I recently updated my post about European hand tool brands, and a question popped up – who makes the best pliers, Knipex or NWS?
This is a tough one. I think that I still lean towards NWS for general purpose pliers, but I also own and continue to buy Knipex pliers when new needs or wants arise.
See Also: Which is Your Favorite European Hand Tool Brand?
The fact of the matter is that you cannot go wrong with either brand. I also own plenty of recommendable pliers from other brands as well.
I’d say that Knipex vs. NWS is akin to a Coke vs. Pepsi type of debate, or Dewalt vs. Milwaukee, but we all know which brands would win there.
I don’t like improvising with pliers, similar to how I seek to always have the correct screwdriver size or style for a task. Because of this, I’ve expanded my pliers set over the years, and I’m probably not done yet.
In this post are a couple of comparison images, with Knipex on the left, and NWS on the right. These are taken from my office tool kit, where I keep a couple of essential tools, as well as personal favorites that I always need to be able to find quickly.
General Purpose Pliers
I like the NWS pliers so much, I have a couple of duplicates to ensure I have common pliers sizes in different kits and locations.
For “I don’t want to have to think about it” pliers, I’d go with Knipex. Knipex sometimes wins out on value as well, given their availability and sales volume in the USA today.
But I tend to like the feel of NWS a bit more, at least when it comes to smaller pliers styles. I don’t own a lot of larger NWS pliers, simply because I already have those sizes and styles covered by Knipex and other brands.
In other words, there’s not enough benefit for me to buy NWS duplicates for certain general purpose pliers styles and sizes. That’s why I have larger long-nose pliers from Knipex and shorter pliers from NWS in my drawer. There wouldn’t be much benefit in replacing those Knipex pliers.
Would I buy the NWS of those 8″ pliers today? Maybe. Would I buy the Knipex version of those ~7″ NWS “chain nose” pliers? Probably not, especially since the Knipex looks to cost a couple of dollars more.
Mini and Precision Pliers
For precision pliers, I bought myself a set of NWS tools back during a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale. But I also have Knipex tools in certain sizes.
To be fair, I bought this Knipex for ~75% off, but I do like it. Between the two brands, the Knipex are mini pliers, but the NWS have more “precision pliers” features, such as the spring-action opening.
These NWS have ESD-safe handle grips. Knipex also offers similar, but at much higher pricing. To be fair, I only have one or two true precision pliers from Knipex, due to their super-premium pricing, and so my experiences are a bit skewed.
For example, NWS 4.75″ chain nose pliers retail for ~$27. Knipex’s retails for $38 (non-ESD) or $41+ for the ESD version.
Specialty Pliers and Cutters
Things get messier when comparing specialty pliers.
I own Knipex Pliers Wrenches, Cobra adjustable pliers, and snap ring pliers. NWS has ergonomic right angle pliers, Fantastico compound leverage wire cutters, and a convenient lanyard tether design built into their full-size pliers handles.
Knipex is also well-known for their CoBolt hard wire cutters.
Both brands have specialty tools that stand out in among many other competing brands as well.
All this is to say that, in my experiences thus far, you can’t go wrong with either brand. I haven’t dealt with either brand’s customer service yet.
For Knipex, I like their dipped grips, and they also have a special type of textured dip grip. Their comfort-style handle grips are also very good.
For NWS, most of my tools feature their comfort-style grips, but their dipped grips are also good. I have not had any issues with their chrome plating, but I’ve heard of the chrome chipping off of cutting surfaces. Most of my NWS pliers have their “Titan Finish” treatment, which is a black PTFE (Teflon) coating.
I can’t say one brand is better than the other, and my preferences or favoritism tend to change depending on the tools I’ve been working with.
I tend to use NWS pliers more when it comes to general purpose and precision pliers, simply because I have purchased a broader range of NWS sizes and styles over the years. I tend to use Knipex adjustable pliers (Pliers Wrench, Cobra) exclusively.
If I had to replace all of my pliers today, and I could only look at these two brands, my new kit would likely be 60% NWS and 40% Knipex based on tool count, but my usage frequency would likely be 50:50.
