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Tool Obsession: Channellock Pliers

By Picardy Project on Mar 06, 2013

Channellocks are like Kleenex and Coke, brand names that became genericized on account of so successfully dominating a market niche. Most people know the company for its eponymous tongue-and-groove plumber's pliers, but Channellock makes many other types of pliers featuring its patented blue handles. And because I'm obsessed with quality tools (especially those still made in the USA), I have a pretty decent collection of them.



These are the classic tongue-and-groove pliers that are every plumber's best friend. They come in a variety of sizes, but these are the two I have. I've used them as hammers, pry bars, and even as pliers once in a while. If you're doing plumbing, you'll need at least one of these. Two is better so you can grip both sides of whatever it is you're tightening.


These pliers have an offset head to increase leverage and accessibility. How often have I needed these? Probably not $20 worth of times, but it's nice knowing they're there waiting for me.


These are the pliers I grew up thinking of when I thought of pliers. Simple design. Lots of utility. Integral wire cutter and two-size adjustability for most of your holding needs. A must for every toolbox, and you can't go wrong with high carbon c1080 steel, or with a permalock fastener that won't ever let the handles separate.


I do a lot of electrical work, so these might be the Channellocks I use most often. The straight cutters are great for cutting Romex, especially inside electrical boxes (where my wire strippers can't fit). The pliers are also strong enough to trim cut screws or finish nails.

The 447 curved-jaw pliers may be my favorite of the Channellock lineup. Small and versatile but still powerful. They do most of what the 338s do but are also great for pulling nails. And you never know when you'll need to pull nails out of an electrical box in a confined space, or remove nails from an old piece of wood.


I use the 317s all the time and keep them in my electrical box, but the others are more esoteric—the kind of tools I don't use much but am happy to have when I do occasionally need them.


A friend bought this one for me. It means business. I keep it in the truck, because it's a versatile tool and is perfect to have around just in case. Pliers, prybar, wire cutters in one, and the tool is heavy-duty enough to use for banging things around if necessary.

Channellock makes what I consider the consummate hand tool. Fairly priced (compared to snap-on or comparable-quality hand tools), excellent quality, heavy duty, basic tools.

To me, hand tools aren't about the frills or niceties you sometimes get with great power tools. They're about performing a basic function in a basic way, over and over again without worry. Some tools I baby, these I could throw off a roof and they'd continue to work just fine.

Quick note: We weren't compensated in any way for this post, but if anyone wants to send us free stuff, I'm not going to send it back ;)

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