ECN Forum

Best linesmans

Posted By: GilbeSpark

Best linesmans - 09/20/08 09:11 PM

No matter the cost or brand, what's the absolute best pair of linesmans out there? Ideal has got a "premium" pair selling for around $185, it sure is shiny but does it cut any better than anything else? The Klein Journeyman's have nice grips, and so do the Ideal LaserEdges.

If cost wasn't an issue and you were going to pick up one pair to last you a long time, what linesmans would you carry with you?
Posted By: Trumpy

Re: Best linesmans - 09/20/08 10:37 PM

GilbeSpark,
Welcome along.
I've used a pair of Klein 12098 linemans pliers for about the last 15 or so years and they are still in pretty good nick, considering the amount of use they've had.
Posted By: walrus

Re: Best linesmans - 09/20/08 11:57 PM

I don't use linemans much but I have a Snap On one thats much better than anything I've seen in a supply house. Haven't seen those 185 dollar jobs yet
Posted By: GilbeSpark

Re: Best linesmans - 09/21/08 12:17 AM

Here's a link to the Ideal "Premiums": http://idealindustries.com/products/tools_totes/pliers/premium_side-cutting_pliers.jsp

I never thought about Snap On, I'll look if I can find them online to see them.
Posted By: Trumpy

Re: Best linesmans - 09/21/08 01:14 AM

IMO,
Pliers are like any tool, if they are looked after and only used to work on copper wires (which means not trying to cut steel wires with them) and you don't cut live cables with them, they should in theory, last a very long time, provided you don't abuse them, by using them as a hammer.

My Klein's cost me NZ$65 when I bought them, I've been very happy with the way they have performed.
Spending a lot of money on a pair of pliers can be a dangerous move, you need to keep a good eye on your purchase.
Posted By: wire_twister

Re: Best linesmans - 09/21/08 02:48 AM

Two schools of thought here. 1 buy the absolute best out there and guard them like a pit bull. 2 Buy a good middle of the road pair and use em like you want, replace them when they get too beat up. I had much rather loose a $25.00 pair than a $135.00 pair.
Posted By: Trumpy

Re: Best linesmans - 09/21/08 06:09 AM

GilbeSpark,
If you are an apprentice, you are better off getting a good range of tools rather than focus on a few good ones at the moment, IMO, you should look at getting a selection of screw-drivers, a set of spanners, (don't buy adjustable spanners, they will only skin your knuckles), a decent pair of long-nosed pliers (I use Channel-lock) and a good pair of Side-cutters (I use Klein angled type).

Extremely cheap tools are just that, they'll last you 5 minutes once you put any stress on them, they are cast from a die, not machined, like tools should be.
Posted By: sparkyinak

Re: Best linesmans - 09/21/08 02:27 PM

Originally Posted by GilbeSpark
Ideal has got a "premium" pair selling for around $185,...
A $185 hammer? I wonder if they are reaching out to the military market. smile

I use the Kline 2000 series pliers and they have taken good care of me. I tend to stay away from the higher priced hand tools since I tend to lose more them my fare share. The cheap one are only good for one or two shots. Good if use in a highly coorosive environment. The 2000 are capable of cutting nails, screws, and jack chain. I even cut wire with them once in a while. The are just a couple of bucks more and they are durable. I think I paid around $45 for them.
Posted By: JValdes

Re: Best linesmans - 09/21/08 04:55 PM

I have the low end Klein's with the blue grips. Works just fine. I think they were about 30 bucks.
I remember years ago when I could order tools through my company at a discount and got the Klein yellow handle type with the crimp. They were supposed to be good for tie wire (steel) and copper. Iron workers use Kleins too. For tying rebar. They just strip off the grips, heat and bend over one of the handles near the end, so they can pull up on the tie wire while twisting. I had them fix mine that way when I was working slab jobs.

