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What are Fence Pliers?

By S.R. Lewis
Updated May 17, 2024
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Fence pliers are a useful tool for installing fences to create visible boundaries while combining multiple tools into one. Available with padded handles for heavy and long-term use, fence pliers are able to cut wires, twist sections together, pull staples, hammer nails, stretch barbed wire and crimp materials to build and erect wood or metal fences. Fence pliers are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased in local hardware stores or building supply stores. Pliers are rated as light duty, medium duty or heavy duty and come in varying lengths and sizes.

These pliers are built with four main sections, including a flat head to be used like a hammer, a hook to pull out staples and jaws for cutting wire or for grasping the wire to twist, pull or tighten it. Different fence pliers can be used based on the specific project and wire being cut. Thicker diameters of wire require stronger pliers to prevent damage to the pliers. Most fence pliers’ jaws are constructed from cooper, steel or corrugated iron. Handles are wrapped in a softer material for comfort.

Safety is important, and eye protection should be used at all times because of the risk of slipping and small, flying debris. Pliers should never be used on electrical wire that might be conducting a current, because electric shock is possible. Cushioned handles are for comfort and not design as safety devices unless specifically noted by the manufacturer. The strength of the user’s grip will affect how tight or lose the twists become and should be taken in to consideration. A slack squeeze will create a looser twist, whereas a strong grip will create a tighter twist

To maintain a quality and safe tool, fence pliers should be inspected on a regular basis to look for wear and damage from use. If damage is found, an increase in slipping and accidents might occur during use. If pliers are cracked, sprung or damaged, it is recommended that they be replaced with a new pair of pliers instead of attempting to repair them, unless the work is completed by a professional.

For safety reasons, if more leverage is needed, one should not attempt to fabricate longer handles but should purchase a larger size. Additionally, pliers should be oiled on a regular basis to lengthen the life and improve performance. Fence pliers should not be exposed to excessive heat temperatures, because this will warp and damage the pliers, thus reducing their effectiveness.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Oceana — On Jan 16, 2012

My husband used some fence pliers when he was helping my dad build a garden fence. Raccoons had been getting into the corn and pulling the stalks down, so he needed to put up a barrier between the garden and the yard.

I watched as he twisted, hammered, and pulled the fence into position with those pliers. I thought about how hard it would be to do that without the tool. Even if you did it with thick gloves on, it would still hurt your fingers.

Fence pliers are great to help you minimize the effort it takes to do the job. I'm sure my husband saved a large amount of time and energy by using them.

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