How to Use Snap Ring Pliers

How to Use Snap Ring Pliers?

If you work with mechanical parts, it is evident that you are aware of the importance of snap rings or C-clips. It is a fastener and famous equipment in machine grooves as it efficiently grips the dowel pins (small cylindrical tools) in a fixed position.

There might come a time where you have to remove or install the clips for the mechanical parts to work properly, and with the help of a tool named Snap Ring Pliers, you can get it done.

If this tool is new for you, ‘How to use snap ring pliers?’ will be the first thing that will come to your mind. Actually, the process is very easy, and for your benefit, we have got it covered in this article. So, let’s check it out.

All About Snap Ring Pliers

Before we dive into the process of properly using snap ring pliers, let us get familiar with all the aspects of these tools. Keep reading

What Are Snap Ring Pliers?

Snap Ring Pliers

Snap ring pliers also go by the name of Circlip pliers. It is a compact tool that you can easily use with your hand. As mentioned above, it allows you to remove or install snap rings.

If you look at it, you will notice that it has a sharp or flat tip that allows it to tackle with the snap rings with ease. The manufacturer designed it in a way that it can smoothly fit between the clips’ grip holes. As a result, you won’t have a problem if you have to maneuver it to fix or remove them from a particular spot.

a) Types

This tool comes in 4 different types, internal, external, heavy-duty, and long nose. Below, we have included an in-depth explanation of them.

b) Internal Snap Ring Pliers

If you plan to fit the internal snap rings inside a bore or housing that comes with a cylindrical and hollow shape, this type of snap ring pliers is the one you should go for.

You will be surprised to know that it works uniquely. After you have successfully inserted this equipments’ tip into the c-clips’ hole, you should squeeze the handle in a way that the tips become closed.

Once you have put the ring in your desired spot, you can now easily release the handle. After that, you will see that the ring has magically returned to its highest diameter.

c) External Snap Ring Pliers

External snap rings are designed strategically so that it allows you to fix them around the dowel or shafts’ outside portion. After you have secured them in their spot, the ring starts to apply its pressure internally in the direction of the dowel.

Because of this feature, you should open it up with external snap ring pliers when you install it. This makes sure the rings expand a bit so that it easily fits above the dowel.

If you look at the pliers’ tip, you will be surprised to see that the tips are already in a closed position. So to expand it, you have to insert it into the rings’ holes and then gently squeeze the handles.

d) Heavy-Duty Snap Ring Pliers

Like the name says, these pliers are compatible in heavy-duty situations. If you have to remove, install, or even manipulate thick or large snap rings for giant machines, you can rely on these products without thinking twice.

It is constructed with durable materials and has gone through several factory tests to ensure it stays intact under all extreme conditions.

Since it is used for heavy-duty purposes, the manufacturer had done a tremendous job by including various safe and beneficial mechanisms like a ratchet locking system that allows you to have a good grip and control over the pliers in different conditions.

e) Long Nose Snap Ring Pliers

This one is also a powerful tool that smoothly works with big-sized bores or dowels. If the snap rings are located in a place where you can’t reach easily, these tools can help you out to remove them.

Since it has long tips, you can even install the snap rings into a bore that is very deep. This shows that it can be your best friend in this type of situation and fortunately, you won’t be disappointed with the result.

How to Use Snap Ring Pliers?

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It is finally the time that you should get enlightened with the step-by-step process. Here, we will talk about the installation and removal process of internal and external snap rings.

Both are explained in 2 different sections so that you can clearly understand the procedure. Read on to find out more.

Internal Snap Rings: Installation and Removal process

Make sure you have some free time because this process requires your focus and precision.

Step 1: Insert the Pliers’ Tip into the snap Rings’ Holes

Take the pliers and gently bring them close to the snap ring. Go to the holes and slowly insert the tips into them.

Step 2: Decrease the Rings’ Diameter

Now, you should tightly squeeze or compress the handles. This will force the tips to come closer to each other. As a result, you will observe that the rings’ diameter is getting decreased.

Step 3: Place the Snap Ring into its Position

Avoid using excessive pressure on the handles because this will also put pressure on the rings. If you accidentally do this, there is a possibility that the rings will get damaged. So, make sure you keep that thing in check.

After that, you should place the ring straight to its specific spot.

Step 4: Check the Position of the Ring

You should firmly grip the pliers and check whether the snap ring is perfectly placed into the bore (or shaft) or not. With everything in check, proceed to the next step.

Step 5: Let Go of the Pliers

As the rings are now perfectly seated, it is time that you release the pressure from the pliers’ handles. Congrats! Your task is completed.

External Snap Rings: Installation and Removal process

This process is very easy, and it won’t cost you much time and physical effort.

Step 1: Enter the Pliers’ Tip Straight into the Rings’ Holes

Like the one for internal snap rings, you should follow the same process for this step. Put the pliers’ tip close to the holes and when you are ready, gently insert it.

Step 2: Increase the Rings’ Diameter

Yes, in the case of external snap rings, you should expand them with the help of pliers. Squeeze or compress the pliers’ handles, and this will expand the tips, forcing the rings’ diameter to increase.

Step 3: Fit the Snap Ring According to Its Mandatory Position

Please make sure you don’t use too much force on the handles, which will abnormally expand the rings. Avoid doing that because you might damage the rings in the process.

When you have done that, adjust the ring throughout the dowel or shafts’ outside portion.

Step 4: Do a Double-Check the Ring’s Placement

This process is critical because you are using the expanded snap ring. So, hold the grips’ handles properly and check the rings’ placement. Ensure that it is accurately seated in its desired spot.

The ring will click when you have done it successfully. Now, move on to the next step.

Step 5: Free the Pressure from the Handles

Release or let go of the pressure that you were exerting on the pliers. Congrats! You are finished with the task.


Have a look at some of our tips. This will definitely help you out in the long run.

Tip 1: Experiment with Different Snap Ring Pliers’ Tip

You will be amazed to know several models are compatible with different snap ring pliers tips. Due to that, you will get the flexibility to experiment with various mechanical projects from small to big.

Furthermore, it allows you to tackle snap rings of different sizes with only using a single tool. Besides, you can purchase the substitute tips if your older ones are getting weak with time. Hence, you will be able to save some of your money since you don’t have to purchase a whole new set.

Tip 2: Always Use This Equipment Carefully to Avoid Accidents

As the pliers’ tip is the main feature of this tool, you should make sure that it not getting damaged when working with the snap rings.

Try to keep it clean and maintain them frequently. This approach will make it durable and safe for you to use.

Tip 3: Consult with a Professional or Supplier

If you are not a professional, you should definitely consult with a supplier or an experienced mechanical worker. They will clear out all your confusion and might even provide you with some useful advice.


How to use snap ring pliers is not a mystery anymore, thanks to this article. Read it a couple of times and take notes wherever you find something worth remembering.

Don’t forget to share it with your loved ones. Have a good day. Take care.

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