The thing I wonder about is the break in period. Like when they are new and hard to open. WD 40 is no help.
Any tricks to loosen them up? I know working with them is the answer, but it takes some time.
Posted By: WireNuts29

Re: Best linesmans - 09/21/08 10:16 PM

An old timer once showed me to put em into fine silica sand. the masons use it sometimes, sometimes its in grout. then wd- 40 the heck out of it. you need to work the sand into them, for a few minutes, then the wd-40 cleans the sand out, and it removes the oil they pack em in and wears the machining slightly, they stay sharp, but operate easier.
Posted By: KJay

Re: Best linesmans - 09/22/08 02:19 AM

I’ve used a similar trick with beach sand and oil. Sometimes a few whacks to opposite sides of the pliers face with a hammer does it.
I bought two pair a few years ago and switched between them, so I could get them broken in at once just in case something happened to one pair. Mainly because I hate the pliers break in period so much. It’s as bad as with a new pair of steel-toed boots.

Seems like everybody and their mother is making side cutters these days. As far as I’m concerned, anything other than the Klein J2000-9NE is an unnecessary reinvention of the wheel. I also have The Klein 1000V insulated lineman’s, but they are bulky, hard to work with and a waste of money for most everyday applications. All this PPE crap is out of control for lower voltages. I’ll use them when working 277V hot or when otherwise needed, but not for ordinary every day wiring.
Posted By: Trumpy

Re: Best linesmans - 09/22/08 09:26 AM

Actually Silicone spray is kinder to tools than WD-40.
Sure more expensive, but seems to "last" a bit longer in it's effect.
Posted By: JValdes

Re: Best linesmans - 09/22/08 04:54 PM

WireNuts,
Thanks. Believe it or not, I was thinking about this very same thing yesterday after my post. It makes perfect sense and thanks for the reply.......John
Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Best linesmans - 09/22/08 09:56 PM

Asking for everyone's favorite? Are you trying to start something? laugh

As for linemans... for the longest time, there was Klein- and everyone else. The jaws of the 2000 series were designed to handle steel as well as copper, the nose had an agressive knurl that grabbed wires real well, and they lasted either forever, or untill the first arcing condustor turned them into strippers. laugh

Other brands were, simply, balloon ballast by comparison. Even firsm that made other decent tools (Channellock, for instance) dropped the ball when they tried making linesmans.

The first pair I encountered that compared well with Klein was Knipex. Snap-On also had an excellent pair .... but, both of those somehow felt 'different.'

Everyone started coming out with fancy handles... most of which seem to not quite fit in the loop on you pouch.

In the past few years, I have seen some perfectly decent linemans come out.
Channellock has -finally- hit a home run with their latest model - the one with both a crimping die and tape puller.
For the die-hard Klein fan, who wanta a basic pair, but also wants his to not get mixed up with everyone elses', the Greenlee looks to be identical, but for the color.
Posted By: Redsy

Re: Best linesmans - 09/23/08 12:42 AM

I'm a Klein devotee. The best electrical tools made, in my opinion.

I used to buy Ideal products 25 years ago. Then I noticed some of their stuff was made, I believe, in Japan.

Anyway, you would have to pack a lot of "premium" into a pair of cutters to make them worth that kind of money.
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: Best linesmans - 09/23/08 12:49 AM

I have a pair of Ideal linesmans I have had for many years. They seem to work but it is not my favorite ... well I guess they are now. My Kleins seem to have taken a walk in all of the construction.
I am still hoping they will turn up when I clean up some of the junk I have accumulated around here.
Posted By: JValdes

Re: Best linesmans - 09/23/08 05:13 PM

What about Klein screw drivers. Mine seem to wear out awful fast. That little black tip seems to be just for looks and brand recognition. The bigger the screw driver the longer they last, for me. I guess it because of the larger area covered on the screw. But I am not happy with Klein screw drivers anymore.
Posted By: EV607797

Re: Best linesmans - 09/24/08 12:24 AM

No kidding. I haven't found a long-lasting screwdriver yet. Klein used to be the best, but not anymore. They all seem to wear out prematurely. Wonder if this has something to do with using recycled steel in the manufacturing process? I would imagine that at some point, steel can only be recycled so many times before it's quality weakens.

Of course, if I could teach myself to stop using my 1/4"X8 as a wood AND brick chisel, it might last a bit longer. I wonder why nobody has come up with a true stainless steel screwdriver.

