Pliers are a bench staple. They're most likely your first purchase and the last tool you put down at the end of the night. And as with any need-to-have tool, there are plenty of choices depending on the job. Here is a quick breakdown of some of the more popular plier types along with their uses.


Loop Closing
Grooved & smooth
inside edges
Closing loops & rings

Round nose + wire cutters Repetitive work like
chains and rosaries

Gem Setting
Small jaws that can be
swapped for different gems
Gem setting

Round Nose
(Long & Short Jaw)
Long: Allows for increased
range of loop diameters

Short: Provides increased
stiffness at tips to resist
Long: Clamp and form
loops on leads or wire

Short: Working with
heavier gauge wire

Needle Nose
(Long & Short Jaw)
Long: Slightly rounded inner
edges, bearing ring lap joint

Short: Slightly rounded inner
edges, induction hardened tips
Long: Used for extended

Short: Small tips allow for
access into tight spaces

Bent Nose
Cross section and taper is the same
as chain nose, but jaws bend to
one side
Better access to tight areas
Useful in chain and for "tucking
in" wire ends in beads

Chain Nose
Jaw cross section is flat where they
meet and round on the outside. Jaws
taper to fine point
Opening small jump rings, bending
thin gauge wire, and holding small

Ring Bending
Concave/convex jaws with convex
being slightly thinner than the
concave jaw
Bending metal at right angles, closing
bows and bending ring shanks

Wire Looping
One round and one concave jaw Bends wire easily

Compound Parallel Jaw
Compound joint makes sure the jaws
remain parallel throughout their range
of motion
Perfect for working with difficult-to-
hold items like beads

Flat Nose
Both jaws are perfectly flat with a
rectangular cross section
Bending angles in wire and sheet, holding
small beads and bezel wire during filing,
and opening/closing jump rings

Bow Opening
Heavy-duty, special joint pliers. Jaws are
kept closed by spring in handle. When handle
is compressed, jaws open
Open bows, links, and jump rings

Nylon Jaw
Replaceable jaws made of nylon, which is
softer material than most jewelry metals
Very delicate work where metal can
become scratched or otherwise marred

Split Ring
Distinctive shape with one tapered jaw and
one that comes to a bent point
Designed to open split rings
Of course, this list doesn't include EVERY plier available today - we'd need another couple pages to do that ;-) You can see all of the options in our new Tools, Equipment, and Metals 2017-2018 catalog.

Which type is your favorite? Do you have a favorite brand? Share your thoughts with your fellow jewelers!