An Electrician’s Tools Of The Trade
Do not scrimp on quality.
Look in an electrician’s tool box and you’ll likely find the usual hand tools associated with virtually any craft: hammers, saws, screwdrivers, pliers, files, chisels, levels, tape measures, flashlights, caulkers, etc. But you’ll also probably notice a few specialized hand tools that may or may not be in the plumber’s or HVAC mechanic’s tool box. These include items such as:
- Fish tape, used to manipulate cables or wires through openings.
- Conduit bender, used to make accurate bends and offsets in electrical conduit.
- Voltage indicator.
- Diagonal pliers (also known as side cutters or Dikes. These pliers have cutting blades for use on smaller gauge wires, and also as a gripping tool for removal of nails and staples.
- Needle-nose pliers. These are generally small and used for finer work in electronics wiring.
- Wire/cable strippers. These are pliers-like tools with special blades to cut and strip wire insulation without cutting the wire inside or leaving nicks.
- Cable cutters. These are highly leveraged pliers for cutting large cable.
- Multimeter: An instrument that measures voltage, resistance, current and sometimes additional functions.
- Step-bit: A metal-cutting drill bit with stepped-diameter cutting edges to enable convenient drilling holes in pre-set increments in stamped/rolled metal up to about 1/16 in. thick. These are used to create custom knock-outs in a breaker panel or junction box.
- Crimping tools: Used to apply terminals or splices. These may be hand or hydraulic powered.
- Insulation resistance tester. These apply several hundred to several thousand volts to cables and equipment to determine the insulation resistance value.
- Knockout punch. For punching holes into sheet metal to run wires or conduit.
- Test light: a simple electronic device used to determine the presence or absence of electrical voltage.
- Heavy-duty extension cords.
Larger equipment like ladders, generators, rotohammers, etc. are likely to be provided by an electrician’s employer, although if you anticipate working for yourself someday you would do well to begin purchasing these elevated tools of their trade as soon as possible, even on a piecemeal basis.
As with all other trades, an investment in high-quality tools will pay off in the long run. Even if money is scarce, you can find better ways to economize than by scrimping on your tools of the trade. Better tools can last a lifetime and will prevent a lot of grief that comes from a key breaking down in the middle of an important job on a tight schedule.
High-quality tools have so much value they are prized by thieves as well as trade workers, so make sure to identify yours by stamping your name on them and/or with distinct markings. It is virtually impossible to recover stolen tools and equipment without being able to identify them as your own.
If you really aim to be an electrician, start building your toolkit now. Also let your friends and relatives know that the tools of your trade would make ideal holiday and birthday gifts.