Tools are the money-making devices of installers, and even mundane ones have been redesigned for increased efficiency and performance.

The electrician's tool belt is seeing many product innovations. A new fishtape, for example, includes a rotating center hub and a winding knob, for much faster rewinding. New pliers self-adjust their jaws to nine different settings with the squeeze of one hand. A convertible handheld head-lamp weighs one-third of previous models, yet produces the same amount of light. A new wire-pulling lubricant uses a Teflon-based formulation for easier and smoother cable pulls. Another uses an advanced wax-based formula. There are new lubricants formulated specifically for fiberoptic cables, cold weather, and hot weather.

Larger tools are also seeing improvements. A new cable-puller can pull up to 8000 lbs. Its direct gear drive is compact, lightweight, and low-maintenance. Quick pins and attachments allow mounting the puller to conduit or concrete floor.

A new circuit identifier's transmitter and receiver work together to quickly locate and identify any circuit breaker or fuse protecting energized single-phase 120VAC circuits without guesswork or interruption. A new line tracer consists of a transmitter, receiver, and ground-plate/ground-rod assembly. It comes with an operating manual and hard carrying case. The signal finds the underground service one of two ways: Inductively, with the transmitter placed on the ground over the line; or conductively, using the ground-plate assembly with the transmitter. Thanks to the coupling clamp, insulated pipes or other service lines do not stop the tracer from working. The tracer has a digital display, audio and visual indicators, automatic gain controls, digital signal processing, and simplified controls.

Now, there's a dieless 500kcmil crimping tool so advanced it can make 500kcmil crimp with less force than it takes to crimp 250kcmil with a standard 250kcmil dieless tool. The tool requires only a single crimp, instead of the 10 to 20 for hydraulic tools, and its small head allows it to fit into tight places. There's also a line of battery-powered crimping tools, with more crimps per charge than previous generations.

Advances in battery technology make cordless tools more powerful and convenient. Cordless drills now can do the work previously left to cord-powered drills only a year ago. Improvements go beyond better batteries, however. For example, one manufacturer introduced heavy-duty 18V tools (including a drill with a 1/2-in. chuck), which provide extra power and run-time. These tools raise the bar for performance in extreme applications.

Battery charger improvements make cordless tools more practical by allowing full battery recharges in 15 min while eliminating overcharging. Electronic feedback circuitry helps tools minimize vibration, produce less noise, work under greater load while maintaining speed, and provide soft, easy starts.

Electronic clutch circuitry in drills eliminates the mechanical parts of clutches. Further, the electronic clutch cuts off power when the proper torque setting is met, preventing the stripping of screws and the snapping of bolts.

There's a bright silver lining in many a cloud. From an accident in which a person was shocked driving a ground rod came the inspiration for an insulated ground rod impact driver.

Category Thirteen

READER'S CHOICE

These items have appeared over the past year in EC&M's Product News section and received the highest reader response in their category.

Tool belt

The Super-Belt eliminates the problem of a regular tool belt that places all the weight on one side of the body. With its new concept, it provides a good weight distribution of tools around the body. The Super-Belt is made of leather with riveted holders fabricated to last years of hard use.

Seatek

Ground rod driver

The new Ramrod Driver is an innovative, versatile, one-person manually operated tool that safely drives ground rods, marker rods, temporary grade stakes, and T-type posts through most soil conditions. Utilizes a weld-free, ergonomic design to help eliminate missed hits, absorb shock and vibration, reduce noise, and prevent "mushrooming" of the top of the driven ground rod, while enhancing worker safety and preventing fatigue.

Buchanan Construction Products

Locknut and reaming pliers

This highly versatile plier tightens conduit lock-nuts, fittings, and caps, and also reams the inside and outside of EMT conduit. The special long-nose design makes it easy to both tighten and loosen locknuts on electrical boxes and in hard-to-reach areas where conduit fittings are used. It is designed for fittings on either EMT thin-wall or rigid-wall conduit.

Klein Tools

Tool carriers

A new line of four different style tool carriers is available. The carriers feature rigid double-wall construction for greater durability than single wall bags. Model 615B has a vinyl exterior and water-resistant seams, and Model 615S is a larger version of 615A, measuring 20L x 8W x 11H in. Model 602 features a zipper top and two outside pockets.

Gould Shawmut

Locknut tool

This product is a practical, useful wrench for tightening and removing electrical locknuts of various shapes and sizes. Comes in various configurations, including 1/2, 3/4, 1, and up to 6 in. Made of steel alloy, it has a "C"-shaped head that fits different sizes and shapes.

