Milwaukee has recently come out with new “Torque Lock” locking pliers and clamps. If you use locking pliers on a regular basis, you can probably spot the new feature right away.
Milwaukee has expanded their line of professional hand tools a few tools at a time in recent years, but this is the first time since their initial pliers and cutters launched that we’ve seen more tools of this kind.
Check out our other posts about recent Milwaukee hand tools!
The new Torque Lock tool lineup includes 3 sizes and styles of locking pliers, and 4 sizes and styles of locking clamps. Milwaukee designed the pliers with a traditional-looking lever release mechanism and a very large adjustment screw.
Instead of the thumb-wheel adjustment knobs you see on the ends of other locking pliers’ screws, Milwaukee’s feature a larger hand-friendly loop. Not only does the new knob allow for you to exert greater leverage by hand, but it allows for tool-assisted tightening.
Some other brands’ locking pliers have thumb screws with female hex wrench sockets. But if you don’t have the right size of hex key available, you’re out of luck.
With these, you can use something like a screwdriver, or whatever else you might have on hand, as a cheater bar.
The new locking pliers and clamps are made from chrome-plated forged alloy steel for strength and corrosion resistance, and they also feature hardened jaws for optimal gripping power.
Milwaukee Locking Pliers
- 10″ Curved Jaw, 48-22-3420
- 10″ Straight Jaw, 48-22-3510
- 7″ Straight Jaw, 48-22-3507
Milwaukee Locking C-Clamps
- 11″ Swivel Jaws, 48-22-3521
- 6″ Swivel Jaws, 48-22-3522
- 11″ Regular Jaws, 48-22-3531
- 6″ Regular Jaws, 48-22-3532
Prices vary, from $11.49 for the smallest locking pliers, to $23 for the largest locking C-clamp.
Buy Now(via Home Depot)
While I wish Milwaukee would have built their locking pliers and clamps with European-style jaw release mechanisms – such as the kind found on Grip-on and Blackhawk locking pliers – I have faith that they did their research and engineered the pliers appropriately.
Milwaukee seems to have a lot of faith in their new hand tools, and backs them with a limited lifetime warranty.
For the money, you might want to give these a try the next time you’re in the market for new locking pliers. The selection is a little slim right now, but maybe Milwaukee will expand the lineup in the future if sales are strong. These pliers should be on-par with Irwin Vise-Grip locking pliers, but we’ll have to do some testing to find out for sure.
What is the Country of Origin? China I presume?
I am willing to bet this made in China 100%.
But if Milwaukee truly wanted to cash in the made in the United States of America demographic, manufacturing this in America, at least partially or so, would certainly garner respect from me.
But alas the days of American made locking pliers are long gone though.
Are there -any- locking pliers made in the USA anymore? I’m in the market for some new ones as I don’t have any right now and am not sure which brand to choose yet. I’d prefer USA made, but if that’s just impossible short of a lucky eBay find then I’m up for suggestions. General all purpose household applications, nothing special.
Search ‘Wurth USA’ on eBay. Listed are some NOS (New Old Stock) American made locking pliers at very reasonable prices. Not many left. I will assume they were produced by Vise Grip and branded for the german company Wurth.
After Irwin outsourced all of their products, including their locking pliers (vise grips) in 2007, there hasn’t been any USA made or USA made of imported and global components in years.
Harry J Epstein does have some, but not much these days USA made or USA made and of global components Irwin locking pliers and all of these are in factory sealed condition.
From personal experience, 9/10 you likely won’t find factory sealed American made locking pliers cheaply and if you do, I strongly suggest purchasing them.
Pawn shops, GoodWills, Re-Store’s, Craig’s List, eBay and tool forums (via trading and buying) typically have various manufacturers of USA made locking pliers.
Brand wise I have vintage USA made 1950’s Petersen, early 1980’s Petersen, American Tools (they would merge with Petersen), Wilde, Crescent, Stanley, Parker Manufacturing (via Craftsman) and more or less back in the day these all worked about the same with some working slightly better than others.
