Hey guys! I guess if you’ve read my about me page, you know it was just a matter of time before I wrote about electrical tools. I want to introduce some of you to my industrial electrician tool list. This is a list of tools that an industrial electrician might use on a daily basis. It is NOT every tool that they may ever use nor a comprehensive list that an employer may require. If you are just starting to build your tools out, this will give you an idea of what you will need and an idea of the costs involved. For the pro’s that already have their tools, you may see something that interests you too! Hopefully, I can help someone out.
There is a big difference in niches of the electrical trade so the tools and equipment vary too. I put this together because to some, an electrician is an electrician and they carry a few screwdrivers, wire cutters and a tester. Not so for the industrial electrician. You will notice that most tools I list are Klein brand. Klein is the most widely used brand in the industry so naturally, it’s my go to brand as well. So now to the list…..
I am personally a fan of a bag over carrying a pouch because a single pouch hung on your side is rough on the back and hips. Just my preference. The bag is the foundation of your tools and you will have it for many years to come. So don’t skimp on this. You’ll be glad you didn’t. I selected the Klein 55432 Tradesman Pro Organizer. This bag is 19 inches long X 13 inches wide X 12 inches high. It’s large enough to hold a lot of tools and rugged enough for industrial use. It has a molded rubber base to protect tools from impact and water and a hard, attached lid on the top with latches. You won’t loose this lid. With 17 pockets, tools are organized and easy to see with the bright orange interior lining. One side of the interior is large enough to hold larger tools like a drill or socket set. The handle is a heavy duty, bar type handle to carry even the heaviest loads and with the shoulder strap, can even be carried on the shoulder.
There are many different cutting tools in many different shapes and sizes. These are a few of the most common, every day tools. Most cutting tools serve the purpose of cutting as well as another particular function. The linemans pliers can be used to cut or twist wire and flatten metal. Heck they are even used as a hammer a lot of times!
Diagonal cutters pretty well just cut, however, I have been known to use them for pulling small nails and a few other things that I probably shouldn’t admit to! They can be used to cut a variety of items such as wire, insulation, thin metal and cable ties. They are a must when separating bundles of wires in a starter or some sort of a control panel where plastic ties have been used to lash wires and cables together.
Needle nose or long nose pliers are handy to have in your tool bag. They can be used for a variety of tasks such as reaching into tight spaces to grab the end of a wire or a little screw or just about anything that you need to reach into a tight space for. Most needle nose pliers made for electricians have cutters built in and some even have a hole in the cutter portion for stripping wire like the Klein J203-8N.
Stripping and Crimping
The Klein K12055 heavy duty wire stripper a versatile stripper to have in your tool bag. It strips from #18-#10 AWG solid and #20-#12 AWG stranded wire. It features a flat nose for twisting wire, a cutter blade, #6-32 and #8-32 screw cutter and locking insulated handles so it doesn’t get hung up when removing them out of your bag or tools pouch.
When it comes to crimping connectors to a wire, the last thing you want is a cheap, flimsy crimping tool and run the risk of your connection failing. No good! So Klein’s Journeyman series J1005 crimping and cutting tool gets the job done every time and leaves you with peace of mind in your work, The J1005 features heavy duty comfort grips and a cutter at the nose of the tool and will crimp #22 – #10 insulated or non-insulated solderless terminals.
Screwdrivers and Nut Drivers
Probably the most used tools in your bag are your screwdrivers and nut drivers. I can’t remember any day at work where I didn’t use at least a screwdriver. So quality in this area is very important. The Klein 85704 6 piece Cushion grip screwdriver set is the typical starter set for most industrial electricians and apprentices and will last for years. I still have some of these that are over 30 years old, so they have been a very good investment!
The Klein/Vaco SK234 3 piece holding screwdriver set isn’t something you would use every day, but, try starting a screw in a tight place without one and you’ll see that this set is a must. The tip of the screwdriver is split. When the screw is placed on the tip, the shaft slides up and binds the screw to the tip for easy starting.
This Klein 612-4 is the perfect screwdriver for industrial type terminal screws as well as other small screws. With it’s traditional Klein comfort grip, you can terminate all day long without hand cramp like you get with small grips.
