When I was going through my home tool kit this weekend, I came across my oldest pair of pliers that I have used for several projects over the years. Thinking back to everything that I cut into with these handy tools, I wondered if there is anything that pliers should not be used to cut. So, I did some more research to find out the answer.
What are the 4 things you should never cut with a plier? Some of the things that you should never cut with a pair of pliers, due to safety reasons, are hot wires, nuts, bolts, and hardened wires.
However, there are some exceptions to these rules of what should not be cut with pliers. If you will be using specialized pliers for the task that you are trying to complete, you might be able to cut into hardened wires or nuts and bolts, depending on the circumstance.
While it is true that pliers are some of the most helpful and versatile tools that can be found in anyone’s tool kit, there are some things that they should just not be used for. Due to safety reasons, there is a list of objects and materials that you should stay away from with a pair of pliers in your hand.
Whether you frequently complete DIY home projects or you are in the middle of a dilemma and you are unsure whether or not you should use your pliers to complete the task, the information in this article will help you to. Learn everything you need to know about what is ok and what is not when it comes to pliers.
4 Things You Should Never Cut With a Plier
Pliers can be used for a variety of purposes, from cutting things to tightening or loosening objects from their respective positions. When cutting materials with pliers, in particular, there are some objects that you should always stay away from.
When a regular pair of pliers is being discussed, these tools are not as durable as some specialized types of pliers, which will be outlined in more detail in the next section. In this one, we will start by going over 4 things that you should never cut with an average pair of pliers and how they can be dangerous.
4 Things You Should Never Cut With a Plier:
- Hot wires
- Hardened wires
The first thing that you should never cut with any type of plier is a hot wire. The term “hot” wire refers to a wire that is live with electricity flowing through it. In general, when you are working on a project that involves electrical wiring, the wires coated in black will always be the hot or live wires.
It is important to avoid cutting these types of wires with a pair of pliers, because you run the risk of getting shocked or electrocuted when you bring the metal teeth of a plier in such close contact with active electricity.
The same rule goes for hardened wires. These types of wires, just like the name suggests, are made of a stiffened material and are used in places that are subject to high stress. As an example of a hard wire, think of the metal clamp component on an object that opens and closes.
Since this type of material is very difficult to cut into due to its strength, a special type of plier is required in order to complete the task of breaking it apart.
Cutting into other hard metal objects such as nuts and bolts is also not considered to be the safest activity if you are using a regular or small pair of pliers with minimum strength. In doing this, the pliers can potentially slip with too much force applied to the wrong tool, causing a safety concern for the user.
The materials that were listed above do not apply to all types of pliers, however, which is something that should be kept in mind. Keep reading to the next section to find out the possible exceptions to the rules that were outlined in the beginning of this article.
How The Type Of Plier Affects What It Can Cut
While it is true that you should never try to cut nuts, bolts, and hot or hardened wires with pliers, generally speaking, there are some specialized types of pliers that will allow you to carry out these functions both efficiently and safely.
In this section, we will be getting into more detail about what types of pliers you can use to cut into some of the objects that were mentioned previously.
- Beveled blades/Anvil cutters – nuts and bolts
- Hard wire cutting pliers – hard wires
The first type of specialized plier that will help you get around the rules that were outlined in the first section of this article has beveled blades. To be more specific, the blades on this kind of plier meet after you have made the cut.
This is contrary to most regular pairs of pliers where the blades pass each other after the cut has been made. This is why pliers with beveled blades are ideal for cutting into the strong metal materials of nuts and bolts because their design makes them sharper and able to withstand these kinds of tasks.
Similarly, hard wire cutting pliers are specially constructed to be able to pierce through the strong metal materials that make up hardened wires. The characteristics of this type of plier make it durable enough to remove one side of a hard wire from another.
How (Not) To Use Pliers
To go along with the objects that you should not cut with pliers, this section will go over some common mistakes that occur when it comes to using these tools safely. The list down below will give you an idea of some of the things you should not do, in general, when you are using a pair of pliers for any task.
Things To Avoid When Using Pliers:
- High levels of heat
- Extending length of handles
- Using a hammer with the handles
- Using the pliers as a hammer
- Trying to cut large wires with small pliers
The first thing to avoid while you are using a pair of pliers is high levels of heat. The object that you are cutting or the area that you are cutting around should not be hot or of a high temperature at all.
Due to the fact that the noses of pliers are made of metal, they can react negatively when the friction of the teeth interact with a surface that is already hot. This can cause sparks which can possibly lead to combustion and fires in the most serious of circumstances.
The noses of pliers are extended by the handles on the ends, which are usually made of rubber. The handles are the pieces that are gripped in one hand and opened or closed to carry out the intended functions of the pliers.
The next thing to avoid while using pliers is extending the length of the handles more than they already are. To be more specific, the length that is provided by the handles that come with the set of pliers are ideal for the use of that pair of pliers.
For example, if you are in the middle of a project and you find that the handles of the pliers you are using are not long enough for what you need them for, you might think about doing something to extend the handle such as attaching another object to the handle itself and using that to get a grip on the tool.
