If you are about to tackle any electrical jobs, there are some tools that you should have to do a professional quality job.
The first tool is called a sheath ripper. I highly recommend this inexpensive tool as it may save a trip to the emergency room. Instead of using your pocket knife or single edge razor utility knife, this little tool simplifies removing the wire sheathing.
Diagonal Cutters, usually referred to as dikes are a must have tool. These pliers are built with a durable cutting edge near their jaws that will handle most wire cutting tasks and can be used to cut through several wires at once, such as when cutting through Romex and all of the wires when cutting the cable to length. There are diagonal cutters such as those in the first picture, which are good for all-around use and there are curved diagonals which are specifically meant for cutting wire and have no gripping surface.
This type of dike is pictured in the second photo.
The above tools are used mainly for cutting, however the wiring pliers are the utilitarian tool, you will use them for removing the individual wire’s protective cover along with cutting off small bolts and screws. You can even use them to make the loops used to connect the wire to the light switches and outlets.
Another tool you may not have is a pair of needle nose pliers. These pliers are used for making the connection bends in solid wire and also are handy when working in tight places. Long-nose pliers can rescue items like fallen screws from outlet boxes and are especially adept at pulling wires that were cut too short and being able to salvage someone else’s mistakes.
One item that takes patience to operate is a wire tape. Wire tapes are used to pull wiring when the wires aren’t accessible, such as when working with remodeling or existing construction. The wire tape is snaked through a small opening in the wall and exits where you need to access the wires, such as a switch or outlet opening. You attach the appropriately sized wire to the tape and pull it back through until you can access the wire from an area where it can be tied into the service. Some people are better at this, I am not one of them. These are the same people who could drop the hook into the little plastic fish spinning in circles at the carnival while standing six feet away from the fish.
Many of the other tools used in electrical work you will already have, such as a collection of screwdrivers. My collection includes a few specialty screwdrivers that are designed specifically for electrical work. Some have offset shafts, others have special tips for working with newer fasteners. A pocket knife is handy, or even a utility knife will do. I have an electrical knife from Buck that has wire cutters built in and also can strip wire sheathing. A volt meter or circuit tester to ensure that the circuit you are working on carries no power is a necessity.
Electrical work is not something to be taken lightly. My 11 year-old also knows the standard black to brass, white to chrome and green to ground basics, but in no way would I let her work on circuits beyond simple end drops, and never would I even let my work not be inspected by an electrician. I have a family member who has 40 years experience as a licensed commercial and industrial inspector. He checks my work. You should do likewise and have a knowledgeable electrician check your work. I am sure he thinks I am a little nutty when it comes to using 220v on applications many people opt for 110. After seeing 110v wiring on room air conditioners through a FLIR(infrared camera), I definitely look to use 220v on applications that use a larger load. A 220 volt service uses half the amperage that a 110v service requires to accommodate the same load. Hot wires lead to failure in my mind, but that is an article for a different day. Be safe and be sure the power is off before starting any work around electricity.
Thanks to Lowe’s Home Improvement for providing us with these Klein Tools. Klein is a name electricians have come to trust for generations.