This guy right here is the ultimate screwdriver to have in your hip pocket at all times. The Klein 32500, 11 in 1 screwdriver and nut driver features the classic Klein comfort grip, 3/8″, 5/16″ and 1/4″ nut drivers. With the #1 and #2 phillips, 1/4″ and 3/16″ slotted, T10 and T15 torx and the #1 and #2 square recess tips, you save tons of time and energy running back to your truck or tool box for different tools because the most common electrical fasteners tips are integrated into one tool. Saves weight in you bag or pouch too!
Although the 11 in 1 screwdriver has you covered with three of the most common nut driver sizes, unfortunately there is still the need for a full nut driver set. This Klein 647 nut driver set features the classic Klein comfort grips, 6″ long shanks for reaching over long bolts, and color coded handles to aid in finding the correct size. This set includes 3/16″, 1/4″, 5/16″, 11/32″, 3/8″, 7/16″ and 1/2″ sizes.
Wrenches and Sockets
This Klein D507 – 6,8, 10 and 12 wrench set is a very versatile set that pretty well covers anything you will encounter every day. The patented eXtra capacity jaws open extra wide so a smaller than normal wrench can be used on a larger fastener in tight places and S.A.E and metric marks are etched on the jaws. The plastic dipped handles provide a cushioned, non-slip grip and comfort from hot or cold steel on your bare hand.
The Klein 70574 hex set features 9 hex keys in one set from 5/64″ up to 1/4″. The keys swivel up to 270 degrees to allow for odd angles and the keys are precision fit to avoid stripping. Made from industrial strength steel, this set will last a long time and is guaranteed for the life of the tool.
For larger size hex bolts, the Klein 70570 hex key set is the tool for the job. Like the 70574, the keys swivel up to 270 degrees, have precision fit and are made from industrial grade steel. Sizes range from 3/16″ to 3/8″.
For normal, everyday use, this Klein 65508, 20 piece, 3/8″ drive socket set is a good choice. The quality is excellent as I personally have had the exact set for many years. It comes in a compact, durable metal case with piano hinged lid and a good latch. Small enough to stuff in a tool bag and take to a remote location. Features four-6 point sockets (3/8″, 7/16″, 1/2″ and 9/16″), five-12 point sockets (5/8″, 11/16″, 3/4″, 13/16″ and 3/4″), two extensions (1-3/4″ and 3″) and one 3/8″ ratchet.
To compliment your 3/8″ drive set, the Klein 65500 1/4″ drive set is a handy choice for smaller jobs. Like the 3/8″ drive set, the 1/4″ set is contained in the same type of case and can be stored in a bag and can be taken to remote locations with ease. The set features nine 6 point sockets, spinner handle and ratchet, two extensions 2″ and 6″ long.
The Klein 68402 9-piece combination wrench set is a great addition to your collection. With common 1/4″, 5/16″, 3/8″, 7/16″, 1/2″, 9/16″, 5/8″, 11/16″ and 3/4″ sizes, this set will have you covered for most daily tasks.
I’m not a big fan of non-contact voltage testers, however, they do have their place and I do use them with caution. I always make sure they work on a known live circuit before I trust them. With that in mind, I highly recommend a good quality tester such as the Fluke 1AC-A1-II non-contact voltage tester because I trust the Fluke brand more than any other out there. The tester has a continuous self test function so you know it is working (I still check a known energized circuit) The voltage range for this particular model is 90-1000 VAC. When voltage is detected, the tester glows at the tip and vibrates.
If you are just starting your career as an industrial electrician, this Fluke 323 clamp meter is a good start and won’t break the bank. If you are a seasoned pro, you probably already have a clamp meter and still use it mostly for checking amperage. The Fluke 323 will measure both AC and DC voltages up to 600 volts, measures AC current up to 400 amps and measures continuity. The 323 comes with test leads and a soft case for protection to make your meter last for years to come.
There are cheaper meters out there that will get the job done but, the Fluke 87-5 is in my humble opinion, the best value of any meter that Fluke has ever made. So if you are installing, maintaining or calibrating instruments, testing voltages or temperatures, this is the go to meter. The kit includes the 87-5 meter, test leads, alligator clips, hook clips, type K thermocouple accessory and soft carrying case. The 87-5 will read AC and DC voltages up to 1000 volts, AC and DC current up to 10 amps and has a temperature range from -328 f to 1994 f. This particular model comes right out of the box ready to use with NIST traceable calibration certificate so no worries when that pesky inspector thinks they have one on you and says “where’s your calibration certificate?”
As I said at the beginning of this article, this is not a list of everything you will ever need but it is a good start.
As always, if you have any questions, please leave comments or email me!