What are Circlip Pliers?

There are these "odd" looking flat pliers that have strange little tips on them called circlip pliers. These pliers have long springs loaded into the handle, and when you squeeze them, they open up, or spread apart instead of close. Circlip pliers are designed for the specific task of removing circlip rings. The best way to better understand what circlip pliers are for is to know what a circlip ring is.

A Circlip Ring

This is a fancy washer that works as a "lock" on most shafts and machined gears, holding vital spinning parts from simply flying off as it is motion. The word circlip simply means, circular clip. They basically look like a washer ring with a chunk missing on one side, and on those two open ends are tiny holes where you can insert circlip pliers. They come in all different sizes and colors and need specific sized circlip pliers to be installed or removed. Some don't need pliers at all, and can be removed by using a pair of basic flathead screwdrivers.

How Circlip Pliers Work

On the tips of your circlip pliers are these teeth that fit into the holes on the circlip ring. Once these are inserted, simply apply pressure to the handles and it will pull the circlip ring apart. This is the method that mechanics of all types use to remove a circlip from where it is locked in. The circlip pliers basically "stretch" the two ends of the ring apart so that it can be removed or replaced from a shaft, axis, gear or cog.