Best Linesman Pliers For Electricians (Our Top 8 Picks of 2019)

My hands were throbbing in pain.

My linesman pliers could barely open wide enough to fit the electrical wire I needed to slice. And even when they could – they struggled to actually cut it. It was then I learned a crucial lesson – don’t waste your time with a poorly made set of lineman pliers.

Using a high-quality set of lineman’s pliers makes your work easier, and more enjoyable. A good set of lineman’s pliers should effortlessly cut wire, have comfortable cushion hand grips, and be nice and lightweight – all at an affordable price.

There are a lot of popular electrical plier brands out there – like Knipex, Klein and Channellock – which can make finding the best set of linesman pliers difficult for apprentice electricians and lineman.

So we’ve taken the hard work out of it – here’s our review of the Top 8 Linesman Pliers on the market.

best overall rating
Klein Linesman Pliers
  • Cuts through screws, ASCR, and most hardened wire
  • Smooth slicing motion
  • Made in the USA
premium choice rating
Knipex Linesman Pliers
  • Easy cutting – effortlessly slices through wires
  • Comfortable cushion-grip handles
  • Safety Rated to 1000V
great value rating
Irwin Linesman Pliers
  • Durable nickel chromium steel construction
  • High gripping strength
  • Great price

Top 8 Best Lineman Pliers For Electricians 2019

Klein Lineman Pliers – Best Overall

Klein Tools Lineman Pliers

Klein has really set the industry standard with this set of Linesman Pliers. 

Their Lineman’s High Leverage Side Cutting Pliers make a great addition to any electricians’ toolkit – they are a well-designed, solidly built, well-priced set of pliers.

There are more than capable of handling heavy-duty projects where wires over 1 inch need to be cut.

Klein Tools Side Cutting Pliers

We love their ability to cut through hot-metal with ease. This is all made possible because of the tool’s high-leverage design. Klein placed the pliers’ rivet towards the cutting edge – giving it 46% more cutting power than many other poorly made electrical pliers.

These Linesman Pliers feature bright heavy-duty plastic handles – making them comfortable and easy to spot. You’ll find these very comfortable to use in all your DIY projects.

Klein Tools Made in USA

These well-made steel pliers cuts through nails and copper wire like soft butter. Its cutting jaws kiss close, giving you the ability to cut through hard wire in a ‘click-clack’ motion.

For those heavy-duty jobs, Klein’s Linesman Pliers are equipped with a precision-hardened plier head. Klein’s unique handle tempering helps with absorbing the “snap” when cutting through wire.

The time and effort saved with these electrical pliers make them an easy buy for anyone who wants to simplify their electrical projects.

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What We Like
  • High leverage design
  • Cuts through screws, ASCR, and most hardened wire
  • Hot-riveted joint ensures no handle wobble and smooth slicing motion
  • Induction hardened cutting knives
  • Made in the USA
What We Don’t Like
  • We prefer slightly more cushioning in the handle

Knipex Lineman Pliers – Premium Choice

Knipex Insulated Pliers

Knipex’s Linesman Pliers are the Rolls Royce of pliers.

Once you get yourself a pair of these, you’ll realize how much time you were wasting using a set of low-quality electrical pliers.

A lot of engineering has gone into perfecting this elegantly simple plier design. The weight of these pliers is very well balanced, and they feel great in your hands.

The soft-grip handles provide a good balance of firmness and cushion to your wrists. This helps in minimizing hand fatigue while allowing you to keep a solid grip on the pliers (which is crucial working as a lineman or electrician).

The handles are insulated in accordance with national and international standards for insulated tools (IEC 60900 and ASTM F1505), and they also comply with NFPA-70E. They are insulated up to 1000 V and are clearly marked with the official 1000-volt rating symbol.

Knipex Linesman Pliers Removing Nail

Another thing that’s great about these electrical pliers is their inner grip area. The serrated cross-hatched knurled gripping zone allows you to conveniently remove nails and other stuck objects.

This gripping zone is also really handy for gripping and pulling wires.

It’s hard to put into words just how great these lineman’s pliers are. They just work. They do everything you would expect from a pair of ideal lineman pliers:

  • They slice through wires like soft spaghetti
  • The grip handles are extremely comfortable
  • They are insulated up to 1000 V (as per insulated tool standards)
  • They are able to quickly remove nails and other unwanted objects
  • They can easily grip and pull wires

The only downside to these lineman pliers is that they’re not the cheapest available.

