What Are Chain-Nosed Pliers and How Are They Used?

A tabletop with jewellery making equipment. Hands twisting wire on a necklace.

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Chain-nosed pliers are sometimes referred to as flat-nosed pliers. They are flat on the side of the plier's nose and a little curved or rounded on the outside of the nose. These tools are very versatile and used by jewelry designers for all kinds of different applications. While chain-nosed pliers may look similar to needle nose pliers, there are two important differences. First, the jaws of the chain-nosed pliers are shorter, so they are easier to work with, especially when working with thin beading wire. Second, the surface on the inside of the plier jaws is completely smooth. Other pliers may have serrated or ridged insides. The smooth jaws of the chain-nosed pliers are extremely important for jewelry making because they will avoid scratching and harming the delicate wire. 

How Are Chain-Nosed Pliers Used?

It is difficult to pin down only one use for chain-nosed pliers. Often, jewelry makers use them as extra fingers for a variety of tasks, such as holding jewelry components or bending metal and wire. For example, a jewelry maker working with wire might use them to bend the wire at a 90-degree angle when making unwrapped loops. They can also be used for opening and closing jump rings and earring wires. 

What to Look for in a Pair of Chain-Nosed Pliers

Chain-nosed pliers can be found at craft stores, bead stores, some hardware stores, and online vendors. When selecting a pair of chain-nose pliers, consider the following tips:

  • Make sure the inside of the nose (the flat area) is smooth and not textured. If it is textured, it could mark the wire or metal when you are using the pliers. 
  • Try to find a pair that has a spring handle. This spring will be easier on your grip and help avoid hand fatigue.
  • Make sure the handle fits your hand. Some pliers may be too large and others may be too small. The ends of the handles should fit easily into the palm of your hand.
  • A good pair of chain-nose pliers doesn't necessarily equate to an expensive pair. Look for a moderately priced pair and consider purchasing two. As you get into more advanced techniques, you may want to use one in each hand when doing certain tasks like opening and closing jump rings.

Jewelry Making Supplies

In addition to chain-nosed pliers, there are a number of other items that are essential to have on hand for jewelry making needs. Whether you are a novice or an experienced artisan, the following items will help you create jewelry:

  • Wire cutters
  • Round-nosed pliers
  • Flat-nosed pliers
  • Crimping pliers

These tools will help you with a wide variety of jewelry projects. If you are planning on stringing beads and have some additional budget, a few bead stoppers are also helpful supplies to have. As your collection of supplies and tools grows, keep them neat and organized. A basic toolbox or a craft kit will help you store supplies and make them easy to transport.