Maybe things will change by the next time I try to compare the two brands against each other again. But for now, while I have my preferences and have made clear purchase decisions on a tool by tool basis, I’d be hard pressed to recommend either brand over the other.
You can’t go wrong with either brand.
Buy Now: Knipex via KC Tool
Buy Now: Knipex via Amazon
Buy Now: NWS via KC Tool
Buy Now: NWS via Amazon
See Also: Felo Pliers via KC Tool
Most if not all Felo pliers are rebranded NWS tools. Sometimes a certain style is more affordable with Felo branding than NWS.
This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to tackle the Knipex vs. NWS question and it won’t be the last.
I tend to prefer NWS over Knipex when they are direct competitors for the same style, but it seems like Knipex has a broader range and the differences can be negligible. In Canada, Knipex is usually a little cheaper.
I have a pair of those NWS-made 9.5″ Irwin linesman pliers en route by mail right now. Really looking forward to that. Why NWS doesn’t make their own version larger than 8″ is beyond me.
BTW, is the Irwin/NWS partnership over now?
When I went looking for them I found Amazon third-party resellers asking premium pricing and didn’t see them in stock with any of my regular tool retailers.
I eventually tracked down a pair (at a discount rate – though not explicitly marked as “clearance”) at a fasteners store. It was the last pair they had in stock.
I also know Irwin started making their own versions independently with confusingly similar-looking handles (but absent the NWS premium quality).
I was wondering what was going on with those Irwins that looked a lot like NWS but clearly weren’t up to the same standard.
Cheap cheap cheap: The American marketing way.
Please try to change my mind.
I think you are right. I bought my Irwin branded NWS stuff when Lowes was clearing it out. I noticed they are going for crazy prices on Amazon and eBay. KCTool just had some excellent deals on NWS bundles… which I missed. They would be my go-to for NWS for the time being.
Lowe’s algorithm clearanced out all the NWS made Irwin’s a couple of years or so ago. I picked up several for $6 or $7 a pair! Most of them have been gifted to friends or family by now.
As far as I am aware, the Irwin-NWS rebranding partnership was short-lived.
The Irwin pliers you find on the shelves now look similar but made in Asia, not Germany.
There could still be some NWS-made Irwin pliers in the wild, but the last I checked (a few months ago), it was one maybe two styles.
The changeover happened 5 years ago: https://toolguyd.com/irwin-vise-grip-pliers-nws-style-made-in-taiwan/
5 years ago?! Now I feel even luckier I was able to track a pair down.
For most of the plier styles I would just buy NWS instead, so no great loss – but NWS doesn’t have a 9.5″ version in their catalogue.
Why? Did Irwin just use the “partnership” to steal NWS designs?
I doubt they would have needed a partnership to do that, they just could have bought a pair of NWS pliers and copied them.
I don’t know anything about the details, perhaps Stuart can fill us in, but my guess is that it’s really simple: it’s cheaper to have the pliers made in Asia than buying them from NWS.
I suspect it was a simple test to see if Irwin could market a premium line of pliers. NWS isn’t a highly conspicuous brand in North America. Irwin is mostly a low to mid-tier plier brand, but ubiquitous. If it had worked, I’m sure the plan was to use Irwin distribution to sell premium NWS pliers.
In my experience, the irwin versions were 10-12 bucks more each for an identical tool in blue. Just didn’t make sense.
Love them both. NWS is a better value for most pliers. Knipex Cobras and Pliers Wrenchs hold a special place in my toolbox though!
IMHO if we’re talking common pliers designs like linesman’s, needle-nose, etc, I don’t think there’s much difference. Mine happen to be Knipex but I’ve used NWS before and I don’t feel that one is better than the other.
I think that the difference comes to light when you look at the more specialty options. I like that NWS has a handful of pistol-grip pliers (in fact, those are the only NWS pliers I own), that’s something that Knipex doesn’t have. But NWS doesn’t have an answer to Knipex’s plier wrench. They do make some water pump pliers that are quite comparable to the Knipex Cobras but they don’t have the really small or the very large sizes. Then Fantastico dikes are great, but Knipex has several high-leverage pliers of various designs including the well-known CoBolts which the Fantastico cannot compete with.
