A technical student can get by with a pair of vice grips. Buying two different sizes of needle nose vice grips will be enough for most tasks.
Needle Nose Pliers
Ideal for gripping metal of small diameter such as a wire or small screw. Typically the outside surfaces of the jaws are nearly flat, but when they are round they are called needle nosed.
Curved Needle Nose pliers are also available for reaching into the narrow places where needle nose plies cannot reach.
Long Curved Needle Nose pliers are small needle nose pliers which are able to grip and twist thin gauge wires.
Note: Any type of needle nose pliers are not suitable when large gripping forces are applied because their jaws have thin narrow teeth which can be damaged and bent out of shape. For the same reason these pliers should not be used to bend heavy wire into a loop or for any application that would cause twisting of the jaws.
Round Needle Nose Pliers
These pliers are used for forming small loops in wire or for curving thin metal bands. These are especially good for silver-smithing and forming elegant designs for Orthotic rings.
Combination pliers (Slip joint pliers)
These pliers come in heavy and light duty weights, but are the best used in gripping and turning small round pieces due to the size of the teeth on the jaws. Sometimes heavy duty weight combination pliers are used instead of a wrench where a large turning force is needed.
Tongue and groove (Channel lock)
This vastly adjustable gripping pliers is commonly used to grip irregularly shaped objects. Its serrated jaws and adjustable jaw opening allows it to adapt to different sizes without the distance between the handles becoming unwieldy. This is because the jaws are set at 45-60 degrees from the handles. The lower jaw allows for adjustability, able to move to a number of different positions by sliding along the tracking section and sliding into the grooves of the upper jaw.
The distance between the jaws can be adjusted by turning the screw at the handle. On any setting the jaws will always be nearly parallel. Jaws should be set to a size slightly smaller than the object being gripped. When the handles are squeezed they move a lever over its center point and lock the jaw of the pliers onto the gripped object. A release lever displaces the locking lever and the releases the locked jaws of the plier
Primarily used for gripping leather or any similar material that will cover componentry and stay tight to it (stretching leather over a last), the base acts a fulcrum of a lever that rests on componentry and allows tightening and stretching of leather.