Pliers are the "opposable thumbs" of the home workshop. Without this handy tool, you'd have a hard time gripping, turning or twisting things. While there are a number of variations, ranging from long-nose pliers designed to grip tiny wires to expandable pump pliers made for gripping, we recommend the common slip-joint pliers. This all-around tool can grip, bend, twist and turn wires, and open stubborn lids. Plus, it has a bolt near the pliers' teeth that can be made to "slip" into a second position, enabling the pliers' mouth to open wider and grip larger objects. There are limits, though. To loosen most nuts from bolts, for example, you'll need a wrench.
Whichever type of pliers you decide to add to your home workshop arsenal, choose one that has at least a 2.5-inch (6-centimeter) gap between the handles when closed; this will prevent you from pinching your palm or fingers when using the tool. And be sure to regularly put a drop or two of oil on the hinge. This will help your pliers work better, while extending its life [source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety].