Sunday, April 3, 2011

Two Different Names, Same Mediocre Product: Stanley 84-110 Pliers Disappoint Me!

The Good: Durable metal construction, Adjustable channel works
The Bad: Slippery grip, Teeth in the plier end grip poorly, Intermediate distances with channels seem problematic.
The Basics: A strong pair of pliers, the Stanley 84-110 Waterpump adjustable pliers have a grip that hands slip easily on and a head that adjusts too far to be useful.

Durability goes a long way when it comes to tools with me. I mention this up front with my review of the Stanley 84-110 Waterpump Adjustable Pliers because the solid stainless steel construction of these is so impressive that I allowed my rating to come down to a cointoss between the two and three stars for these perfectly average pliers. If they had been made of an inferior material, there is no way I would have stuck with the Quarter Of Fate's decision for the star rating I ultimately granted this tool. Either way, I knew I was never recommending this set of pliers.

The Stanley 84-110 pliers are adjustable pliers and are intended for twisting and turning everything from nuts and bolts to heavy-gauge wires and pipes. The only problems I've found is that no matter where I am in life with my hand strength, these never seem to hold what I need them to where I need it held. If my hands are not slipping on the smooth grip, it seems the business end of these pliers is sliding off the wire, pipe or even plastic bolts. I've lugged this tool out whenever I have done any project with the toilet, pipes and even when I just need things grabbed in tight corners and I have always ended up relying on a different tool or my bare hands instead!

The Stanley 84-110 Waterpump Pliers are 10 1/4" long from the curved head to the base of the handles. For those entirely unfamiliar with what pliers are, they are a tool that works on the principle of two levers working around a fulcrum within the tool, much like scissors. There are two handles which are joined by a bolt near the head of the pliers. The head is offset - if the handles are considered "straight," then the head is set at about a 45 degree angle to the handles. The pliers are made of stainless steel which lives up to that claim as mine have gotten wet and not been immediately dried many times over the last six years without showing even a hint of a dot of rust on them.

The handles of the Stanley 84-110 are one of the key detractions to this particular set of pliers. These pliers have a soft, rubbery coating for the bottom five inches of the handles, where ones hands are supposed to go to grip the pliers. Unfortunately, these grip poorly. While the rubber has never stopped adhering to the metal below them, the spongy rubber is actually very smooth, which makes it very hard to keep one's hands on them with a firm grip under virtually any conditions involving moisture, water or anything that would require friction, like turning a lock nut. In other words, it's hard to keep one's hands in a firm grip on these pliers under any of the conditions one might use these pliers for! The only positive thing about the handles on these pliers - other than being a comfortable distance apart to apply pressure when squeezing - is the fact that the grips have not torn, worn out or otherwise degraded after years of use, though in recent years that is because I stopped using them because they slide out of my hands when bare or gloved.

As for the business end of the Stanley 84-110 pliers, these are shiny bare steel that looks great, even after years of use. The head is a 1" toothed section that is curved through most of the surface. The head is only 3/8" wide, so the surface area this is using to grip onto whatever one wants to hold or bend is ridiculously small. The thing is, because of the application of force from the leverage from the handles, these pliers ought to grip quite firmly onto pipes, wires, bolts and the like. I, however, have not found that to be the case when using the 84-110 and virtually everything I have ever tried to grip and/or turn with them (which it a pretty basic function of pliers) has slipped from the metal teeth.

To avoid crushing items that are larger in diameter or to hold things that are wider in diameter, the 84-110 pliers are adjustable and this is one of the mixed bag features of this particular set of pliers. The pliers adjust by turning the "top" handle and unlocking it from the curved channel that allows it to pivot on the bolt. There is a perpendicular hole in the "bottom" handle near the head which allows the bolt to be moved up and down, which opens and closes the head. When the top handle is adjusted closest to the top of the head, the tip of the pliers is closed with the teeth meshed. This is the most powerful grip the piers have because the teeth lay flat with one another. The handles have channels - an indentation on the "bottom" handle, a curved protrusion on the "top" handle - which mesh to allow the pliers to space the head further apart. The head may be adjusted to seven fixed points 1/4" apart until the head has the teeth spaced 1 3/4" apart when it is closed. This allows one to grip larger diameter items with the pliers . . . in theory.

The theory comes into conflict with the practice in that the pliers are curved in the jaws of the tool. Imagine spreading your mouth wide open at the back of your jaw and trying to grip something in your mouth while missing your molars. So many things would easily be pulled out of your mouth because your front teeth were not responsible for keeping the larger diameter items in. As a more concrete example, when I open these the full way and grab my forearm with them, no matter how tightly I hold the handle with the other hand, I am easily able to slip out of the grip of these pliers.

The channels are solid, though, and over the years, they have not bent, malformed or worn down no matter how much pressure I have put on them. Similarly, I have never had to tighten the bolt which connects the two handles which acts as the fulcrum.

Adjustable pliers can be handy, but at the end of the day, they need to be able to grip. The Stanley 84-110 does not grip well at the head and it is hard to people to maintain a grip on the handles. There are better pliers out there!

For other Stanley tools, please check out my reviews of:
60-006 6 5/8" Cabinet screwdriver
42-468 ABS level
85-785 12î Adjustable Wrench


For other tool reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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