Companies such as Bonney, Proto, Klein, Snap-On, Blue Point, Wurth among others at some point in history produced American made locking pliers.
I put my Wurth 7″ Straight Jaw Locking Pliers next to my to Petersen 7″ Straight Jaw Vise Grip, and noticed that they are identical other then the lettering. Anyway the Milwaukee Locking Pliers and Locking C-Clamps seem fine, I will check them out next time I am at my local Home Depot.
No more locking pliers made in US .
I know, I said that in the beginning of post. Since 2007, there hasn’t been any manufacturers that have produced any locking pliers in the United States of America.
Klein, Craftsman, Crescent, Irwin, Snap-On, Williams, Proto, Blackhawk, Stanley among others have all sent the work overseas to China, Taiwan, Spain etc.
Even this Milwaukee isn’t American made, but rather made in Taiwan.
Bluntly put, if one is looking for American made locking pliers, eBay, pawn shops and other venues are your only option.
Pretty sad that we don’t manufacture locking pliers anymore, but the same goes with files, powered equipment though.
Have I been using my Vice-Grips wrong all these years ?
I don’t think I have ever turned the adjustment screw while the pliers were locked.
Agreed. I can’t even think of any reason you would want to.
i agree with allen. that adjustment screw is a useless option. i have never had reason to think that i needed to adjust them while locked. i even question whether the tool is designed to handle the stress of turning the screw under pressure. if i am correct designed they to be adjusted, then snapped over center to lock the tool. i cannot help but think turning the screw would be very hard on the threads, pins and jaws of the tool.
the only selling point this tool seems to have is with someone who unknowingly thinks the new screw is an improvement (that in reality they don’t need) or that thinks because it says milwaukee on it that it is better
This is how some users adjust their locking pliers. According to Milwaukee, their research has shown that some users weld rings to their locking pliers’ thumb wheel screws to allow for user of a cheater bar.
I have never needed tool assistance to adjust my locking pliers, but some do.
Normal operation is to release the pliers, set the adjustment, and then clamp down onto the work material. Repeat as necessary until you get the clamping pressure you need.
When you need very high clamping strength, it can be hard to squeeze the handles to close pliers around an object. In these situations, then I could see a worker closing the pliers around the object first and then tightening the thumb screw. Enabling the use of a cheater bar or screwdriver means you don’t have to use a hex key or second pair of locking pliers to tighten the jaws further.
Just because you, Allen, myself, and other users don’t find advantage in a particular feature doesn’t mean it’s useless.
I actually think that this could be a pretty awesome improvement to increase the locking force after clamping. I know that I have been in situations where I would prefer a tighter grip but made it extremely difficult to close the jaws after tightening the screw.
It never really occurred to me to turn the knurled screw down more after the fact with another pair of pliers, but after hearing about this use case I will at least certainly try it.
Using pliers to turn the knurled screw should be done with caution. Depending on which is harder, the thumb screw might damage other pliers’ jaws, or the jaws will damage the knurled thumb screw.
i won’t argue that people modify their tools. i have done it myself. that said, i have never made that modification or seen a need for it. i am of the idea that if you can’t get it to clamp tight enough you need a different tool. i can’t imagine the use of a “cheater” not adding a lot of stress and wear to the tool. is there a recommendation on how long of a “cheater” one should use? i am kind of partial to a “six foot cheater bar”. maybe they should have put a hex head on it for impact wrench adjustment. i would be curious to see what the return rate is from that type of use and whether warranty will cover it.
I also the know is made of plastic, I wonder how long it will take for people to start snapping these In half and Milwaukee claiming abuse and not cover it under warranty
Oh looking at it closer to looks like metal now., hard to tell on my phone
Being able to turn the screw when clamped can be useful in certain situations. I have used locking pliers to align pieces of metal to weld. Often a lot of force is not needed, when you are using them to align metal or to close a gap. It would be much faster to just snug the pliers, instead of opening them, turn the screw a bit, close them, repeat.
