Electrical – work tools
In addition to the usual screwdrivers and pliers, there are a few specialized tools you should have in order to do electrical work.
This is a small neon bulb with two wire leads, used to test for the presence of voltage. It lights up if there is approximately 75 or more volts present. It will not work on cars where the voltage is only 12 volts. You should have one in your toolbox. Keep another at home.
Fish wire is a long, coiled, flat wire that you push through a hole in a wall or ceiling. You then attach a phone wire, or electrical wire, to the end of the fish wire and pull it back through the hole. Fish wires come in various lengths. For residential work, the 50-foot length is sufficient.
LONG DRILL BITS
You should have a few long drill bits for wood and for masonry. When you are running electrical wires, phone wires, or TV cables through walls or ceilings, you may need very long drill bits, 18 inches long or more. A 1/4-inch hole is usually big enough for phone wires, and a 3/8-inch or 1/2 inch hole is usually big enough for electrical wires. Armored cable (BX) may require a larger hole. You can either buy long drill bits or use a bit extender (usually about 18 inches long), that holds shorter drill bits. On rare occasions, you might have to use two bit extenders, this is most likely to occur in an old house.
This is sometimes called a multimeter, or a volt-ohm-milliammeter, or a VOM. It is used to measure voltage, resistance, and current. It is extremely useful when you are trying to fix any electrical device. You can buy an inexpensive VOM at electronics stores. If you have not used one before, you should spend some time reading the instructions and experimenting with it to become familiar with what it can do.
This 3-pronged device indicates whether an outlet is wired correctly or incorrectly. Carry it in your toolbox.
This clever and inexpensive electronic device finds where the studs are. It works well on drywall walls, but not very well on plaster-and-lath walls.
The wire stripper is like a small, thin, flat pair of pliers. It has two sharpened V-shaped notches that cut through the insulation on a wire. You then slide the cut piece of insulation off the end of the wire. It takes some practice to be able to cut through the insulation without cutting into the copper wire. It is a good idea to practice using the wire stripper on various sizes of solid and stranded wire. If you have to remove more than about 1/2 inch of insulation, it may be easier to do it in two operations.
Some wire strippers have a series of different-sized holes, one for each gauge of wire. If you do telephone installations, you may need a special wire stripper designed to strip extremely thin wires.