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I always seem to tackle a small electrical project around the house, from installing a new ceiling fan or dimmer to updating a a bathroom wall light or a kitchen lamp. After hours of searching through drawers for the right tool or part, I found an inexpensive power tool kit to make all of my wiring projects a breeze!
None of the items will break the bank and the entire tool kit will set you back around $75, but having a handy collection of power tools and supplies on hand doesn't have to be. of price ! Here's how to create your own homeowner-friendly power tool kit:
Essential Power Tool Kit
Splacavi (from $15 for $20): A good pair of wire strippers should include a wire stripper gauge (for stripping insulation from wires) that fits all major wire types and sizes, as well as built-in wire cutters and a needle clamp type tip to bend the end of the wire. For many DIY jobs, this is the only pair of pliers you'll need.
They are lightweight and ideal for detail work.
Wire Cutters ($20): A heavy-duty pair of wire cutters will save days where it has to do with insulating hard and difficult wires to cut that one finds in the old houses. Most light electrical work doesn't require a lot of wire cutting, but sometimes you need to cut off a frayed end or strip insulation to give you more slack. Look for a pair large enough with insulated handles that can handle a variety of yarn thicknesses.
Voltage Tester ($10): A non-contact voltage tester is an invaluable tool for seeing if current is flowing through a wire .
Even if I turn off the switch, I always check with a voltage tester before cutting or working on a wire, in case there is more than one circuit connected to the box. A voltage tester is also great for troubleshooting when something isn't working properly.
Screwdriver ($10 or less) - you'll need both slotted and Phillips screwdrivers (or a screwdriver with interchangeable bits) for the works electrical. A light and inexpensive screwdriver set will work well for DIY electrical work. Insulated (non-conductive) screwdrivers are available, but if you're careful when using your voltage tester, you shouldn't need them!
Fish Tape ($10 and up, optional): A fish tape is only necessary if you have embarked on a ambitious electrical project project involving pulling or "fishing" cables through walls. Rigid tape is inserted into the wall and at the other end to help guide the wire. You don't need fishing tape for simple jobs like replacing a handle; but if you ever need it, you really will need it!
Electrical Tape ($3/roll): This black elastic tape can be used to repair small nicks in cables, mark cables to various purposes and cover and insulate cable nut connections. Electrical tape is also available in a range of colors for use in marking and distinguishing wires.
You can also use brightly colored electrical tape to mark your tools so that no one runs off with them.
Wire Nuts ($2/pack): Your power tool kit also needs an assortment of different sized wire nuts to screw onto the wire connections of different sizes. Many fixtures come with wire nuts, but depending on the gauge of your home's wiring, they may not be the right size. Having extras on hand in a variety of sizes will save you a trip to the hardware store if you find yourself running out.
Screw Assembly ($1/pack): You also need a collection of screws for mounting switches, outlets, and lamps on the electrical box.
Although appliances, switches, and outlets often come with mounting screws, they are often too long or too short to fit in the electrical box. No more rummaging through the garage for spare screws! Look for #6-32 machine screws and purchase a variety of lengths.
Faceplate Screws ($4/pack): It also wouldn't hurt to pick up a set of faceplate mounting screws , in case you lose one. They are also size n. 6-32, but are usually specially packaged with rounded white, steel or brass heads to match decorative fronts.
You can also purchase an electrician's screw kit that includes an assortment of faceplates and mounting screws ($10).
Cover plates ($) 1). or more each): When replacing wall cover plates (faceplates) on switches and outlets (outlets), go ahead and buy a few more while you're at it for future repairs. As I have found on more than one occasion, even so-called "indestructible" cover plates are quite easy to break and it can be difficult to find a match along the way!
Container ($0-$20): Your power tool kit container can be anything from a bucket recycled repurposed to a stylish tool box or tool belt. I used an empty dishwasher detergent tray, which has a hinged lid that easily stacks on the shelf where I can find it.
For easy identification, I labeled my power tool kit with a piece of tape!