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Lineman's pliers, showing wire cutter below the gripping jaws
|Other names||combination pliers, Kleins (US/CAN), nines|
Lineman's, linesman's (US English), linesman pliers (Canadian English), combination pliers, or side-cutting pliers are a type of pliers used by electricians and other tradesmen primarily for gripping, twisting, bending and cutting wire and cable. Linemen's pliers owe their effectiveness to their plier design, which multiplies force through leverage. Lineman's pliers have a gripping joint at their snub nose and cutting edge in their craw. Some versions include either an additional gripping or crimping device at the crux of the handle side of the pliers' joint. Lineman's pliers typically are machined from forged steel and the two handles precisely joined with a heavy-duty rivet that maintains the pliers' accuracy even after repeated use under extreme force on heavy-gauge wire. Lineman's pliers usually have grips for better handling than bare metal handles; the grips may also provide insulation for protection against electric shock when working with live circuits, although most models are marked as not listed for such use. Some pliers are certified to withstand a specified voltage, e.g. 1000V.
Like most hand tools the durability and useful working life of linemen's pliers vary greatly according to load, frequency of use and the specific design and quality of the tool. Linemen's pliers may be forged out of alloyed or unalloyed tool steel. For basic quality pliers unalloyed tool steel with a relatively low carbon content of 0.45% may be used. Top-quality pliers are typically made from higher carbon tool steel and alloyed with elements such as chrome, vanadium and molybdenum. In addition to being suitable cutting soft copper and aluminum, pliers may be specifically designed for cutting hardened wire, such as piano wire or nails, by induction hardening of the cutting edges.
Lineman's pliers cut, bend, and may be used to strip wire insulation or cable jackets.
Lineman's pliers can be used to bend or straighten solid wire or sheet metal components, especially in cases where smaller pliers don't offer enough mechanical advantage. The square nose and flat side of Lineman pliers is particularly useful for creating accurate right angle bends. Lineman's pliers can be used to cut armored cable of type MC, although other tools may be quicker.
A common application of the lineman's pliers in gripping and twisting wires together, preparatory to installing a twist-on wire connector. Pliers may also be used in pulling a fish-tape, to crimp metals, and to pull nails and other fasteners.
Lineman's pliers are similar to needle-nose pliers: both tools share a typically solid, machined forged steel construction, durable pivot, gripping nose and cutting craw. The main differences are that the slender nose of the needle-nose pliers enable it to form small diameter bends, and position or support items in awkward places. Needle-nose pliers typically have a lower handle/nose length ratio, reducing the force that can be exerted at the tip. Also, needle-nose pliers tend to be available in smaller sizes (for electronics applications, they may be found as small as 1/10 scale of the full-size version).
Lineman's pliers may be used to cut steel screws up to #10, and virtually any dry-wall screw, although the thread form will be distorted. Lineman's pliers sometimes include an integrated crimping device in the craw of the handle side of the pliers' joint.
Lineman's pliers have a tapered nose suitable for reaming the rough edge of a 1/2" or larger conduit, or cleaning sharp metal from the inside of a standard metal knockout in an electrical enclosure such as a junction box or breaker panel. Some brands manufacture pliers (i.e. Ideal) with a narrower jaw, suitable for reaming smaller conduit.
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