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Are there any alternatives to circlip pliers?

Although circlip pliers are specially designed to make removing and installing circlips easy and safe, there are other tools which some people choose to use.

 

Circlip pliers are especially useful if you work regularly with circlips; however if you will only use them a few times they may be an unnecessary cost. You may find you already have a tool you can use as an alternative.

Flat Head Screwdrivers

Some people will use a screwdriver to pry a circlip out of its groove. The main problem with this method is that the risk of the circlip flying off is increased.

 

Where circlip pliers are designed to be able to hold the circlip as it is removed or installed, the screwdriver will need to force the circlip off, or out. 

There is also a risk of damaging the circlip and the shaft or bore you’re removing it from. The screwdriver may scratch any material which is softer than it, unless great care is taken. For some applications, this damage could cause the mechanism to fail.

 

Screwdrivers are sometimes also used to install circlips. The clip can be lined up and the screwdriver used to force it into the groove of a bore, or a groove on a shaft. Again, this risks damaging the circlip, or the mechanism it’s being installed onto or into. The force required also means the circlip could spring out of place.

Needle Nose Pliers

Needle nose pliers are very similar in appearance to circlip pliers, and some people will use them in the same way for removing or installing internal circlips. If the pliers are strong enough, and the circlip is not too strong, they can work in a similar way to internal circlip pliers.

 

To remove external circlips, you would need to use both hands with the pliers to open the handles once the tips are in the circlip grip holes. This would then expand the circlip.  

To remove external circlips, you would need to use both hands with the pliers to open the handles once the tips are in the circlip grip holes. This would then expand the circlip.  

 

However, needle nose pliers are not designed for this use, as they don’t have the shaped tips needed to safely hold the circlip. Also, the tips of needle nose pliers are likely to be weaker than the tips of circlip pliers, and there is a chance that needle nose pliers may be damaged if they are used in a way they were not designed for.

Circlip tools for use with extra large circlips

In industries which use very large machinery, such as in aerospace or renewable energy, you will find that very large retaining rings and circlips are used. Standard circlip pliers can be used with circlips of up to 400mm (15.7 inch), but for larger circlips, you will need a specialist tool. 

 

There are some tools which can be used with circlips of up to 1m (39.4 inch) in diameter!

X-Grip Circlip Plier Tools

These tools can be used with internal and external circlips of between 252mm (9.9 inch) and 1000mm (39.4 inch) in diameter.

 

Because the tool is relatively small compared to the circlips it can be used with, it can be employed where there is limited space or access. The leverage is generated from the screw mechanism, rather than the size of the tool; this is operated by a spanner or ratchet.

Heavy Duty Circlip Tools

These specialist tools are unlikely to be needed by any home user, as they are for use with circlips which are between 400mm (15.7) and 1000mm (39.4 inch). They can be used with both internal and external circlips and have interchangeable tips, for use with different sized holes.

 

They can be operated by a hex key, wrench or cordless screwdriver.

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