But they are still reasonably priced – especially when you consider the quality craftsmanship and engineering that have gone into perfecting these pliers. Highly recommended set of electrical pliers for any electrician or lineman who’s serious about efficiency. Combined with a good pair of lineman boots, you’ll find your workday just got a whole lot easier.

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What We Like
  • Easy cutting – effortlessly slices through wires
  • Convenient inner grip lets you quickly remove nails
  • Comfortable cushion-grip handles significantly reduces wrist strain
  • Meets all ASTM and IEC standards for insulated tools
  • Safety Rated up to 1000 V
What We Don’t Like
  • Not the cheapest on the market

Irwin Lineman Pliers – Great Value

For most on-the-job electrical tasks, the Irwin Linesman Pliers are your best friend.

They have ProTouch grips which provide extra comfort and minimize hand fatigue.

While this is the most affordable set of electrical pliers on its list – that doesn’t mean they’re low quality. They features 3-zone comfort grips. The grips are made out of hardened cutting edges that can cut through piano wire, ASCR, screws, and nails.

Irwin Lineman’s Pliers delivers up to 3x more gripping power than the traditional locking pliers. They also feature a 10QR curved jaw for torquing and gripping multiple surface shapes and for creating pressure points on four points on any bolt head or style nut.

You won’t have to worry about a replacement when getting these electrical pliers. The pliers come with machined jaws that provide the maximum gripping strength. Since it meets the ANSI specifications, these pliers will help you complete your projects in no time.

These pliers are made from high-quality chromium steel, and the weight feels very well-balanced in your hand.

These pliers are extremely rust resistant – even in moist conditions. Irwin have backed up their pliers with a lifetime guarantee.

While they don’t quite have the sheer cutting strength of Knipex or Klein, these are a great value set of lineman’s pliers.

If you’re looking for a cheap, quality set of pliers – Irwin Linesman Pliers are a great choice.

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What We Like
  • Induction hardened edge
  • Durable steel chromium and nickel construction
  • Comfortable ProTouch Grips
  • Machined jaws for maximum gripping strength
  • Great price
What We Don’t Like
  • Doesn’t open as far as we would like
  • Struggles to cut 12-3 wire

Channellock Lineman Pliers

Channellock Electricians Pliers

Channellock revolutionized journeymen linesman pliers through the use of Xtreme Leverage Technology.

The XLT positions the rivet near the cutting edge, requiring less force than other high-leverage designs.

The combination of heat-treated cutting edges and XLT makes this set of electrical pliers a great asset in any electrician’s toolbox.

The Channellock Linesman Pliers come with comfortable blue grips. These grips make it easier to wield the tool, even when cutting through high-density wire. The blue handles also make the pliers easy to spot inside your toolbox.

Channellock Side Cutting Pliers

You’re going to love the diverse range of metals this set of pliers can cut through. The Channellock Linesman Pliers can cut piano wire (0.47 to 0.091 inches), soft wire (0.162-inch diameter), medium hard wire (0.047 – 0.091), and hard wire (0.047 – 0.091 inches).

For those heavy duty cutting jobs, the Channellock Linesman Pliers are a great mid-range set of pliers. But they struggle to differentiate themselves from Klein Lineman’s Pliers, which offer similar features at a lower price-point.

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What We Like
  • Ease of handling – The rubber grip handles make cutting through wire a breeze
  • Unique jaw design that accommodates most shapes
  • Performance - created out of high carbon C1080 steel
  • Knife and anvil cutting design
  • Laser heat cutting edges - Increases the durability of the tool
What We Don’t Like
  • Can bend when cutting 10-12 gauge insulated copper wire
  • Blades become torn down after removing screws

VamPLIERS Lineman Pliers

Vampliers electricians cutters

No electrician should leave home without having a pair of VamPLIERS Linesman Pliers at their disposal.

Made in Japan, VamPLIERS are made out of hardened Kobe steel – easily slicing through Torx screws, nuts, and bolts.

VamPLIERS patented plier design means you won’t have any issues cutting through rusted material either. The insane strength of these electrical pliers makes it super easy to cut through both standard and rusted metal.

As a free bonus gift, these VamPLIERS also come with a FREE tool pouch. Click here to order your VamPLIERS with a free touch pouch (at no extra cost to you).

Vampliers free pouch

If you’re looking for an ergonomic pair of pliers, VamPLIERS won’t leave you disappointed. The ergonomic T-shaped elastomer handle gives you a lot of leverage for twisting, gripping, crimping, and pulling wire.

