As an electrician, having the right tools is vital to job success. That's why Knoweasy has compiled this extensive master list of electrician tools. We have a list of apprentice electrician tools and a list of skilled master electrician tools. I think you will find my descriptions of the reasons for using each tool very helpful.
When you first start as an electrician, you will ask how much should an apprentice electrician pay for tools.
You don't need to run out and buy all your tools today. However, as your experience and skills grow and your work becomes more varied, so will your tool needs.
The tools an apprentice electrician needs are available at a variety of prices. For example, you can purchase a decent pair of pliers for $10 to $60.
I have two conflicting ideas about how much an apprentice electrician should pay for tools. On the one hand, I believe you get what you pay for. Buy a cheesy tool and you'll get cheesy results.
On the other hand: tools sometimes end in violence.
Cutting a live wire - which will certainly happen - will pretty much ruin a nice pair of wire setter's pliers, no matter how much you paid for it.
Then there's what I call the "Hey, where's my needle nose?" Factor. In other words, the electrician lost his tools.
I'm sure that for every tool in my electrician's tool bag today, there are 2-3 scattered in attics and tight spaces around southeast Michigan. It's a fact of life - hand tools get lost easily.
With that said, when apprentice electricians ask how much they should pay for tools, I usually suggest they purchase tools in the mid-price range.
Now, your tools need a home. A tool belt is a great way to stay organized and keep what you need within reach.
Another great place to store your tools is an electrician's best tool bag. We've reviewed the top products on the market today to help you make your decision.
I call these channel lock pliers, but they are also known as pump pliers. These adjustable pliers are really handy. The list of nuts, bolts, clips, or springs you need to grab or loosen seems endless. Here's a simple example: a GFI-style outlet or switch can be difficult to install correctly. Rectangles tend to tilt and twist in the box - not to mention they look bad once the wall plate is installed. I simply opened the pump clamp to the correct position so I could grab the outlet on its side. Now I have all the leverage I need to fix the problem.
Some people call these side-cutting pliers, others use the term "lineman's pliers". They are perfect for cutting Romex wire and single-core cable up to 4 gauge in diameter. The flat jaws make it easy to grab what needs to be grabbed. An example is steelhead tape - but in most cases, this is a cutting tool.
While wire erectors are good for cutting and pulling, diagonals are only used for cutting. Because this style is more of a snip than a side cut, you don't get the same leverage, so it's not as effective for larger-sized wires. So why bother? This has the advantage of being able to get into tight places, such as outlet boxes or crowded panels. This tool is more of a surgical procedure and I use it as much as a wire setter's pliers.
These long-nosed pliers are primarily for grasping and pinching. However, they also have a cutting blade, which is useful when you need to cut something and don't want to grab other tools. This is the third in what I call the "pliers trifecta". Be sure to have them all!
When you get good at it, it's like an extension of your hand. It can do things your fat little fingers can't - which is saying something when you think of the engineering marvel that is our hands.
This thing is great for wrapping wires around terminals, pinching, grabbing, jerking - anything you can think of. It also makes it easy to remove small items from the bottom of the tool pouch so your hands don't reach in.
This is the wire stripper your wife will recognize. It cleans the insulation of copper wire (stranded or solid) quickly and neatly. Most of the time you will be dealing with wire in the 14-gauge to 10 gauge range. They do make larger-sized vaporizers - 8 and 6 gauge - but they are not necessary. You can handle larger cables with a razor blade.
This item has a permanent place in my tool bag. Whether it's a brass grounding sleeve or an insulated terminal connector, crimping is an everyday job. I recommend this open-mouth crimp over the one located in the nadir. This has better leverage and uses a more natural and ergonomic action.
This tool has only one purpose: to expose wires in armored cables. It is often called MC (metallic cable) or BX cable. It is a multi-wire cable surrounded by a flexible aluminum or steel shield. You will primarily see it used in commercial and industrial locations.
When terminating cables, Roto-Split strips the outer jacket quickly and cleanly. Some electricians prefer to use a miter cutter for this task - which works well in a pinch. However, if I need to strip a lot of cables, I find that this tool is faster and makes a cleaner cut.
You can't see the electricity, so how do you know what it's doing? A voltmeter is to an electrician what a stethoscope is to a doctor. As you learn to use it, you can measure voltage, current, frequency, and continuity. It is indispensable for testing, diagnosing and troubleshooting. The absolute best training in electrical contracting is troubleshooting. Nothing teaches you how things work better than figuring out why things don't work.
You'll find this digital meter indispensable for testing, verification and troubleshooting. The T5 Electrical Tester lets you check voltage, continuity and current with one compact tool. All you have to do is select volts, ohms, or current and the tester will do the rest. I like the clamp function, which makes checking current faster.
In the field, this is often called a proximity tester or "linear FM tester". Place it next to an energized wire and it will either glow red or make a sound - or both. This is just a quick check to see if a circuit or piece of equipment is energized. It's not meant to replace a voltmeter. I use it when troubleshooting circuits. It will make a sound on the wire that allows me to detect it at the other end.
