Top 7 Tools for Electrical Projects | Ask This Old House

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In this video, Ask This Old House master electrician Heath Eastman shows host Kevin O’Connor the tools he uses the most during day-to-day electrical work.

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7 Common Electrical Tools Explained
Electricians use a lot of tools, but some are more indispensable than others.

Linesman’s Pliers []
Electricians use linesman’s pliers for almost everything. These pliers have flat noses designed for twisting wires tightly. They also have cutting edges for cutting wires to length, as well as stripping the jackets off individual wires. And, since they’re tough and heavy, electricians will often use linesman’s pliers as a makeshift hammer to drive staples, punch holes in electrical boxes, and more.

Combination Screwdriver []
Electricians have many screwdrivers, nut drivers, and other tools. But many of their most common hardware uses the same tips, such as #2 square drive for breakers, #2 Phillips and flat tips for outlets and wall plates, and ¼ and 5/16-inch nut drivers for light fixtures and the like. Rather than carry all those screwdrivers, most electricians enjoy the convenience of a combination screwdriver, which can offer tips for 11 or more different fastener types—all in one screwdriver.

Side Cutters or Diagonal Cutters []
Occasionally, an electrician can’t get their linesman’s pliers into a tight spot, requiring something with a little more finesse. That’s exactly what diagonal cutters are for: They fit in tight places for cutting wires or removing staples. They’re not as heavy-duty as a pair of linesman’s pliers, so they’re not a suitable hammer stand-in.

Wire Stripper []
Electricians have quite a few ways to strip wires, but a tool designed specifically for the job is often the fastest. These tools can quickly remove wire sheathing, strip wires of several sizes, and bend perfect hooks for outlets or ground wires. These tools are often spring-loaded, as well, making one-hand use a breeze.

Non-Contact Voltage Tester []
Electricians need to know if the circuits they’re working on are energized or not, and while a voltmeter will do the trick, a non-contact voltage tester is much faster. These devices simply detect voltage and alert to its presence. The user can place close to a wire or outlet, and should the light go from green to red (in most cases, check your manual), the voltage tester is indicating that the circuit is energized.

Torpedo Level []
Most electricians take great pride in their work, and a handy torpedo level will help. These levels are small and feature at least one magnetic side for attaching to metal conduit or electrical boxes. They also feature several angles, including two 90-degree bubbles, a 45-degree bubble, and a 30 or 60-degree bubble.

Dust Shroud []
Recessed lighting is very popular but cutting all those holes in a ceiling is a messy endeavor. Rather than letting all of that drywall dust fall to the ground, an electrician can fit their drill with a dust shroud. These flexible bowls sit behind the hole saw and collect all the dust the falls from drilling, making clean-up much faster.

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About Ask This Old House TV:
From the makers of This Old House, America’s first and most trusted home improvement show, Ask This Old House answers the steady stream of home improvement questions asked by viewers across the United States. Covering topics from landscaping to electrical to HVAC and plumbing to painting and more. Ask This Old House features the experts from This Old House, including general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, landscape contractor Jenn Nawada, master carpenter Norm Abram, and host Kevin O’Connor. Ask This Old House helps you protect and preserve your greatest investment—your home.

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Top 7 Tools for Electrical Projects | Ask This Old House


A J says:

The dust catcher is brilliant

tommy Cho says:

Great tips

Tyler C. says:

Love to see the veto

seymour butz says:

One of the most useful tool as an electrician are a good pair of electrician sissors. Knipex make a really good pair. I use it all day everyday.

Freund says:

It would be great to see a few safety items pointed out, especially because this is aimed at inexperienced folks:

Using lineman’s pliers and diagonal cutters to strip wire can nick the wire and cause a fire really easily. Have seen multiple melted contacts and junction boxes and traced it back to folks using the wrong tool. The wire stripper is always a good bet. Klein make one that strip the sheathing off Nonmetallic wiring as well.

Also a non contact voltage tester is a great tool to find out which wire is switched from what switch and to trace and power-cycle things. Remember you are putting your live on the line when touching electrical wires. Always use a high quality multi meter (at least $40 at the home center). Non-contact tester can give false signals. Not to mention that the one shown has a recall on it by Klein tools. (Select models).

Be safe

Christopher Harpster says:

It you're a sparky and NOT using Klein, you need to reevaluate your bag. Just saying!

Dan B. says:

My electrician buddy is always going on about his 8 in 1 driver. We tell him that's a good way to catch something.

Nicholas Isola says:

When Heath's main use of linesman's pliers is a hammer you definitely know he's an electrician.

MaxTheMeatBall says:

What is the wig budget for this show?

19rappy says:

Veto pro pac the best of the best tool bag hands down 5 year warranty no down time

A S says:

When you're a true pro u don't need strippers you're pliers do it all

Andre Viens says:

Thanks for putting the links to the tools in the description. I liked that screwdriver.

XionAzura1 says:

Most actual electricians actually use wire strippers.

Sparky Heberling says:

Handsome as these gentlemen are, I wish the tools would be visible in every shot. Especially when they are describing features of the tool.

shelly belly says:

You don't need a level anymore if you have a half decent android phone.

Rob L. says:

I love my Romex strippers. Game changer!

B T says:

The electrician looks like a serial killer. Just sayin.

Jason Deran says:

Great job buds. I love my pair of linesman pliers there’s just so many uses and super handy for electric work. Keep the show going guys 💪

Kyle Fowler says:

I am a professional electrician and 11 in 1 screwdrivers are nifty however the nut drivers part dont hold up to everyday use. I have tried all the name brands and eventually they all strip out. I realize all screwdrivers have to be replaced eventually but those nut drivers only last 3 months or so. Normally I can get 2 years out of a screwdriver. For whatever reason dedicated nut drivers last longer.

Edward Robaey says:

Outlet tester and muĺtimeter

nick duggan says:

That veto pro pack bag is pretty pricey, he must be doing well.

Patrick McCauley says:

I love TOH and ATOH, but I'm not a fan of the new camera work this season. Looks like they are using a lens at an aperture of 2.5 or 2.8. Great for photography, but I don't love it on these videos. I'm sure they're trying to reduce the amount of extra lights needed in the shop/set, but still – just not great for this.

xoxo2008oxox says:

First, anyone else irked by Kevin sticking that level on the screwgun? Come on, is your audience that naive? Second, that is a VETO Pro Pac bag- top of the line. I'd recommend insulated ECX and Phillips 1 & 2 driver. White electric tape-doesn't get sticky and you can write on it. Wire nuts or Wago connectors. Headlight or rechargeable LED wand. And the usual kit of a tape measure and utility knife for cutting insulation back and drywall. Oh and that three prong outlet tester. A multimeter is also ideal to have, to test voltages, amps, and if wire/fixture broken. I want one of those Veto Pro Pac contractor bags!

Dino B. says:

Kevin seemed kinda nervous in this one.
Why couldn't we see the rest of the tools that Heath had in his tool bag?

Trev land says:

Alright 👍

John Roberts says:

I didn't see a henway in his bag ? 🤔

Raymond McGee says:

I would add 1) slip joint pliers and 2) a 25' tape measure and/ or folding ruler to this list.

Daryl G. says:

How much does that bag weigh? (tools and all)?!? lol


Oh, silly Kevin

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