In this video, Ask This Old House master electrician Heath Eastman shows host Kevin O’Connor the tools he uses the most during day-to-day electrical work.
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7 Common Electrical Tools Explained
Electricians use a lot of tools, but some are more indispensable than others.
Linesman’s Pliers [https://amzn.to/3EqLfxX]
Electricians use linesman’s pliers for almost everything. These pliers have flat noses designed for twisting wires tightly. They also have cutting edges for cutting wires to length, as well as stripping the jackets off individual wires. And, since they’re tough and heavy, electricians will often use linesman’s pliers as a makeshift hammer to drive staples, punch holes in electrical boxes, and more.
Combination Screwdriver [https://amzn.to/3CgtK2B]
Electricians have many screwdrivers, nut drivers, and other tools. But many of their most common hardware uses the same tips, such as #2 square drive for breakers, #2 Phillips and flat tips for outlets and wall plates, and ¼ and 5/16-inch nut drivers for light fixtures and the like. Rather than carry all those screwdrivers, most electricians enjoy the convenience of a combination screwdriver, which can offer tips for 11 or more different fastener types—all in one screwdriver.
Side Cutters or Diagonal Cutters [https://amzn.to/3nBU4hs]
Occasionally, an electrician can’t get their linesman’s pliers into a tight spot, requiring something with a little more finesse. That’s exactly what diagonal cutters are for: They fit in tight places for cutting wires or removing staples. They’re not as heavy-duty as a pair of linesman’s pliers, so they’re not a suitable hammer stand-in.
Wire Stripper [https://amzn.to/3vQi8ki]
Electricians have quite a few ways to strip wires, but a tool designed specifically for the job is often the fastest. These tools can quickly remove wire sheathing, strip wires of several sizes, and bend perfect hooks for outlets or ground wires. These tools are often spring-loaded, as well, making one-hand use a breeze.
Non-Contact Voltage Tester [https://amzn.to/3mhZf6K]
Electricians need to know if the circuits they’re working on are energized or not, and while a voltmeter will do the trick, a non-contact voltage tester is much faster. These devices simply detect voltage and alert to its presence. The user can place close to a wire or outlet, and should the light go from green to red (in most cases, check your manual), the voltage tester is indicating that the circuit is energized.
Torpedo Level [https://amzn.to/2Zp26lq]
Most electricians take great pride in their work, and a handy torpedo level will help. These levels are small and feature at least one magnetic side for attaching to metal conduit or electrical boxes. They also feature several angles, including two 90-degree bubbles, a 45-degree bubble, and a 30 or 60-degree bubble.
Dust Shroud [https://amzn.to/3BlPvMY]
Recessed lighting is very popular but cutting all those holes in a ceiling is a messy endeavor. Rather than letting all of that drywall dust fall to the ground, an electrician can fit their drill with a dust shroud. These flexible bowls sit behind the hole saw and collect all the dust the falls from drilling, making clean-up much faster.
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From the makers of This Old House, America’s first and most trusted home improvement show, Ask This Old House answers the steady stream of home improvement questions asked by viewers across the United States. Covering topics from landscaping to electrical to HVAC and plumbing to painting and more. Ask This Old House features the experts from This Old House, including general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, landscape contractor Jenn Nawada, master carpenter Norm Abram, and host Kevin O’Connor. Ask This Old House helps you protect and preserve your greatest investment—your home.
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Top 7 Tools for Electrical Projects | Ask This Old House