With pliers, especially side cutting, or diagonal pliers, you often see them described as "beveled" bzw. "unbeveled".
The diagram to the left shows pliers with beveled cutters. The backs have been ground inward. This creates a tool with a strong cutting edge allowing you to cut relatively large diameter wire and rod, but which will leave a rough cut. (Note that in the drawing the plier blades are represented in black and the material to be cut, rod or wire, in gray.)
This diagram shows pliers with unbeveled edges. The back of the blades are flat and smooth. The advantage to this design is that it can cut flush to a surface and the finer cutting edge leaves a relatively clean, flat, end. But the finer edge is also not as strong and so should not be used to cut thick and/or hard materials. Unbeveled side cutters are normally used in relatively fine electronics work.
Pliers are among mankind's oldest complex tools. The first were probably developed to hold objects in a fire. Our goal is to provide the woodworker with a selection of these tools he will find useful from day to day.
There are three parts to pliers: grips, pivot or hinge, and head. Pliers work on the principle of a lever. A long grip relative to the shorter head provides and concentrates the mechanical advantage to grip, compress or cut the work piece. They differ from scissors in that the head closes in compression and not in shear.
There are basically two kinds of pliers:
One in which the two levers are joined with a hinge pin. This is the most common form and as long as the pliers are made with carefully fitted and quality components, represents good value for your money.
In the second type, one of the levers passes through a slot in the other side and is pinned at the junction. This allows the tool to close evenly even if the pin is a little worn. However this design is much more difficult and costly to produce. See our VBW FastGRIP water pump pliers and PowerGrip tongs for examples of this design.
Multi-component grips are the right choice if you need to work all day with pliers. The handles have an ergonomic mix of hard and soft zones distributed to allow good working pressure while at the same time providing a cushion against the shock that can come when cutting rod or wire, for instance. But the thick handles can also be a disadvantage. They can hinder working in tight corners for instance, and generally take up more room in the tool box.
We mostly offer pliers with plastic-dipped grips. The mechanical properties are the same as similar-sized multi-component grips, and we find that the advantages of smaller and more handy tools, as well as a slightly lower price, outweigh the improved ergonomics of the bigger grips when one considers that woodworkers or other occasional users are not likely to be using these tools all day long.