When MIG welding, sometimes you will need to disassemble the welding gun to feed the wire electrode or clean the spatter from the nozzle. Other times, you will need to cut the welding wire to the perfect stickout length. There is a variety of tools you can use to perform these tasks but a nice pair of mig welding pliers is the best.
What are MIG welding pliers?
Mig welding pliers or simply welding pliers are special multifunction pliers for mig welding. They are one of the most important welding tools a mig welder must have in his or her toolbox.
MIG pliers have many essential features for manipulating the mig welder gun including a small and large pipe grip, wire cutters, needle nose jaws, reamer, and hammerhead. Welders use these features to perform the following essential welding functions.
6 Essential Uses of Welding Pliers
You can use welding pliers for many things but these are the most essential uses.
1. Cut welding wire
MIG welding uses a consumable wire electrode to weld. The wire runs from the MIG welder machine through the cable and comes out at the welding gun nozzle.
For you to make a good weld with mig, you need to cut the welding wire to the correct length from the tip of the nozzle. The best stickout length is between a 1/2 inch and a 1/4 inch.
Welding pliers have inline cutters designed for cutting wire electrode to the size. Unlike regular wire cutters, the cutters on mig pliers are designed to enable you to cut the welding wire to the perfect stick out length without using a tape measure.
The cutters have a hollow section on one side, typically 1/2″ deep, that enables you to leave just 1/2 inch wire sticking out of the nozzle. You only need to cut the wire with the hollow section facing inside against the nozzle.
2. Remove and install the welding gun nozzle
You will need to remove the mig torch nozzle either to feed the welding wire or clean spatter. The nozzle can be too tight or too hot to pull off by hand but mig gun pliers come in very handy.
They have a round gripping section behind the joint for gripping the welding torch nozzle. The circular gripper is serrated to ensure a firm grip on the nozzle so that you can grab and pull it off or twist it to break it loose when it is hot or too tight to come off by hand.
3. Remove and install the contact tip
The contact tip in a mig gun connects the welding wire to the There is a small pipe grip next to the cutters for removing the contact tip. It is also knurled to ensure a tight grip on the contact tip as you unscrew it from the gun.
4. Clean spatter from the nozzle
Over time, spatter builds up on the brass or copper nozzle and can restrict the flow of shielding gas. This affects the quality of the weld and may cause the gun to overheat. Therefore it is good practice to remove the build-up regularly.
The best way to remove welding spatter from the nozzle is by reaming the inside with the needle nose jaws of the welding pliers. You must remove the nozzle first to insert the pliers and clean thoroughly.
Some mig pliers have serrations on the outside of the jaws which help to scrape off the spatter more effectively.
5. Remove weld scale from a welded joint
Although the shielding gas in MIG welding prevents oxidation of the molten weld, you cannot prevent oxidation from forming entirely. A weld scale will still form on the weld bead when the weld puddle cools.
You can remove the weld scale by tapping on it lightly with a slag hammer and brushing it off with a wire brush. Alternatively, you can use a hammer and chisel.
Good thing is that welding pliers have a hammerhead on the side. You can use it to tap on new welds lightly to remove the oxide weld scale. You can also use it together with a chisel if the scale does not come off easily.
The hammer on welding pliers is also useful for knocking things lightly in the workshop. You can use it to
6. Manipulate hot metal
Welding pliers are excellent for holding and manipulating welding parts when welding. You can use the needle nose jaws to grab hot metal pieces to avoid burning your welding gloves. But because the jaws are narrow, they do not grip large workpieces so well.
Best Mig Welding Pliers
There are many brands and models of mig welder pliers but these ones stand out in the welding community.
Pearson MIG welding pliers – Best overall
- Length: 8.25 inches
- Spring loaded handles
- Forged from carbon steel alloy
- Nice hammer head
- Made in Japan
The Pearson MIG welder YS-50 is one of the best mig welding pliers on the market. It is simple but extremely well made.
These Japanese pliers have all the basic features you would want in welding pliers. From great cutters that can cut different types of wires to nice blue handles that are comfortable to hold and easy to spot in the toolbox. These pliers also have knurled grips for removing and installing the contact tip and mig nozzle
One of the things that make Pearson mig welding pliers stand out is the overall build quality. They are precisely machined to a near-perfect fit and finish. You can tell they are made in Japan from how they feel in the hand.
