Tools may be placed in an electrician’s pouch or in a toolbox. Keeping tools organized saves time and money. If tools do not have a place to call their own, you will spend too much time looking for them. Not only do you need to have a definite place for a tool, but you should also develop the habit of returning it to that place after you have used it. Whenever your tools are used on a workbench or around a piece of equipment, you need a toolbox.
Some tools can be mounted on a silhouetted outline on a board in front of the workbench. That way, if a tool is missing, you know which one it is, and when using it, you know where to put it when you are finished with it. Pegboard or a piece of plywood with cutouts attached and pegs on which to hang the tools can be used.
Best electrical tools for electricians
The list of installation and maintenance tools for electrical professionals are the following:
These tools are often incorrectly used. They may be used for opening paint cans, punching holes, and prying as well as their intended use. Keep in mind that the right tool should be used for the job.
Generally, screwdrivers are available with either wooden or plastic handles, but plastic is most common. Plastic handles are very helpful when working around electricity. Plastic is supposed to be shockproof if the handle is kept clean and dry. The blade tip may vary in size from 1/8 to 1/4 in. The shaft is 4 to 8 in. long and is usually made of nickel-plated chrome-vanadium steel. The tips or points must withstand the force applied when a screw sticks or is difficult to remove.
The main thing to remember when using a screwdriver is to get a good fit between the tip of the screwdriver and the slot in the screw. This will prevent damage to both the screw head and the screwdriver.
Other types of screwdrivers are also available. They are usually adapted for a particular purpose. The main reason for changing the screw head from the slot to some other type is to increase efficiency in getting the driver into the screw head for positive mating and a more positive driving force. See the below figure for other types of screw-head configurations.
Check screwdriver set alternatives on Amazon:
There are a number of pliers available for special jobs. The pliers shown in the below figure are indicative of the variety available for work in the electrical and electronics field. Each of the pliers is designated a particular job.
1-) 4-in. midget for close work. (Check price)
2-)4-in. plier for fast, clean tip cutting. It has a tapered nose and nearly flush cutting edges and will cut to the tip, producing burr-free cuts. (Check price)
3-) 7-in. diagonal pliers for heavy-duty cutting. (Check price)
4-) 1/2-in. thin needle-nose plier, with the cutter at the tip. (Check price)
6-) 5-in. thin chain-nose plier, whose smooth jaws are slightly beveled on the inside edges. (Check price)
7-) 5-in. plier with fine serrated jaws for firm gripping or looping wire. (Check price)
8- ) Slim serrated jaws (6 in. long); permit entry in areas inaccessible to regular long-nose pliers. (Check price)
9-) Long-nose plier (6 1/2 in. long) with the side cutter. (Check price)
10-) Long-nose plier (6 1/2 in. long) without side cutter.
11-) Thin 60°-bent nose plier (5 in.) with fine serrated jaws for thin wire applications.
12-) and 13 were removed from consideration in this type of work.
14-) 8-in. serrated upper- and lower-jaw plier with the side cutter. (Check price)
15-) 8-in. chrome-plated combination plier for general use. (Check price)
16-) Four-position 10-in. utility plier with forged rib and lock design with serrated jaws. (Check price)
Check other plier alternatives on Amazon:
As with other hand tools, there are a number of hammer types. The three most common are best suited for electricians or technicians.
The claw hammer is used to drive nails and to work mainly with wood; it has claws with which to remove nails. It is the most common type of hammer but is used only occasionally in most work where a ball-peen hammer is not available.
The ball-peen hammer has a rounded top and a flat, large-diameter bottom surface. It is used in work around machinery.
In some cases, a mallet is needed to force a connection or to make a slight adjustment. Mallets can be obtained with either a soft face or a hard face. Leather, plastic, rubber, wood, and lead mallets are used for various jobs, as the need arises. In most instances, a rubber mallet is used to enable you to do the job without marring the surface of the metal being hit. Keep in mind that you should be careful with your hammer or mallet blows. Use eye protection.
Hacksaws are very useful for cutting metal. Blades come in 8-, 10-, and 12-in. lengths. The hacksaw is usually adjustable to fit any of the three-blade lengths. Hacksaw blades also come in a number of tooth sizes. Use 14-teeth-per-inch blades for cutting 1-in. or thicker sections of cast iron, machine steel, brass, copper, aluminum, bronze, or slate. Use 18-tooth-per-inch blades for cutting 1/4- to 1-in.-thick sections of annealed tool steel, high-speed steel, rail, bronze, aluminum, light structural shapes, and copper. The 24-tooth-per-inch blade is used for cutting 1/8- to 1/4-in.-thick section of materials. It is usually best for iron, steel, brass, and copper tubing, wrought iron pipe, drill rod, conduit, light structural shapes, and metal trim. The 32-tooth-per-inch blade is used for cutting material similar to that recommended for 24-tooth-per-inch blades.