As far as grips go I find them pretty equal. The dipped tools are similar to me. I like the thicker plastic handles, I find the NWS and the Knipex to have similar ergos. My one gripe is that the various shades of gray and silver that NWS adds to their handles makes them look too “busy” in my opinion. It can make it harder to find the tool at a quick glance in a full toolbox/bag.
While both brands do make precision pliers for whatever reason I don’t think of either when that subject comes up. I like Sandvik Lindstrom when it comes to precision pliers, as well as brands oriented towards jewelers and medical.
Your comment reminded me of something I was wondering the other day – if you were cutting two-strand barbed wire which would be better, the NWS Fantastico or Knipex CoBolt?
I was seriously considering a pair of CoBolts, but then I wondered if the Fantasico might be up to the task too (and more useful to me for other tasks).
I’d take the Cobolt for that easily. The Fantastico is nice, but it’s really more of a heavy duty electrician’s tool, while the Cobolt is intended for hard steel wire, bolts, and so on. Barbed wire fence is some pretty tough stuff so I’d take the Cobolt.
If you have to do a lot of fence work you might consider the Moore Maker brand fencing pliers. I don’t have any personal experience with those but all the ranchers I know swear by them.
Thanks! Those Moore Maker 10 & 1/4 spiked fencing pliers look interesting. Might be worth a try! I like the look of the handles (although I wouldn’t mind a dipped coating).
I just bought some Crescent fencing pliers – haven’t even tried them yet. They seem really well rated though and have a skinnier spike than most others (which I like, it’s often tough to get under fencing staples). My initial impressions are good. The design is tweaked a bit from the traditional version that 90% of fencing pliers share. I was going to go with Channellock this time around, but Crescent’s looked different enough in useful ways that I wanted to try them instead.
For the record, I didn’t like Irwin, Dewalt or Stanley Fatmax fencing pliers at all (which all have comfort grips that make them way too fat in my opinion). None were any longer lasting than the cheap hardware store versions I’ve used in the past.
Most fencing pliers cut ok when they are new, but quickly dull. The milled hammer face flattens. Sometimes the joints are stiff to open wide enough to cut wire. It also annoys me that I need to cut one strand at a time.
Get a pair of CoBolts. They will make you smile.
Made in Texas – those Moore Maker pliers may indeed be worth a try:
Stockade ( part of ITW – Paslode) makes an interesting fence staple pliers:
Malco also make these fence pliers:
We also worked with chain link fence – where “Carriage Bolt Pliers” and “gate clip pliers” were useful. I’ll try to hunt for a source for these.
Another sources for fence pliers:
We’ve stacked the comments too far out for me to reply to you directly fred, but thanks for the info!
The Stockade pliers certainly look useful. Good design. It’s always a balance between using fencing pliers as an all-in-one solution that works ok versus carrying more tools that can do each task better individually.
I often put my cordless angle grinder in the truck box in case I need to cut a bunch of wires or staples, for example, but I’m not about to sling that in a tool belt while walking down the fence line.
Gate Clip Pliers:
Channellock fencing pliers are my favourite.
I’m a big Channellock fan. I might have to try them eventually, just because.
I was looking hard at them this time around, but the design features and positive reviews convinced me to try the Crescents.
Do your Channellocks cut well? One of my pet peeves is when the wire shoots out the side instead of being cut. 😛 Seems to happen a lot as the cutting edges dull on this style of pliers. I think the cutter should be deeper (but I suspect no one does this because then people will try to cut both strands at once, which would take too much force).
I’ve had the same pair of channellock fencing pliers for close to 15 years now. They’ve put up a lot of fence and are still working fine. I always cut both strands at once with them and have never had the wire come out the side.
For barbed wire – nothing beats a Felco (Swiss) cutter IMO:
They also make some of the best cable cutters and secateurs (hand pruners).
Thanks John and MM. Stuart just tricked me into ordering some Bahco screwdrivers from Amazon.de – you fellows compounded the problem by convincing me to add a pair of CoBolts to the order.
