The name “Linesman’s Pliers” is a bit of misnomer because the tool is used throughout the electrical trade. Pros use linesman’s pliers to grab, push, pull, straighten, bend, and twist wire; to cut wire and small diameter threaded rod; and to ream the burrs from conduit. Sometime after Mathias Klein forged his first (half) pair in the mid-1850s for the new job of lineman, the tool took on the eponymous name of “Kleins”, as in, “Kenny, did you borrow my Kleins and forget to tell me?!” But since that time, many other companies have created linesman’s pliers. Today, I get to share my experience using the Jonard Lineman’s Plier with Fish Tape Puller and Crimper.
In contrast to Klein, the elder statesmen of electrical tools, Jonard is a relative whippersnapper with its 1958 establishment (that still gives them nearly 60 years of experience!). Even so, Jonard spent decades exclusively manufacturing tools for the telecom industry.
It was in 2008 that the company introduced pliers and scissors for Electricians. Fast forward and here I am today with Jonard’s version of the linesman’s plier that includes a couple of extra features. Let’s get to work!
Cut to the Chase
Cutting wire and small-diameter bolts is an essential function of the linesman’s plier. They are typically designed as side-cutters and the Jonard is no different. As with any plier, the potential cutting force is a function of the handle length and the rivet location. Given the tool’s overall length of 9-1/2 inches where 8 inches is traditional, I’d say the Jonards fall into the high-leverage category. The rivet is also as close to the jaws as possible which gives the 3/4 inch knife the greatest potential force.
What might be a material difference, however, is the hardness of the knives. Whereas Klein specifically mentions that the blades are induction-hardened, it’s not clear what heat treatment process the Jonard linesman’s plier goes through.
Electricians usually push fish tape through conduit until it appears on the other end where they can pull it. But sometimes the conduit is too long or contains too many bends for the tape to travel through easily. In that instance, the Pro can gain an advantage on the fish tape with the Jonard’s 1/8- to 1/4-inch fish tape puller feature. It’s designed to grasp the tape and apply force without damaging it. However, a word of caution: it can only be used with traditional metal tape and not something like Simpull non-conductive fish tape.
Crimp Your Style
Did you miss the review of Milwaukee’s remarkable cordless 750MCM wire crimper? If so, be sure to check it out – after this review of course! In that review, Gavin and Misael (Texas) showed you how important it is to make reliable connections between wires and terminal connectors with pressure. That’s true whether Electricians are working with big diameter cable on commercial installations or with small diameter wire on service work. For the smaller stuff, Pros can use the Jonard lineman’s plier with its crimper below the jaws.
Other Notable Features
The handles are coated in plastic as you expect to find in this class of tools. The whole tool weighs around 1.2 pounds, which is right in line with some of its high-leverage competitors. Linesman’s pliers are often used to ream the burrs from the edges of the conduit so that wire insulation isn’t damaged going through it. Knurling on the jaws’ outside edges typically does the reaming. But Jonard lacks such knurling. I don’t think this is a big deal, though, as the unknurled outside edges can de-burr conduit even if they are smooth.
At Your Service
As I mentioned, Electricians use linesman’s pliers for just about everything – gripping, pushing, pulling, reaming, and even…well, even prying and hammering if we’re being honest. But not every pair boasts a fish tape puller. That’s okay because you don’t often use it unless you have a very hard pull – but it’s convenient to have the option. It usually depends on how much money you want to spend on the plier – less expensive models usually don’t feature pullers. Yet the Jonard Lineman’s Plier with Fish Tape Puller & Crimper is on the inexpensive end of the category and includes it. I ran into a couple hard pulls during the review and the puller works well. It holds the fish tape’s end securely without slipping or damage to the tape.
Feeling the Squeeze
Even though the Jonard’s handles are quite long and the rivet close to the jaws, I found cuts harder to make. I’m accustomed to being able to cut through Romex, 2-, 4-,6-,8-wire, and even MC (metal clad) cable with ease but I only did so with difficulty using the Jonards. Electricians often use their linesman’s pliers to strip wires, and I had difficulty with that task, too. It just seems like the knives are not very sharp or as hard. I suspect it’s because my normal pair goes through a superior hardening process. The extra effort makes a significant difference in hand fatigue, especially if you are cutting a lot.
On the other hand, the crimper of the Jonard Lineman’s Plier with Fish Tape Puller & Crimper works flawlessly. The handle length and the crimp shape ensure that I make strong connections. What’s even better – I don’t have to bring my dedicated tool for the job! Combining functions into one tool is always welcome if it each of the functions work well. It’s less to carry and fewer things to keep track of.
These Jonard pliers feel comfortable and secure in the hand. They are a lot like my regular pair – and it’s more than a matter of familiarity. A tool’s handle has to be forgiving when you’re squeezing it all day. There is a lot of leverage and a comfortable grip.
The Bottom Line
The Jonard Lineman’s Plier with Fish Tape Puller & Crimper put forth a valiant effort and includes features much more expensive linesman’s pliers omit. It features long handles, a comfortable grip, and as the name implies, a fish tape puller and crimper. But to come in at $32, it had to forgo something in the quality category – and that something is cutting quality. Although it’s a fine fish tape puller, crimper, and general plier with a lot of potential force, the knives seem lacking in the sharpness and hardening departments. That results in cuts that are much tougher to make than my Kleins which have already seen a good amount of use.
But that doesn’t mean all is lost for this plier. I think they could be a fine emergency pair or an entry-level pair for an apprentice who might be a little light in the wallet. But for all-day use with serial cuts, unfortunately, the Jonards didn’t win me over. But I look forward to improvements in the design and materials and hope Jonard comes back to fight another day!
Jonard Lineman’s Plier with Fish Tape Puller & Crimper Features
- High leverage for cutting bolts, nails, and wire
- Fish tape pulling feature easily pulls 1/8 or 1/4 inch steel fish tape
- Built-in crimper feature works best on non-insulated connectors, lugs, and terminals
- Red plastic cushioned grip coated to approximately 0.007 inch
Jonard Lineman’s Plier with Fish Tape Puller & Crimper Specifications
- Item Number: Jonard JIC-685
- Includes: Fish Tape Puller, Crimper
- Cut Type: Side-Cut
- Jaw Length: 1-19/32 inch (40.48mm)
- Cutter Length: 3/4 inch (19.05mm)
- Jaw Thickness: 5/8 inch (15.88mm)
- Jaw Width: 1-1/4 inches (31.75mm)
- Material: Chrome Vanadium Steel
- Color: Red Handle
- Length: 9-1/2 inches (241.3mm)
- Weight 1.246 pounds
- Price: $32