The second outstanding feature is the hardened cutters that close all the way to cut very thin wires. While some welding pliers struggle to cut wires thinner than 0.03, these Pearson welpers snip 0.023 wires in one snap. They also cut thicker wires effortlessly and the cutters remain sharp for a long time before they start to wear out.
Some common wire types you can cut with these MIG pliers quite easily include stainless wires. They also cut 3/16″ and 1/8″ TIG feed wires and Tool steel TIG rods for TIG welding.
Thirdly, the hammerhead on these welding pliers is not too long. You can use it to break off weld scale even in tight joints quite effectively.
Lastly, Pearson mig pliers are not bulky. They actually fit very nicely in a leather sheath if you want to carry them around.
The only thing that is annoying about these pliers is the handle grips that tend to twist off and come off on some models. But you can fix them by applying glue or try any of these hacks to keep pliers grips from coming off.
Overall, these Japanese Welper YS-50 are good quality welding pliers and a nice investment for a MIG welder. You might not like the higher price tag on them but you will get over it after your first project. Yes, they are quite expensive but totally worth it.
Strong Hand Tools Deluxe MIG Welding Pliers
- 8 inches long
- Spring-enabled handles
- Cushion grip handles with tether chain
- Inside and outside jaw serrations
- Made in China
The Strong Hand Delux MIG welding pliers are another solid set of multi-purpose pliers for welders. They are solid and have all the basic and extra features you would want your pliers for welding to have.
Besides the comfort-grip handles with a tether chain, these deluxe MIG pliers have excellent needle nose jaws for cleaning spatter. The jaws have internal and external serrations that scrape off spatter from the MIG nozzle with minimal effort. They clean like a wire brush but you must be careful not to apply excessive force that might scuff the inside of the nozzle and cause more spatter to stick.
The hammerhead on these pliers is also wider than most of the competition. It hits a chisel without missing when chipping out spatter from a welded joint.
Overall, if you are looking for solid welding pliers with ergonomic comfort-grip handles and excellent jaws for pulling wire and scraping spatter from the nozzle, these Stronghand Deluxe MIG welding pliers are a perfect choice.
But the ergonomic handles are quite bulky and might not slide nicely into the pliers sheath. However, there is a tether chain on the handle that you can use to attach them to a belt hoop.
Lincoln Electric MIG Welding Pliers
- Nice ergonomic handles
- 10.4 inches long
- Spring-assisted handles
- Teeth on the inside and outside of the jaws
- Made in Taiwan
The Lincoln mig pliers are great quality welpers from Taiwan. They are nicely machined from alloy steel and have all the important functions of welding pliers.
The long nose jaws have serrations on the inside and outside. These are important for gripping objects and cleaning the mig nozzle, respectively.
The Lincoln mig pliers have one of the most ergonomic handle designs. They are nicely curved with one of the handles slightly bent outside to improve the fit in the hand.
What I don’t like about these pliers is the plastic handle grips which feel a little hard on the hand. They also tend to come off after some time and may also break apart at some point.
Good thing is that you can easily keep pliers grips from coming off with one of these hacks. But if they are broken, you can remove them and plastidip the handles afresh to squeeze the juice out of your trusty pliers.
Lastly, although the Lincoln welpers are forged from hardened steel, the jaw tips are not very strong. They can break off if you abuse them.
But overall, the Lincoln welding pliers are a nice pick for mig welding. They are generally sturdy and perform perfectly all welding functions including cutting 0.03 wire, which most cheap welding pliers struggle to cut.
You can use these mig pliers from Lincoln for a long time if you don’t abuse them so much. And they are not bulky. You can carry them in your back pocket or put them in the pliers holster.
Generally, welding pliers are one of the most important welding tools, especially for a MIG welder. They replace a slag hammer, wire brush, and a set of pliers including side cutters and needle nose pliers.
You can use mig welding pliers to cut wire, pull wire, remove and install the contact tip and nozzle, clean up welding spatter, grab hot metal, and tap on things lightly. They are a must-have set of multipurpose pliers for welders.