Helpful Tools And Supplies For Home Electrical Projects

by Claude Walters

The average homeowner doesn't need an entire arsenal of tools and supplies for minor electrical work, but there are some that are helpful for all electrical work. These include the following:

Wire cutter/stripper

This is a most useful tool for any wiring work. The wire cutter portion of the tool is located at the hinge point of the blades and can cut a sheath of three heavy gauge wires cleanly and almost effortlessly.

It is the wire stripping function that makes the tool the most useful. The cutting blades have a series of slots that are marked with gauge numbers. If you need to strip the insulation from a wire, you simply place the wire into the slot marked for that gauge, close the blades, and pull the wire through. The insulation is stripped way, leaving the bare wire.

While some homeowners may use a box cutter or razor blade to strip wires, there is always a danger of nicking the wires or slicing fingers. A wire stripper eliminates these hazards.

Wire fish tape

The name of this tool is nonsensical until you understand its design and function. It is used to pull electric wires through finished walls and ceilings, and is almost essential unless the wire only needs to travel a short distance.

The name comes from the design of the fish tape. A flat metal cable is wound around a spool that resembles a measuring tape. The cable is extended through a hole in a wall or ceiling until it reaches its destination. 

The electric wire is then attached to the cable by a hook at the end, and reeled through the wall using a handle on the side of the fish tape, as a fisherman reels in a fish.

Because the cable is firm yet flexible, it can be jostled and cajoled around obstructions in walls and ceilings.

Wire nuts

These small pieces of plastic are used to hold wire connections in place and to keep the bare wire ends separate from other wire connections. Wire nuts are simply twisted onto the wire connection. They resemble the caps on toothpaste tubes and are available in a variety of sizes.

It is helpful to keep a variety pack of wire nuts for various wiring projects. This allows you to choose the size that you need for your current wiring project.

Electrical tape

These small rolls of black plastic tape can be used to hold wire nuts in place and prevent moisture from entering. The tape is wrapped around the open end of the wire nut, and the visible portion of the wire ends to form an insulated seal.

Electrical tape is also useful to wrap around cut or worn spots on extension cords or power tool cords.

Of course, these are basic tools for simple projects. Complex electrical work or repairs and upgrades inside the circuit box should be handled by residential electricians like Excel Electric Inc.