A pair of bronze tweezers attributed to the Minoan civilization, circa 2900–1050 B.C.

There is evidence of Roman shipbuilders pulling nails out of construction with plier-type pincers.

There are two common forms of construction for tweezers: two fused, angled pieces of metal, or one piece of metal bent in half. The bent tweezer is cheaper to manufacture, but gives weaker grip. The fused tweezer is more expensive, but allows for a stronger grip. The width between the tips of the tweezers when no force is applied also affects how powerful the grip is.

Cross-locking tweezers (aka reverse-action tweezers or self-closing tweezers) work in the opposite way to normal tweezers. Cross-locking tweezers open when squeezed and close when released, gripping the item without any exertion of the user's fingers.

The original tweezers for mechanical gripping have given rise to a number of tools with similar action or purpose but not dependent upon mechanical pressure, including