sheet metal. They are used by jewelers, and by electricians to make a loop in a cord to fit an electrical fitting. The tapered jaw allows for loops of different sizes.
Twisting a loop
To form a loop grip the end of the wire between the jaws and twist the pliers, keeping the tension on the wire with the other hand.
Slip Joint Pliers
SIZE: 5 to 10in.
USE: To work as standard pliers with a wider jaw capacity
The functions of the slip joint pliers are identical to those of standard pliers but their unique feature is the pivot point, which provides for two widths of jaw opening. Like standard pliers they have a flat section on the jaws incised with fine serrations and a curved section with coarser serrations.
Other types of head
Slip joint pliers are also available with bent jaws or as narrow nosed pliers.
How slip joint pliers work
Open the handles and slide the joints sideways. The pivot will engage in a second position to give a wider jaw opening.
SIZE: 4 to 10in.
USE: To grip pipework
Waterpump pliers were originally developed to work on plumbing fittings and are designed to grip pipework,
The jaws are serrated flat or curved surface and can be adjusted like slip joint pliers to give a variety of jaw openings. The tool has long handles for good leverage.
These pliers are also commonly made with a method of adjustment known as "channel" joints or "groove grip". Each jaw position depends on tongues in one half of the tool locating in grooves in the other half of the tool.
Another less common variety adjusts by locating the pivot in hooks in the other half of the tool. This strong form of location cannot slip even when very heavy loads are applied to the pliers.
OTHER NAME: Scotch gas pliers
SIZE: 7 to 10in.
USE: To grip pipework
Gas pliers have two curved sections in each jaw to grip pipework of different sizes. They also have a "V" notch in the front end of each jaw to grip wire, and a wire cropper located near the pivot. The ends of the handles are shaped to form a pipe reamer and a turn-screw respectively.
OTHER NAMES: Mole grips, vise grip wrench, self-grip wrench.
SIZE: 5 to 12in.
USE: To grip sheet and round sectioned metal strongly
Plier wrench jaws are controlled by turning an adjuster, so that when the handles are closed, considerable force is applied to the work. Furthermore, the wrench will remain locked onto the work until the release lever is operated. This converts the tool into a mini-vise freeing the hands for other purposes. In fact you can improvise a vise by mounting the plier wrench securely to the edge of the work bench with a table clamp.
Plier wrenches are manufactured with different jaws for specific work. The standard jaws are the straight serrated type; another version has curved serrated jaws. There is also a version with curved jaws which are smooth on the inside and one with wide, flat jaws which are perfectly smooth on the inside, for gripping sheets of metal without marking the surface. Yet another type has "C" clamp type jaws.
Plier wrenches are also manufactured with jaws for more specific tasks such as holding work for welding.
Adjusting the plier wrench
Close the wrench onto the work by squeezing the handles. Turn the adjuster counter clockwise until the handles close. Be careful as the closing force could easily damage the work.
If the work is too wide to allow the tool to lock on, keep the pressure on the handles. Turn the adjuster counter clockwise again if necessary.
If the work is too narrow for the jaws when the handles are closed, turn the adjuster clockwise until the jaws touch the work and operate the release lever. Screw in the adjuster a little more and squeeze the handles to lock the tool onto the work.
Release the plier wrench by holding the handles firmly in one hand while squeezing the release lever with the other.
OTHER NAME: Glass pliers
SIZE: 6 to 10in.
USE: To snap off strips of glass cut from a large sheet.
Glazier's pliers are constructed in the same way as engineer pliers, except that the jaws do not meet immediately in front of the pivot. This insures the jaws can grip the glass up to the cut line instead of at the extreme edge only.
Gripping the glass to cut up to the line
After the glass has been scored with a glass cutter, the glazier's pliers are used to snap off a narrow strip. They are also used to "nibble" off pieces of glass back to a line or around a curve.
Diagonal Cutting Pliers
OTHER NAMES: Diagonal cutting nippers, side cutting nippers, side cutters.
SIZE: 4 to 10in.
USE: To crop metal wire close to a surface
Diagonal cutting pliers are designed for cropping metal only. They should not be used as standard pliers to grip work because this can damage the cutting edges or the work itself. The jaws of the pliers are shaped so that the handles will give knuckle clearance while the side cutting face is fiat on the surface. The handles are often automatically opened by a coil spring.
The flat section of the blade cuts close to the work, but the shape of the jaws allows knuckle clearance for the user.
End Cutting Pliers
OTHER NAMES: Top cutting nippers, end cutting sssppers
SIZE: 4-1/2 to 9in.
USE: To crop wire close to a surface
End cutting pliers also crop wire flush to the surface while keeping the knuckles clear of the work. The cutting edges are sometimes set at an angle to the handles.
Angled cutting edges
End cutting pliers ate usually positioned perpendicularly over the work, but some have angled cutting edges for work in confined spaces.
