In the world of electrical work, a job isn’t done right unless it’s done safely and efficiently. And while arming yourself with knowledge and caution goes a long way in helping you to work safe and smart, neither of these things give you the actual physical protection from live circuitry. These things also do not help you efficiently handle materials; and make the right electrical connections. That’s where electrician tools come into play.
Having the right tools for the job can help you work faster, more comfortably and with fewer mistakes. They can warn you as well of the presence of hot circuits, insulate your body against electrical shock, and protect your face and eyes from potentially dangerous sparks and saw fly-offs. Just think of them as small investments in protecting the biggest investments of all: your life and career.
Here are some of our top picks for must-have electrician tools:
Instead of gambling with cabling knives and lineman’s pliers that can potentially nick into wires, it’s important to strip wires correctly the first time around, with a gauged wire stripper. This Klein Tools® Insulated Wire Stripper/Cutter has graduated holes along the length of its jaws, which lets you match to the particular size wire you’ll be stripping. Because of these carefully sized stripping notches, wire strippers can remove insulation without damaging the conductor beneath. You will have a far better chance of meeting code on the job, without wasting time and money to repeatedly trim down and re-strip the electrical wire, until you get it right.
There are benefits to using insulated tools when working with electricity or in electrical environments. These tools safeguard those using them from shock and electrocution, preventing the flow of electricity from making its way through a tool as a conductor, then passing that current into a user’s body. Insulated tools are additionally durable, made of high-quality materials that can withstand the harsh electrical environments — and working conditions overall. These versatile tools are available in several types and sizes, which can take a person from small to large projects. They are also compliant in safety regulations and industry standards, with many regulatory agencies requiring insulated tools be used in certain settings. Above all, there is a peace of mind for a person using them, that they are protected from electrical hazards.
Even if you’ve already shut things off at the breaker box, it’s always a good idea to double check that a circuit isn’t live before beginning work on it. Receptacle testers can be helpful, but if a receptacle or the wires leading to it are damaged, this type of tester can sometimes give you a false negative, even if there’s still electricity present. That’s why we recommend carrying a non-contact voltage detector as well. Even though voltage sniffers don’t need to physically connect with wires or outlet prongs, they still have the ability to detect the presence of live power. Best of all, they’re cheap and take up practically no room in your work bag, with the Santronics Voltage Detectors pen-sized units from CableOrganizer®. One comes with illuminating LEDs, while another has an audible signal, to alert about the presence of AC/DC voltage.
HOLE SAW AND HOLE CUTTER KITS
The drywall saw you use to make cutouts for cable pulls and outlet boxes is great, but when it comes to more specialized jobs like recessed lighting and hanging light fixtures, you’re going to need a way to make neat, round cuts fast — and that’s why you’ve got to have a hole saw or hole cutter kit. The cutter kits contain circular blades of different sizes. Hole saws are more like power drill accessories than separate tools, but they let you do precision work in a hurry — and that’s what counts.
When you’re an electrician, protective gloves aren’t optional. Gloves like these PPE lineworker natural rubber gloves can provide added insulation protection from electrical hazards. They have been cement dipped for extra cushioning around energized systems and appliances. These Bashlin Kunz lineworker high and low voltage gloves are made of goatskin and have a “free-thumb” design that offers more mobility, comfort, and reduced hand stress.
Side-cutting pliers are one of the most popular and reached-for electricians’ tools out there, thanks to their simple versatility. They feature cutting blades that make quick work of snipping through wire and cable, as well as knurled jaws that deliver excellent grip when you need to pull cable through walls. The only way that these multi-taskers can get any better is if they have insulated handles, which will give you a little extra protection from nasty electrical shocks.
One of the best ways to hopefully get all the tools you need is with one of the CableOrganizer® kits packed with electrician tools. Choose from an 18-piece or 41-piece Journeyman™ Tool Set from Klein Tools®. Each have an array of repair and installation tools, plus come in a storage solution to keep it all organized, including the 18-piece with a handy pouch and 41-piece with a generous bag. There are additionally tool kits from Black Box®, like the versatile General Purpose Tool Kit, a perfect set for beginners that comes in a heavy-duty nylon pouch. The Technician’s Tool Kit includes 25 tools to perform basic repairs. The Professional Technician’s Kit has punch-down tools in a belt clip holster.