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What Are Electrical Pliers?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

Electrical pliers are used when working with electricity and making electrical connections. Special cutters on the pliers allow them to be used to cut wire to length and to strip away the wire's outer coating as well. With the protective coating removed, the wire is ready for a connector to be crimped into position using the electrical pliers.

Typically, electrical pliers have rubber-coated handles to help protect the user from electric shock. It is important that the handles be kept clean and free of grease or any similar electrically-conductive material that could help transfer electricity from the pliers to an operator. Any sign of rip or nicks in the protective insulating coating of the pliers's handles should be grounds for replacement or repair of the tool.

Electrical pliers allow electricians to strip away a wire's plastic insulation and expose bare metal wire.
Electrical pliers allow electricians to strip away a wire's plastic insulation and expose bare metal wire.

While most electrical pliers are equipped with a wire cutter, the typical professional electrician will use a separate pair of cutters to snip through the wire. This is done to protect the pliers from frequent stress of cutting pressure, which could cause the pliers' jaws to become distorted. Any distortion of the jaw alignment could result in a poor-quality crimp when attaching a connector onto the wire. While electrical professionals may use multiple tools, the average homeowner could use a pair of pliers for all home tasks which involve making electrical connections.

The stripping, cutting and crimping areas of most pliers used for electrical work are clearly marked as to the proper size wire that is intended to be used. Should the markings deteriorate or become unable to be read for any reason, it is best to use a larger size cutter or stripper instead of a smaller size when guessing which cutter to use. The larger cutter will cut the wire while leaving a rough edge on the protective coating, and this will not affect the connection in any way. Using a cutter that is too small, however, will result in cutting through several strands of wire and creating a connection which could potentially overheat and fail.

It is not necessary to smash an electrical connection completely flat when crimping a connector onto a wire. Crimping a connector too tightly with electrical pliers damages the connection by breaking the fine wires inside of the crimp. This damage can result in the connector pulling loose or coming completely off the wire. The crimp need only firmly grip the wire in order to effectively create a connection.

Discussion Comments


I just moved into my first house, and I am trying to build up a collection of useful tools that might come in handy. I think I will definitely add a pair of electrical pliers to the list.

Does anyone have some suggestions for what I should be looking for in the pliers, or are they all basically the same? I have some experience with doing minor electrical work, so any ideas you all may have for other electrical tools I might be forgetting will be appreciated, as well.


@matthewc23 - On the pair I have, the stripper is at the base, the clippers are above that, and the crimper is the flattened section at the end of the pliers.

Connectors are small pronged pieces that are used in a lot of electrical situations. I know that I have used them when I have rewired electrical outlets. You can just stick the wire into the end of the connector and use the crimper to press the connector down and keep the wire in place. Since connectors are usually pronged, they are easier to keep in place with a screw. Doing a quick search will probably help show you what they look like better than my explanation.

I also have a pair of needle nose pliers with a cutter and stripper that are very convenient for working in tight spaces.


I used to work in a plant that manufactured the electrical components for cars, and we always called them electrician pliers.

After I switched jobs, I still kept my pair of pliers, and they have come in handy for numerous home improvement projects. My son also uses them to cut the ends of his guitar strings when he changes them.

They are a very versatile tool, and I would recommend anyone to get a pair. They are one of those tools that you never realize you need until you don't have them.


I have seen electrical pliers before, even though I didn't know what they were called at the time. I remember the stripping and cutting parts, but I don't know what the crimping area would be.

Would someone mind explaining where the crimping section is located, and what it means to crimp a connector, like the article mentions?

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    • Electrical pliers allow electricians to strip away a wire's plastic insulation and expose bare metal wire.
      By: Gajus
      Electrical pliers allow electricians to strip away a wire's plastic insulation and expose bare metal wire.