#WednesdayWisdom: Choosing The Right Sweding Pliers For The Job!

by Curt Altarac

(l to r) MusicMedic’s Wide Jawed & Narrow Jawed Saxophone Key Sweding Pliers, Knipex Sweding Pliers & Knipex Single Holed Sweding Pliers

With So many Swedging Pliers available, choosing the proper pair can be a daunting task. The choice is made more difficult when you consider the specific application of the pliers. For todays #WednesdayWisdom, we thought it you might like to know more about the Swedging Plier choices available @MusicMedic.

First, let’s go over the types of Swedging Pliers available and their use. There are basically two types of Swedging Pliers, the single holed pliers with the blue handles, simply called, “Saxophone Key Swedging pliers,” and the Knipex Swedging Pliers.

The Saxophone Key Swedging Pliers on @MusicMedic are available in wide & narrow jaws. The Wide Jaw Sweding Pliers are great for swedging keys that only need a little bit of tightening and where key marring is really not wanted. The benefit of these pliers is that they will also repair an oval hinge tube. If a hinge tube is slightly bent or oval-ed on the end, these wide pliers will fix the hinge tube and allow the rod to move freely in the tube while also swedging the key for length or tolerance on the steel rod.

Another benefit of these pliers is that they come in various hole sizes so you can use exactly the tip opening needed for the application. The weakness of these pliers is in their their wide jaw and simple handle. It can be difficult for the technician to apply enough hand pressure to swedge the key completely, the pressure exerted by the technician is spread over too great a tool surface.

The Narrow Jawed Swedging Pliers, are perfect when a very small area is available for swedging. An example of this is between two soldered key arms where the wide jaws simply would not fit. Clearly one of the biggest benefits of the Narrow Jawed Swedging Pliers is the clearance of the narrow jaws.

Another strength of these pliers is the small working surface. With such a small surface contact area, the pressure exerted by the technicians when squeezing the pliers will result in more swedging of the key. Like it’s wide Jawed brethren, the Narrow Pliers also benefit from many hole sizes so the exact size can be chosen for the application.

A weakness of these pliers is key marring. With such small jaws, the technician will need to be much more careful not to mar the hinge tube or damage the surface finish of the key. When using these pliers, we recommend lubricating the plier where it contacts the key and taking great care.

The Knipex Swedging Pliers were designed to reduce hand fatigue. The design of the jaws and their interaction with the handles, allows the force from the technicians hand to be multiplied as the pliers grip the key. This means that the technicians will not have to squeeze as hard to achieve the same results. This is probably the greatest benefit in the Knipex Pliers. They are also efficient in transferring and multiplying the force applied by the technicians that one can swedge a key without rotating the key in the pliers. Simply squeeze the jaws and compress the key then open the jaws and rotate the pliers. This method will virtually eliminate marring of the key finish.

Another strength of the Knipex is the advanced technique used when manufacturing the holes. Our Knipex Swedging Pliers have an amazingly tight tolerance hole that is also, by design, self locating. This virtually guarantees that the plier jaws will grip the key evenly every-time thereby eliminating marring further.

The greatest weakness of the Knipex Swedging Pliers is in the three hole design. To make the pliers more economical, we chose to put three different holes in each plier for a total of 6 sizes over 2 pliers. This causes an access problem where sometimes you simply will not be able to use these pliers. As you may know, we are able to custom make any size hole in any of the Knipex Swedging Pliers. So, if you are working on a specific model or size of instrument a lot, you may request that we manufacture you a special, single holed, plier.

Many people compare the Saxophone Key Swedging Pliers with the Knipex Swedging Pliers and assume the Knipex are better because they cost more. It is true that given a key that could use any plier, we would often choose the Knipex Swedging Pliers, however, the pliers all have strengths and weaknesses.

As you use them, you will find that having the benefit of improved access with the single holed pliers is very useful as is the design and manufacture benefits provided with the Knipex Swedging Pliers.

Happy repairing!