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Old 08-27-2007, 01:58 PM   #1
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New to electrical - which tools are my basic needs?


I've been renovating my house pretty thoroughly, and am now starting to play with electrical stuff. I was wondering what are the 'basic' tools I'll need (for instance, for doing stucco, I'd call the basic tools a trowel, a hawk, and something for mixing the stucco like a wheelbarrow/shovel).

I'm thinking multimeter, wire stripper/crimper, and dunno if there's anything else. Also don't know how basic or elaborate of a multimeter I should go for.

Any tips greatly appreciated!!


(**Should note that I'm only playing with small stuff - fixing little electronics like outside lighting stuff, garage door opener, etc - I'm taking proper safety precautions and always turning off power / double checking it's off before touching anything, etc)

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Old 08-27-2007, 02:54 PM   #2
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New to electrical - which tools are my basic needs?


One of my personal "must haves" is a set of insulated handled screwdrivers and some Kleins.

An insulated-handled flathead saved my life when working on a 2kW amplifier...NICE light show and it left a nice tattoo on the driver...not a hair went askew on my head...gotta love it...

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Old 08-27-2007, 03:35 PM   #3
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New to electrical - which tools are my basic needs?


Insulated phillips and flat blade screw drivers.
Hacksaw
Wire strippers and romex stripper
Lineman's Pliers
Nut Drivers
Channel Lock Pliers
Tape Measure
Wiggie or multimeter
Pocket knife
Ugly's Electrical pocket hand book.
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Old 08-27-2007, 03:44 PM   #4
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New to electrical - which tools are my basic needs?


And if you are really set on playing electrician....
get KLIEN hand tools especially the 9" linemans, 8" diagonals, and 8" needle nose. And get a decent little bag to carry them in....also Klien....
.... they are expensive, but they work, and last, and last, and last....

That list of tools in the above post is a very good start..... don't get cheap tools ... they don't work ....

I sure hope you don't fall thru that ceiling and your wife has a good laugh at it ...... or a ceiling critter bites you ...... you won't be the 1st in any case ....

Take Care ....
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Old 08-27-2007, 04:04 PM   #5
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New to electrical - which tools are my basic needs?


I would not advise DIYs to buy insulated tools. There is no reason for a DIY to work on a live circuit or in a live panel, and having insulated tools may give them an unfounded confidence to work hot. Insulated tools are expensive, can be easily damaged, and need to be regularly tested to determine if the insulation is intact.
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Old 08-27-2007, 07:00 PM   #6
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New to electrical - which tools are my basic needs?


Quote:
Originally Posted by HouseHelper View Post
I would not advise DIYs to buy insulated tools. There is no reason for a DIY to work on a live circuit or in a live panel, and having insulated tools may give them an unfounded confidence to work hot. Insulated tools are expensive, can be easily damaged, and need to be regularly tested to determine if the insulation is intact.
Yeah the responses indicate I didn't specify my needs very properly. I'm not working on any open/hot circuits - I power off everything because I don't presume to know enough to be comfortable otherwise. I always double check it's not 'hot' by plugging something in or something.

Also, half those tools listed I'd never ever use. The only things I'm playing with are wiring exterior lights, wiring motion sensors into them, I want to try to trouble shoot my garage door opener (it makes noise like it wants to bring it up, but doesn't...), but nothing requiring most of what was mentioned.

Basically I just want to have a tool to make connections (crimper/stripper), and something to tell me if I do have power at a spot (multimeter). There's outlets and wires on the outside that I don't know if they're good or bad, they seem to lead nowhere (I'm an amateur, and even I can see tons of examples of crappy DIY work lol. In fact, the motion sensor / light unit I took down today was in a spot where it was just plugged into the exterior outlets - not actually wired into the house lol. So I take it down, and open it up to check it out. Upon inspection, the power wire for the motion sensor was coupled with the power to the light (every time there's power, the light would have to go on), there were 4 wires connected inside one 'screw connector' (one of which was that misconnected power setup lol), and the ground from the cord they hacked apart to wire it to the outdoor outlet was just hanging loose from the fixture!



but yeah, I'm just trying to do the very basics here, connecting small wires and stuff. (for the time being anyways.... watch everyone's suggestions become more and more important as I come in here asking if I can splice an exterior light into "random big thick power wire 'A'" lol!!!!)
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Old 08-27-2007, 07:50 PM   #7
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New to electrical - which tools are my basic needs?


Just about ALL of them are normally found in a home...

