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Pliers -- The good, the Bad and the AWESOME....

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This is the Plier collection I gathered in under 3 mins... Around my chair in the house - and I dug out some oldies that have never been completely retired from the shop.  They live in a bucket waiting for a use.

Hello - My Name is Shelley and I'm a plier junkie. I have to be after being a chainmailler for 15 years. I have tried MOST tools on the market, and even expanded my jewellery making abilities into silversmithing - which brings on a WHOLE level of new tools.

I see the topic of pliers come up ALL THE TIME on the various chainmail forums. We all have our own preferences, and likes and dislikes, and I am sure my recommendations will differ from yours -- but I wanted to do this post as I've been thinking about it for a long time. PLEASE NOTE - THIS IS MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE AND OPINION.  My opinion is based on MY hands and comfort of the tools, it's based on my frugalness... what I think is a reasonable amount to spend on a quality tool, and my personal experience with Customer Service when dealing with defective products.  I am not asking you to take my word on every product listed here - this is MY experience, and I hope it helps you if you are plier shopping! 

HISTORY

So my very first pliers I owned were the red handle TRL pliers. I had a wide nose set, and a chain nose set. About 3 weeks into my new hobby I went to the TRL gathering at their farm, and had my pliers swiped. I left them sitting and someone else "borrowed" them, and they were gone. No big deal right? Grab another pair right? This was the FIRST time I remember thinking NOT ALL TOOLS ARE CREATED EQUAL!! The new pliers felt funny, they weren't the ones I was used to... and I was not so impressed to be breaking in new pliers.
Then... My spring BROKE. Nothing worse than getting used to your pliers to have damn spring break and really make your day suck. I like springs in my pliers, as fighting to get them to open isn't my favorite activity. After a few springs broke, we headed off to Lee Valley tools and with some crazy glue, we glued some rare earth Magnets to the inside of the handles... so they repell each other, causing the handles to spring apart. Less push than the real springs give, but enough that you don't have to physically open the pliers each time.

When we started our website back in 2002... We sold the Black handled pliers shown in the photo above. We bought them from "Crappy" Tire - Canadian Tire specials for a whole $2.49 per pair. We would go to every Canadian Tire we passed and pick through the bin for the wide nose and chain nose varieties. Then we would take them home and use the belt sander to file off the rough spots. We finally got frustrated at the lack of stock that we reached out to our beading wholesalers and brought in pliers that didn't require that kind of attention.

Because I started out with cheap tools, and was using them as a hobby, it didn't dawn on me to pay big money for fancy tools. Back in 2002 the luxury tools that maillers talked about were names like Lindstroms, or Snap-ON, but the price tag attached kept my interest level low. Then I had a job working on a factory line for Military Cables. We put the connectors and plugs on to cables and the tool boxes were full of high end tools... Lindstrom pliers and cutters, I think this was my first glimpse at Xuron too! I used some fine long chain nose Lindstrom pliers and thought I had it made. I borrowed them from work and took them home for Chainmail one evening But really didn't like them.  The rings slipped and slid on me, and the ends duckbilled really fast. That first experience with expensive pliers made me cautious about spending my money on high priced tools.

SUPER CHEAP ($5) VS SUPER EXPENSIVE...($50+)

Generally a cheap plier will have a rough jaw surface, and relatively simple handles and springs. If the surface jaw is rough, you can buff with a belt sander, nail file, or dip in Tool Magic, plasti-dip or tape.

The Expensive pliers generally have a nice smooth jaw, good smooth action on the opening and closing, and have nice comfy handles.  Some are cushy, some are a rubbery.  Most offer a spring that should hold up and last for a good period of use.  

I know that some people would rather spend money on supplies than tools, which is understandable. If you like your cheap pliers - all the power to you!! 

We offer a cheap $5 plier option on our website.  I don't do this because I love these pliers.  We do it because we know some people don't want to spend a lot of money when they are starting out, and its a budget decision.

Econo Chain Nose

Econo Wide Nose

BRAND NAME -- Yay or Nay?!?!?

I will be the first one to admit I am a brand name girl.  I buy brands I recognize in the grocery store, I have a horrible addiction to brand name purses and shoes.  So why not pliers?? 

XURONS - My True Love... 

I can't even remember how or why I tried these pliers.  There are little more pricey that cheap pliers, but no where near the expensive pliers prices - We well them HERE on our website for $19.95 -Xuron Short Nose

Xuron pliers are made from strong high carbon steel and have handles that are longer and more comfortable than economy pliers. The action on Xuron pliers is very smooth and comfortable to weave with for long periods of time. We also find that these pliers are excellent for beginners, as they make it easier to manipulate jump rings because you have a much better grip. These are a very wise investment. We prefer Xuron to any of the other more expensive specialty pliers out there!

