Linesman pliers are a type of highly versatile combination plier that have serrated grooves in the jaw for gripping with cutting edges at the top of the jaw (or nose), just below the pivoting joint. While most models aren’t rated to be shock-resistant, some models have hand grips that are especially insulated and rated to protect against a certain electrical voltage.
Both the shock-resistant and non-shock-resistant varieties are popular with electricians, because of the usefulness of the specific combination of the strong grip and cutting edges in their trade. Because of their versatility, they’re a popular tool for any trade that requires gripping or wire cutting; linesman pliers are also commonly found in the toolboxes of homeowners and do-it-yourselfers for the same reasons.
Best Linesman Pliers 2017
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The best linesman pliers are going to have a comfortable handle so you don’t get sore during long work hours. At the same time, the handle should have a shape and texture that keeps your hand from slipping during use, which is why the Irwin ProTouch handle is so awesome, because it’s not only comfortable—it makes these pliers easier to use.
Induction hardened cutting edge
The Irwin linesman pliers feature an ultra-sharp cutting edge that’s induction hardened, which the company touts will keep your edges sharper for a longer period of time.
The jaws are machined to be stronger and more durable. The nose end features quality serrated grips, so you can bend and grip all day long; meanwhile, the cutting edge located just below the joint is tough and able to tackle any wire cutting task you can throw at it.
The jaws are made of chrome-nickel steel, a powerful alloy that is resistant to corrosion and tough enough to handle hard jobs.
What I like
The handle is incredibly comfortable and the grips are great grabbing sheet metal and easily bend whatever you need them to. The cutting edge is amazingly powerful. I had no trouble cutting through steel wire.
What I Don’t like
My only note is that these are 9.5 inches, which is great for tackling bigger projects, but it’s not so easy to fit them into tight spaces. However, it’s not a big deal for me personally, because I do have smaller linesman pliers to suit my needs.
Crosshatch grip pattern
The jaw grip has a crosshatch pattern which lends itself to easy gripping even on super flat surfaces like sheet metal.
Knife-and-anvil cutting edges
Channellock designed their linesman pliers with their exclusive knife-and-anvil cutting edges, which they tout as superior to the typical cutting edges found on most linesman pliers. The cutting edges are also laser heat-treated to make them stronger and ensure greater longevity. It seems as though the special attention to the cutting edges has paid off: According to the manufacturer, the cutting edges on the Channellock Linesman Plier can easily cut through piano wire, which is no small feat.
Made with high-carbon steel
High-carbon steel is an especially strong, durable type of steel, so it’s no wonder why it’s Channellock’s material of choice for their linesman pliers.
Xtreme Leverage Technology
Channellock’s Xtreme Leverage Technology (XLT) is just what it sounds like: The pliers are specifically designed to yield superior leverage so it’s easier to cut and grip heavy-duty materials. The way they achieve this is actually quite simple—they just put the cutting edge closer to the pivot. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones.
What I like
The biggest like about the Channellock linesman pliers is the knife-and-anvil cutting edge, as well as the XLT feature. Visibly, you can see the cutting edge is different from most linesman pliers in both basic design as well as the fact the cutting edge is longer, running all the way from the grip end to the rivet at the joint—which is what their Xtreme Leverage Technology is about. All-in-all, I think it does help cutting larger, thicker wires.
What I Don’t like
While the cutters are great, the handle kind of makes my hand ache. Also, these handles aren’t rated for being shock-resistant, so they don’t really offer much for electricians and handymen.
The jaws are made of forged carbon steel to provide superior strength and are finished with black-oxide to prevent rusting.
The pivot on the Bostitch linesman pliers is pretty cool, because not only does it take less force to cut, the jaws actually open wider; since a lot of people complain about the jaws not opening wide enough, this is a point in the Bostitch’s favor.
Dipped grip handles
The dipped grip handles are designed to be comfortable and prevent your hand from slipping while you’re on the job.
9.5-inch linesman pliers
These larger sized pliers are good for tackling bigger projects. It’s simple physics; by being larger, they’re able to apply more cutting force—it’s as easy as that. 9.5-inch linesman pliers are really the best linesman pliers for large jobs, period, because of that simple reason.
What I like
My favorite thing about the Bostitch linesman pliers is how wide the jaw opens. Nothing is more annoying than needing to cut a large wire and then finding your pliers that should be big enough just won’t (literally) cut it. The high-leverage pivot, to me, makes these a good option.
What I Don’t like
While the sort-of slim handles are easy to maneuver with, they can be a bit uncomfortable after long periods of usage; if you have arthritis, you can essentially multiply that complaint exponentially. But, of course, it is a tradeoff. And for short periods, it should be fine.
Things To Look for When Buying The Best Linesman Pliers
Pliers are a common hand tool used for gripping, joining, bending, cutting, and compressing a variety of materials. The force produced by the hand grip of the user gives way to a greater grip at the pliers’ ends which makes it possible to use it for a variety of purposes.
