A few months ago, Tronex sent over a small sampling of their pliers and cutters. I had been wondering about what sets Tronex tools apart from other premium precision pliers brands, and expressed my eagerness at seeing these differences first-hand.
Tronex pliers and cutters are pricey. There are a number of high-priced top-shelf brands of pliers, so Tronex is not alone in that respect.
I can describe these Tronex in one word: Perfection.
I’ve bought and received premium pliers before, and can usually find a compromise somewhere. Maybe the jaws don’t line up perfectly, maybe the jaws are unsymmetrically ground, maybe there’s a small gap in the jaws, maybe the teeth have too many burs.
These pliers are astonishingly flawless.
The pliers shown here are Tronex’s 541 flat nose pliers with step tip, and they feature standard Tronex ESD handles.
I should also mention this early on – these pliers were made in the USA.
For precision work, I often prefer smooth-jawed pliers. The non-serrated tips are far less likely to damage delicate components, and you can still get a good grip. Just don’t expect to loosen rusted-over nuts with them.
Tronex’s cutters are also proving to be exceptional, but I’m much more WOWed over these flat nose pliers.
You can open the pliers as wide as you want – there’s no limiter. Here you can see the start of where the spring-action mechanism comes into play. It’s a simple design, but well executed.
Tronex markets their pliers to jewelry makers, craftsman, professionals working with electronic components, and those in medical device manufacturing.
Here’s what they say about their pliers and cutters (straight from the Tronex website, with line-breaks added):
Tronex manufactures high quality pliers used for a variety of applications including jewelry making, electronics and hobby industries.
Our precision pliers each feature a bearing ring lap joint design which ensures superior performance to other pliers made with rivet or box joints.
Each pair of pliers has stainless steel leaf springs and our ESD safe cushion grips available with longer ergonomic handles, or standard handle length.
We out extra care and thought into designing our pliers with features such as a polished, handcrafted finish, slightly rounded inner jaw edges and some pliers have jaws which have tips which have been induction hardened for additional strength. All of Tronex pliers are proudly made in the USA.
With pricing starting at around $40 each, they should absolutely provide superior performance.
At these prices, Tronex pliers and cutters had better be the best ones on the market. I feel a little uncomfortable being so frank, but I do think they are.
The pricing makes me cringe. I want a drawer full of Tronex pliers, but that’s a bit above my needs. Well, right now at least. Maybe I’ll pick up a new plier or cutter style once a year, as a birthday or holiday season gift to myself.
One thing to emphasize is that these are NOT for beginners looking to buy their first precision pliers or cutters. These are what you buy when you are a seasoned hobbyist, craftsman, or professional and recognize the need for something better.
Aside from the price, Tronex offers a wide range of different pliers and cutters, and it takes experience to determine which ones are best for your needs. Because, unless you have very deep pockets, you’re not going to be able to buy one of each.
I’m not happy to talk so much about the price, but I know a lot of people will see the price tag of these pliers and let their jaw drop.
But the important thing to remember, and this is what I remind myself to keep things in context whenever I talk about premium tools, is that these pliers and cutters were designed without compromises and price points in mind. They were designed to be the best tools to tackle the job, and to provide nothing less than exceptional performance.
For something that you might use everyday, I think the price is justifiable. And in a commercial setting, maybe the time or effort savings add up over time.
Have you ever had lousy tweezers or pliers drop an important component or part on the floor? It can be a real time-suck.
Sorry, back to why I love these pliers so much,
A lot of precision pliers, at least those with serrated jaws, meet at the tip. These do the same, but they’re also designed to be parallel with the smallest gap between the jaws, making them exceptionally well suited for handling fire wire and component leads.
You can grip electronic component leads anywhere across those stepped tips, front to back.
I suppose that’s the benefit of the step in the jaws. I have never used mini pliers, which usually have straight jaws, that have such fine gripping ability before.
If you can’t quite see the gap in the previous image, here’s an “inverted” version. What you’re supposed to see is that there is a near-even gap between the two sizes of the jaw tips.
Additionally, the jaws are perfectly ground and finished. Maybe this is thanks to the “handcrafted” finish? But to be fair, I own a few long nose pliers that look to been hand-finished, and not in a good way. The jaws on some of my pliers are unevenly ground and crooked.
When fully closed, the jaws form an ever so slight taper. I tried everything I could find, and only a piece of paper is thin enough to not be securely gripped along the full length of the jaw tips.
The inner edges are eased, to ensure that a sharp edges doesn’t damage or ruin your work.
The handles are ESD-safe, which is important for anyone working with sensitive electronics. They’re also very comfortable and easy on the hands.