In reply to ca:
That sounds pretty impressive! I wouldn’t have expected the Channellocks to cut two strands at once, nor last anywhere near that long.
None of the brands I’ve used to date have held up for more than a few years – at least not without some serious “maintenance”. E.g. re-filing the cutting edges, cutting grooves back into the hammer face where the “milled” surface used to be, removing destroyed comfort grips, “attempting” to tighten the pivot…
I usually have a couple weeks of fence maintenance or building to do each year, with some sporadic maintenance. Not enough to justify any specialized equipment, just hand tools, but enough that I can wear those tools out.
Interesting the first comparison is for long nose pliers. Having recently looked at all options, I went with Kleins for a new set of these. They seemed to have a better jaw to handle ratio for me.
Lastly, I know people like Amazon but I try to stay away from it as much as I can for things that have been counterfeited. Odds of getting cheap import junk are not negligible and I just don’t want to risk it. So for me for stuff like this, anywhere is better than Amazon including Walmart.
Sunny leveson jones
Not Walmart online thing that’s full of scams now
Walmart direct doesn’t mix inventory with third party sellers like Amazon does as far as I know. If Amazon would just stop doing that they’d be far more trustworthy in my humble opinion.
I noticed the Gearwrench plier set I was looking at. It was listed on Amazon with the seller being Acme Tools. So theres a lot of good sellers on the site.
It only applies to things shipped from Amazon, so basically ANYTHING that’s Prime eligible. Doesn’t matter if they’re an otherwise totally legit seller, Amazon could grab from anyone’s bin if they need to to get an order fulfilled.
This is the one area where Knipex fails and Klein shines. You made the right choice.
I’ve used and own a pretty good variety of pliers from different makers. The ones that I deem “yukky” go away pretty quickly. Of all of them, the only ones I regard with a Wow pretty much every time I pick them up are the Knipex Cobras. The rest are great, solid, reliable that I’m proud to have and use – my ratings stop there.
But those Cobras really stand out for high marks in every category, and I’m always amazed by their seemingly light weight.
Lowe’s algorithm clearanced out all the NWS made Irwin’s a couple of years or so ago. I picked up several for $6 or $7 a pair! Most of them have been gifted to friends or family by now.
Okay, so I’m mostly a Knipex guy, but I’ve never tried NWS pliers. So if you had to recommend a single pair of pliers that shows the excellence of that make what would it be? (For Knipex I’d go with the Pliers Wrench or the Cobras, of course).
The Fantasico side cutters, of course.
Okay, cool, I’ll try them out.
Ditto. Fantastico all the way.
Pliers are pliers! How often do you buy them that you have to compare them and seek out the best one? I never had a pair of even cheap ones fail on me.
My criteria for pliers is the following: 1) available at the home depot 2) there isn’t a second one
I couldn’t disagree more Oleg! 😁
Sockets, for example, all pretty much do the same thing. There are subtle differences that can add up as you climb the price ladder from Husky to Nepros, but for most tasks… I think there’s only so much difference between them.
Pliers are different! The gap between consumer/retail grade and even lower-tier pro stuff is dramatic. I swear, buying my first pair of Channellock wiring pliers (the 909s) is what really started me on the tailspin into premium tools.
I had only used those cheap stamped metal versions that often come with an assortment of connectors before that. I was blow away how easy it was to crimp and cut with the 909s in comparison.
I’ve now got an extensive collection of Channellock, Knipex, Felo, NWS, Klien, etc. I would never cheap out on pliers again.
If you get away from 909 types to ratcheting crimpers (my favorites are from T&B), that step is also not one you’ll retreat from, either.
I’ll consider it! I probably don’t do enough crimping to justify another upgrade – but that doesn’t always stop me. 😄
Are you talking the ~$250 Thomas and Betts crimpers I’m seeing on Amazon?
What about something more modest like the Klein 3005CR that’s only about $50?
I’ve never had a pair of cheap pliers fail either–at least not in the catastrophic sense of them breaking into pieces.
