clock menu more-arrow no yes

Top 7 Tools for Electrical Projects

Master electrician Heath Eastman shows host Kevin O’Connor the tools he uses the most during day-to-day electrical work.

Electricians use a lot of tools, but some are more indispensable than others. Read on to learn about the top essential tools electricians use for most projects.

7 Common Electrical Tools Explained

Linesman’s Pliers

linesman’s pliers iStock

Electricians use linesman’s pliers for almost everything. These pliers have flat noses designed for twisting wires tightly. They also have cutting edges for cutting wires to length and stripping the jackets off individual wires.

And, since they’re tough and heavy, electricians will often use linesman’s pliers as a makeshift hammer to drive staples, punch holes in electrical boxes, and more.

Non-Contact Voltage Tester

Electricians need to know if the circuits they’re working on are energized or not, and while a voltmeter will do the trick, a non-contact voltage tester is much faster. These devices detect voltage and alert to its presence. The user can place close to a wire or outlet, and should the light go from green to red (in most cases, check your manual), the voltage tester indicates that the circuit is energized.

Combination Screwdriver

multi-bit screwdriver iStock

Electricians have many screwdrivers, nut drivers, and other tools. But many of their most common hardware uses the same tips, such as #2 square drive for breakers, #2 Phillips and flat tips for outlets and wall plates, and ¼ and 5/16-inch nut drivers for light fixtures and the like.

Rather than carry all those screwdrivers, most electricians enjoy the convenience of a combination screwdriver, which can offer tips for 11 or more different fastener types—all in one screwdriver.

Side Cutters or Diagonal Cutters

side cutters iStock

Occasionally, an electrician can’t get their linesman’s pliers into a tight spot, requiring something with a little more finesse. That’s exactly what diagonal cutters are for: They fit in tight places for cutting wires or removing staples. They’re not as heavy-duty as a pair of linesman’s pliers, so they’re not a suitable hammer stand-in.

Wire Stripper

wire stripper iStock

Electricians have quite a few ways to strip wires, but a tool designed specifically for the job is often the fastest. These tools can quickly remove wire sheathing, strip wires of several sizes, and bend perfect hooks for outlets or ground wires. These tools are often spring-loaded, as well, making one-hand use a breeze.

Torpedo Level

Most electricians take great pride in their work, and a handy torpedo level will help. These levels are small and feature at least one magnetic side for attaching to metal conduit or electrical boxes. They also feature several angles, including two 90-degree bubbles, a 45-degree bubble, and a 30 or 60-degree bubble.

Dust Shroud

dust shroud for cordless drill

Recessed lighting is trendy but cutting all those holes in a ceiling is a messy endeavor. An electrician can fit their drill with a dust shroud rather than letting all of that drywall dust fall to the ground. These flexible bowls sit behind the hole saw and collect all the dust the falls from drilling, making clean-up much faster.