Like the "Linear FM Tester" (aka Voltage Tester), it's designed to check outlet sockets. Plug it in and the light (or lack thereof) will tell you if the plug is working properly.
You may be wondering, "Why don't I just plug in a lamp or vacuum cleaner?" You could do that, but this tool fits right in your pocket, whereas a floor lamp is a bit of a hassle. Also, if something goes wrong, this will indicate what the problem is: missing ground, missing neutral, etc.
A nice feature is the little black button which is the GFCI tester. When plugged in, pressing this button will trip a properly working GFCI device.
Also known as a deburring tool, this little guy is part of the process of cutting conduits. This process protects wires from damage as they pass through the conduit. Insert the newly cut end and twist to remove any sharp edges left behind. For use on 1/2-inch thin-walled conduit.
Good. Screwdriver. You probably don't need me to tell you what these are for. A nice feature here is that the insulated shaft prevents sparks and arcing when you are working in energized panels.
You will need a straight blade and a Phillips blade. Don't go crazy and buy all the sizes on the market. However, I do recommend the following:
Straight Blades and Phillips Slots - Medium size for general use.
Straight blade - small size for cover plates and small set screws.
Straight inserts - large size. Good for large objects.
Why do I need 7 different screwdrivers? Well, for starters, you'll lose three of them in the first month. Seriously, people have more hand tools in their attics than I have trucks these days. As you get more involved, you'll be happy to have a variety of sizes.
I also like the insulated handles, which allow me to operate energized equipment when necessary. The indicator on the tip allows me to see the type in my tool bag.
Square drive bits are suitable for very specific screw heads. Screw heads can be found on many electrical panels and devices. I keep it within reach next to my Phillips screwdriver. You will find that you can apply more torque to a square driver without slipping.
Stubby screwdrivers look kind of silly - until you need one! Now and then, you'll need to remove some annoying screws in tight spots; like pulling out the inside of a recessed light fixture.
The 6-in-1 feature combines 2 sizes of Phillips and standard blades with 1/4-inch and 5/16-inch nut drivers.
This is an inexpensive way to cut all the conduits to be bent.
Used to make quick, small cuts in drywall. I use it a lot when installing electrical boxes in finished walls or recessed lights in ceilings. It's also essential for finding boxes and/or wires that don't care to be buried by the drywaller.
A sharp utility knife is an absolute must. It's hard to get through the day without a good razor. I prefer this folding style because they dull quickly. It's much quicker to break off the tip of a used blade and keep using it than it is to take it apart and install a new blade each time. You can use it for everything from stripping large gauge wire to cutting drywall and opening boxes.
No, this is not for leveling torpedoes. It's important to make sure things look good. Keep pipes straight and fixtures vertical with this handheld level, perfect for your tool bag.
The magnetic surface makes it a hands-free tool that won't fall off - at least not often.
I use my hammer every day. There are a lot of things to secure and a lot of things to remove. You don't need an expensive framing hammer. I'm happy with a simple 16-inch; especially when I have to nail Romex in tight places. It also makes a great measuring tape when placing outlet boxes around the house. Simply stand the hammer on the floor and place the box on top. Secure and nail in place.
You will be measuring a lot of things! Positioning light fixtures, mounting boxes, running conduit, etc. all require the right tape measure. With a few exceptions, I'm not very picky about this tool. First, get one with a heavy-duty blade. You want to be able to extend it as far as possible without collapsing it. This helps when you are trying to find the center of the ceiling. Another feature I like is the magnetic tip. This allows me to dock the end to a metal object and hang it.
There was a time when having a cordless drill in your truck was a luxury. Today I consider it an absolute must.
You will use this thing every day - sometimes all day. The most common use is to install or remove devices like outlets and switches. Tip: Make sure you have an extra battery, so that you can charge the other battery when you use it.
You may be surprised to find out how often you need to drill a hole. Keep a decent set of twist drill bits on hand.
When I first used these bad boys I thought; where have you been all my life? If you're like me and you're dragging around your attic or crawlspace with tools, materials and a mini flashlight in your mouth, then you know how awesome it is to have a hands-free light source. Get one of these!
This is one of those gadgets that I really appreciate. The inside of this tray is magnetic. I can fill it with screws without having to worry about them spilling out. The base is also magnetic, so I can park the whole thing in a convenient place, such as a metal stud, I-beam, or panel cover.
Knee pads? Yes, I know, they're for seniors. But listen, you need to take care of your knees if you want to still do that in your old age.
Protecting your eyes? There's always something flying in the air: wood chips, dirt, concrete dust, metal shards - anything you can think of - and they all hit me in the face.
Unless you're wearing armor, you're not immune to cuts. A good pair of cut-resistant gloves will protect you from most of the nasty cuts and lacerations caused by razor blades, jagged edges of sheet metal, broken lamps, and more.
Some of these tools you use daily, some weekly, and some monthly or occasionally.
Now, let's move to the next on the list. The typically skilled electrician will add additional tools to his collection.
Note that there is no clear line between these two lists. Some tools can continue to be used.
These electricians' tool lists are general guidelines.
Comments will be approved before showing up.