Back to the lineman's pliers issue: I think that spending about $40 bucks a year for your best friend in the trade isn't too much to spend. If you factor in the cost of a hammer that you don't need to buy, these things are actually a bargain even if they do fail prematurely.
Posted By: SteveFehr

Re: Best linesmans - 09/24/08 10:55 AM

Originally Posted by JValdes
What about Klein screw drivers. Mine seem to wear out awful fast. That little black tip seems to be just for looks and brand recognition. The bigger the screw driver the longer they last, for me. I guess it because of the larger area covered on the screw. But I am not happy with Klein screw drivers anymore.
The strength of the blade and shaft goes up as the square of the thickness. It quickly reaches a point where the measly amount of force a human can put on it isn't enough to damage a big screwdriver through torsion alone.

Now, misusing it like a prybar/lever and bending the shaft, that's quite another issue, as the deflection is a function of the length cubed, and the longer the shaft, the more likely you are to bend it despite the extra thickness...
Posted By: Zapped

Re: Best linesmans - 09/24/08 02:31 PM

Kleins. I like the model with the fish puller - comes in pretty handy. Under $30 and I've had the same pair for so long, I don't remember when exactly I bought them.

And, yes. They do double as a good hammer sometimes smile
Posted By: LoneGunman

Re: Best linesmans - 09/25/08 04:39 AM

Wiha screwdrivers last much longer than Kleins, I can buy the Wiha insulated drivers for less money than regular Klein drivers. I have just over a year on two Wiha screwdrivers, still grabs screws.

I prefer Knipex linemans over the Kleins, great ergonomics, they don't rust nearly as fast as Klein and usually you can get them for less money.
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: Best linesmans - 09/25/08 04:59 AM

Who knows what they make now but I still have several Execlite screwdrivers that are as good as new after years of abuse. The worst were the snap on with the hardened tip. We called them snap offs.
Posted By: Trumpy

Re: Best linesmans - 09/25/08 08:23 AM

Originally Posted by LoneGunman
Wiha screwdrivers last much longer than Kleins, I can buy the Wiha insulated drivers for less money than regular Klein drivers. I have just over a year on two Wiha screwdrivers, still grabs screws.


I have to agree with you there, mate.
I once bought a set of Irazola insulated screwdrivers that were made in Spain, the flat bladed ones I still have, but I don't think the Pozi-drive screw driver tips were tempered properly, most of the tips were eaten up in a matter of months frown

However, one advantage these screw-drivers do have is the fact that they have a hole through the end of the handle.
This means that you can slip another screwdriver through this hole and use it like a T-Bar when tightening Circuit-Breaker screws.

Personally, though, I swear by Wiha screw-drivers, well made German quality, I've yet to break one of these drivers.
Posted By: homer

Re: Best linesmans - 09/25/08 09:55 AM

Valve grinding or lapping paste like is used in an automotive machine shop works well for breaking in tight pliers. The grit is fine enough to fit into the joint. Once the pliers are loosened up, wash out the paste with a spray lubricant.
Posted By: Trumpy

Re: Best linesmans - 09/25/08 10:12 AM

Originally Posted by homer
Valve grinding or lapping paste like is used in an automotive machine shop works well for breaking in tight pliers. The grit is fine enough to fit into the joint. Once the pliers are loosened up, wash out the paste with a spray lubricant.

Homer,
I use Res-Q-Steel on my pliers and other working parts of my other tools, I've never had tools seize up since, even though they do get wet quite frequently.
Res-Q-Steel is used on Stainless nuts and bolts, it stops them from seizing after they are done up.
No complaints here. wink
Posted By: SteveFehr

Re: Best linesmans - 09/25/08 11:10 AM

I swear by Dollar Tree tools. Sure, the selection is limited, but you can loan/lose/destroy a dozen or more for the price of a name-brand tool, and they work just as well. Sadly, they don't carry linesman pliars frown
Posted By: electure

Re: Best linesmans - 09/25/08 12:47 PM

Steve,

You've got to be kidding
Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Best linesmans - 09/25/08 07:29 PM

I suppose that everyone is entitled to more than one opinion .... but for the same person to (first) post some math-heavy engineering blather ... then go on to extol cheap third-world imports ... and omit any consideration of metlalurgy or handle ergonomics ..... that person must be using the tools as paperweights laugh

Ditto for the guy who carefully modified the handles of his pliers .... to make something that is readily available, from the factory!
Posted By: NORCAL

Re: Best linesmans - 09/26/08 02:47 AM

I would assume that dollar store tools would be Harbor Freight rejects??? laugh
Posted By: SteveFehr

