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What tools should I get?


mattbaker333

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Why don't you post the list? I'm sure members would be able to give better recommendations then :)

 

Jason has recommended good (premium) brands above. Maybe you would also like to hear of some good-value budget tools that you'll still get years of use from?

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How much do you have to spend? Your budget will dictate what you should get. In my opinion, your most valuable investment will be your multimeter, get a Fluke...don't even consider another brand. Klein for hand tools is pretty much what you're expected to use as an electrician and it's for pretty good reason.

 

If you need to save a few bucks, there's nothing wrong with certain Harbor Freight items...such as your tool bag, screwdrivers, micro flush cutter. Things to avoid(again, just my opinion) wire strippers, crescent wrenches, linesman pliers, anything that cuts(other than the micro flush cutter). Pliers are hit or miss. Keep in mind that these can be temporary tools until you can reinvest, then these become backups.

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The above posters have given great suggestions on some great tool brands that you cannot go wrong with. Klein, Fluke, GreenIee, Milwaukee all make great electrical tools.

I have an idea of what the "I Block Every Walkway" guys need to carry, but if you post the list we can fill in the blanks with what we think is the best in show and you could get an idea of what to look at

I will add a congratulations! It's great seeing more guys get into the trades. As the son of a Sparky I tip my hat to you.

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I have a set of kin suited Irwin pliers, they are pretty nice and have a good ergonomic grip on them. Haven't really seen them in many stores I got mine online. Klein is the big hitter for most electrician tools, their screw drivers are really nice.

Jimbo

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Thank you to everyone who has given input so far and I appreciate the support. Here is the tool list I was given.

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Budget is not an issue, I feel like it's better to purchase high quality tools upfront then to have to replace broken tools or poor quality tools. It seems the consensus so far is for Klein or Knipex.

Also, should I get insulated tools or does it really matter?

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With the price of some premium tools, budget can quickly become an issue if you don't pay attention, and even if tools don't break you may decide you want something different.  I wouldn't go exclusively with knipex and klein because often you'll get the same quality and sometimes different features with other brands.  Of course there are some tools like the pliers wrench and cobras that are either not available or lower quality from other brands.  In particular the teeth on their pliers are very good.

 

Insulated tools don't matter at all...until you work on a live circuit.  Then suddenly they are not optional.

 

For wire strippers I would suggest these, and you may want to swap out the channel locks with push button locks (the knipex cobras and pliers wrench make a great combination).  For a razor knife, the milwaukee fastback is a great option.  Milwaukee also makes some good tin snips, but make sure whatever you buy has a forged, not cast head (Wiss switched from forged to cast recently which tricks many people).  I'm curious why thy only specify straight instead of a full set.  Milwaukee's nut setters are also great because the entire handle is hollow so it slides up threaded rod. I prefer 8" diagonal cutters with some sort of compound action, particularly the Irwin powerslot cutters since the head is more secure than most compound cutters.

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Thanks for the input Jeff. I have a tendency to wanting things to match and have symmetry. I appreciate the encouragement to mix-and-match tools because I know that developing a brand loyalty will limit myself and I don't want to get into that rut. I spent the last 12 years in the Army as a helicopter mechanic and I think I am starting to get some arthritis so I'd like to find screwdrivers with good ergonomics, based on my research this morning people seem to think that Wiha and Wera are good quality and provide good comfort. Any thoughts on screwdrivers?

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To add to your question about Wera, in addition to my Klein tools, I've got several of the Wera tools and I absolutely love them. I also have the 3/8 Zyklop socket set which is phenomenal. I also have three NWS pliers that are excellent.

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I assume then they say '10" channel lock' pliers they mean tongue & groove pliers, and CHANNELLOCK really are the best by all reports

http://www.amazon.com/Channellock-430-2-Inch-Capacity-10-Inch/dp/B00002N5JF/ref=sr_1_2?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1444258920&sr=1-2&keywords=channellock

 

I also swear by the Channellock adjustable wrenches (wideazz), they're awesome. If you need one.

http://www.amazon.com/Channellock-8WCB-WideAzz-Adjustable-Opening/dp/B001I70C34/ref=pd_sim_469_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1KWN7EDMD2S5SJYCMXH4&dpID=31czvuEXk4L&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR160%2C160_

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I've been using Knipex and Wiha almost exclusively for the last 9 years. Not that other brands aren't good, but some tools fit your hand better than others and for me that's where things have settled.

 

I like the Knipex 9-inch combination pliers. I got away from using New England style a while back and find these to be more useful.

 

I buy the Wiha 1000V insulated 6-driver set that they have at Sears. It's around $40 and kicks ass. The forged heads last a long time.

 

Any of the Knipex high leverage adjustable pliers will beat the competition hands down in size/power ratio. I have a set of 10-inch Cobras in my pouch that does 99% of the work I need channelocks for.

 

For testers, I'd recommend starting with a TRMS clamp meter that does at least AC amps and AC/DC volts. You're less likely to blow up a clamp meter by accident since you can't have the leads plugged in wrong on one. Here are a few to look at:

 

Amprobe AMP-210

Fluke 323

Megger DCM320-EN

Hioki 3280-20

 

Any of these would be a decent first meter and all of them are made by companies that both design and produce their own products (unlike brands like Klein, Milwaukee, Ideal, Greenlee et al.).

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Couldn't disagree with dwain more on this one. I'm not an electrician, but a general contractor and since you say budget isn't top concern... Channel makes good stuff, but they don't compare to Knipex. They have superior grip due to a decreased surface area, keep your fingers from being pinched by design, and offer more fine adjustment than Channel. You don't need to squeeze the handles as you add pressure to provide a 100% lock, you can set them with your pinky finger and stand on them they grab so hard.

