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October 2021
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Remodeling Tools Notes and Tips: Pliers – Slip Joint

The most important thing in remodeling are your tools. For all you folks starting your first project to seasoned serial remodelers, what will set your work apart from the rest is your tools. Good Tools work better. Because they do their jobs well, your jobs will be easier and safer. Good tools last and perform better.

For those of you of a delicate persuasion who are offended by salty language, you should probably go somewhere else as it will be getting salty soon. The theory that some folks hold dear that profanity has no place in discourse and that folks who use it are somehow less intelligent, have limited vocabularies and or live in ‘those’ areas, have never remodeled.

But I am not here to cure Experience Deficit Disorder, I am talking Tools and Remodeling. Both of which require intelligence, specialized vocabularies, shopping in ‘those’ areas, and a desire to increase their knowledge and abilities. Moving on…

There are no magic brands out here or branding fairy dust that make shitty tools work better because they are a ‘brand name’ . Bullshit words like “Professional Grade, Industrial Grade” have become marketing slogans rather than qualitative distinctions in material, construction and fit and finish. Good tools are expensive. Shitty tools are cheap.

No finer examples of Branding Bullshit  can be demonstrated than by talking about the lowly pliers. You have at least one pair in your stuff, maybe two. The reason I have more is I hate giving up any tool. Either as something that I use every day, or as a painful reminder never ever to spend a dime on a particular ‘Brand’ ever again. That I post about it is gravy for you.

This is multi tool that everyone owns. These are what usually come to mind when somebody says, “Hand me a pair of Pliers” (No, I don’t know why pliers are referred to in the plural when in reality you are using a single tool)

These are standard slip joint pliers. On the left is a pair of “Stanley”, center is a “Fuller” right is a “Powermaster” When I was a child, learning carpentry and cabinetry from my grandfather, who was  a master cabinet maker from Sweden, there were Stanley tools all over. Not anymore. Since becoming a conglomorate, outsourcing their manufacturing, and slapping their name on any vaguely home related product, their quality has gone into the toilet. Here is an example of this.

As you can see the teeth are broken the chrome plating has worn and chipped. This plier was produced in Japan. Fuller has been building hand tools around 50 years and are a great  value where available. Also forged in Japan.  The tool on the right is a Powermaster I picked up in a box at a yard sale. Powermaster is a brand for a group of Korean foundry’s cranking out tools. Not a bad tool, but there are better choices.

All of these pliers have serrated jaws on the top for gripping material, The larger teeth are for gripping and twisting, small nuts, bolts and pipes. You can see the slip joint which allows the pliers to grip larger diameter material. The little slots below the larger teeth is allegedly a wire cutter, but trust me, none of them work well.

Things to look for in pliers.

Check that the biting surfaces are even and sharp. Uneven or dull teeth will not grip, will slip and hurt you.

Check that the outside ‘checkering’, knurling, outside surface is consistent in pattern,(not off center, disappearing) If it is not this not indicates how little they care about the outside, it also indicates that the tool is made out of trash material and will fail.

Check that the handles open and close smoothly, and there is no wobble at the slip joint. Here again, it is all about quality.

Check for a comfortable fit. Because unless you lose them they will be with you for a long time.