If you live on a farm or grew up on one, you probably know that fencing pliers are an essential tool for making and repairing fences. This specialized multi-tool is an everyday carry on the farm. You can use it to affix wire fencing for horses, cattle, or deers to wood poles. Fencing pliers also work well as a wire stretcher, staple puller, staple starter, and wire cutters for field fencing.
As a person who grew up on a farm in Texas, fencing pliers were an everyday carry tool for fixing and installing fences. We used them to do all fence repairs including splicing barbed wire and applying T-post clips.
These pliers bring fond memories of walking the fence around pastures with my grandfather during summer to find and fix broken barbed wire fences. Needless to say, the old man used his trusty Moore Maker spike fencing pliers to teach me a lot of fencing tricks including how to use the pliers to tension wire.
In fact, the Moore Maker fencing pliers are the best thing I inherited from my late grandpa. I keep them like a treasure because I know it is not easy to get such quality fencing pliers, not to mention their sentimental value. They remind me of the good old days and the many fencing tricks the old man taught me.
Sadly, finding such top-notch fencing pliers like the good old Moore Maker seems like a mirage today. That said, there are some decent quality alternatives that I have come across lately and would like to share with you. But first, what features make a good pair of fencing pliers?
Features of good fencing pliers
Besides being a 7-in-1 multi-function tool, a good pair of fencing pliers should have these features as well.
One of the functions of fence pliers is to pull out fencing staples from wood. As such, fencing pliers with pointed pinches are more effective at pulling staples. They get under nail staples more effectively and do not miss the target easily. They won’t crush your fingers as cheap fencing pliers do.
The handles of good fencing pliers should be slightly curved outside to avoid pinching your fingers when they shut close. Some fence pliers are so notorious for pinching fingers that some people call them “hand pinchers”. You don’t want pliers that will come crushing your fingers when you miss the target.
As far as the padding on the handles is concerned, it is not mandatory that the best fencing pliers have cushioned handles. In any case, it is not good practice to repair a fence without heavy gloves. That being said, padded plier handles are more comfortable. However, the padding can make the handles too bulky to fit in your back pocket or holster.
The most important property of fencing pliers is high-quality steel. Fencing pliers are heavy-duty tools and they need hardened steel that can last long and withstand daily abuse on the ranch.
Most fence pliers appear heavy-duty and well polished. But the real test happens when you put them to work. Do they get deformed? Does the steel rust while in the tool box?
Good fencing pliers are made from hardened alloy steel, preferably chrome vanadium steel. Their pinchers and the claw do not deform when you try to pull stubborn nails and neither do the handles bend.
Quality steel does not corrode easily but it does not mean that you can leave the pliers outside in the woods. No! Fence pliers deserve to be taken good care of if you want them to outlast you. If you keep them well, you can bequeath them to your next generation.
5 Best fencing pliers on the market
Moore Maker 10 inch fencing pliers – Best Overall
The Moore Maker fencing pliers are made in USA from heavy quality steel. It has a heavy head that can withstand abuse over a long time. The hammer side is milled to avoid slipping when sinking nails while the spiked side is sharp enough to get underneath fence staples and U-nails.
Moore Maker fence pliers have all the basic features you would desire in fencing pliers. From the bullnose head for hitting nails, spike for digging under sunk staples, to serrated grips behind the pivot for stretching wire. They only lack the two holes for starting staples, which you can do without.
I also don’t like that they do not have rubber grips on the handles. This is quite disappointing for such a great quality tool. So, you need to put on gloves to protect your hands from blisters. But the handles are textured to provide a firm grip and to keep the pliers from slipping.
Overall, the Moore maker fencing pliers are arguably the world’s best fencing pliers. Having inherited them from my late grandfather, I can attest that they are designed to last a lifetime. They have a quality feel and finish, do not rust, open and close smoothly, and have all the features you need to install and maintain wire fences.
Unfortunately, the manufacturer of Moore Maker fence pliers does not make so many of them. So don’t be surprised when you find the pliers out of stock.
Channellock 85 10-inch Fencing Pliers – Best bang for the buck
The 10-inch Channellock 85 fencing pliers are great pliers for fencing. They are forged from high carbon steel for heavy duty use. However, the pliers have a nice smooth finish with Channelleck’s iconic blue plastic handle grips.