Wrenches are used to tighten and loosen nuts and bolts. Two general types of wrenches are adjustable and non-adjustable wrenches. Adjustable wrenches have one jaw that can be adjusted to accommodate different nut and bolt sizes and may range from 4 to 18 in. in length for different types of work. When adjustable wrenches are used, there are two rules to remember:
- Place the wrench on the nut or bolt so that the force will be placed on the fixed jaw.
- Tighten the adjustable jaw so that the wrench fits the nut or bolt snugly.
Nonadjustable wrenches have fixed openings to fit nuts and bolt heads. These wrenches are available in sets and also in metric sizes. Openings are usually 0.005 to 0.015 in. larger than the size marked on the wrench to allow the wrench to be slipped easily over the nut or bolt head. Make sure, however, that the wrench fits the nut or bolt head properly; otherwise, the nut or bolt head may get damaged. It is safer to pull than to push a wrench. If you exert pressure on a wrench and the nut or bolt head suddenly breaks loose, there is a chance that you will injure your hand. If the wrench must be pushed rather than pulled, use the palm of the hand so that the knuckles will not be injured if there is a slip.
Allen wrenches are designed to be used with headless screws. These screws are used in many devices such as setscrews. Allen wrenches come in a variety of sizes to fit any number of setscrews. A complete set is especially helpful in motor work.
Another type of recessed setscrew head has an Allen-type hole, but ridges in each flat side make it difficult for an Allen wrench to fit. Newer hex-socket key sets are made in 3/32 to 1/4-in. sizes with 8 blades in a set.
Socket wrenches may be used in locations that are not easily accessible to the box-end or open-end wrench. Sockets are easily taken off the ratchet and replaced with another size. Sockets come in both a 12-point and a 6-point arrangement. Make sure that you use the proper size for each nut or bolt head. Socket wrenches are also available in metric sizes.
Torque wrenches, which are designed to apply proper torque to various bolts and nuts, are made to fit various socket drives. Two popular sizes of torque wrenches are the 3/8-in. drive and the 1/2-in. drive. Torque wrenches are made to measure in pound inches (lb-in.) and in pound-feet (lb-ft). Use the proper wrench for the torque that has to be applied. The wrenches come in various handle lengths. Normally, the longer the wrench, the greater the torque the wrench will measure.
The nut driver is nothing more than a socket attached to a screwdriver handle. It is an excellent tool for most on-the-bench work. Nut drivers come in a variety of sizes and usually have the size stamped on the handle. Sometimes they are color-coded according to size.
Tools for bearings and bushings
In motor repair, it is sometimes necessary to remove a bearing from the end bell of a motor. A bearing tool makes this task somewhat easier. A bearing tool eliminates the chance of broken bearings or end bells.
Some bearing removals need a different approach. The pulley or gear puller can, in some instances, be used to remove a bearing that has stuck on the motor shaft. These pullers come in a variety of sizes and styles.
Bushing tools have been designed for removing or inserting bushings in motors. They are handy time-savers.
Solderless connector crimper
The solderless connector crimper is very useful in motor work. It takes a good connection to withstand the vibration of a motor. A number of contactors have been designed for electrical work. The tool and kit of connectors and lugs of various sizes are available at most electrical supply houses.
The soldering iron comes in handy when it is necessary to make a solder connection that will take vibration and withstand corrosion. Soldering irons of about 15 watts (W) to over 600 W are available in the market. The best all-purpose soldering iron for use in the shop is about 100 W. This will do the job in most cases where larger wires are involved. The small 15-W irons are very useful in electronics work on printed circuit boards.
The soldering gun is very handy for making quick disconnects of soldered joints. Cold solder joints result when the operator heats the tip, places solder on it, and then lets the solder cool on the joint. The wires being soldered on the metal surface and the wire is connected to it must be heated up to the temperature sufficient to melt the solder. This means that the gun must be left in one spot long enough to cause the joint to be heated to the temperature needed to melt the solder. The secret is to heat the material, not the solder.
Wire gages are needed to measure wire size. The numbers on the gauge tell you the size of the wire. Keep in mind, however, that wire with Formvar insulation will read one size larger. Keep in mind also that the wire is moved through the slit in the gage. The hole is there to pass the wire through. The slot does the measuring. Pull the wire-free of the slot and through the hole. Decimal equivalents are usually stamped on the metal disk on the opposite side of the gauge numbers. Every toolbox needs a wire gauge.
Fuse pullers are made of phenolic material that has been shaped so that you can pull at least two sizes of fuse with them. A fuse puller catches the round body of the fuse and allows you to extract the fuse from its holder, without coming in contact with the live circuit.
To check the speed of rotation of an electric motor, it is best to use a handheld tachometer, which is available in both analog and digital forms representing speed in revolutions per minute (rpm). The tachometer is a very useful device for measuring motor speed. It can help locate possible problems and can indicate if a motor is operating as it should after it has been repaired.
