Everyone thinks they are an electrician, right up until they try to turn on the living room lights only to hear the garbage disposal begin churning. How well do you think you know the tools of an electrician? From a screwdriver to a reciprocating saw, these tools prove that being an electrician is more than switches and wires. They need to combine the role of electrical expert with that of woodworker, drywaller and sometimes even plumber.
We'll stick to the basics here. Do you know the difference between a wire stripper and needle nose pliers? Do you think you can use them for the same task? It might not be as safe as you think.! Channel locks and conduit benders can come in handy when you need one, but do you think you'd be able to identify one of these tools? You probably know what a screwdriver looks like and doubtless even a set of Allen keys - but, how well will you do with sizes and shapes of each? Do you think a flat-head screwdriver can be used as a chisel, scraper or pry bar? That type of thinking is can land you in the hospital.
Curious about being an electrician? Take this quiz to see if you're well on your way... or if you should just hire someone.
Let's face it -- electrical work often involves handling small wires and tiny fasteners. Needle nose pliers make it easy to hold onto these small objects while you work, and are perfect for reaching into tight spaces where your fingers just won't fit.
A flathead screwdriver is a must-have in any trade. It's necessary for removing or replacing old flat-head screws, and can also be used for other jobs, like prying a lid off a can or jar. Electricians need screwdrivers in a variety of sizes for different fasteners.
Wire strippers remove insulation without damaging wire. Sure, you could scrape the insulation of with your knife, but you're much more likely to nick the wire -- or your finger.
The rule of measure twice, cut once holds true for electricians as much as it does for carpenters. Use your measuring tape to install outlets, receptacles and switches at the proper height, and to align fixtures and other devices.
A drill is a must-have for any person working in the trades. Electricians use drills to quickly install screws in light fixtures, junction boxes, outlets and receptacles.
A reciprocating saw, also known as a Sawzall after one popular brand, is ideal for cutting into drywall or performing basic demo work. Electricians would use this tool to cut openings for outlets and other electrical devices in walls and ceilings.
A claw hammer offers simple utility, and can be used for prying, removing nails and hammering nails in place -- such as fastening a junction box to wood-framed walls.
Also known as slip-joint pliers, channel locks are wrenches with adjustable, angled jaws. One jaw contains a track, allowing the other jaw to lock into place. This tool is useful for tightening or removing nuts and bolts in a variety of sizes.
Allen wrenches, or hex keys, have hexagonal ends to insert and remove specialty screws with ease. These keys come in sets so you'll always have the size you need for the job.
Side-cutting pliers have angled cutting edges that form a V-shape. They are primarily used to cut wire. Electricians should invest in insulated models to reduce the risk of electric shock while working.
While flathead screws were commonly used several decades ago, most screws used today have a cross-shaped head, known as a Phillips head. To remove or install these screws, you'll need a set of Phillips head screwdrivers. Look for magnetic ones that help prevent dropped screws, and consider tools with insulted handles to reduce the risk of shock.
Electricians may have to run wire through walls, attics, ceilings or conduit. A fishing pole is a fiberglass pole with a hook at the end that makes this job much easier because it's much more rigid and easy to work with than the wire itself.
A utility knife is a jack-of-all-trades tool on any jobsite. It can be used to scrape insulation or strip wire in a pinch, scrape away old paint or caulk, or even open tough packages.
Not sure if a receptacle or other device is "hot" or not? The very best way to find out is one that involves avoiding contact with the device using a tick tester. This tool looks like a simple pen, but it's really a non-contact voltage detector in disguise.
A multimeter is an all-in-one tool that is an absolute must for any electrician. The device measures current, voltage and electric resistance, and may also be know as a voltmeter.
Levels are useful for every tradesman, but many electricians focus specifically on torpedo levels, which are small enough to fit in a standard tool belt. A level ensures receptacle and switch plates are placed level on the wall.