I have been using these pliers for at least a decade and probably more -- Likely 13 or so years.  I have NEVER returned a pair for warranty ... although I have destroyed a dozen pair through the years.  Once I cleaned the Handles with too much WD-40.. Causing the glue to let go so the handles pulled off and the springs went sproing...I have damaged the jaw surface, but generally on Titanium rings - which is stronger than steel, and beyond the capability of the tool, so that's my fault, not the tool's fault.  I haven't dealt much with Xuron Directly.  Abby at Xuron has sent me some samples when looking at their other tools, which I appreciate.  I buy these from a couple of different wholesale sources depending on what else I need to order and the shipping costs... but we have purchased and sold 4500 PAIR OF THESE PLIERS IN 10 years!

Downside -- Yes!  There is a downside to my babies.  They have such a narrow head, which is awesome for 18 gauge and thinner rings.  This is a problem for 16 gauge and thicker rings as they leave tool marks on big rings.  This requires you to own a wider pair of pliers for big rings.  But that doesn't discount the value of these tools for the right rings. 


Customer Service - As far as I am concerned Xuron feels the same way about Customer service as I do.  They stand BEHIND their product 100% and if you have an issue they make it right.  I personally have never used this service, because the tools I have damaged are due to extensive wear and tear as I use these HOURS a day.  But anyone that has had a tool issue has had their tool replaced with very little hassle and feels good about it.  The main issue I see people having is with the spring.  Sometimes they pop out of place, or rub a little funny.  But unlike other companies, Xuron takes care of you.  This a very big part of why Xuron is an excellent Brand.  They are awesome, and they back their product!


What about Wide Nose Pliers??  We need a good set to compliment our Xurons right??

When we first opened our Store Front and Studio in Saskatoon I needed better suppliers for tools.  We brought in Many different Wubbers pliers.  I was super excited as they were a brand name that people were talking about.  They were also doing some fun mandrel pliers in squares and triangles, and had some awesome things for metal smithing.

I really wanted to LOVE my Wubbers.  A lot of Chainmaillers were talking about them, and many people said they really loved them.  This was the most expensive plier I had tried at the time -- I think we were selling them for $27.95CAD.  These are my Wide Nose wubbers pliers.  They have a very long handle, which is great for people with bigger hands.  My hands, aren't so big, so I found these took some getting used to.  They are the wide nose, so perfect for working with 16 gauge and larger rings.  

What disappointed me in these pliers were basically two things.  First was the springs.  Notice the pair on the right hand side?  The right side spring is broken.  I was lucky to find a pair in my studio (on the left) for this photo that actually has both springs in tact. All the springs in our studio pliers broke. We did the rare earth magnet trick, but the handles are so heavy, they didn't spring open like the cheap little pliers did.  

Secondly what I found disappointing with these pliers is the jaw surface.  They were EASILY marked up just working with jump rings. Once the surface of the plier jaw is dented and gouged, those marks easily transfer to the softer metals you use them on.  I'm not sure why some pliers mark more easily than others - obviously they are using a metal that isn't as strong.  This is where my Price vs quality debate kicks in... it's one thing for $5 pliers to mark up... but $28 pliers should be make from better quality metal.  

Customer Service - I never attempted to return my Wubbers, I was told at the time that you can return them to the company if they fail, and for $15 you will receive a new pair.  That's a discount to replace.  The thing that bothers me about they say their "Quality is Incomparable".. But in my experience the quality was lacking and most of the tools I had failed.  We probably had 20 sets of broken pliers when we closed the studio.  I will be the first to admit when I do something to a tool that I shouldn't - I've ruined MANY a pair of cutters on chain or wire that I shouldn't have snipped... but that was my misuse.  I don't feel using pliers to open jump rings is misuse.  I also don't think the springs should all break off and the surfaces are easily marked up.

Wubbers has some interesting tools, and they aren't super expensive.  Unfortunately in my experience, they just weren't the tool for me or that I could recommend to others.

Knipex Electronic Wide nose Pliers - 35 12 115

My next major purchase was with Knipex. I had looked at these and hemmed and hawed over them due to price. At about $50 CAD each, this was by far going be my most expensive pliers yet. I was nervous about spending $100 on pliers, but thought It was time to try. Or I was mad at my husband for buying something stupid so I did too..

These Babies are worth every penny you spend on them.  Germany made - High Quality that they SHOULD be bragging about.  The handles are a little hard, not very cushy, but they are comfortable in my opinion.  The handles fit my hands perfectly... they feel solid and sturdy and they get the job done.  I have been using mine for at least 5 years... no damage, no broken springs, no marked jaws or edges.  These are work horses.  I use up to 12 Gauge wire, and have never had an issue.  They are a must own.  I do not have these on my website, but if you would like me to order you some - just send me an email -- We can do a group buy!!

