GREAT PLIERS: Why IRWIN GrooveLocks Are My Favourite

In theory, I suppose it’s possible to live without tools in your life, but why would you want to? So many of today’s home maintenance and fix-up jobs are a snap to complete with just a few basics, and the IRWIN GrooveLock pliers are a case in point. You can see one of half a dozen different versions of these pliers in the photo below. I discovered them back in the late 1990s and they’re still my favourite.

Pliers like these have jaws can be adjusted to grip different size ranges of objects independently of handle position, and though different companies make pliers like these, GrooveLocks are the best because they solve a perennial problem.

I’ve used pliers like this for decades and this design by Irwin is my favourite. Besides having great jaws, the slip-lock mechanism never slips or fails like they do on some designs.

Some traditional adjustable plier designs have the tendency for the adjustment mechanism to slip under load. Besides being annoying, this flaw can leave you with pinched fingers and an abruptly bad mood. The good news is that this is a thing of the past, thanks to a relatively new industrial process abbreviated as MIM.

The letters stand for “metal injection molding”. That’s a process that allows all the intricacies and low cost of plastic injection molding to be applied to very precise, very strong and intricate metal parts. You’ll find the MIM process behind advancements in everything from hand tools to cell phones, and MIM is the key to the exceptional performance of GrooveLock pliers.

Intricate yet tiny, the heart of these pliers is the notched central pivot point. Made using a relatively new industrial process called metal injection molding (MIM), this approach is changing the way items are designed. Crisp details, consistent size and reasonable cost are the hallmarks of the MIM manufacturing process.

IRWIN GrooveLocks use an intricate MIM part at the critical pivot point, with saw-tooth serrations around the centre of this pivot allowing the jaws to be positively locked in one of more than a dozen different positions. That’s what you see in the photo above. Click on the image for a larger version. And if that wasn’t enough, the pivot mechanism itself is spring-loaded, making it absolutely impossible for the pliers to slip open unexpectedly wider during use. You’ve got to press a silver button on the side to make any kind of adjustment happen. It’s a pretty impressive system and it’s never let me down.

The bottom line in all this is simple. Tools are getting better and better, and some pretty impressive technical advancements are working quietly behind the scenes to make it all happen. This is just one of the reasons why it’s never been a better time to a tool-using kind of person.

Pliers are only one of many kinds of tools that let you enjoy accomplishing things for yourself. Put a whole workshop full of tools together and it can let you do a lot. The video below shows how I used solder, a torch and other tools to fix a hole in the floor of my truck entirely with metal. This is much better than Bondo! Click below to watch.

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