Why Pliers And Screwdrivers Have Rubber Handles

Why Pliers And Screwdrivers Have Rubber Handles


When I was organizing my home tool kit the other day, I noticed that all of the pliers and screwdrivers that were laid out in my garage had rubber handles. Curious to find out the reason for this pattern, I did some of my own research to pull together some of the reasons why pliers and screwdrivers come with rubber handles.

Why do pliers and screwdrivers have rubber handles? Generally speaking, pliers and screwdrivers are constructed with rubber handles due to the grip that the material provides. In the event that your hands are slippery, the rubber will allow you to keep hold of your tools while using them.

Additionally, rubber is a non-conductive material, meaning that it does not conduct heat. It is also insulated, which prevents the user from getting electrocuted in the case of an electric current being passed through the tool.

If you have ever used a screwdriver or a pair of pliers, the handles on these tools were more than likely made of rubber. Most people would be surprised to learn that there is actually specific reasoning behind why this kind of material is chosen, although most of us will never question something that seems so standard.

In this article, we will be going over all of the different reasons why pliers and screwdrivers have rubber handles, from safety reasons to ease of use. In later sections, we will also be discussing the properties of rubber and why it is so important in this aspect. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about this topic.

Why Pliers And Screwdrivers Have Rubber Handles

The question of why pliers and screwdrivers have rubber handles might have never crossed your mind until now, or maybe you didn’t even notice the similarities in the first place.

The standard of these types of tools being made with rubber on the handles has become such a common occurrence that most people wouldn’t think twice about it. However, there is a reason why this material is so widely used among these tools.

Take a look at the list down below to get an idea of the reasons why pliers and screwdrivers have rubber handles in many circumstances.

Why Pliers And Screwdrivers Have Rubber Handles:

  • Better grip
  • Non-conductive material
  • Insulation

The first reason why most pliers and screwdrivers are made with rubber on their handles is the tight grip that this material provides. If you have ever ran your finger up and down on a pink eraser, you can compare this feeling to that of a rubber handle on a screwdriver or a pair of pliers.

The resistance that you feel when you strike your finger against the grain on the rubber pencil eraser is the same feeling that you will get when you are gripping onto the handles of a pair of pliers.

The tight grip that comes with rubber handles on tools comes in handy in any situation, whether you are wearing gloves during the time of use or operating it with your bare hands.

It is especially helpful, however, when you are using them for long periods of time and your hands begin to sweat around the handles. Even in the presence of moisture from sweat, the rubber will still continue to provide a sturdy grip so that your hand will not slip in the middle of a potentially dangerous task.

These factors make rubber handles on screwdrivers and pliers ideal, because you can pretty much use them in any situation for extended periods of time. Even if you are working outside for hours in hundred-degree heat, you can count on the handles of your tools to stay in your hand, no matter what you do.

In addition, rubber is considered to be a non-conductive material, meaning that it will not transmit any heat onto your hand while you are dealing with objects of high temperatures.

So, if you are holding onto the handles of your screwdriver or plier and placing the other end on a hot surface of some kind, you will not have to worry about your hand becoming burned or anything sparking up while you are working, when it comes to the handles, at least.

Along with rubber being non-conductive, it is also an insulated material. In other words, the rubber will not allow any kind of electric current to pass through it and affect the person who is using it. This is a major safety feature that can avoid a lot of accidents from happening while on a job or in the middle of a project.

If you happen to be cutting wires with a pair of pliers or adjusting a bolt in a setting where electricity is present, the rubber on the handles will stop any flow of electric shock before it gets to you.

Not only do rubber handles provide an additional hold, but they also protect the user from being electrocuted during use.

Is All Rubber Insulated?

As mentioned in the previous section, rubber is an insulated material, which makes it increasingly safe in comparison to alternative tool handle types. At this point, you might be wondering what this means exactly, and if all kinds of rubber share the same characteristic.

Are there certain types of rubber handles that you should look for on your screwdriver or pliers before you purchase them in order to stay safe?

To answer these questions, it is true that all types of rubber are insulated, both natural and synthetic. Before we go into the specifics of the insulating properties of rubber, it is important to understand the characteristics that make this material so desirable in this aspect.

Rubber Characteristics:

  • Elastic
  • Water-resistant
  • Electrically insulated
  • Tightly bound electrons (tough to break)

The texture of rubber can be described as elastic, because it is very flexible and softer than most other materials, but it can be very firm in circumstances where it makes up the handle of a metal tool.

Additionally, rubber is resistant to water, which is one of the characteristics that makes it so durable and easy to grip in any situation.

As you probably know by now, it is an electrically insulated material, meaning that it protects the user from being electrocuted during use. This is due to the tightly bound electrons that are present within all kinds of rubber.

The construction of these electrons makes the material very hard to break, and it is equally as difficult for electric current to break through these boundaries as well.

As far as the process of how rubber insulates and is able to stop heat and electricity from traveling through the handles of the tools in question, you will find the answers outlined in the list below, with a more detailed explanation to follow. 

How Rubber Insulates:

  • Resistance to electrons
  • Slows down electrons and bounds them
  • Stops heat and electricity from being transferred
  • Protects against heat sources

A very strong resistance to electrons comes with the tightly bound electrons within both natural and synthetic rubber that makes up the structure. These structures are able to slow down the electrons that are passing through them before they can get to the other side, eventually stopping them completely.

