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Harbor Freight is currently listing this four-piece set of locking pliers for $5 — cheap enough that you could lose them or foul them while welding and not worry much.  And before you comment, understand that I’m fully aware that these are nowhere near the quality of a set of Vise-Grips or other quality locking pliers.  But I know two things about locking pliers:

1) They’re easy to lose and foul, and

2) When you need more than two of them, you often need a lot of them.

This is especially true of welding clamps, which HF also sells.  I have a drawer full of ’em.

As far as these go, you get a 4-3/4″ needle-nosed set, a 4″ straight-jaw set, and two 5″ C-clamp sets.  Maximum jaw openings are 1-1/2″, 1-3/4″, 1″, and 2″.

4-Piece Mini Locking Pliers Set [Harbor Freight]


8 Responses to Cheap-Ass Tools: A Four-Piece Locking Pliers Set For $5

  1. ba614 says:

    That’s a good price on cheap-ass imitation vice-grips. I’ll stick to the real USA made Irwin Vice-Grips myself though.

    The question I have is, How do you lose a big ole set of vice grips?

  2. Steve Thompson says:

    I bought this set and two of them ended up being a single-use tool for me (i.e. they broke the first time out). Your mileage may vary. I like HF for cheap clamps, but I’ve learned to stick with only the basics – wood handscrew clamps, C-clamps, and Pony-style pipe clamp ends. Anything more complicated (like quick-grip type clamps) and you’re better off putting that sparte change in a ar and saving up for the real deal. IMHO.

  3. Tracy Lauricella (TMIB_Seattle) says:

    The nice thing about a set this cheap is you can modify them without wincing.

    You can weld different jaws on these for use at the forge, or with a couple of pieces of angle iron to make a corner clamp. You can cut one jaw off the welding clamp and tack weld it to the top of a metal welding table to use as a clamp for your workpiece.

    I have a cheapo imitation vice grip that I used for a while as a window handle in my truck until I replaced it.

    Yeah, they are pretty flimsy, but for $1.25 each you can do some abusive stuff to them that you wouldn’t want to do on a good tool. They may not survive it, but that’s the point.

    I wouldn’t use them as daily use tools or for something really important; get a real set of vice-grips for that.

  4. Russ Philipp says:

    I own both a Good set of Irwin Vise Grips that I use constantly for welding. In a pinch I bought a cheap pair of locking C-Clamps with a 12″ throat to finish a job. I was extremely disappointed inn them. The tips did not line up together when closed, and when I applied some force to bring two pieces of metal together for welding, the Jaws twisted sideways on me. I think I will stick with the good ones for now. However I do like Tracy Lauricella’s idea of using the cheap ones for making custom tools. I currently have the need tool align and hold two pieces of tubing together while butt welding. I was going to build a bench top jig but am now considering using a cheap pair of locking pliers, modified appropriately as it will give me more flexibility during the welding.

  5. Randy says:

    Check this page out for a tube butt welding jig.


  6. james b brauer 66 says:

    These would be a waste of gas driving to HF. I agree that the HF C-clamps are OK for some things, but any forces that aren’t in a plane with the handle and jaws are going to twist this thing apart. This based on personal experience.

  7. Eddie says:

    cheap vise grips have their place but sometimes you really NEED to the ones, especially when your safety is involved. Like when you use a mini vise grip in place of a busted clutch lever or a busted shift lever on your motorcycle in the middle of nowhere just to get you back to civilization.

  8. Teacher says:

    I bought a set like this at a Cummins junk sale. I bought them specifically for welding as I didn’t want to chance messing up my Irwins. The metal is a lot thinner than the original Vise Grips, but it is good enough for a welding job and I don’t get bent out of shape if I get splatter on them. They also make good loaners to the brother in law that has no clue how to take care of good tools and thinks anything is a hammer.

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