Combination Pliers vs Linesman Pliers, What Is The Difference?

Do you know Linesman pliers are different from combination pliers? Read this article to find out more.

I know you have encountered instances where the name linesman pliers was used interchangeably with combination pliers and thought it to be correct. Many people still think the two are one and the same thing, but they are not. There is a difference, though subtle.

What Are Linesman Pliers

parts of a linesman pliers
Parts of a combination pliers

Before we look at what linesman pliers are, let’s first dig up some history about them. Linesman or lineman pliers borrow the name from linesmen. These are the guys who make sure electricity is flowing to your house even when there are heavy storms.

In other words, a linesman is a tradesman who constructs and maintains utility lines, communication lines, and electricity transmission lines. They work outdoors and mostly atop electrical poles trying to restore power and make new connections.

One of the tools the linesmen use to complete their day-to-day tasks is a pair of pliers. They use a specialized pair called linesman pliers to cut heavy-duty wires and to grip, bend, and twist wires.

Lineman pliers have flat serrated jaws for providing a tight grip and a strong cutting edge for cutting cables and wires. The cutters are large and hardened to cut both light and heavy gauge wires. These pliers are hefty and this them a heavy-duty feel.

What Are Combination Pliers?

parts of combination pliers
parts of a combination pliers

In contrast, combination pliers look exactly like linesman pliers except that they are lighter and the jaws have a small curve (pipe grip) for gripping round objects such as pipes and nuts. They are the regular pliers you encounter every day. The pliers have a smaller profile and can perform more tasks than linesman pliers. This includes cutting wires, gripping and twisting, and gripping round objects.

Combination Pliers vs Linesman Pliers

linesman pliers vs combination pliers
Linesman pliers vs Combination Pliers

Combination pliers are ideal for general purpose use. They are a must-have in your basic tool set as a homeowner, mechanic, plumber, or DIYer.

You can use combo pliers to pull cables, cut wires, and grab bolts and nuts when assembling furniture or repairing your car. They are also good for gripping small pipes when doing light plumbing works.

Moreover, combo pliers are versatile and therefore perfect for your DIY projects. They are one of the best general purpose pliers.

On the other hand, if you are an electrician or linesman, you will appreciate a linesman plier more because it is well designed to suit your needs. These pliers are generally larger than combination pliers and feel heavier, making them more suitable for heavy-duty applications.

Examples of special electrical tasks for which you can use lineman pliers include twisting aluminum conductors and guy wires and reaming conduits and holes. These pliers are also good for pulling cables through studs and pulling fish tape.

Not to mention, linesman pliers cut wires better than combo pliers because they have larger and stronger cutters.

Combination Pliers vs Linesman Pliers Video

This is a video demo of the subtle differences between combination pliers a.k.a regular pliers vs linesman pliers.


Combination pliers have a smaller profile and are more lightweight than linesman pliers. They have a straight grip and a curved grip for gripping round objects while linesmen pliers only have a straight grip.

Suffices to say that combo pliers are for general-purpose applications whereas lineman pliers are perfect for electrical installations. This is why lineman pliers are called electrician pliers and combination pliers are known as regular pliers.

So, there you have it! I hope from now on you won’t mistake linesman for combination pliers and vice versa.

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Julio a.k.a Pliersman is the owner and creator of the Pliersman Website. A blog that informs and educates you about different types of pliers and their uses. Julio is a handy person and has used a variety of pliers including general-purpose and specialty pliers to accomplish tasks. He holds an electrical engineering degree and has previously worked as an O&M manager for minigrids where his love story with pliers and other tools began.