Takas Locknut Tool

Wire and cable tacking systems

The 7514S and 7510S UL-listed 5/8 in. and 7/8 in. staples are designed for use in installing nonmetallic sheathed cable up to No. 12 and No. 14. The company's wire and cable tacking systems eliminate the repetitive chore of placing individual staples by hand and hammering them in one at a time. The tacker's nose is specially contoured to guide every staple over the cable to prevent penetration of the cable jacket.

Arrow Fastener

Category Thirteen

PRODUCT REVIEW

Wire stripper

The WC10 is useful for producing short runs of cut pieces of wire, tubing, or sleeving, at an economical price. Can cut wires from 14-28AWG into lengths from .10 in. to 8 1/8 in. Is easy to set up and use.

Rush Wire Strippers/Eraser

Cable cutting tools

Four new cutting tools feature sharp, precision ground blades for clean, distortion-free cutting of copper and aluminum cable. Type CTR-2/0 cable cutter cuts up to 2/0 cable. Type CTR-350 cable cutters cut cable up to 350kcmil, and Type CTR-500 cable cutters cut cable up to 500kcmil. Type CTR-750 can cut 750kcmil and smaller sized cable.

ILSCO

Tool holder

The 4RM is designed for the worker who wants to have every thing he/she needs close at hand. Easily fits over clothing. The 20 packets organize those small bits and drivers, ready for immediate access. Two pockets are accessible from both sides. Velcro straps provide easy adjustment.

Paktek

Cable tacker

With the new PowerFast Cable Tacker system, one tool and two staple sizes will handle most general wire and fastening jobs. Fasten round or flat wire up to 5/32 in. or round cable up to 1/4 in. dia. The product's lightweight ergonomic design reduces hand fatigue and takes less effort to operate.

DESA International

Wire pulling lubricant

This wire pulling lubricant, the Yellow 77 Plus, includes superior lubricity qualities of Teflon. Product has a greater usable temperature range and lower coefficient of friction than wax-based lubricants. Can be used and stored in high temperature extremes without breakdown (stability from 30 [degrees] F to 190 [degrees] F).

Ideal Industries, Inc.

Boring tool

A 1 3/4-in. model is added to the line of Harmmerhead Mole pneumatic boring tools. Designed for shallow bores connecting services to buildings, the tool is simple to reverse - just turn the air hose one-quarter turn counter-clockwise. Another quarter turn clockwise returns the tool to forward.

Vermeer Mfg.

Electrical tape

The Super 33+, Super 88 and 35 Vinyl electrical tapes are improved for better performance in extreme temperatures. Increased adhesion ensures the tapes remain sticky and adhere smoothly in low temperatures and still do not ooze or melt in high temperatures.

3M Electrical Products Div.

Contactor burnisher

Model No. N-318 is a heavy-duty nonresidual contact burnisher that has the following characteristics: Insulated plastic handle eliminates possible shocks or shorts when working with live contacts; use of the product leaves no filings, grit, dust, or film on contacts. The item is flexible, with enough stiffness to apply the right pressure to the contact face while offering minimum wear.

Neuses Tools/P.K. Neuses

Pocket plier

The Pocket Power Plier (P3) uses gear-driven compound leverage to generate, with the same hand strength, twice the wire cutting and plier holding power of conventional tools. Comes standard with a fine oiled leather sheath. Includes needle nose pliers, grippers, and wire cutters, serrated drop point blade, and large, small, and Phillips screwdriver.

SOG Specialty Knives

Tool rentals

A full rental line of electrical contractor tools and equipment covers all the contractor needs from bending, threading, and crimping to cable pulling.

General Equipment & Supply

Wire stripper

The Ultimate Dual-Stripper is an ergonomically advanced 2-in-1 tool that slits and strips common flat and round outer NM sheathed cable insulation without damaging the inner wire insulation. Accommodates NM sheathed cable insulation sizes 10-2, 10-3, 12-2, 12-3, 14-2, and 14-3. A retractable steel hook knife allows for handy longitudinal slitting of flat and round NM sheathed cable insulation.

Buchanan Construction Products

Power tool

An improved model of the Roto-Skinner (RSK 155A) power tool now has a dial-in-depth of cut control to strip long lengths of cables, including fiberoptic, armored, welded CLX type or MC with steel or aluminum casing, or any cable with tough insulation. Mighty-Miter (MM-175) can cut perfectly square any tubing such as EMT, angle bar, extrusion, threaded rods, etc., from 3/16 in. to 2 in. O.D. The tool can be used directly at the construction site.