The main benefit I see to high quality pliers is that the teeth and the cutting edges are properly hard. Cheap pliers often don’t grip very securely because the serrations aren’t cut properly and/or the metal is too soft. The second benefit is that the joint is secure and it doesn’t wobble or get loose over time.
Borrow a nice set of pliers and I’m sure the “pliers are pliers” mantra will disappear with an epiphany. The CoBolts, Cobras, or Plier Wrench will make a believer out of you. I have given away many as gifts and the recipients *always* end up buying more sizes.
I’m somewhat afraid of these two companies.* I feel extremely lost when looking at the product lines. Neither company actually makes anything I use so far. And the ones that I would use? I have Jeweller sets that were a tenth the price, or less, and are made of better steel, superior designs, and are made to last centuries at a time, between maintenance tasks.
And frankly… I have two full-size Leatherman tools that can do what I need from most of the rest of the designs available. I really have trouble with “Regular” Pliers. I’ve been a tool user since age 9, and I’m still trying to figure out what a full-sized set of needle-nose pliers, or flat jaw grip pliers are good for to me. I know the companies are quality producers of tools, don’t get me wrong… I just can’t seem to fit any of their models in where my Multi-Tools, Precision Tools, or Power Tools, can’t do the job easier, faster, or more accurately.
The best preference between them I can make is… “Buy one for a specific job, in a specific place, and leave the tool there 24/7 so you always have it for that job.” Otherwise… Getting into pliers at those price points scares the hell out of me.*
*I do have an anxiety disorder, so don’t think too deeply into such a statement being severe, or important to resolve. I feel the same about buying any kind of ladder or step-stool, except that is triggered by Acrophobia… I don’t like heights. Investing in a kind of tool I don’t normally use, also makes me anxious, as I don’t want to make a mistake about what I buy.
For me – now mostly interested in woodworking – pliers are just a passing fancy. They do get used for some odd jobs around the houses and gardens – but not on a regular basis. The closest thing I did in the past which called upon specialty pliers – was my stint (when the kids were growing up) as the de-facto neighborhood bike repairman.
In my past work-life experience the closest thing I can recall to a Eureka moment regarding pliers came just over 20 years ago when we started passing around Knipex plier-wrenches among the plumbing crews. Soon they all wanted them. We next tried the Knipex Cobras – and after which most for the prior favorite Channellocks got put aside.
While we did some light assembly work in our metal fabrication business, had some use of pliers in our remodeling business (subbed out most electrical work) and out woodworking/cabinet shop – none of these were what I’d call pliers-intensive. Now if I were running a jewelry repair business, a batch of optician shops, an electronics/instrument repair/re-work business or vehicle repair shop – I might have a different perspective on pliers
I think it interesting to look at the number of pliers that might relate to a visit to the Opticians to have a pair of glasses fitted or repaired:
or some of the pliers that you might employ if you took up the craft of jewelry making:
I’ve purchased some model railroad use tools from them. There’s a fair amount of tiny tool and threaded parts overlap amongst eyeglasses, mechanical time keeping and mechanical models.
Orthodontics as well. Thats another source for a huge variety of different pliers.
fred, Jim, MM… I think the point you got to where Pliers have become interesting to look into? Are exactly where I’ve already gone with my Jeweller’s tools.
They’re identical for opticians, precision hobbies, and jewellery and watchmaking… There are extremely tiny precision plier types that exist for Jewel Makers specifically. They’ve been developed over several hundred years, refining the balance of weight and sharpened edges of steels involved. The absolute perfect balance point between the working head, and the weight of the handles and the spring-back mechanism in the hand… there’s even a few that have been beefed up with that finger ridge design you see in the larger NWS and Knipex full sized, that resist your fingers riding up onto the working hinge or the head.
But these kinds of tools have been developed between people with machining and sharpening shops, and the people you see in old photographs with unkempt hair, wearing magnifiers on their glasses, working under microscopes, and applying things to eachother with tweezers. I can attest that, at that level, over hundreds of years of family heritages from Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and even Belgium and Luxembourg… Time Pieces, Optical Technicians, and Jewellery Makers from the finest parts of Europe have walked a very wavy line between “Obsessive” and “Insane” levels of precision.
