How to keep pliers from leaving marks on surfaces.

Pliers are handy little hand tools. They are useful in nearly every project for grasping objects such as wires, pipes, fasteners, you name them. They come in different shapes and sizes to suit various applications. For example, adjustable pliers open wide to grasp round objects of different sizes. They have serrated jaws that provide a non-slip grip. You can use them to grasp pipe fittings when fixing your toilet and bathroom or fixing that leaky faucet among other plumbing repairs. On the other hand, the regular pliers don’t open as wide and have a small profile. This makes them great for grasping small objects such as nuts, bolts, and wires. Electricians use them to grip, pull, and twist electrical wires and cables.

Unfortunately, pliers with serrated jaws grip by biting into an object. This leaves marks on the surface thus degrading the value of that object. The surface marks are more visible on decorative pieces and delicate surfaces such as plastic, chrome fittings, and polished metal surfaces.

Sometimes the teeth of the jaws can cut into an object if you squeeze the handles too tight. For instance, you risk cutting into a rubber hose if you pull it hard with pliers that have serrated jaws. Luckily, there are ways to use pliers more safely without marring the surface of the object. In this article, I share the 4 most effective hacks to keep the hardened grooved jaws of pliers from leaving marks or causing more permanent damage to your beautiful fittings.

Wrap the surface with a rug

When you wrap the surface you want to grip with a rug, you prevent direct metal. This keeps the teeth of the jaws from biting into the surface of an object. To prevent the teeth from penetrating the rug, wrap it around at least two times. The shortcoming of this method is that you have to open the pliers wider to accommodate the thickness of the rag.

Use old leather glove

Instead of throwing away your old leather gloves, you can repurpose them for padding pliers jaws. Simply cut off two fingers from an old leather work glove and slip each of them over each jaw. Ensure the glove fingers are long enough to cover all the grooves on the pliers. The leather cover over the jaws ensures your pliers retain their steel grip but have a soft touch. The downside of this hack is that the leather covers may come off. So you can secure them in place by applying hot glue on the outside of each jaw.

Wrap an electrical tape around the jaws

If you do not have a rug or an old leather glove lying around, you can use tape. An electrical tape or duct tape will work. Simply wrap the tape around each plier jaw a couple of times. This creates good insulation that will let you grip a fixture without leaving marks on it. The shortcoming of this method is that the teeth of pliers eventually work their way through the tape. So you have to wind new tape regularly.

Use pliers inserts

Pliers with rubber inserts
using pliers with inserts to tighten delicate UHF and Type N connectors

The ultimate solution for preventing pliers marks is to use pliers with inserts. Pliers inserts are designed to protect surfaces from being marred by pliers jaws. They can be plastic, rubber, or both materials. For example, there is a type of pipe and connector pliers from Knipex that uses dual-layered inserts. The inserts provide a tight but soft grip on delicate surfaces of pipe fittings, making pliers marks a thing of the past. Unfortunately, not all pliers are designed to be used with inserts. So, you might try the first three hacks if your pliers do not accept jaw inserts.

There you have it! Try any of those 4 methods to prevent pliers marks and other damages on delicate surfaces.