Electrical jobs can range from the simple jobs such as replacing a fuse, to more complex jobs like rewiring a house. To undertake many of these jobs you will need a wide selection of general tools e.g. power drills, hammers, screwdrivers etc. These tools and many more have been described in other parts of this website. This section covers tools that are required for specific electrical jobs along with some additional general tools that are not featured elsewhere on the website.
These versatile pliers should be part of every DIY enthusiast’s tool kit. When carrying out electrical work they can be used to twist cable conductor cores before connecting them to terminals. The pliers’ cutting jaws can be used to cut cable and flex.
Long-nose pliers (also known as Needle-nose pliers) are mainly used for electrical work. Their long gripping “nose” provides excellent control for reaching into awkward spaces inaccessible to combination pliers. These pliers also have cutting jaws close to the pliers’ joint that can be used to cut cable and flex.
These pliers have V-shaped cutting jaws to remove core insulation cleanly. There is a screw to adjust the closing gap of the jaws to accommodate different sizes of cable and flex.
Multi-purpose wire strippers
Multi-purpose wire strippers or wire crimpers will strip the insulation from cable and flex of different sizes without damaging the wire. To use, grip the cable or flex in the appropriate sized crimper and rotate the wire strippers around the insulation, keeping the handles gripped firmly together. As the insulation is not bonded to the wire, once it has been cut through it can be easily pulled off. This tool is also fitted with cutting jaws.
A simple set of side cutters is probably the best tool for cutting cable and flex to the required length. Similar in appearance to pliers they are also called diagonal cutters.
These long, narrow screwdrivers are designed to tighten or loosen terminal screws in electrical appliances and sockets. Terminal screwdrivers are distinguishable from other screwdrivers by the plastic insulating sleeve on the metal shaft. A smaller version of the terminal screwdriver is available for working on very small electrical fittings. Buy a good quality screwdriver as the tips of cheaper terminal screwdrivers are made from softer metal which will soon bend out of shape.
An insulated screwdriver for testing whether there is a live voltage in components and terminals. If the tip of the screwdriver comes into contact with a live terminal or conductor a light comes on.
Circuit continuity tester
A circuit continuity tester is battery operated and will have two wires, each with a test probe attached. Alternatively one wire will have a test probe attached while the other wire will have a small crocodile clip attached to its end. It can be used to check for a continuous electrical flow between points in a circuit and to check that a plug in an appliance is earthed. When the tester detects a flow of electricity an indicator light will come on. Some testers will also have an audible indicator such as a buzzer. Always switch off the power at the consumer unit before you begin to carry out any testing with a continuity tester.
This is a simple to use tester for checking that a socket outlet has been wired up correctly. The tester plugs into the socket and three neon indicators will light up if the Live, Earth and Neutral cores are connected to the correct terminals. The socket tester will also feature a series of diagrams indicating how the neon lights will be lit should one or more of the cores be connected to the wrong terminals.
Fuse testers are inexpensive and easy to use. If faced with a circuit failure, simply remove the cartridge fuses one by one and test them to discover if any of them have blown. Some models have a facility to test whether batteries are flat and if light bulbs have blown.
This type of knife will have a sliding retractable blade. The blades can be replaced when worn.
A small hand tool used to regrind new threads on electrical mounting boxes, faceplates etc.
Cable connector tool
A small hand tool used for connecting conductors from a phone cable to the terminals.
This meter can measure the current, voltage and resistance of electric circuits.