Put simply… The world looks differently when your hands are operating at such tiny scales, and even a heartbeat can change where your tool grabs the work. At this level? Precision Tools… it doesn’t matter if it’s a Screwdriver, pair of clippers, nippers, cutters, or pliers of some sort… Tiny, tiny fractions of a hair’s width difference can mean a piece is worth $10 on the retail market… or $100,000. Basically… Is it a Timex? or a Rolex? Frosted Glassware? Or Lalique? Cartier? Or Faberge?
On the upside… The same factories that used to work with those insane makers for hundreds of years, working until their fingerprints wore off, just to get the exact precision tool for them? Now they’re no-name factories that can produce hundreds of the identical quality tool, for next to nothing. I have friends who make GunPLA models as a hobby, and others that try and make Miniatures like my Mother used to… They complain about how difficult it is to get a standard flush cut out of their $50 Craft Store side cutters… but marvel at my $7 Jeweller’s Side Cutters, that I’ve bought for them. That’s the big selling point for me, and why I shy away from NWS and Knipex… By the time we get down to the precise need I have for them… I have $7 high end steel, ergonomically designed, 100-year-old-design sets that can go 30+ years without oil, sharpening, or any kind of maintenance. And when I’ve bought sets of those for my friends doing models, I’ve spent $40 getting them multiple options, just to make sure they have sets that fit their hands, with backups for every occasion. They’ve ended up with 4-8 pair of clippers of one sort or another, and they’re so precise they can not only leave no trace they were ever connected to those plastic frames, they can actually shear off the flashing at the edges of each piece.
These are claims that I can’t say Knipex or NWS can make. Can they cut through harder wire? Larger wire? Reach farther? Sit in the hand for longer periods of time without soreness? I believe so. I’m still working out where I need that though. When it comes down to special use pliers… I don’t have a huge need of pliers. It has been over a month since our toilet seat has started to loosen in the bolts, and I’m still procrastinating about getting out my cheap adjustable wrench, to tighten it down like the world is coming to an end. Thinking about more uses for pliers? It’s… Just not there for me. I have what I need, and more. Way more.
Hence… NWS and Knipex kinda scare me. I don’t know if I have a need for the models they have, and they’re too expensive to buy and be wrong about them. I admittedly wish I had more to do with my life as a tool user, rather than a care giver or in treating my mental health issues.
It sounds like you’re mainly doing precision work so I am not sure how much use you’d get from most Knipex and NWS tools. They are mainly oriented towards trades like electricians, plumbers, or mechanics. I very rarely use any of my Knipex (or similar) pliers for fine detail work, but I use them very often when I’m doing auto work, plumbing, wiring, or just general repairs.
If I understand you correctly you’ve found some high-quality jeweler’s pliers for very reasonable prices. If you don’t mind my asking, what brand are these? I’ve encountered many inexpensive jeweler’s pliers before but unless you count lucking out at a garage sale all the ones I have seen at a nice price point were garbage.
@MM Honestly? The brand isn’t even written anywhere on the tools I have. And they’re new, not garage sale.
Go to the tools section on Artbeads.com. Pliers, Tweezers, Snips, Shears… German Made, or Japanese. The price range is literally $8 US up to $80 US. And the difference is just how ergonomic the handles are. They don’t use referral codes, so I can’t get you any discounts there, but they do sales constantly.
At a Model Making shop, the near-identical tools, made in China or Indonesia, or wherever in Asia it might be other than Japan, they’re $20 US-$100 US. And they’re the usual tool/hardware store grade steel that needs honing after cutting too many hard wires. They’re made of one type of steel all the way through, instead of the German Jewel Maker’s method which is to have the balance, spring, and core of the working head be a blend of steel types to get the right weight-to-leverage balance… What I’ve referred to in my long rant as that line between “Precision” and “Insanity”… built up over many generations of Jewel Makers’ exact preferences, and consultations on how the tool should work.
Buying what looks like a “Cheap” pair of cutters from a Jewellery supply is buying 200-400 years’ worth of a manufacturing company’s in-house tool production experience with the truly down-the-rabbit-hole watchmakers and jewellers of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Czechoslovakia over the past few centuries.
