Pliers Vs. Wrench: What Are The Differences?

by Mario Garcia
Pliers Vs. Wrench What Are The Differences

Pliers and wrenches are important hand tools that should be in your toolbox at home or in your workshop. You may require them for a range of projects, whether you’re a DIYer or professional.

However, many people don’t see any difference between pliers and wrenches. They understand that both tools don’t look the same. Plumbers use the wrench, while electricians use pliers, and in an almost similar fashion. 

This article focuses on the Pliers vs. wrench comparison. What are their differences, if there are any? Continue reading to learn more.

What Are The Differences Between Pliers And Wrenches?

Pliers and wrenches are both hand tools, but they are different in appearance and use. Let’s explore them.

Most wrenches have fixed sizes:

Because wrenches have fixed sizes, you’ll have to buy a whole set. If you don’t have the right size, you won’t work on a project. But pliers easily adjust to suit the size of the object it grips.

However, a few wrenches are adjustable. As such, it’s best to invest in an adjustable wrench.

Pliers have jaws that join at a pivot, while wrenches don’t:

Most wrenches don’t have pivots. So, it makes it a better choice for fastening and loosening bolts and nuts. It also minimizes its ability to get damaged.

Wrenches are more expensive:

Wrenches are more expensive than pliers. It’s even more so if the wrench has extra features. However, it doesn’t make pliers less of a tool than a wrench. Rather, you can easily purchase one whenever you need to.

They don’t work well if interchanged:

They are not effective if you switch their uses. If you use pliers to tighten or loosen a nut, it won’t be effective and may suffer damages. Therefore, it’s best to use them for their specific roles.

Furthermore, whenever you’re in dire need of a wrench, it’ll help if you buy one or get it from a friend. Don’t try to improvise by using pliers in replacement.

What Is A Plier?

A plier is a hand tool that has jaws for holding, cutting, and bending. It helps you grip things that you can’t hold with your hands. It also increases the strength with which you hold the object. Also, it comes in handy for removing nails and pins.

Furthermore, a plier usually consists of a jaw, pivot, cutter (for some types), and a handle. The jaw is serrated, helping the plier to grip tightly. Also, the pivot connects the jaws and the handles. It helps to adjust the size or strength of the grip. You squeeze the handles together to strengthen its grip.

Some pliers have cutters that aid in cutting wires, cables, and other materials.

Types Of Pliers

The various types of pliers are in three categories based on their functions. There are cutting, holding, and multifunctional types.


It consists of pliers that carry out cutting functions such as cutting the side and ends of bolts, wires, and so on.

Holding: These pliers are useful for holding different materials. An example is a slip-joint plier.


This includes pliers that perform both holding and cutting functions. An example is the linesman’s plier.

Some common types of pliers include:

Slip-joint plier:

It’s a common type of plier. It helps with tasks lots of DIY tasks in the house. It can also hold or bend metal sheets, tighten or loosen nuts, and other simple tasks. It’s useful when you need to hold too hot or cold materials to work on them.

Furthermore, it’s connected at an adjustable pivot point. The adjustable pivot is called a slip joint. You open and close the handles to use them.

Linesman’s plier: 

It’s also known as the electrician’s pliers. It also has a pivot that holds the handles together to open and close the jaws. Also, it’s specialized for holding flat objects firmly. It comes in handy when you want to twist wires together.

However, it also has side cutters after its jaw, which makes cutting wires easier. But don’t use it on a live wire to prevent electric shock. Only use it when you unplug the fuse.

Water-pump plier:

This is also known as channel-lock or arc-joint plier. It’s useful for plumbing as it holds pipes well. It has angled jaws that can easily reach joints and inconvenient spaces. And that’s due to the adjustable pivot that can shift in a slot to fit various objects.

Locking plier: 

It’s also known as plier wrench or lever-wrench pliers. It locks tightly into the object. You have to adjust the jaw to the size of the object. Then squeeze the handles together to hold it securely. Also, you’ll have to trigger the lever to release the object.