Also, I like the idea of the eye, as one could tie a cord or bolt a light chain to it, for pulling sheet metal, or even thin steel plate (pull, position, drag, etc,, not overhead lifting, use only approved handling systems for that, because if it slips, it could decapitate someone!).
Now that you mention washers welded on the knob, I have seen that. Could it possibly be to assist in release ?
Sometimes I lock them pretty tight and they are hard to release. I could see that more than gaining extra clamping power.
Meh, more of a gimmick then anything… I’ll keep my 15 year old USA made vise grips think you
And I have never seen anyone mod their view grips and needed tool assistance to get them to close tight enough
I like the ability to use a screwdriver or other tool to increase your leverage. Not sure I’ve seen that before.
I saw these at my local Homedepot and I want to say these are made in Taiwan. The looked pretty good and I think they were cheaper than the comparable Irwins.
Next time you’re shopping for Irwin locking pliers, take a look at the country of origin. Not USA made anymore.
That being said, as a long time welder, this Milwaukee design looks very useful.
Admin Note: Jake is employed by Milwaukee Electric Tool.
I wanted to see if this was a gimmick. So i googled vice grips modifications
Seems to be the most reoccurring mod. Guess milwaukee did their homework
did you follow the links john? i went to some of them and most of them led to fire and rescue sites. the modifications were predominantly for lanyard attachment to prevent loss and dropping. i only saw one that said it was for easier adjustment, not increased clamping pressure. i did see an idea i liked though and that was putting a small split ring between the handle and adjusting screw for lanyard attachment. i also liked the one that had been converted to a stinger holder for welders. maybe i should convert a locking plier to a ground clamp. that sounds like a good idea.
I modified several pairs by adding a short 1/2-20 screw on top of the pliers to allow me to connect a ball-joint camera mount.
I see old made in USA Vise-Grips at almost every estate sale. I usually find them for $.50 or $1, too. I see no reason to ever buy a Vise-grip, adjustable wrenches (an outdated tool anyways), or C-clamps from a store. Some tools are basically freebies.
Interesting!! I want some. Now if they made some sliding F clamps that’d be awesome.
Whatever happened to the DeWalt locking pliers that were supposed to be released last year?
These – https://toolguyd.com/dewalt-locking-pliers/ ?
They’re “on hold,” with no estimated release date.
Yep, that’s them. I liked the looks of the aggressive teeth. Was looking forward to picking up a few pair.
The primary advantage I see to a ring on the thumb screw is having a convenient spot to attach a line, to jury-rig something like a clothes line with the vise-grip as a clamp on one end. Using the thumb screw to tighten the jaw grip is a very poor idea from mechanical advantage standpoint… sort of like trying to raise a 12-ton bottle jack with a crowbar while it’s supporting a car.
Looks pretty cool.. I will give them a try..
I think the oversized adjustment loop would make it easier to hang/ store multiple pairs on pegboard or a welding table.
While this looks like a valid modification, I can’t see Milwaukee riding the wave for long. Aside from the change in the adjustment knob/screw, the tool is otherwise a typical locking plier.
If consumers start jumping on them, every set from every manufacturer will sport the same mod in short order. This won’t set Milwaukee apart from the rest for very long.
I’ve always taken the pliers (prior to locking it down) and test-fit them for clamping strength. It’s a short process; you clamp it on the workpiece to see if you’re close, adjust it slightly if it’s loose or too tight, then squeeze the handles shut. I’ve not tried to adjust it tighter while it’s locked on. I suspect that would make it difficult to remove, damage the surface of what you’re working on or break the tension spring if it’s over-tightened. The adjustment screw should be free-turning as is; if not, remove it, check its threads and the inside of the receiver (it may be ovaled or bent, making it difficult to make adjustments). If all looks well, add a small amount of light grease or oil to aid in turning.