As VamPLIERS are 20% lighter than standard linesman pliers, first-time electricians will feel at ease when using this tool.

For first time linesman who want a pair of pliers that will last – VamPLIERS Linesman Pliers are a great choice. Not only are they designed for hard wire cutting, but it’s also RoHS compliant for use within most industries.

Overall VamPLIERS are a great pick up if you’re looking for a premium set of lineman’s pliers that aren’t quite as pricey as Knipex.

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What We Like
  • Serrated teeth – easily slices through tough wires
  • Comfortable cushion grip
  • 20% lighter than standard linesman pliers
  • Perfect nose to help access tight spaces
  • RoHS compliant
What We Don’t Like
  • Can be hard to grip smaller round head screws
  • Not the cheapest on the market

Southwire Lineman Pliers

Southwire Cutting Pliers

Southwire Lineman Pliers features induction hardened cutting blades that ensure a long-lasting, and efficient cutting surfaces for soft and hard wire. Due to its strength, it’s able to cut through ⅛” and ¼” fish tapes without experiencing any damage.

You’ll get a lot of cutting power with these electrical pliers. For example, there are file teeth on the jaws of the pliers to help remove burrs located in the conduit. It has a drop forged 6150 alloy steel to help with his durability.

Southwire Comfort Grips

Plus, it features a crimping die for terminals, lugs, and noncrimping die. These pliers are able to cut through screws, nails, ASCR, and hardened wire. So you’ll have no issues when cutting through the toughest of wires.

Created from forged steel, these are a durable, well-crafted set of cutting pliers.

Similar to VamPLIERS – these are by no means a bad set of pliers. But. They are in a weird spot in the market.

Klein’s Linesman Pliers have more cutting power and are cheaper. Knipex’s Linesman Pliers are better no matter which way you look at it – they’re just a bit more pricey.

So really you should only pick up a pair of Southwire Lineman’s Pliers if you’re specifically looking for a set of pliers with lots of grip padding – but aren’t quite willing to spend the money on Knipex’s pliers.

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What We Like
  • Comfortable dual material grip
  • Forged steel for enhanced durability
  • Durable – made from drop forged steel
  • Case hardened blades that help with cutting
What We Don’t Like
  • Difficult to open after cutting
  • Similar to Klein, but more expensive

Craftsman Lineman Pliers

The Craftsman Linesman Pliers were built to last.

They are constructed out of forged high-carbon steel, making them a great choice when working with hot objects.

These electrical pliers have a high-leverage rivet location – yielding a 26% improvement in gripping and cutting. You won’t have to worry about a these pliers failing on a thick piece of wire.

The precision matched jaws are perfect for cutting, twisting, and gripping.

The main things that hold these pliers back are their grips. While they’re tear resistance, their cushioning is poor – which can lead to hand fatigue over time.

Consider getting a pair of Craftsman Lineman’s Pliers if you’re looking for a durable and robust mid-range set of pliers.

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What We Like
  • Precision machined jaws – better cutting, twisting, and gripping
  • Secure grip gears
  • Locking groove point
  • High-leverage rivet location
What We Don’t Like
  • Lack of grip cushioning
  • Limited cutting motion

Dewalt Lineman Pliers

Dewalt DWHT70276

Last on our list is the Dewalt Linesman Pliers.

Although these might be good enough for small personal projects, we’ve noticed some difficulties when cutting through thicker wire.

The pliers handle correctly and have a convenient spring mechanism. However, they are unable to open fully for it to handle regular electrician’s work. The lock switch doesn’t work and frequently slides out of position.

Durability wise, you’re better off getting a stronger pair of electrical pliers. These pliers are constructed out of sheet metal. We found that they were no where near as strong as other pliers we reviewed – like Klein’s or Knipex’s Linesman Pliers.

While most lineman pliers have a fully functional locking mechanism, the Dewalt Linesman Pliers do not. It will engage, but then it pops off when the handles are open.

Due to these quality issues – you’re better off buying another pair of pliers on this list.

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What We Like
  • Precision machined jaws – better cutting, twisting, and gripping
  • Secure grip gears
  • Locking groove point
  • High-leverage rivet location
What We Don’t Like
  • Locking system doesn’t work
  • Non-functional spring mechanism
  • Jaws don’t open wide enough
  • Unable to cut through thicker housewire
  • Made from low-quality sheet metal

What are Linesman Pliers Used For?

