Are you looking into the possibility of doing some electrical work on your home? Or are you even considering a career as an electrician? If so, there are several tools and pieces of equipment that you will want to have on hand. Some you will know, some you may not. They vary in size and cost and function, but as UK Electrician Ltd, an electrician in London, explains, they are all indispensable to electrical work.
Take the Top Ten in Your Tool Belt
There are countless possible tools that you might want or need on any job. As an electrician, the tools required could be the difference between life and death. Whether it is personal or professional, there are twelve essential items. We will go through each one, describing what it is, as well as how you might use it on the job.
(Side note: throughout this piece, I will be referencing several sources. They are The Spruce, Electrical Contractor Magazine, and Platinum Electricians. Between the three of them, they come up with more than ten. The ones listed below are the essentials. When I use a quotation or paraphrase, I will list the source immediately after the item, so you can reference it.)
- Tape Measure – This one is a no-brainer. Tape measures perform the much needed function of measuring the distances between objects. They are also a multipurpose tool, which you may not have been aware of. They can help you draw straight lines, “center lighting fixture boxes”, and a variety of other uses. (The Spruce)
- Flashlight – Like tape measures, these are indispensable. No self-respecting electrician would work a job without a flashlight. There are plenty of situations where you’ll to go into attics or basements, where light is often hard to come by. A spelunking helmet or a hardhat with light attached would also work at times. Consider how much room you will have above your head in the space when making your decision.
- Hammers/Screwdrivers – This is a two-in-one. Anyone working with hardware or repair will need these. Between the two, they can tighten or loosen almost anything. They’re a pretty dynamic duo. Both screwdrivers and “nut drivers…work with various types of fasteners and applications.” Without at least a basic set of each, your job will be much, much harder. (Electrical Contractor Magazine)
- Level – Like tape measures, this one is a basic necessity and performs one vital function. It makes sure that your work is, well, level. If you work without a level, you won’t be able to determine or know that the work you’re doing is even, or flush. The technical term for an object that is both level and vertical is “plumb”. If your posts are not plumb, you’re in for a rude awakening when it doesn’t bear weight as expected.
- Pliers – There are many different kinds of pliers. The two predominant types for electrical work are side-cutting and long. Long pliers are also referred to as needle-nose. These have a wide range of uses, but are very often used for gripping onto everything from wires to nuts to bolts.
- Wrenches – Allen wrenches are the common wrench in electricians’ toolboxes. They’re the ones shaped like the letter L and will have a hexagonal head on both ends. You can use these to tighten any screw or bolt that has a six-sided fitting. Be mindful of your wrench sizes, though, because you will “need both standard and metric sets.” (The Spruce)
- Non-Contact Voltage Detector – Use this “for a quick safety check to see if there is current flow.” Be sure to check if yours is manual or automatic. When placed next to a wire, it indicates that voltage is nearby. (Platinum Electricians)
- Fish Tape (or ShopVac) – You will use this to drag wire, of various and sundry kinds, “through metal or PVC” pipe. You may also want to take advantage of cable lube. This exists to help you with “pulling the wires through the pipe”. If you are having difficulty imagining this, watch this video. It provides a somewhat humorous example of a builder using a ShopVac to pull wire through the pipe. As you will see in the video, the vacuum method is the easiest way to go. (The Spruce)
- Wire Strippers – Use these “to cut and strip insulation from electrical wire”. Each hole on the strippers conforms to a different dimension of wire size. They also “include cutting teeth for trimming wire ends”, which is very beneficial as well. (The Spruce)
- Label Makers – This last one is a long one, so I apologize in advance, but you will thank me after. You might associate labels with organizing rather than home improvement. Interesting enough, there are plenty of things that need labeling on electrical jobs. Wire and cable are two more obvious examples. There are also metal and PVC pipes, as we mentioned. Wooden beams and studs. Even tools you’re using with specific tasks. You will, of course, want “quality labels that stick on tough and curved surfaces”. “Labeling work at installation saves times when making moves, adds, or changes.” Moreover, the tools have gotten more and more high-tech and thus, much easier to use over time. Consider that there’s a “handheld labeling tool with electric keyboard”. In essence, these are a kind of limited use computer. In fact, many label makers work in tandem with computers. If you have a laptop, check to see that any labeling kit you want is compatible with it first. (Platinum Electricians)
Get Quality Tools for Quality Work
While the above ten tools are a very good start, they are by no means exhaustive. The intent of this list is to give you a good primer on what tools electricians use and how they use them.
If you are doing electrical work yourself, you will need to first be very careful with any tools you’re using. Second, ensure that they are of high quality and that you know exactly how to use them. It goes without saying that electrical work can be very dangerous. It is my recommendation that you use a professional whenever possible. That can be expensive, of course, depending on the job, but worth it in the end.
If you do decide to go it alone, at least read a textbook first, like this one. That way you will have a solid foundation from which to start.