SIZE: 6 to 10in.
USE: To extract nails and tacks
Carpenter's pincers are primarily designed to remove nails from lumber. They are not as sharp as end cutting pliers, being designed to bite into the nasi rather than cut through it. There a re two common varieties. The "shouldered" varierv hms straight tapering handles with square shoulders just behind the pivot. The jaws which meet at a beveled cutting edge are somewhat flattened at the ends.
The other version, sometimes known as "Tower" pincers, has munded jaws and rounded shoulders, and the handles Stave a ball sttid claw at each end. The claw is for removing tacks, bm the function of the ball is undetermined. Possibly it. was for swaging pipe ends.
When using the pincers, position the reel vertically over the nail. If necessary place a p iece of haretboard between the jaws and the wood to prevent marking the surface.
Using the pincers
Grip the nail as near as possible eg the surface. Squeeze the handles and rock the tool on the curved jaws, levering the nail out of the wood. If the nail does not come out of the wood entirely, grip it a second time further down the shaft and repeat the process.
USE: To help erect wire fencing
Fencing pliers incorporate several functions in one tool. They can be used to hammer staples as well as to extract them with the hook provided and also crop and tension the wire itself.
OTHER NAMES: Crowbar, case opener
SIZE: 14 to 36in.
USE; To remove nails and lever structures apart
The wrecking bar is made from an octagonal section length of steel. One end is bent into a tight curve and terminates in a claw for removing nails.
The other end is flattened to provide a blade for levering structures apart for demolition work. The length of bar provides considerable leverage for either job.
SIZE: 6-1/2 to 8in.
MATERIAL: Blade: steel; Handle: beech, plastic
USE: To remove tacks used in upholstery
Using a tack lifter
Work the claw under the head of a tack and lever with the tool until the tack is removed. Where the head is deeply buried in the wood, you can cut access for the tack remover with a chisel and mallet.
OTHER NAME: Wire stripping pliers
SIZE: 6 to 8in.
USE: To strip insulation from electrical cord
Simple wire strippers have the lips of the jaws turned inward at right angles, the pronged tips being sharpened on the inside. They pass one inside the other to perform a shearing action. The jaws are fitted with an adjustable stop to close over a cord so that only the insulation is cut and the core remains undamaged.
The jaws are closed by squeezing the handles which are usually sprung to open automatically. Another version of wire stripper combines other funcions to form a multi-purpose tool. The very tip of the jaws is sharpened to form a wire cutter, while immediately behind the cutter, the jaws are hollowed out for crimping terminals.
Behind the pivot the handles are drilled out to take small bolts of various sizes. The bolt is passed through the hole and is cropped by the other half of the tool as the handles are closed. The handles are further incised to form wire strippers of various sizes to suit different weights of electrical cord.
Peel back the outer sheathing. Separate the internal wires and place the ends in the wire stripper.
Twist the tool to insure that the insulation is cut right through and pull the wire through to strip it off.
SIZE: 5-1/4 to 12-1/2in.
USE: To insert or remove circlips
Circlips are sprung circular retaining clips which are designed to engage an internal or external groove. Special pliers are needed to fit them. There is a small hole at each end of the circlip. Circlip pliers have very narrow cylindrical tips to fit these holes.
One version of circlip pliers is designed to fit internal clips while another spreads external clips. External circlip pliers are usually spring-loaded and some are fitted with a stop to prevent them distorting the clip by opening it too far. Both types of pliers are available with either bent or straight noses.
OTHER NAMES: Web pincers, upholsterer's pincers
SIZE:8 to 8-1/2in.
USE: To stretch webbing used in upholstery
The upholsterer's pliers have wide serrated jaws for gripping a length of upholsterer's woven webbing to tension it ove? a seat frame.
Using upholsterer's pliers
Fold over end of webbing, l$in. from the end; nail it to side of frame jin. from the edge.
Stretch webbing across frame; grip folded end with pliers so lower jaw touches frame. Lever tool on carved lower jaw stretching webbing. Tack webbing to frame and cut off Ijin. behind tacks. Fold loose end over and tack to frame.
SIZE To take webbing up to 2-1/2in wide
USE To stretch webbing across a seat frame
Webbing stretchers put the correct amount of tension on to woven seat webbing. There are other varieties, but two common types are cut from hardwood to form a paddle-like shape with a handle. The method for providing the tension differs. One uses a wooden peg while the other is fitted with a metal strip bent to form a stirrup.
Using a webbing stretcher
Nail off webbing as on previous page and loop free end, passing it through slot in peg type stretcher and pass peg through loop. Pull webbing tight and trap free end between stretcher and frame. Lever stretcher to tension webbing and nail off.
The stirrup variety is used in a similar way by passing the loose end of the webbing behind the stirrup and over the front edge of the stretcher which traps it against the frame.
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