What to Consider When Choosing Pliers (Part 1 of 4)


One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “What pliers should I buy?” There is not a one-size-fits-all answer. I have lots of different pliers that I use in different situations. Not all of them are super expensive either. Expensive pliers are made with greater precision and usually have a longer life span, but less expensive pliers can be modified to suit a specific need.

I make jewelry primarily, and I tend to use metals that are easier on my hands like sterling silver or gold-filled, aluminum, or niobium. I’m going to discuss the subject from that perspective. I’m not making recommendations on any specific model or brand. I’ll just give my opinions based on my experiences. I will discuss attributes that I look for when choosing pliers, and why. I’ll show examples from my own ever-expanding plier collection. (There are a couple of new additions to the plier market that I’ve got my eyes on…)

There are a few things to consider when choosing an appropriate pair of pliers:

  1. Personal Considerations
  2. Plier attributes:
    o Jaws
    o Springs
    o Handles

In this blog installment, I’ll present personal considerations. In the blog installments that follow, plier attributes will be covered.


What type of chain maille do you make: armor, jewelry, sculpture? Do you work primarily with large jump rings or small jump rings. Which type of metal do you work with: sterling silver, aluminum, steel, titanium? Which weave do you want to construct? The answers to these questions will help to determine the appropriate pliers.

There are personal variables that come into play such as hand strength and size, technique, and experience level. Once you’ve determined what your personal requirements are, you can look at different pliers and their attributes to narrow down your choices.

Plier jaws will be covered in part 2 of this blog.