Channellock fencing pliers are a 6-in-1 multi-tool. They have 6 distinct features that you can use to do multiple functions when installing, repairing, and maintaining wire fences. The features include:
- Hammerhead – for hitting nails
- Sharp claw – for removing embedded fence staples
- Wire cutters – for cutting barbed wire and high tensile fencing wire
- Pincer jaws – For pulling small staples
- Staple starter holes – for starting fence staples or u-nails
Like the Moore Maker brand, Channellock fencing pliers are made in the USA to the high American standards. However, they have a few drawbacks nonetheless. First, some grips tend to slide after some time making it hard to maintain a firm grip. Good thing is that you can fix the slipping plier handle grips with glue or using any of these methods.
Secondly, some Channellock fence pliers also tend to be stiff and hard to open but this is not hard to fix either. You can apply some 3-in-1 oil on the pivot or spray some PB blaster to release the pivot.
Lastly, because the pliers are made from high carbon steel, they will rust when you store them in a moist place or in the toolbox for so long. So, make sure you apply a light coat of oil before you store them to prevent corrosion.
Despite the few drawbacks, these Channellock 85 fencing pliers are a nice pair of American-made pliers for fencing. I consider them the best alternative to the classic Moore Maker fence pliers. If you look after them properly, they will look after you in regard to your fencing projects.
Crescent fencing pliers – Best for removing staples
The crescent fencing pliers are another great multipurpose pliers for fencing. They are heavily built with alloy steel and have a good quality plastic coating on the handles.
Crescent fencing pliers have as many features as the Channellock 85. You can use them as a hammer, staple puller for nails and carpet staples, wire cutter for fence wire, staple starter, and fence wire stretcher. They are made in Taiwan.
Although Crescent fence pliers are well built, the hammerhead is not hard enough. It wears down quite fast when you use it to strike nails for a long time. So, it is better to use a hammer if you are hammering lots of nails.
The most outstanding feature of Crescent fencing pliers is the sharp claw. It gets under sunken staples pretty easily making these pliers the best for removing carpet staples and U-nails. The plastic grips on the handles make these pliers quite comfortable in the hands.
Irwin Vise-Grip Fencing Pliers
If you are a fan of vise grips pliers, there are some good quality 10-inch Vise grips fencing pliers. They are weighty with rubberized and textured handle levers.
These pliers have multiple features including a bullnose milled hammerhead on one side and a spike on the other. The other features are wire shears that can cut even 10ga wire, staple pullers, and wire grippers.
The most outstanding feature of Irwin fencing pliers is the non-slip cushion grips that provide comfort, control, and less hand fatigue. The pliers also don’t rust because they are forged from nickel-chromium steel. Lastly, these pliers are fairly priced making them a good bang for the buck.
That being said, Irwin pliers have one major downside. The wire gripper section is small and does not close all the way. This makes it hard to grip narrow wires. Also, the pliers are a little difficult to manipulate if you have small hands due to the comfort grip handles.
Dewalt Fencing Pliers (DWHT70273)
DeWalt is a household name when it comes to tools. The brand is most popular for power tools but they make some decent quality hand tools as well. One of them is the DeWalt fencing pliers.
The 10.75-inch fence pliers from DeWalt are made from chrome vanadium steel. They are strong and durable yet not too bulky and heavy. You can carry them all day to fix wire fences and string strands of electric fences.
The DeWalt fencing pliers have multiple functions just like other multi-function pliers for fencing. You can use them to hammer nails, remove staples, stretch and splice wire, and cut wires.
The most outstanding thing about the DeWalt pliers for fencing is the darky comfy handles with yellow patches that make the pliers easy to find. Not to mention that the handles are very comfortable in the hands. Another good thing is that the chrome vanadium finish keeps the pliers from rusting.
Unfortunately, these pliers are not made in the USA. They are also not the best for small hands unless you are willing to operate them with both hands.
That said, the Dewalt fencing pliers have great quality, are heavy and solid, and thus deserve a place in your bucket of fencing supplies and tools.
Generally, if there is a single tool you can use to assemble and disassemble fences on the farm, it is a pair of fencing pliers. You can use it to pull staples and nails, hammer nails, cut and bend electric and barbed wires, and stretch fence wires. Fencing pliers are a must-have multi-purpose field tool for ranchers, cowboys, or anyone who does any fencing.