Electricians are often called in to fix things when the lights go out -- or before power is even installed. On these projects, you'll need a flashlight or other light source so you can get the job done. To keep your hands free for work, a headlamp is also a good buy for many electricians.
Wire crimpers are the traditional tool used to permanently join two wires. While wire nuts have replaced crimping in many applications, a good pair of crimpers belongs in every electrical tool bag.
Metal conduit keeps wire protected within walls, ceilings and other installations. Unfortunately, these rigid pipes can be difficult to fit into tight spaces, especially during renovation projects. A conduit bender puts a curve into these metal pipes so you can make them fit where you want to.
Have you ever opened an electrical panel and seen a bunch of blank labels next to the various breakers? Wiring can quickly become a huge confusing mess without labels, which are placed everywhere from junction boxes to conduits to panels. A label maker makes this an easy and neat job and makes things much easier for anyone who comes along in the future to access the electrical system.
Pulling wires through conduit isn't always easy. Applying a bit of cable lube to the head of the wires before passing them through the conduit makes the job much easier, and helps prevent snags and blockages.
When you're installing conduit in an existing building, there will come a point where you have to pass the conduit through a piece of wood or drywall. In these instances, a hole saw creates a clean and neat hole for the conduit without damaging the surrounding surface.
When you're fastening objects to concrete or masonry, a regular drill just won't do. For these jobs, you'll need a hammer drill, which combines a hammering impact with a standard drill mechanism to easily attach things to tough materials.
A socket wrench can be used to remove and install nuts and bolts. Thanks to its ratcheting action, it's quick and easy to use, and you don't have to keep moving and adjusting the wrench as you work on the nut or bolt.
A stubby screwdriver might look silly, but it can save the day when you're working in tight spaces. It's the perfect tool for tightening and loosening screws anywhere that a standard screwdriver or drill just won't fit.
A nut driver works just like a screwdriver, but it has a head designed to wrap around a nut rather than grasp a screw. These tools are perfect for low-torque applications where power tools might not be appropriate.
Anytime you're tempted to not wear your safety glasses on the jobsite, take a quick moment to google images of construction site eye injuries. The picture might turn your stomach, but they also might convince you that wearing safety glasses is an absolute necessity on the job.
A hard hat is a no-brainer on the jobsite, especially for electricians, who are often working in tight ceiling spaces. Of course, any spot on a construction site could be a hazard thanks to falling objects or other potential disasters.
A stud finder is a surprisingly simple device that detects the locations of wall studs -- even those concealed behind drywall. Electricians can use this tool when hanging light fixtures, panel boxes and other devices.
Linesman pliers are a standard tool for electricians. These hand tools are used to grip, bend, cut, twist and otherwise manipulate wire. They can also be used to strip insulation in a pinch.
Electrical tape is different from other types of tape in that it can be used for insulation. Generally, black tape is used for insulation only, while other colors indicate various voltages and phases.
Nothing looks more unprofessional than an electrician who shows up without the right tools for the job. This means investing in a quality tool box as well as a tool belt to keep the items you need close at hand as you work.
A soldering iron is a heating tool that allows you to join multiple wires with a material called solder. While wire nuts are often used to join wires, some prefer to stick with the old-school method of wire joining using a soldering iron.
A vise grip locks to a table or other flat surface. It can be used to hold conduit or other objects while you work. Vise grips serve as an extra hand when you need one on the jobsite.
A socket set goes hand in hand with a socket wrench. It consists of a variety of socket attachments to accommodate nuts and bolts of various sizes.
Tin snips might not be the most commonly used tool for electricians, but they can come in handy at times. They are an ideal tool for snipping sheet metal, such as air handlers or ducts, as well as metal studs and track.
A chalk line is a simple device that consists of a roll of string coated in chalk. When stretched out and snapped, it leaves behind a removable line to serve as a guide during installation. Chalk lines are useful for laying out receptacles, outlets and fixtures in even rows.
A simple hacksaw belongs in every electrical tool box. This saw can be used to cut conduit and cable strut, plus countless other things you might run into while working.