My personal favourites are these red-and-black plastic covered ergonomic German set… I paid $35 USD back in… I think 2012? They still have them, but I think the colour of the handles changed. They’re effectively the exact same pair of $7 dipped-handle side cutters at that size, but with thicker, easier-to-grip handles. In this case, you’re paying for the ergonomics, not the quality of the tool. Because they’re all the same quality, it’s down to how decorative, or how ergonomic you want them. The balance point for these pliers isn’t even on the pliers. The balance point isn’t at the hinge like you would find at a Model Shop or Hardware Store. Because of all the engineering, the balance point is somewhere in your palm. You can operate these with fingertips, and use them for hours without fatigue.
And the fun part? That’s true for the dipped handled ones for $7 as well as my $30 ones. Only, mine have that finger notch seen up above on the Knipex and NWS handles, where there’s a lip keeping your fingers from slipping past the handles, into the jaw or hinge area. Beyond that ergonomic benefit? They’re German Made. I cut Sterling Silver from 30 gauge wire, up to 1mm thickness, and have done so for… I guess it has been almost 9 years now, since I started making my own stuff instead of repairing my Mother’s… I’ve never had to oil, sharpen, hone, or maintain the pliers… they look a little rusty, but look closer at the cutting edges and they’re pristine. Not a nic or dull spot to be seen.
They’re so ubiquitous among Jewel Makers that they don’t particularly go by a “Brand” name. And, yes… When I bought them, that threw me off, because like many of you, I’m also used to the likes of Knipex and Gearwrench, DeWALT and SBD, the whole spectrum of tools… very proudly proclaiming “WE Made this!” …But it’s different for Jewellery Tools. They crank them out by the hundreds of thousands every year, for next to nothing, knowing they’ve got hundreds of years of perfecting the design over any competitors.
And… yes… I have walked into actual Jewellery stores, held up my pair, and their in-house Jeweller has walked out with nearly identical ones, sharing this exact same story every time. It’s because being into making Jewellery can mean you get obsessive over getting it perfect. And the manufacturers in Germany and Austria have dealt with the most obscure, most famous crazies to ever get into this field. And from their obsession, came these tools. Which the crazies, before the industrialization of making tools, would pay the equivalent of hundreds of dollars to have them made, and pass them down generations to their children when they died (usually at their benches.) and now with all those specifications in hand… the companies that made the tools expanded to factories. As long as they kept the same specs, they could crank out perfect modern copies, using modern handle materials for variety and ergonomics.
And… Strange enough… The same is not true of Screwdrivers. Modern bit innovations trump the obsessives’ single-piece models. That’s where the Wiha, Wera, and… hell… name a company… That’s where their ways make their screwdrivers worth it now.
I’m ranting… I’m so sorry… It’s just… When I started making my own jewellery, instead of repairing my Mother’s stuff (She’s the one who taught me tool use, not my Father… it’s a bit of a switch from the usual story.) I went a little crazy myself… I started looking into this stuff, and it blows my mind what history has gone into these tools. I kinda wish every tool user knew about these little side-sources.
In fact, I bet my “Unknown” German ergonomic side cutters can kick Stuart’s Knipex and NWS precision pairs butts any day. Considering the regular price of their regular dipped handle edition is $8 these days, I’d basically be willing to buy him a few sets to replace his big name ones.
I use my long nose pliers almost exclusively for wiring work and bending hook/loops.
Really can’t go wrong with either. Once you use them, you don’t want to go back to using lesser quality, that’s for sure
Wait. We all know which brand would win between DeWalt and Milwaukee?
I’ll grant that most of us have strong preferences, but as you alluded to with your April fool’s post, a straight winner across the board would be very hard to determine.
Clearly, he means Milwaukee would win 🤣
Well, I think Dewalt would beat out Milwaukee’s track saw.
Knipex Pliers Wrench & Cobras are my favorite hand tools. I just got some NWS pliers and they are nice, very comfortable handles.
On my old job, the plant operator would notice a pipe or valve was leaking. He would grab the adjustable pliers in his pocket and tighten the bolts. Then when the pipe fitters later needed to replace the valve. Their wrenches didn’t fit the bolts, after being rounded off with the pliers.
