Many of the most common tools used by an electrician are those that can be found in the standard home toolbox. The specialty tools that are required for electrical work mostly have to deal with keeping you….well…alive while working with the wiring and cable that supply the juice to electrical appliances. The tools used in electrical work tend to be much easier to use than tools used in carpentry or woodworking.
The multipurpose tool is appropriately named because it can be used for a diverse range of purposes. This tool that resembles a pair of pliers is used for stripping insulation from wires and attaching crimped connectors to the end of wires. What this electrician’s tool makes up for in functionality, it loses in specificity. While it is capable of doing many jobs, the multipurpose tool does not do any of them as well as specifically designed tools.
Wire strippers are used to remove insulation from the ends of wires without also damaging the wire itself. Several options are available for this electrician’s tool. The basic wire stripper looks like a pair of scissors while multi-action wire strippers include self-clamping capability.
A cable ripper, Jack, is a flat tool with a wedge shape that has a specific use for the electrician. The cable ripper cuts through the insulation on a flat cable and separates the braided wire so that a splice can be made. Be aware that some cable rippers won’t work on larger, rounded cable.
Most experienced electricians and traveling screwdriver salesmen recommend an assortment of screwdrivers for electrical work. As you become more experienced in your electrical work you will quickly find that owning several different sizes of both flat-head and Phillips screwdrivers comes in handy.
A collection of different types of pliers is also recommended for electrical work. Because you will be dealing with wires, it is highly recommended that your pliers be equipped with rubber insulated handles. Lineman’s pliers are used for holding, twisting and cutting through bare wire. Needle-nose pliers are better constructed for the job of attacking twisted wire to screw terminals.
Special tools used for electrical jobs include the voltage tester. This standard piece of equipment comes with two wire probes joined to a neon light. The tester is used to determine if current is passing between the probes and the light gives the signal that current is passing.
The continuity tester shoots a current of low-voltage through a circuit to determine if the electrical path has been damaged. You can get a continuity tester that runs on battery power and informs you of continuity with a light while others inform you with a buzzer or bell. The power should be turned off on a device before using this tool.
An electronic stud finder is a valuable tool for finding out where studs are when doing wiring work. (Of course, you could also hire one of those chicks from Sex in the City; they seem to be surprisingly capable of locating studs despite being ugly, hard-looking or just plain annoying.) Locating the stud behind the wall makes it much easier to maneuver the wire around than trying to do it blindly.