Designed for use by professional electricians, maintenance mechanics and HVAC contractors, Milwaukee 6-in-1 Combination Pliers (model 48-22-3069; $30) are actually six tools in one.
The needle-nose pliers are equipped with ultra-strong 2-1/2-in.-long jaws capable of tackling a wide range of gripping, twisting, bending and pulling chores.
The wire stripper can remove insulation from both solid wire (10- to 18-gauge) and stranded wire (12- to 20-gauge).
The high-leverage wire cutter can easily cut most electrical wires and cable, and the bolt cutter will cleanly slice through 6-32 and 8-32 machine bolts without ruining their threads.
The bolt-cutting holes can also be used to bend loops on stripped wires. Finally, the outer surfaces of the needle-nose jaws are serrated, so they can be used to ream sharp burrs from the inside of metal conduit and other pipes.
To test the tool’s capabilities, we asked Peter Eng, a licensed electrician and owner of Electrical Enterprises Inc. in Litchfield County, Connecticut, to put it to use.
He liked the fact that he could strip wire, cut bolts, ream conduit and twist wire all with one tool, though he questioned why anyone would use the bolt cutter to bend loops on wire when the needle-nose pliers do the same job better and faster.
He also found the locking mechanism virtually impossible to engage but admitted that he rarely locks his pliers closed anyway.
“Overall, the tool worked really well, although it may take a while before it feels 100 percent comfortable in my hands,” he says. (His caveat is unsurprising, considering that he has been using the same pair of needle-nose pliers for 28 years.)
The Milwaukee combination pliers are made from forged alloy steel and come with a rust-protection coating.