What Are the Essential Items for the Amateur Electrician's Tool Box?

13 January 2017
 Categories: , Blog


If you've made up your mind to perform your own minor electrical repairs, there are some tools and supplies that you should keep on hand. While you can run to the local home improvement store for any of these supplies, it's a pain to stop in the middle of a project to run to the store for a common item.

Here is a list of tools and supplies that will serve your needs for most of the electrical repairs around the home.


Voltage meter: This tool is essential for safety, because it is used to determine if an electrical component is powered before repairing or replacing it. It eliminates the greatest risk for both amateur and professional electrician alike, which is the chance of electric shock or electrocution.

Wire cutter/stripper tool: This tool is used in nearly every project that involves new wiring. The tool is designed to both cut sheaths of wires and the individual wires within them, but also to strip the insulation from the ends of the individual wires for connection purposes.

The blades are designed so that all cutting is done at the pivot point of the cutters, the point closest to the handles. The blades themselves have numbered slots that represent gauges (thicknesses) of wire. This is used for stripping the insulation from the wire ends.

For example, if you are working with 14 gauge wire, you play the wire into the slot marked "14" and close the blades. You then pull the wire through the closed blades and the insulation is cut cleanly with no nicks or cuts to the wire itself.

Wire Fish Tape: This tool is essential for pulling wire through walls. It consists of a thin flat metal cable on a reel that resembles a large flat retractable measuring tape. You use it by "fishing" the cable from the destination point of your project through walls and ceilings to the location where the wiring will originate.

You then attach the sheath of wire to the end of the cable and "fish" the wire to the destination point.The flexibility of the cable allows you to go around corners and obstructions inside the walls.


Wire nuts and electrical tape: Both of these items are used in nearly every application where wire ends must be connected together. Wire ends are first twisted together, then the wire nut, which resembles the cap of a toothpaste tube, is twisted onto the wire ends in the same direction to secure the connection. Electrical tape is then wrapped around the open end of the wire nut to deal the connection. Electrical tape can also be used to cover tiny cuts or worn spots in electric wiring.

15 amp outlets and light switches: These are two items that cost less than a dollar each, but are useful to keep on hand if they need to be replaced.

Wire: Wire is the most expensive of supplies. However, you can stock both a roll of 14 gauge for working on 15 amp circuits and a roll of 12 gauge for work on 20 amp circuits for under one hundred dollars. 

Lamp replacement cords: Although these inexpensive cords are designed for lamps, they can also be used as a substitute for hard wiring a new wall sconce light or vanity light. You can simply power the light with the lamp cord instead of wiring it directly into an existing electrical circuit. It's a lot less work but you need to have an electrical outlet near the location of the new light.

To learn more, contact companies like McDonald Electric.