However, this can lead to a lot of mistakes and potential safety issues, which is why it is not recommended to extend the length of the handles on a pair of pliers. If you ever find yourself in a situation like this where you are in need of more extended handles, your best bet would be to use a pair of pliers that come with a longer reach.
The other things to stay away from when you have a pair of pliers in your hand is basically anything that has to do with a hammer or any kind of tool that applies force to another object.
When you are using pliers to turn, pull, or cut something, the job will only require the use of the pliers themselves. If you are trying to apply more force to something between the teeth of the pliers and you are feeling like it is still not enough, using a hammer to strike the handles downward will not be the correct move to make.
In fact, this can severely damage or break the entire tool. The best thing to do in a situation like this would be to replace the pliers that you are using with a stronger or sharper pair.
To go along with not using a hammer to strike the handles of a pair of pliers, you should never try to use the pliers themselves as a hammer. All in all, if you are trying to stay away from unsafe practices when using pliers, you can’t go wrong with using them exactly how they come and how they are intended to be used.
How To Safely Use Pliers
Now that you have a pretty good understanding of some of the unsafe objects that you should never cut with pliers, you might be wondering how pliers can be safely used instead.
In this section, you will find out everything you need to know about safely and correctly using pliers, from helpful safety tips to a step-by-step process outlined in the lists below.
Tips For Safely Using Pliers:
- Always cut right angles
- Wear safety goggles while cutting
- Clean and oil pliers frequently
When it comes to safely using pliers and avoiding all of the dangers that were discussed previously in this article, there are a few tips that you should always keep in mind while you are in the middle of a job.
First of all, when you are cutting with pliers, you should always make the cut in the direction of a right angle. If you are cutting in an unorganized fashion in different directions, the task of using the sharp teeth to separate an object can become dangerous.
With a clean and straight cutting line, there will be little to no risk of the pliers slipping or any mistakes being made as far as the cut itself.
Next, you should always wear safety glasses or goggles while you are cutting any object in order to protect your eyes from flying debris and things that can damage your facial area.
The last tip to keep in mind while using pliers is to clean and oil them frequently. In order to maintain the quality of your tool, you will want to make sure that you properly clean them immediately after you use them to get rid of any obstructive materials that have been left behind.
Applying oil to the metal areas on your pliers will help the opening and closing functions to run smoothly in the future and prevent anything from getting stuck or forming rust of any kind.
To actually use the pliers safely, along with staying away from the objects that were mentioned in the first section, you can follow the easy steps down below, or keep reading for a more detailed description throughout the rest of this section.
How To Use Pliers (Correctly):
- Gather all of your supplies and equipment
- Put on safety equipment (ie. Gloves and safety goggles)
- Grip the handles of the pliers
- Open the mouth of the pliers with the handle
- Secure a grip on the item you are cutting by clamping down on the handle
- Apply pressure to the handle to make the cut
To use pliers correctly in order to cut into something, you will first need to gather all of your supplies and equipment. This will include the pliers you will be using, the object you will be cutting, and any safety equipment.
The main safety equipment that you will need are protective gloves to cover your hands and safety goggles to protect anything from getting into your eyes.
To begin, you will grip the handles of the pliers and use them to open the mouth wide. Move the open end of the pliers toward the object that you will be cutting, and secure a grip on the item by clamping down on the handle.
Once the pliers have been secured into the correct position for cutting, you will apply pressure to the handle to make the cut and maneuver the tool as needed until you are able to remove the additional piece. It is important to remember that when you are cutting with pliers, you should always move them at a perfect ninety degree angle.
What Pliers Can Be Used For
After discussing everything that you should not do with a pair of pliers and the objects and materials that should not be cut into with this kind of tool, you might be wondering what you actually can cut with pliers.
In this section, we will briefly go over the common things that you might need to cut with a pair of pliers, which you can find in the list down below.
Things You Can Cut With Pliers:
- Wires (not live)
Pliers are usually used to cut into wires that are not live, nails, and other metal materials. They can also be used to cut into even stronger and thicker metal materials such as nuts and bolts if you are using a certain kind of plier, as mentioned previously.
These tools, being among the most versatile in anyone’s toolbox, can also be used for other things besides just cutting, which we will get into next.
Other Things Pliers Can Be Used For:
- Stripping/splicing wires
Pliers are great for gripping objects to hold them and move them from one place to another, due to the teeth that are present on the inner lining of the mouth. They can also be used to bend something such as a nail or a bolt that is stuck.
When something needs to be turned with a good amount of strength that no other tool can handle, pliers can get the job done. This can apply to either tightening or loosening objects such as screws and bolts.
Additionally, electricians commonly use pliers to strip and splice wires that they need to manipulate in order to fit into a certain spot during various projects.
As you can see, there are so many ways that you can use a pair of pliers, no matter what they are constructed and intended for. While keeping in mind the things that you should not use pliers for, from hot wires to thick metal nuts, the possibilities of what you can accomplish are virtually endless.