The issue with snap-ring pliers isn't the quality, it's how widely they open. I searched several stores for snap-ring pliers that would open widely enough and finally bought some at NAPA... that didn't quite open as widely as I needed them to and they barely worked... kinda... it was a PITA not having them open widely enough to really be able to properly handle the snap-rings. I finally got a set of snap-ring pliers off the Snap-On truck that opened widely enough, I've never seen any in the stores that opened widely enough. So once again, the plier's quality isn't the issue, it's whether or not they open widely enough... and most do not.
Yes it is definitely MUCH easier and faster to leave the t-case installed to install a SYE kit. There is, honest-to-God, no need to remove the t-case... not in the slightest. Leaving it in actually means some operations can be done without someone there to hold the t-case since it's bolted to the tranny. You'll save time and energy if you just leave it installed.
For more room, back your Jeep up onto car ramps before starting.