Needle-nose plier:

This plier has a long jaw that narrows down to the tip. It’s best for working with wires in tight spaces or within an enclosure like an electrical box. Also, it has a side cutter close to the pivot. You can use it to grip wires or other related objects that you may not reach with your fingers.

However, you can’t use it for heavy-duty works but only delicate ones. Else, it may bend or break at the tip.

What Is A Wrench?

A wrench is a hand tool that enables you to loosen or tighten fasteners such as bolts, nuts, and plugs. It has parts that will enable it to fit into the fastener. So, it can’t come off when you work.

There are so many types of wrenches, so it’s easy to get confused about their uses.

Types Of Wrench

Some common types of wrench include:

Box-end wrench:

This wrench has two closed, circle-shaped ends and is useful for tightening or loosening bolts. It fits completely on the nut, which makes it easier to work. It has different shapes and sizes of the closed ends that fit various kinds and sizes of bolts. You may have to get a set to be able to work in any size of nuts.

Open-end wrench:

It has flat jaws with open ends. The openings are U-shaped and can loosen and tighten nuts and bolts. However, it has fixed sizes on each end, and you have to be sure of the sizes of the nuts or bolts you want to work on beforehand. Most times, you’ll need a full set of the wrench.

Furthermore, it can fit into tight spaces because it’s flat.

Combination wrench:

This refers to a combination of a box and an open-end wrench. So, it has the power of a box-end wrench and the flat nature of the open-end wrench. The combination of both types makes your work easier and effective.

Adjustable wrench:

It’s also known as a crescent wrench. It has an adjustable head that can fit into various sizes of nuts. Therefore, you won’t need to carry a set of wrenches. However, its grip on the nut is not as tight as an open-end or box-end wrench.

Allen wrench:

It’s an L-shaped key wrench and has hexagonal sockets. It’s useful for adjusting or tightening some tools (like a table saw) and furniture.

Socket wrench:

This wrench fits over a nut like the box-end wrench. But it has a socket that allows you to loosen or tighten the nut without removing the wrench during the process. It’s an easy way to remove nuts in tight spaces.

Furthermore, it comes in sets, but they all share one ratchet. The ratchet allows you to turn the socket around the nut while removing or fastening it.

How To Use Pliers The Right Way

  • Use the appropriate pliers for the work. That way, you won’t damage the jaw or even get yourself injured. You can also consider the cutting capability of a plier before using it for a job.
  • Always use pliers with double insulated handles if you’re working on live wires. Otherwise, you could get electrocuted. 
  • To avoid accidents when working with wires, disconnect them from the power source.
  • Cut wires at right angles for a clean cut. Use a plier with a high cutting capacity to avoid bending the wire unnecessarily.
  • Use a plier that is comfortable for your hand. If it’s too big, you may not use it efficiently and may risk dropping it. On the other hand, you may hurt your hand or fingers if it’s too small.
  • Don’t use pliers in place of hammers. Also, don’t use hammers on plier handles to avoid damage.
  • Maintain your pliers regularly by oiling the pivots and cleaning the jaws.   
  • Avoid exposing them to heat excessively. It may change some of the plier’s properties.
  • Use a plier only when it’s in good condition. Invest in a new plier if it’s damaged.
  • Don’t use pliers to tighten or loosen nuts. It may damage the nut.

How To Use Wrenches The Right Way

  • Use a wrench with the right opening for a nut; else, it’ll damage the edges of the nut.
  • Adjust your stance when you’re pulling a wrench handle to avoid falling when you release the nut suddenly.
  • Use the right wrench (like socket wrench) to free a bolt or nut that’s stuck.
  • Don’t use extensions such as a pipe to increase the leverage of your wrench. It may cause accidents.
  • Never expose your wrench to excess heat, as it may change the metal structure or hardness.
  • Replace a wench that’s worn, cracked, or bent.
  • Disconnect power before working on or close to an electrical device.


Pliers and wrenches are both essential hand tools for fixing and adjustments. They may be different, but none is better than the other. And ensure you utilize them for the right purposes.

Finally, you’ll find various types of wrenches, including pliers to choose from, as per your needs at home or in your workshop. So, choose the right ones for your needs. 

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