People using cheater bars on these may have bent the receiver/handle in the past. Cheater bars are always a bad idea; you leave yourself open to injury or tool breakage. First, try to figure out WHY something won’t break loose; do you need some penetrating fluid to overcome corrosion, or do you just need a larger tool to begin with? Another problem might be you’re using a regular ratchet instead of a breaking bar to accomplish the task. Ratchets tend to slip a bit in use; putting pressure on them would reduce your effective leverage and could cause failure of the ratcheting mechanism. It would break long before the handle becomes bent. Most tool makers won’t honor a warranty for that activity, which is perceived as abuse.
The large red turning knob is a good idea for making them easier to adjust, but I suspect it’s also there to be attached with a chain to prevent dropping the tool while you’re on a ladder, or a related reason. There are a number of tools being outfitted that way now owing to rising workplace injuries. Stuart did a post on new tools that meet that requirement a few months back. My concern is that the screw knob may become loose over time; welding a ring to the tool is a better bet.
I just picked up a pair of the curved jaw pliers and the 11″ clamps last night. I really like the thumb screw and it is a very durable design. These will hold up very well for my use and I think the bolt is a great feature for the tool. I will use it for hanging on pegs, tying off a lanyard, and with a screwdriver. I will no longer have to play “guess and check” with my locking pliers.
Admin Note: Jake is employed by Milwaukee Electric Tool.
thanks for the watchful eye admin……….. a crappy move on the part of milwaukee.
No, not crappy. Tool brand associates are typically loyal and prideful of their brand. Jake probably simply forgot to mention his affiliation.
My policy is to always point out unmentioned brand and retailer affiliations whenever they come to my attention.
I am inclined to agree. Promoting the brand is understandably justified for someone who works for the company, but you need to own this though.
Similar in the respect that Klein acknowledges that not all of their products are American made, this definitely in my opinion does help if representatives openly state who they are though.
i will give you that it may not be crappy on the point of milwaukee but i don’t buy that jake forgot that he works for milwaukee. in this day and age a professional should know that posting a media site, someone is going to figure out who they work for.
Would be careful about attaching a lanyard to the screw, the screw can be backed all the way out which would cause the tool to fall.
Who really cares one way or the other about the adjustment screw. I bought a bunch of Irwin clamps because they were half off a while back at home depot. I’m glad I paid half price, that’s what they are worth, if that. My Petersen made claps that are 20, 30 years old are much better quality. The Irwin clamps are misaligned, twist and bend if any real pressure is put on them. Sad. I wonder if these Milwaukee clamps are really any better. Granted, the china / Taiwan made stuff is not nearly as bad as it was by a long shot in the 90’s. But it still is not nearly as good as US made tools from 20 30 40 or even 50 years ago. I think it is so sad that these executives are more interested in chasing margins than in quality. It’s all junk nowadays in my book. A 90% the quality tool is just that 90% the quality. JUNK!
i think the ring is a good idea …you lot must have struggled to release vise grips when clamped very tight at some time and had to force them apart with a screwdriver in the mechanism and releasing with a big jolt
I’ve no association with Milwaukee, but agree with Jake nonetheless.
I too have just picked up a pair of the curved jaw pliers. I can testify that the thumb turn is metal and it certainly feels robust. These are good pliers.
Overall, I really like these Torque Lock pliers. It can be useful to be able to tighten the screw with a screwdriver as a “cheater”, because it means less “guess and check”. I like the new feature.
I won’t be putting massive torque through a cheater bar, but it will save me some hassle with “guess, check and re-do” in setting the jaws.
Quality wise, I’d say the Torque Lock pliers feel marginally higher quality than (Chinese made) Irwin Vise-Grips. The Milwaukee pliers have a little more heft than the same size Irwins and the jaw tips seem fractionally better than Irwin. They’re close. But the Milwaukee pliers feel like they have a slight edge over Irwin in build quality. Time will tell and I can feed back after more use.
Grip-On is good if you rather have Spain over China. I still want ones Made in the USA though.