Re: Best linesmans - 09/26/08 10:59 AM

How many of you have actually worn out or broken a Dollar Store tape measure or pliars? I'm still using the same $5 set of taiwanese sockets I bought $20 years ago, and it's not for lack of wailing on the ratchet with a hammer! A lot of people look at price as a determining factor in quality, but that's not true- marketing plays a HUGE role. I look at everything when I buy a tool, including design, tolerances, etc. The sad truth is that the expensive tools are usually just as shoddily built as the cheap ones. And there's not a whole lot of difference in the metellurgy of a screwdriver shaft. And yes, there are some that really ARE crap that I stay away from (Dollar Tree levels, lol). But there's nothing wrong with dollar tree pliars, tapes or the solid screwdrivers.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to tools. One is to get a really good tool that lasts forever. The other is to get a bunch of cheap tools and replace them frequently. I tend to lose my tools a lot. And my wife tends to leave them out in the rain. Between us, we destroyed 3 really nice tape measures (though these were from normal use, not mistreatment, I SWEAR!) before I just said "**** it!" and bought a handful of $1 16' tapes at Dollar Tree- and have YET to see any of them break. Same goes for the pliars and the screwdrivers. The worst that's happened to my dollar tree tools is when the Japanese equivilent of TSA confiscated them at Narita as potential weapons (go figure).

I've got a few high quality tools- I have two quality hammers, for instance- but I also have about 4 $2 hammers that get just as much use because I usually have one handy, wheras the good ones are tucked away in the toolbox in the garage. You can NEVER have too many screwdrivers, pliars or tape measures.


In short, guys, don't cop the same attitude to your tools that audiophiles cop to gold-plated breaker busses wink
Posted By: NORCAL

Re: Best linesmans - 09/26/08 12:55 PM

Originally Posted by SteveFehr



In short, guys, don't cop the same attitude to your tools that audiophiles cop to gold-plated breaker busses wink


Not the same, cheap tools fail when they are needed most.
Posted By: electure

Re: Best linesmans - 09/26/08 02:01 PM

Originally Posted by SteveFehr


In short, guys, don't cop the same attitude to your tools that audiophiles cop to gold-plated breaker busses wink


Come on Steve,

Name brand, quality tools are like comparing your Porsche to a Dollar Tree Yugo.

You don't even use your tools enough to know the difference.
Posted By: walrus

Re: Best linesmans - 09/26/08 07:55 PM

It also depends on what you're doing with your tools. If you're a car mechanic, no dollar store tool is going to take what a mechanic does to it day in and day out. Take an open end wrench as an example, it won't be long before a cheap wrench opens up and your knuckles are bleeding as a result. While cheap tools may work for you, they may not for someone else.

I'll take a bet with you smile you grab one side of a penny with dollar store needle nose pliers and grab the other with a Snap On pair, we'll see who still has a hold of the penny afterwards smile
Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Best linesmans - 09/27/08 05:28 AM

I've used, even continue to use, some "economy" tools. Yet, I've had plenty of disappointments.

I've had "allen wrenches" twist like candy canes; pliers and hammers shatter under modest use, ratchet heads split after an 18" fall on to asphalt.

Under 'performance," I've been unable to remove nuts with an 'economy' ratchet - then easily remove the same nuts with a similar size quality ratchet .... that's how much energy is lost in the cheap mechanism. Ditto for the results caused by poor screwdriver handle designs.

Which brings us full circle to the OP's question: does it matter with linemans' pliers? In my experience, it certainly does. While I am no fan of the Klein Company, linemans' pliers are one tool they get right.
Posted By: HIYER

Re: Best linesmans - 09/27/08 10:44 PM

My linesmans like most of my hand tools are Klein. I have tried other brands but always go back to Klein. I would feel pretty bad paying $185 for a pair of linesmans and not finding them in my tool pouch after working in an attic filled with 18 inches of loose fill insulation.
Posted By: SolarPowered

Re: Best linesmans - 09/27/08 11:18 PM

I'm trying to figure out what a $185 pair of lineman's would do for you that a pair of Kleins or Knipex wouldn't...
Posted By: sparkyinak

Re: Best linesmans - 09/28/08 02:22 AM

I believe the right tool for the job. Take good care of your tool's and they will take care of you. Good tools puke out at the darnet times just like cheapos. They are just like a battery. They die when you need them. The odds of a cheap tool out lasting a good quality one are possible but slim. I will not gamble my bottom line on cheap tools on a whim that it will save me a few dollars.