Insulated phillips and flat blade screw drivers ( not insulated, but needed)
Hacksaw (everyone has this)
Wire strippers and romex stripper (not needed, a sharp knife will do)
Lineman's Pliers (a MUST)
Nut Drivers (helpful)
Channel Lock Pliers (definitely in a home, in fact, several sizes)
Tape Measure (come on, many many of them)
Wiggie or multimeter (multimet is handy, tough to troubleshoot w/o one)
Pocket knife (yup)
Ugly's Electrical pocket hand book (if ya wanna play trician)
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Old 08-27-2007, 08:38 PM   #8
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New to electrical - which tools are my basic needs?


Quote:
Originally Posted by JGarth View Post
Just about ALL of them are normally found in a home...

Insulated phillips and flat blade screw drivers ( not insulated, but needed)
I dunno difference between insulated - but my screwdrivers have plastic handles, so I imagine that's insulated... but I don't work with live stuff, so shouldn't be an issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JGarth View Post
Hacksaw (everyone has this)
Check! Just put new blades in actually (though I'm failing to see where I'd be using this for electrical stuff? I'm a *total* newb to electrical, please forgive!)

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Wire strippers and romex stripper (not needed, a sharp knife will do)
Am planning to get a generic crimper/stripper soon (been using razor blades and pliers in leiu of one, but will get one next time I'm at the store). Is there a difference for a 'romex' stripper? I thought romex was just a type of cable, and would work the same with strippers/crimpers, no?

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Originally Posted by JGarth View Post
Lineman's Pliers (a MUST)
What do these do that my regular pliers or needle-nose pliers don't?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JGarth View Post
Nut Drivers (helpful)
Dunno what that is, but I've got ratchet sets, drills, etc for driving anything I can think of...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JGarth View Post
Channel Lock Pliers (definitely in a home, in fact, several sizes)
Never heard of them...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JGarth View Post
Tape Measure (come on, many many of them)
Got one (I would have many, but I'm a stingy guy lol, so even though mine still needs assistance to recoil into itself, I'm keeping that beaten thing til it *really* dies).


Quote:
Originally Posted by JGarth View Post
Wiggie or multimeter (multimet is handy, tough to troubleshoot w/o one)
Need to get one of these - my gf works @ radio shack, so I'm trying to evaluate what kind I need, as she told me they range from cheap/basic to expensive/elaborate. I really don't know what I need in this category.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JGarth View Post
Pocket knife (yup)
Always carry a knife on my person, and keep it sharp, so check!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JGarth View Post
Ugly's Electrical pocket hand book (if ya wanna play trician)
This was brought up several times - I'm all for a book if it's very short / concise, otherwise I prefer the internet. Is this book big/technical, or is it kind of a 'dummy's guide to basic electrical work'?



BTW guys, I wanted to thank you for all the help, electric and plumbing are the only areas of this site that I don't feel some level of confidence.
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Old 08-28-2007, 11:30 AM   #9
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New to electrical - which tools are my basic needs?


Quote:
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I

Ugly's Reference

This was brought up several times - I'm all for a book if it's very short / concise, otherwise I prefer the internet. Is this book big/technical, or is it kind of a 'dummy's guide to basic electrical work'?
Since I happen to have it sitting on my desk and the camera is here.


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Old 08-28-2007, 11:33 AM   #10
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New to electrical - which tools are my basic needs?


Coolness! Looks short and sweet, gonna have to grab a copy!
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Old 08-28-2007, 05:43 PM   #11
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New to electrical - which tools are my basic needs?


Klein lineman's pliers are a tool everyone should have even if you never do the first bit of electrical work. At $25-35 they are expensive but they last a lifetime. I give at least one pair away every chrismas to exclusively non electricians (after all, why would I be buying co-workers tools?). What else in your house can you cut a quarter in half with?
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Old 08-28-2007, 08:16 PM   #12
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New to electrical - which tools are my basic needs?


well, I got a crimper/stripper (<$5!), and a soldering kit (<$8!) to get me going for now

Still need to get a multimeter, but may just hold out until I genuinely need it (there's only a couple spots I'd need to check for power, I can always just do trial/error to figure out if they're live)
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Old 08-28-2007, 08:47 PM   #13
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New to electrical - which tools are my basic needs?


Crimper and soldering gun .. this is goin' be good ....
Perhaps the GF should be the one doin' this wiring.
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Old 08-28-2007, 10:18 PM   #14
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New to electrical - which tools are my basic needs?


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Crimper and soldering gun .. this is goin' be good ....
Perhaps the GF should be the one doin' this wiring.
....I'm missing your point - please elaborate. What makes you think I won't be able to accomplish what I need quickly and efficiently?
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Old 08-29-2007, 04:34 PM   #15
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New to electrical - which tools are my basic needs?


Klein's and wire nuts should bein your head instead of crimper and solder gun.

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