Tools Needed for DIY Home Electrical Projects

Do-it-yourself specialists need only a few specialized tools to effectively handle the odd electrical jobs that pop up in the home from time to time. With these specialized tools in hand along with several common household tools, basic maintenance and a few improvements will be well within your reach.

Installing an additional receptacle is typical of the many do-it-yourself projects the homeowner can do themselves.

In homes with wallboard walls and a main electrical panel in an unfinished basement, the only tools needed to install a receptacle in a first floor wall are a pair of pliers for cutting wire and cable, a saw for making the box cut-out in the wall, an electric drill with a drill bit large enough for the cable being used, a screwdriver, hammer, utility knife and a measuring tape

More complex jobs require additional tools including a voltage tester and a continuity tester. Also needed are a cable stripper, wire strippers, needle-nose pliers, and a nine-inch torpedo level. If anticipated work goes beyond small cable installation jobs, or if the work is in plaster or masonry, additional tools that will be required are a variety of screwdrivers, diagonal and side-cutting pliers, 10 inch slip-joint pliers, a crimping tool for wire terminals, and an awl. A hacksaw, wallboard saw, and a fine-tooth saw will be required for cutting through lath. Also needed are a variety of twist-drills, masonry bits, and a variable-speed 3/8 electric drill .

Stud finders are a necessity when plotting where to put a new fixture or outlet. When shopping consider that electronic stud-finders are superior to magnetic models and work exceptionally well with old walls.

A 25 or 50 foot fish tape is a must when wire pulling is required. If you have to pull wire through conduit or wall cavities, keep in mind that conduit benders are rather costly for the somewhat limited use for them. If you find yourself in need of one, it’s best to rent one from the local hardware store or home center.

Electrical work requires planning, so take it slow and don’t rush yourself. Any mistakes made can usually be corrected without too much difficulty.

Always keep safety uppermost in your mind when performing electrical work. Turning off the power protects you from electrical shock, but it is important to be alert to other hazards as well. Use only properly grounded or double-insulated power tools and three-way extension cords with plugs and ends that are in good working order. Fiberglass ladders are non-conducting and should always be used. Never perform electrical work using aluminum ladders.

Remember that the tools being used to cut and drill material can cut and drill you too. Be sure to wear safety glasses or goggles when working with power tools. Respiratory masks should be worn in dusty work environments such as plaster and drywall. A quality pair of gauntlet-style work gloves are also a good investment that can protect hands and wrists from injury.

Remember, always work safely.


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