Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > The Gear and Tool Review Board

Favorite Electrical Tools

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Doing a kitchen reno at home and I really miss my electrician's tools. I never should have sold them, but that was a different time. Regular hardware store stuff is crap and has made my work harder. So I splurged and bought a pair of Klein 1412CAN wirestrippers and Klein linesman pliers. Good to have them in my hands. I had the pliers before and already knew I'd like them. They are NOT insulated against electrical shock, but I also know to lock out a circuit I'm working on.

The 1412CAN wirestrippers are amazing! They are notched so you can easily remove the outer sheath on 14-2 and 12-2 wiring, plus have the usual excellent features of other Klein wirestrippers. The CAN designation is because this specific model is for use in Canada. There are 1412's for the US, but I really don't know what the difference is.

Anyway, if you're looking for reliable electrician-grade tools, I recommend Klein. No, I am in no way compensated by them. They don't even know I exist.

Ideal brand is pretty good too, and typically less expensive. Perfect if you only do electrical once in a while or are starting your apprenticeship. Still have my Ideal flathead from way back when. Love it.

If you're doing any sort of instrumentation or stainless steel tube work, I recommend Swagelock for their tubing cutters and benders. So much easier on the hands than any other brand I've worked with. I don't do any of that anymore, but I still miss my cutter and benders.

What are your favorite electrical tools?

I like Klein as well.  I have done several minor but extensive electrical projects around the house.  The house is 30 yrs old, so many things need replacement or I wanted to upgrade (GFCI outlets, fans, switches and grounded outlets, timers, LED, light fixtures).  I started out with a mish-mash of old tools and got frustrated (worn out, sloppy fit, not precise) so ended up gradually adding more and more Klein tools.  Makes a world of difference if you are doing lots of screws, nuts, wires, crimping.  I finally got a dedicated belt pouch and tool bag just for my electrical tools and testers so they are all in one place and I don't use the precise, sharp edged screwdrivers to pry paint can lids or to torque out stuck rusted screws.

From what I have seen at the local electrical supply house Klein may be a middle of the road brand for professionals.  Seems some German brands are more top tier.  But for the serious DIYer or starting professional Klein is affordable quality.  At least as far as basic tools like screwdrivers, wire cutters and strippers, lineman pliers, nut drivers, and multimeters (not in the class of Fluke but decent and way cheaper).  I haven't got into conduit bending and cutting, circuit breakers, or other heavier duty work.

Home Depot here carries a small selection of Klein tools, along with the Chinese made Greenlee (looks decent, but...)  The nearby electrical house (Platt Electric) carries and extensive line fo Klein tools and will special order, as well as some fo the higher end German brands.

It really depends on what you are doing and how much of it.  For small scope and occasional use then Husky brand or similar is plenty good enough and much cheaper.  But if you do a lot of electrical work then it is nice to have tools designed specifically for electrical work, like that swivel small flathead screwdriver for quickly removing and installing face plate screws! And the Klein screw drivers have a very solid rubber grip like the premium version of other brands which you would pay more for anyway.  And if you do projects with other guys I found most do not have Klein so it is much easier to keep tools sorted out by owner.  On a project with several guys (non-professonals) over half will have Husky, a couple with Craftsman, a few with off brands, and probably no one else with Klein.  But keep a sharp eye out if not a group of friends because Klein is coveted and seem to "walk away".

Almost exclusively Klein screwdrivers, nutdrivers, only Klein linesmans pliers, diagonal cutters, and strippers.

Ideal hand conduit benders.

Greenlee is decent in a pinch. I use the receptacle/GFCI tester almost daily.

Estwing 22oz straight claw hammer for driving staples, etc. Kobalt 16ft tape measure.

Klein makes a geat electrician's tool pouch, but the box store knockoffs are good, too.

David in MN:
I don't do a lot of electrical work but I have built a few lamps and my wife (she's an electrical engineer) does do wiring from time to time. I have mostly Klein products but for anything screw related I am 100% Felo these days.

I have a little of everything in hand tools. Mechanical and woodworking and general putzing.
A lot of snap-on, and some have slowly been lost. Pliers and cutters and such that are used very often.
I have been replacing those with Klein and find they are just as good as snap-on.
I do not have a good household wiring stripper, just automotive strippers that I make due with.


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