I don't really have anything negative to say about these, other than they are expensive.  But they are worth it because the Quality is so good. They are a must have!

So I guess I got cocky about expensive pliers and thought I needed to try Tronex. They contacted us and sent some samples, and I bought a set of wide nosed 745 Tronex from TRL as they had some custom ones brought in. The only thing that was AWESOME was Jon used his fancy new fiber laser and engraved my NAME into my new pliers. Here they are.

These pliers have big long handles, which were almost uncomfortably big for my hands.   I did notice some marking on the jaws of the pliers in the first few days of using them.  I used these pliers solely on Aluminum as we were doing a big rush project at the time.

This is the first pair of pliers I had BREAK on me.  The whole END of one jaw snapped clear off... ON BRIGHT ALUMINUM JUMP RINGS!!  As you can tell.. I am yelling.  I was very upset and disappointed that I had never had a tool fail like that.  If I was the ONLY person this has happened to, I would think I am just being a cry baby.  But through the joys of facebook I know of at LEAST 5 other people who have had their Tronex pliers break in the same manner.  Not a spring break, but the whole end of the plier.  I have not heard if anyone had luck getting any customer service out of Tronex Directly.  Because I didn't buy from Tronex directly, I didn't think to contact them.  But because of this experience I had, and have seen others have... I wouldn't recommend these pliers.  For the same money I would hands down recommend Knipex instead.

NEW TOOL MUST HAVES 

We have Two Newer tools on our website that are a must own.  First - Xuron's new Chisel Nose pliers.

These are everything that's wonderful about the short nose style, but they are a little wider, and the chisel tip is super fine for tiny Micro maille uses!  I love these and am happy to have them in my collection!  Be careful though.  If you you slip, they are sharp suckers!  I did bleed my first time using them.  They also have goofy around the house uses such as pulling out slivers, and occasional eyebrow tweasing! hahaha.

The next new addition are the Snub Chain Nose Pliers These are new to us this month.  I have been testing them for several weeks and like them!  They are a reasonable price, they are comfortable to work with, and they give you good leverage with the jumprings.  I have no idea how they hold up over time, or what Beadalon's customer service is like, but I haven't had an issue or seen anyone complain either!  Please click on the link above for more details and price!

I was asked about the handles - It's a little strange - I've never seen a plier with one side of the handle more padded than the other - I would have personally added EXTRA padding to both sides.  That being said - they are still comfortable for the time I have been using them, and the difference in padding is slight.  You don't really notice it being too different. I was trying to decide if I liked the extra padding on my thumb side or fingers side... and I didn't find a preference.

As far as a lower price decent quality tool - We found these Swan Brand pliers from one of our beading wholesalers, and have been selling them for around 8 years.  They are a $10 CAD tool so the price reasonable, and the quality is also reasonable.  I can't say I recall having spring break issues.  I know i have never had the end break off like Tronex did.  I recommend these WIDE NOSE for the Japanese Ball kit that uses 12 gauge rings.. Tough suckers to bend. And also great for 18-16 gauge rings that you want the wider tip for.  They are good price for the quality they are and the use they have.

The Chain Nose are a harder sell for me honestly.  The ends are so long, that they slip more and are more awkward for small rings.  You are better off paying double and using the Xurons... and if that isn't in your budget - the new Snub Nose ones are $5 more and way nice tool to work with.  We've always carried this one, sort of as an in between tool. WAY better than the $5 chain nose, but really I'd encourage you to go with Xuron's instead... they are just worth it!!

Now there are many tools that I DID NOT review here.  It's either because I haven't used them enough to have an opinion, or I don't think they are chainmaille pliers.  For example -- Nylon Jaw Pliers.  I see people talk about these, but in my opinion and experience, Nylon Jawed pliers are for wire wrapping.  They are great for Straightening wire - but they mark up VERY fast, and are hard to get a good solid grip on a jump ring.

Parallel Pliers -- We had to bring some Parallel pliers in for a silversmithing class -- it was a tension set ring class, and these tools were recommend.  They are not chainmail appropriate in my mind because they lack the spring, the handles aren't comfortable, and there purpose of meeting in a flush parallel position isn't important for chainmail.  They were awkward to hold, and while they have purpose for other projects, I didn't think chainmaille is one of them!

I am still looking for some other wide nose pliers to bring in for our customers.  I have a few brands I am hoping to test soon, and hopefully can find a reasonably priced tool that you can't live without!!

Thanks for reading!

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