As a quick example, think of a giant ball pit full of colorful bouncy balls as the electrons within the rubber on the handle of a tool. Since the balls are so close to each other inside of the pit with not much room for them to have any space, they can also be considered tightly bound together.

Now, if someone were to start in the corner of the ball pit with both feet on the ground and try to run through to the other side at full speed, they will most likely start a little faster than they would end, being stopped somewhere around the middle.

Due to the fact that all of the tightly-knit bouncy balls would be obstructing the path of the person who was trying to run through them, they would eventually start to slow down after trying to resist against the pressure for so long, and stop before they could get to the opposite corner.

This example is very similar to the process that rubber goes through in order to stop the electrons from traveling through it. When the electric current enters the metal within the screwdriver or pliers, attempting to travel through to the other end of the handle, it is slowed down throughout its path and stopped before it can make it all the way.

Along with stopping electric current from passing through the handles to the user, the rubber material also stops heat from being transferred. So, if you are dealing with hot surfaces while using these tools, you will be able to comfortably hold the rubber handle with your bare hand and no risk of pain or injury.

Why Insulated Tools Are Important

Now that you have gotten a better understanding of the insulating characteristics of rubber, we will be going over the importance of having insulated tools during any job or project.

The list below will outline a few advantages that come with pliers and screwdrivers that have insulated rubber handles.

Why Insulated Tools Are Important:

  • Protect against electrical shock
  • Can be used for hot wires and circuits
  • Prevent injury
  • Electrocution can cause liabilities

First of all, insulted tools protect the user from experiencing any kind of electrical shock during use. In normal circumstances, if someone was to place the end of a screwdriver or a pair of metal pliers into an area with electrical wires, they run a huge risk of the electrical current flowing through the entire tool and entering their body.

The insulated properties of rubber really come in handy, especially for electrical projects where you will need to deal with hot wires and live circuits. With other types of tools with different materials on the handles, this kind of safety would not be guaranteed to the user.

Having a handle on your tool that is made of insulated rubber can protect from a wide range of injuries, from full electrocution to small shocks and other burns. Along with the firm grip that this type of handle provides due to the texture of the rubber, it is also much safer to use than one that is made of another material such as plastic.

Whether you are at home building and fixing things for hobby, or you own or work in some kind of repair shop, injury by electric shock is not something that you will want to deal with.

If you have employees working for you in your business that do not have access to insulated tools and experience electrocution,  you can have a huge liability on your hands. So, the purchase and use of insulated rubber handles on pliers, screwdrivers, and the like will save you lots of money and headaches in the future.

Aside from the financial liability and stress that comes with not using insulated tools in your shop or place of business, a strong enough electric shock can severely injure you or someone else. In the most extreme and serious of situations, it can also cause hospitalization or even death.

All in all, it is very important to have access to insulated tools, no matter what you will be doing or where you will be working. Sets of insulated rubber tools can be purchased together, and should be kept in everyone’s tool kit at all times.

Even if you do not use your rubber-handled tools for every job that you do, it is vital that you have them on hand and at least give yourself the option to be able to use them if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need them.

The protection and security of knowing that you and everyone around you will always have the safety net of protective rubber around screwdrivers and pliers will be well worth the investment once you experience all of these beneficial properties.

Rubber Handles Vs Other Materials

In this entire article, we have gone into detail about the reason for rubber being the material on most pliers and screwdrivers that you will be able to find. Additionally, we have established that rubber is an ideal material for this purpose, due to its insulated properties and other more desirable characteristics.

So, what does rubber compare to in the world of pliers and screwdrivers? What are these types of tools usually made out of and why is rubber more beneficial to the user than these alternatives?

The lists outlined down below will give you some of the answers to these questions. Take a look at some of the other popular tool handle materials and keep reading into this section for a brief description on how they compare to insulated rubber handles.

Other Materials For Plier/Screwdriver Handles:

  • Wood
  • Plastic

The other most common materials that you might be able to find on a pair of pliers or an average screwdriver are wood and plastic. Both of these materials differ in texture from the rubber, because they are smooth and shiny with very little resistance in the grip.

Other Materials Compared To Rubber:

  • Less of an easy grip
  • Harder and smoother surface
  • Can sometimes be insulated (plastic)
  • Not as protective/heat resistant
  • Usually less expensive

When it comes to using a screwdriver or pair of pliers that is made of wood or plastic instead of rubber, you will notice that they give less of an easy grip that was mentioned in the previous sections.

The harder and smoother surface of these materials can also make for a more uncomfortable long-term use in comparison, especially when you have been using the tools for long periods of time and your hand begins to sweat.

Unlike the rubber handles that have been discussed all throughout this article, the shiny and smooth plastic or wood will not give the same kind of grip.

While it is true that plastic handles on screwdrivers and pliers can sometimes be insulated, it is much harder to find than an average insulated rubber handle, and most of these types of tools will not be insulated automatically. Instead, they must go through a special process in order to be considered safer than the average.

In addition, the hard materials of wood and plastic are not as heat resistant or overall protective as the insulated rubber in other types of tools. While you will usually be able to find one of these alternatives for cheap, you will not enjoy the security that comes with an insulated rubber handle.

To conclude, pliers and screwdrivers come with rubber handles for purposes of comfort, ease of use, and safety. With the use of a resistant rubber handle, you will be able to secure a grip on the tool you are trying to use while staying safe from any kind of burns or electrocution.

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