Besides electrical and building work, pliers can also be used for making jewelry, plumbing, and numerous DIY projects. If you’re interested in linesman pliers, you’ll find lots of options available in the market. So, before purchasing a linesman plier, you need to consider a number of factors. Read on to find out how you can choose the best linesman pliers.
The material the pliers is made of determines the product’s durability. Some metals used for pliers are more durable and can withstand corrosion much better. The majority of pliers are made of steel, which is considered one of the most durable metals and is suited for making such a tool. Therefore the plier you choose should be made of a material that doesn’t corrode easily and is very durable.
The pliers’ grip determines the ease of use, as well as the ability of the pliers to reduce any slippage and hand fatigue. You should look for a grip that is comfortable and won’t deteriorate over time.
When choosing linesman pliers at the store, give the grip of the pliers a try and see if it is comfortable enough. Keep in mind the activities that you plan on using the pliers for when choosing a grip.
The grip of the material, as well the quality are both important. A rubber grip is much better than a plastic one while an ergonomic design is preferable over a generic design for comfort during use.
The cutting-edge determines the effectiveness of the pliers. The cutting edge is responsible for helping you snap cables and wires with ease. For the best cutting edge, look for features like laser-treated cutting edge and induction-heated edges as these will provide you with longer sharpness on the edges.
It is quite crucial that the linesman pliers you select have a reasonable weight. Most probably, you’ll work with wires and cables, and you’ll also have to step on a ladder or bend down to work, so buying a heavy product might not be an ideal option. Though you should try to avoid a heavy plier, the linesman pliers you choose shouldn’t be too light or flimsy.
Non-insulated and Insulated Pliers
Insulated pliers are ‘insulated’ with a plastic coating. Generally, electricians this type of pliers so that they are safe from potential electric shock. Any size of plier can be insulated. So, you can choose one according to your needs. As implied by the name, non-insulated pliers are pliers without any protective coating.
How To Use Linesman Pliers?
Linesman pliers are quite handy for creating bends in cables and wires, as well as for removing bends from sheet metals and wires. To prevent ripples and scratches in the metal sheet when flattening or bending it, put a soft cloth on the metal sheet before grasping it with the linesman pliers. Then, stretch a wire piece over the nose of the pliers to make 90-degree angles.
Linesman pliers can be used to cut metal objects as well. With linesman pliers, you can cut nails and screws to the length you desire. The linesman pliers’ cutting craw can cut threaded screws that are sized up to as large as number 10. The pliers can also cut through almost all the plain drywall screws and nails. You don’t have to worry about the effectiveness of the screws as they still function well after being cut with the pliers.
What Are Linesman Pliers Used For?
Linesman pliers are used for many applications which include construction work, communications, and electrical work. They are used for gripping, cutting, or splicing wires as well as for striping cable jackets or wire insulation.
Linesman pliers can also be used for straightening or bending components of sheet metal or solid wire, particularly in those cases where the small pliers provide an insufficient mechanical advantage. The flat side and square nose of the pliers can be used for creating right angle bends. These pliers can also be used for cutting Type-MC armoured cable.
Another common application is twisting the wires together to install a twist-on wire connector. Moreover, they can also be used to crimp metals, and to pull a fish tape, nails, and other similar fasteners.
How To Sharpen Linesman Pliers?
In the case of nicks, you will need to use a knife sharpener or a file tool so that the nicks can be flattened out. In a diagonal position, go along the blade using a file. Make sure that you cover the whole cutting blade surface so that your pliers are sharpened uniformly.
To sharpen the pliers quickly, you can use the electric polish tool. This method doesn’t require a lot of effort as well. However, you need to make sure that the edges aren’t too thin; otherwise, the pliers can break while doing a hard cut.
How To Loosen Linesman Pliers?
To loosen up the pliers, spray WD40 on it excessively. Work it in the joint too. Then, dip the oily pliers in sand or dry, dusty dirt in such a manner that the pliers are covered completely. Then, continue working the pliers ‘open-and-close’ for around half an hour or at least more than ten minutes.
Now, in the beginning, you will feel some grit in the joint, however, in just a short time, if you do this correctly, it’ll loosen up. Then, soak the linesman pliers with WD40 once more to remove any sand remaining in the joint.
Finally, wipe the pliers clean. Of course, they’ll still feel a little tight, however, in just a few days they will be well broken in.
My Top Recommendation
For me, the ultimate winner is for top linesman pliers are the Irwin Vice-Grip Lineman’s Pliers, 9-1/2″. It was an easy choice to make, because not only do they grip and cut flawlessly, they also have an extremely comfortable handle, which is a big point in their favour, because chances are, you’re going to be using it a lot and comfort is always essential in that case.