  1. To Cut Metal Objects: The strength of a lineman’s pliers means that they can be used to cut nails and screws. The cutting craw of the pliers can hold and cut the threaded screws up to size 10 and can cut through plain drywall screws and most nails.
  2. Removing Bends From Soft Metals: You can use lineman’s pliers to remove warps and bends from lead or brass. Start by heating the metal via an acetylene torch. After that, cover it using asbestos cloth and then add pressure in order to straighten the bent and warped edges.
  3. Clean Rough/Smooth Metal Edges: Use the flat nose part of the lineman’s pliers to flatten sharp metal edges.
  4. To Bend and Straighten Sheet Metal, Cable, and Wire: Linesman wires are useful in creating 90° bends in sheet metal, and wire. Place a soft piece of cloth around the sheet metal, before using the pliers. Stretch your wire piece over your square nose of pliers to create precise 90° angles.

Types of Linesman Pliers

Here are the most common types of linesman pliers.

  • Insulated Linesman Pliers
  • Snap-on Linesman Pliers
  • Linesman Pliers with Crimp
  • Linesman Pliers with Spring

Insulated Linesman Pliers

For dangerous electric projects (where there’s a high chance you’ll get shocked), we suggest that you grab a pair of insulated linesman pliers. Unlike traditional pliers, the insulted linesman pliers are designed to protect the user from electric shocks, especially when working on live circuits.

Usually, insulated linesman pliers are certified with withstand a specific amount of voltage. (i.e. 1000V). When shopping for an insulated linesman plier, try to get one whose voltage limit matches the same voltage power of the unit you’re currently working on.

Snap-on Linesman Pliers

While not as durable as other pliers, snap-on linesman pliers are great for simple projects that require minimal durability. Most electricians carry a pair of snap-on pliers because they are easily replaceable and easier to use.

When using them, you’ll notice that they have a stiff joint. This means that you’ll have to physically open and close the pliers, while newer models tend to open on their own. So keep an extra pair just in case your previous tools aren’t working!

Linesman Pliers with Crimp

There are some pliers that come with crimpers to help with cutting the wire. Here are some benefits when using this “crimp connector” pliers:

  • Because it doesn’t use any alloys, the joint is stronger mechanically.
  • A well-designed crimp connector will be gas tight, which stops the moisture and oxygen from reaching the materials.

So if you’re planning on cutting alloy-based metal, then crimper pliers are the way to go. Crimper connector pliers will help you make accurate cuts without having to struggle with the wire. So have a few in your arsenal!

Linesman Pliers with Spring

Spring loaded pliers are good for all-purpose linesman work. Due to their design, they are less likely to obtain rust in comparison to other pliers.

Thus, if you’re going to need some pliers for everyday work, you can’t go wrong with spring-loaded pliers.

How to Sharpen Linesman Pliers

You don’t have to sharpen your pliers often unless you put them to work regularly. Although it might be easier to go out and buy a new set of pliers, you can repair the pliers you already have.

First, start by placing your pliers in an open position, you can have access to its wire-cutting blades. While you can sharpen the pliers with your hands, it’s not advisable because the small metal splinters might reach your skin.

Depending on the wear of the blades (whether its minimal corrosion or noticeable nicks on the blade), you’ll have to use either an emery board or a knife sharpener. For light corrosion, you can use an emery board. Just use the emery board and begin to file the blades.

For dents and nicks, you’ll have to use a knife sharpening blade. Cover the surface of the cutting blade so that it has a uniform sharpening. When filing, try to keep to its original angles and begin to close the pliers’ jaws so it can close correctly.

How to use Linesman Pliers

As we stated earlier, Linesman pliers are can be used for practically any task that involves cutting through wire.

For instance, if you want to pull out nails and extract screws, you start by gripping the bent head of the screw or nail and extract it out of the wood using the pliers.

Grab the top of the screw and turn it in the direction opposite of when it was inserted. When done, you’ll notice that your pliers have removed the faulty screw!

Combination Pliers vs Linesman Pliers

Lineman’s pliers are used by artisans, electricians, and other tradesmen to help with gripping, twisting, and removing wire.

It uses reinforced jaws, pincers, or insulated handles. There is a joint at the nose to help with optical gripping, and there’s a cutting edge on the craw.

Combination pliers offer more versatility. They can be used to bend, cut, strip, and grip wire. The gripping jaws can be used to compress objects and materials.

Combination pliers can also be used to close chain links – such as the ones used to create chainmail or jewelry.