How to make: Motorcycle Chain Master Link Pliers


Installing master link clip

Trying to remove the master link clip from motorcycle chains can be frustrating.  Here’s how to modify a pair of pliers specifically to install and remove the clips.

What you need:

  1. A pair of pliers, that will be dedicated to this task. A cheap pair of import pliers for $10 will be sufficient.

Tools required:

  1. Dremel (essential), with small diameter grinding stones or a high-speed-steel cylindrical cutter. In the video below, I used a silicon carbide cutter, but only because I had one handy and it was the right diameter
  2. Bench grinder (nice to have), speeds up the shortening of the lower jaws.  Could be done with the Dremel if you don’t have a bench grinder.

You might ask why this couldn’t be done with files.  The answer is “….it probably can be done with files”. However, pliers (should) be made of alloy steel, and have hardened jaws.  In theory this makes them hard to work with files.  But cheap pliers have lower quality steel and are likely to be softer, and probably could be cut with pliers. It just depends on the relative quality of your pliers and files.


  1. Using the bench grinder or grinding stones on the dremel, shorten the tip of the lower jaw.  Not much. Technically, you shorten the jaw the same thickness as a master link clip.  Aim for 1/16″ or 1.5-2.0mm.Grind the lower jaw
  2. Using a small diameter grinding stone or cutter (around 1/8″, or 3.2mm), grind out a channel in the lower jaw of the pliers.  This needs to sit over the pin in the chain (as you will see in the video).Grind a cylindrical groove in the lower jaw
  3. Grinding a channel in the top jaw (as seen in the video) really doesn’t help the function of the pliers as much as I expected, so skip it if you wish.


Removing the master link clip:

  1. Position the shorter lower jaw over the chain roller pin, and the longer jaw over the end of the clip.Removing master link clip
  2. Squeeze and watch for clip being ejected.
  3. Collect clip from floor after it shoots off the chain.

Installing the master link clip:

  1. Position the clip over the chain roller pin.
  2. Squeeze the master link plates together if necessary to compress the assembly and expose the groove in the roller pins.
  3. Position the shorter lower jaw over the chain roller pin, and the longer jaw over the end of the clip.Installing master link clip
  4. Squeeze and watch the clip drop into place on the roller pins.

All is revealed in the video:

About the author 

Matt McLeod

I teach people how to build custom motorcycles by helping them build skills and confidence with my coaching, articles and training videos.
I provide better technical information for custom motorcycle builders. And I shorten the learning curve getting you there.

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