Brand name is not my motivator. Snap On is a great tool. At the same time, I can buy way more good quality for the same price. My main tool line my pouch are Klines but I have Craftmans and Channel Lock too. I buy the tool I feel that will do the job I need it to based on my work habits and fair price for what I am buying.

My first choice for a corless drill is NOT Dewalt but I have one because everyone esle has them and how often have we killed all the batteries before they are recharged?

Another atribute that many of you may not even think of is availabilty. There is only 1 warehouse in all Of Southeast Alaska and a two Sears store with minimal selection. My Wrenches are Ace Hardware because there is one in pretty much all the towns I work out of and they have a good warranty although I may lose them before cashing in but I have it if need it.

Another issue is storing and transporting. Some days I am working out a van. Other days I operation out of a boat, a float plane, or even a 737. Weight and space becomes a big factor for me. Even for a run of the mill sparkie, I like my pouch be light as possible yet have what I need on hand while my secondary tools are in my tool box for quick access.

It all comes down to your priorities
Posted By: NORCAL

Re: Best linesmans - 09/28/08 03:56 PM

Originally Posted by SolarPowered
I'm trying to figure out what a $185 pair of lineman's would do for you that a pair of Kleins or Knipex wouldn't...


Bragging rights is the only thing I can come up with but to buy those, the buyer needs the T-shirt to go with them.. You know the one with the finger pointing upwards saying: "I am with stupid".
Posted By: hypress

Re: Best linesmans - 09/28/08 05:45 PM

If you look real close those $185.00 Ideal linemans pliers are made by Channellock.What makes them expensive is that they are insulated. The covering on the handles is actually
voltage rated.
Those have been out a long time before this 70E push. When they first came out they were the some of the first truly insulated pliers. If you look the Klein Tennite (red) handles are not voltage rated and how many times have we cut hot wires with them.I have a pair still in the package of 2000 Journeyman 150TH Anniversary and they are not voltage ratrd.
Hypress
Posted By: ChicoC10

Re: Best linesmans - 10/01/08 04:59 PM

I have 2 new pairs of Klein forged diagonal cutters. One is sitting right where I left them in a clients attic. I'm to embarrassed to knock on the door and ask to crawl in after them so I'm hoping another service job will come eventually.

I'm not afraid to cut anything short of live wires (no pun intended but I'll take it anyway) with them.

I guess my vote goes for good middle of the road tools that perform but wont make you cry when they go away.
Posted By: Trumpy

Re: Best linesmans - 10/02/08 08:12 AM

Originally Posted by hypress
If you look real close those $185.00 Ideal linemans pliers are made by Channellock.What makes them expensive is that they are insulated. The covering on the handles is actually voltage rated.

And to what particular standard are they rated?
Any tool manufacturer can claim 1000V insulation rating, but it needs to be tested and rated by an international testing authority, like VDE in Germany.
Just because a pair of pliers has "insulated" handles, means not a great deal.
IMHO, even though I use insulated tools, when working live, I always use insulated gloves and leather outers.
Insulated tools are only "Primary protection", you need Secondary protection too.
Posted By: SolarPowered

Re: Best linesmans - 10/02/08 03:50 PM

FYI, Knipex 1000V VDE-certified lineman's are around $50.
Posted By: gunther

Re: Best linesmans - 10/04/08 05:25 PM

I've had the orange handled Klein series 2000 for around ten years and they are my best friend. I've used them to cut everything and they do the job without complaint. One early morning after having gone full blast for about 20 hours straight, they actually smiled at me.
Have you ever noticed the man on the power pole etched onto where the pivot point is? If you open up the handles, his hat flies off and the pole breaks in two. That's a good reminder to be careful when you work on wires or you might get your hat blown off.
I like the handles to be so loose that you can spin them in the air and the jaws "talk" to you.
A good file will extend the life of many a screwdriver.
One of my best tools that I picked up a couple of years ago is the Ideal screwdriver that rachets, has no.1 and no.2 phillips and straight blades along with a quarter, 5/16's and 7/16's nutdriver capacity. I also like the racheting wire nut tightener on the end of the handle.
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