 

For everything you can buy in Knipex, do it. For everything else, buy Klein. 

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I started my reply this morning and posted it now without seeing your list. Here are some thoughts:

 

Pliers - handle them before buying if possible. I still recommend Knipex as the best.

 

Hammer - I'd go with a Klein - reason being that many of the hammers sold in hardware stores nowadays have handles that won't fit in a ladder top and you'll want to be able to do that sooner or later.

 

10" channellocks - Knipex Cobras if you can afford them. They beat anything else out there by a mile.

 

Tape measure - I like the 16' idea, but if you can find a 1" wide tape, go with that. Standout on a 3/4" tape is going to be awful

 

Screwdrivers - go with the Wiha set. You probably won't need anything else for a long time.

 

Diagonal pliers - I'll second the need for 8" handles. 6" dykes won't have anywhere near the leverage you need to cut real wires.

 

Torpedo level - get something out of machined aluminum with a groove on the bottom and rare-earth magnets. I have a Stabila and love it, but there are other brands that make good ones.

 

Keyhole saw - I don't waste my money on these. I recommend a Milwaukee folding saw that accepts sawzall blades. It doubles as both a drywall and metal cutting saw.

 

Wire strippers - get a pair that does at least 18-10 AWG to start. Most are made by the same US manufacturer, so it probably doesn't matter which you choose.

 

Crimpers - I'm assuming that they mean pliers type. If so, make sure to get the ones with indents for both insulated and non-insulated crimps. Klein or TNB are both good ones

 

Tool pouch - Check out the Veto Pro Pac TP4

 

Also, get yourself a Fluke 1AC-A1-II non-contact tester. I think it's the best there is and it might save your life.

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Thanks for the input Jeff. I have a tendency to wanting things to match and have symmetry. I appreciate the encouragement to mix-and-match tools because I know that developing a brand loyalty will limit myself and I don't want to get into that rut. I spent the last 12 years in the Army as a helicopter mechanic and I think I am starting to get some arthritis so I'd like to find screwdrivers with good ergonomics, based on my research this morning people seem to think that Wiha and Wera are good quality and provide good comfort. Any thoughts on screwdrivers?

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I love matching tool sets too, but when I'm extremely limited by how much I can carry so most of what I carry needs to have extra functionality or work for things outside its intended design.

 

My preferred screwdriver is none.  I have one precision and one regular socket screwdriver that are used only when I can't bring a drill or impact.  Last time I needed a regular screwdriver for some recessed security torx I finally cut off the handle and stuck the remaining shaft of the screwdriver in my drill.  I think this is a particularly good idea in your case because arm fatigue is a problem regardless of screwdriver handle.  A 12V drill or impact won't take up much space and you get a huge boost in speed and functionality.  If that isn't an option you can try a spiral ratcheting screwdriver where you push in on the handle and the spiral ratchet spins the bit.  They're bulky but help with arm fatigue immensely.

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I ersonally think Wera are the best screwdrivers around. They come in insulated variety and are very reasonable price. For pliers and cutters Knipex are great as are NWS and CK. Btw Knipex do make for other brands and are often cheaper with the other name, ie Draper here in the UK. I can't speak for Klein as here in the UK they are ridiculously expensive. Due to a single importer who clearly consume a lot of narcotics before their pricing meetings at their office.

I note your list does not include a meter but if you did need one I would recomend Fluke and also would consider a clamp version. I use a Fluke 325 as a marine engineer as I need the ability to measure volts, continuity and resistance but also the need to measure current without breaking the circuit. For crimpers I always go for ratchet type as these give a far superior crimp. Get a version with interchangeable jaws if you need to do insulated and non insulated. Or just a cheap pair of each. Cheap ratchet crimpers will all give a better crimp than expensive non ratchet crimpers. Strippers are a personal item. Some guys like auto, some traditional, some old boys just like using a knife. Find a version that feel comfortable in your hand and that you can use over and over with good results. For a bag, yes Veto pro pack are awseome but so is their price point. Many manufacturers offer good bags. Get one with a hard plastic base and comfortable carrying system.

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I'll jump in.

Get a Fluke meter. Period!

For your basic hand tools go with Klein. They cater to Electritions and you'll come to appreciate that. I'm not saying Klein makes the best of any of these items with the possible exception of Linesmen's, but they are great quality and will serve you well.

Screwdrivers: I'm not a fan of Klein screwdrivers. It's not so much a knock on Klein as it is cushion grip drivers in general. They don't like oil and chemicals and as a general purpose or mechanics driver they are pretty impractical. It's not like you are going to be in oily environments, and you will be using them A LOT, so cushion grips might be ideal for you, they just aren't for me. The Proto Duratek screw/nut drivers are my personal favorites, but the Wera Kraftforms are a close second.

Pliers: I'm a Channellock guy. 20+ pair of them and not a complaint to be had. That being said, I think in the electrical field I'd go Knipex. The Cobra's will provide much more finesse than the Channy's. The Cobras annoy me on anything over 1/2" though. I'd get 1 pair of Cobras and 1 pair of the Knipex pliers wrench and have all bases covered. You'll find that each one shines in different situations.

Snips: Go with Midwest. They are the best by far IMO.

Hammer: Go Estwing. I'd even go with the fancy leather handle. For what you're doing (not driving nails all day) Estwing durability will be your friend. I'd also suggest straight claw to help in inevitable prying situations.

As opposed to a tool box, I'd take the liberty to go with a Veto bag. They are the finest bags made and will last you for years as opposed to a box that will break a handles every couple of years.

That's my $ .02 anyway

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