I have Irwin branded NWS Linesmen and Ergo grip pliers, I also have Knipex Alligator, Cobra, and Pliers wrench. Obviously I have no direct tool to tool comparison. I use the Knipex tools much more often than my NWS but both brands tools are extremely well made and meet my expectations. When I need to buy a tool that both brands offer I will simply buy the better deal.
That first image gave me shivers down my spine. I’ve owned a lot of NWS but never had their needle nose. I’ve owned a lot of Knipex, including three of their needle nose. I agree with the internet, stay away from Knipex needle nose. Snap-On or Klein, only. They’re different enough that you can have an excuse to have Snap-On and Klein. Otheriwise, Knipex is freaking great and NWS have the best diagonal cutters in the biz (especially the “fantastico”).
I don’t know if it is just me, but I haven’t had the best of luck with NWS. I own a irwin “fantastico” made by NWS and the finish is really poor compared to a knipex, with a small part chipped. I recently bought a NWS multi ergo Vde, and while the finish is better than the irwin (this one has chrome finish) The stripping holes don’t quite match my knipex electrical install pliers in easy of stripping, and one of the handles is not glued properly.
I don’t know, maybe I had bad luck, but for me knipex is a little ahead in quality control at least.
I have a bunch of “speciality” Knipex pliers included the highly regarded Cobras. All very nice. Also have a bunch of Klein as well, but for my day to day most used pliers i tend to favor Proto. They don’t have as large a range as Knipex but i have a good number and US made to boot .
I did buy one of the NWS to see what the fuss is. It is quite good, but i bought it in a style that i had no equivalent in no other brand. Build quality is excellent. There is no “best” brand , pliers are designed for a range of functions and there is variability in quality and finish.
I also have a few older Snap On, not worth the money in my opinion.
I agree that most Snap-On pliers are not worth the money, but they do have a handful that are very good. The needle nose are well regarded, the pistol grip plier model 612AEP is fantastic for grabbing objects end-on. The “Talon Grip” slipjoints are the only slipjoints I’ve ever felt were actually worth buying until Knipex announced theirs. And they used to make, though sadly they are discontinued, two different size pistol-grip long reach “hose” type pliers, one was shaped for about 10mm diameter hose, the other was 16mm. These are fantastic quality and very handy for auto work.
I have to draw the line somewhere on some tools…..especially high-end tools. If I owned say a pair of NWS pliers, I wouldn’t buy a pair of Knipex to compare them. Why do they call them a “pair” anyway???
I may be wrong – but the “pair” part may relate to the pair of jaws and handles that pivot about and close (or open) to effect some task like gripping an item or spreading something apart. We seem to make some other tool names sound plural like scissors, shears and tongs. But some of those words don’t seem quite as odd without the “s” on the end. The plural of pliers (in English anyway) is also pliers – so go figure.
If you polish them up and modify them for medical use – you will probably call them a forceps (also seemingly only a plural noun) – but then again tools that look like tweezers to me – are also sometimes called forceps.
It’s similar to “pair of scissors,” which is recognized as proper terminology.
Same with pair of shears or set of tongs.
For all the klein fans, my NWS 10” Maxi MX and 12” Quattrogrip are both rebranded Klein! They are comparable to the Cobras in form and function. I have a 10” cobra and a 5”(my favorites) so a coin flip would be necessary to decide the best. The rest of my NWS are the Irwin rebrands. I really like the pistol grip and Fantastico but use the needle nose the most. The fantasticos are equal to the task as my 10” kobolt. I cut screws with both regularly. Appearance and “feel” makes me partial to NWS but I have quite a selection of Knipex as well.
I own some NWS VDE pliers and have never looked back since perfect fit and wouldn’t even consider Knipex or Snapon pliers again .
Felo do look very similar to NWS but the handles are a little less bulky and therefore do not have the same ergonomics.
For circlip pliers though Facom have best feel .
The only knipex that does look worth purching is the new waterpump pliers wich is sold by Wurth as a rebranded product as well.