I saw an image on Tronex’s site that shows a pile of handle grips, ready to be installed on tools. That’s quite a bit different from what I’ve seen on mini pliers before. The ones that don’t have molded grips have dipped grips.
I don’t know how these handle grips are made, but I can tell you I like them. They’re the tiniest bit spongy, and also grippy without being sticky. Underneath the grip, the handles are gently curved.
For reference, these pliers measure to be about 5-3/8″ long. They also make most if not all styles with longer handles.
To be honest, I’m not sure if I would have bought these pliers. From a computer screen, I couldn’t really see how these would be better than pliers that cost half as much, or even less. I like to try new tools, and this wouldn’t be ToolGuyd if not for that propensity. But $40-$50 and up for mini pliers?
I’ve been pining for a few Erem pliers and cutters for a few years now. But I bought one at a Woodworking Show once, at a liquidator’s discount tool table, and it was not very impressive. Erem pliers and cutters are also very, very pricey. I was hesitant that if I would be similarly disappointed by a Tronex purchase.
Now, it’s easy for me to praise these very pricey pliers that I received at no cost for review. But I can tell you two things:
1) I am definitely going to buy more Tronex tools. I’ve been on the lookout for good bent nose pliers, and maybe Tronex’s will deliver where all the others ones I tried had fallen short. For future purchases beyond that, I’m really going to have to find another source, as Amazon only offers a small selection of Tronex pliers and cutters.
I am working on a lot of robotics and electronics projects these days, and so I feel comfortable in justifying the cost of these pliers and cutters. I anticipating buying one more Tronex tool in the near future, and maybe 2 or 3 more in the next year or so.
In short, these pliers are the best precision pliers, mini pliers, electronics pliers I have ever used. Heck, I’m pretty comfortable in saying that they’re among the best hand tools I’ve ever used, period. And the hand tools that are finer than these pliers – you don’t even want to know how much those cost.
I absolutely definitely recommend the Tronex tools I have been using, and that sentiment should be extendable to all of Tronex’s precision tools.
Thank you to Tronex for providing this and 2 other review samples unconditionally.
I did say there was a part 2 to what I wanted to tell you. More on that in a moment.
Alternative Premium Precision Pliers
Here are some other premium brands of precision pliers and cutters that you might find a little more affordable. I’m not saying they’re comparable to Tronex quality, but they’re fine tools that I’ve found to be quite good and definitely far better than generic mini pliers you can buy $15 for a set of 5.
Of these brands, I have the least experience with Excelta, but they’re good from what I’ve seen. Knipex are the most available, but I find their price to be too high for the quality. Swanstrom offers good quality and great bang for the buck. Lindstrom come close to Tronex quality, but I think I prefer Tronex better.
Review Balance Giveaway
2) I like these pliers so much that I want to balance out the review samples. This happens every now and then when I come across a review sample that I like enough that I’d be willing to buy it.
The 5222 flush cutters are really good, and the number of reviews on Amazon suggest that they’re among Tronex’s most popular styles.
I haven’t used the 7211 cutter very much, but they seem to be exceptionally well made.
While I don’t find myself charmed by review samples, I found myself feeling weird praising these tools. Thanks to what I experienced from this review opportunity, if I could do things over again I would go back in time and buy the 541 pliers and 5222 cutters with cash.
So, here’s what I’m going to do, to show you that my fondness for these pliers is genuine and that I mean what I say, I’d like to give away (3) $50 Amazon gift cards, so that 3 of you can try Tronex pliers or cutters for yourselves, on my dime. Winners could use the gift card on something else, but if in your shoes, I would definitely go for the pliers.
Does that make sense? I received an estimated $150 retail value in Tronex tools (yikes, it makes me cringe just saying that) and I find myself wanting to use them on personal projects, which I try not to do with review samples unless it’s explicitly for the testing opportunity.
So, I’m going to give away a total of $150 to readers to balance things out. I figure it’ll be easier for me to do this with Amazon gift cards, rather than buying and shipping pliers myself. Plus, this gives winners the opportunity to try a different style that might be better suited to their needs.
The giveaway ends in (2) weeks, at 11:59pm ET August 30th, 2016. The winners will be randomly chosen, but there are some entry conditions.
Winners must have an address in the continental USA. Winners must have commented at least (5) times on ToolGuyd by the end of the giveaway. So if your first ToolGuyd comment is to enter to win a gift card, you must comment 4 more times before the giveaway period ends. And they must be “real” comments, and not “I’d like to win the gift card in the review giveaway” type of baloney.
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment here, telling me about your experiences with precision pliers and why you think these – or other Tronex pliers or cutter styles – will benefit you.