The tachometer can be placed on the open end of a motor shaft, or it can be used on motors, saws, compressors, fans, pumps, grinders, and other equipment. A cone-shaped tip is used for shafts with center holes; a cup-shaped tip is used for flat-end shafts. Tachometers that use a strobe light to detect the number of revolutions per minute are available, but they are somewhat more expensive.
Knockout punches come in many sizes. They are used to make holes in metal boxes for enclosures of various control devices. They range from a simple punch that uses wrenches to large hydraulic units utilized to punch holes in very heavy gauge metals.
For pulling wires through conduit and walls, or into junction boxes, the fish tape is essential.
A larger-gage wire (cable) has to be stripped for a T-tap or mid-span strip. In most instances, a cable stripper is used for stripping insulation so that placing lugs on the end of the wire or cable is much easier.
Hand-operated cable cutters are used to make a shear-type cut for large-size wire. Long fiberglass handles give leverage. A cable cutter can cut cables up to 750 MCM (750,000 circular mils). The clean-cut result makes it easier to fit cable ends into lugs.
The jackknife is used to cut insulation. Every toolbox should have a handy jack knife with very sharp blades.
Another knife that comes in handy for the electrician or anyone working around electrical equipment is the skinning knife. This knife fits in the toolbox or in the tool pouch with the proper cover.
A multimeter is a device that can test several electrical parameters. The most common and important quantities you’ll need to measure are voltage (volts), resistance (ohms), and current (amps or, more typically milliamps). The analog incarnation of this test device, recognizable by its big meter needle and multiple-stop selector knob, used to be called a VOM (volt-ohm-milliammeter). Now that the meters are digital, they’re usually called DMMs (digital multimeters), but they do the same thing, except that the readout is numerical instead of something interpreted from the position of a meter needle.
DMMs began as very expensive, high-end laboratory instruments, but they’re cheap now and pretty much all you can buy.
The voltage tester is versatile and easy to use. The instrument is a must-have on your electrical tool belt. It safely measures AC/DC voltage, polarity direction, and circuit continuity. The instrument also provides rotary field indication and low impedance testing. Careful use of this meter will provide years of reliable service.
The oscilloscope is the only instrument that actually lets you see what is going on in an electronic circuit. The basic function of an oscilloscope is to generate a graph of voltage versus time. As a spot sweeps from left to right across the screen at a constant rate, it also moves up and down in relation to the incoming signal voltage, drawing a waveform, or representation of the signal that shows you how the voltage is changing.
Wire wrap/unwrap tool
Soldering is not the only way that wire terminations are made at present. Wire wrapping provides fast, secure electrical connections without soldering. Wire wrapping and unwrapping tools are made of case-hardened steel for long life. They are hand-operated, so there is no need for the air or electrical supply. This method of termination eliminates wire crystallization due to soldering heat and subsequent fracturing from on-the-job vibration.
Conduit benders take the guesswork out of this job. Benders have built-in benchmark symbols, degree scales, and multiplier scales. An arrow points to the beginning of a bend; a star indicates back-of-bend locations. A teardrop symbol indicates the exact center of a 45° bend. Benders for 1/2-in. EMT also has a cast-in offset formula and multiplier, providing instant, on-the-spot information for making accurate offset-angle bends.
Cutting PVC plastic has traditionally been done using a backsaw. This saw cut can be rather ragged when finished because the kerf of the saw blade is designed for cutting wood. Making clean, burr-free cuts through PVC is a quick, simple task with specially designed cutters.
Some cables require a great deal of effort to bend to fit their intended placement. The forged one-piece bender has been made of steel to meet the demands for such a tool designed to aid in the bending operation. The head is bent at 22° for ease in bending the cable in tight, hard-to-access places. A 7/8-in. opening will allow inserting cables up to 300-MCM capacity. A 11/64-in. opening is used for cables up to 500-MCM capacity. The handle is plastic coated and contoured for good gripping action. For easier bends, two benders should be used.
The conduit reamer locks onto a screwdriver, and reams and de-burrs 1/2-; 3/4-, and 1-in. thin-wall conduit ends. The smooth ends protect the wire being pulled through the conduit, which permits the correct installation of fittings. The conduit reamer reams inside and outside at the same time. Two setscrews hold it tightly on round or square screwdriver shanks. The reamer can be left on the screwdriver for normal use. The steel cutting blade is replaceable to keep it cutting easily.
Other tools that may be useful on the job are a flashlight, digital camera, polarized receptacle tester, wire markers, and various wire-pulling apparatus and threading tools for the rigid conduit. A heavy-duty electric drill or one with hammer action to drill through concrete is also handy. Various tools will come to mind as you develop your workshop or toolbox. As different situations arise on the job, you will be better equipped to know which tools to invest in. Keep in mind that your tools are an investment. Mark them with your name or the name of your company.