Seatek

Cable shears, plier wrench

The Knipex Cable Shear, a double-jaw cable shear, easily cuts copper and aluminum cable up to 1 in. in thickness. The front jaw completes the initial cut while the second jaw provides the finishing cut. The Knipex Plier Wrench offers the versatility of a plier with the convenience of a wrench.

Anglo American Enterprises

Crimping tool

The Gator battery-powered crimping tool has a 16.8V battery to deliver high power and up to 50 crimps per charge. To save time, the product's ram travel is 30% faster and retracts only 1/2 in. when full crimping pressure has been reached, just enough to clear the connector to reduce time between crimps.

Greenlee Textron

Tape-fed machine for terminals

The TFM (Tape-Fed Machine) is capable of installing any of the three popular types of terminals (sizes 22-10) without changing dies or applicators. Automatically installs vinyl-insulated, nylon-insulated, or bare connectors. Operators can crimp from 1500 to 2500 terminals per hour. There are no adjustments or calibrations.

Burndy Electrical

High-duty tape

The 77 Plyglas Glass Cloth Tape has exceptional tear and abrasion resistance under continual high temperature conditions. Product is a 7-mil woven glass fabric tape with a thermosetting rubber-based pressure sensitive adhesive. Provides dependability even in temperatures rising up to 130 [degrees] C.

Plymouth Rubber

Offset bends

The product makes perfect offsets every time in one motion. Bend from 0 to 45 degrees, an offset of up to 25 in., and seven sizes of pipe without changing shoes. The bender will bend 1/2 in., 3/4 in., and 1 in. EMT; 1/2 in. and 3/4 in. IMC; and rigid; plus PVC-coated pipe.

J. Evans

Wire mesh grips

Offered is a full line of Flexcor support, pulling, and strain relief wire mesh grips. Support grips come with attachment options and can accommodate special configurations requiring added corrosion resistance. Pulling grips are available. Various strain relief devices are available for indoor or outdoor applications, with bus drop cable or liquidtight conduit.

Pass & Seymour/Legrand

Reciprocating saw

The Mighty-Miter MM-175 consists of a clamping vise with an adjustable quick clamping system. The vise and clamping assembly swings up toward the reciprocating blade. Product can be quickly engaged or disengaged.

Seatek

Safety screwdriver

The HOTROD safety screwdriver has a translucent amber handle that flashes red when the blade contacts live voltage. Rated for use from 50V to 600V. The red, double insulated blade shows yellow through the insulation if it has been cut. The 6 x 1/4 in. cabinet blade fits outlet cover screws and large panel lugs.

TASCO

Conduit tool

This tool serves as a conduit reamer and a conduit-fitting screwdriver. The hooded blade is used to tighten overhead conduit fittings. As a conduit reamer, the item smoothes and removes burrs from the ends of 1/2, 3/4, and 1 in. thin-wall conduit.

Klein Tools

Tool for cable preparation

The Cablematic Tool saves time and reduces costs for the drop cable installer. The Universal Drop Trimmer (UDT) has interchangeable blade cassettes to perform cable industry standard preparations to SCTE and Bellcore specifications. Will do 1/4-in. and 1/2-in. Braid preparation for Series 59, 6, 7, 11 cables.

Ripley

Hand tools

This nonferrous tools group consists of nonsparking, nonmagnetic products that include screwdrivers, pliers, box/open end wrenches, and socket sets. The tools are insulated with C-Red/CII insulation for work on circuits energized up to 1000VAC.

Cementex Products

Wire reel

The Wiremaster Reel is designed to ease the handling of coils of wire on the jobsite and in the shop. Holds 250 ft of coiled wire as well as armored cable, tubing, rope, etc. It is a lightweight, durable, and low-cost solution for handling wire.

NSI Industries

Saw

The Super Sawzall (Model 6537-22) uses the Quik-Lok Blade Clamp that allows the operator to insert and clamp saw blades without using a hex key. A built-in heat shield keeps the blade clamp cool for quick blade changes. The clamp accepts standard 1/2-in. shank blades. Also features an impact protection system that absorbs impacts and eliminates blade lockups and motor stalls.

Milwaukee Electric Tool

Piercing tool

The 3 1/3-in.-dia pneumatic piercing tool can easily install 2-in.-dia. pipe or conduit, even with bell joints that can reach 2 3/4-in. dia. Provides accurate results for bores up to 150 ft in a variety of conditions, including rocky soils.

TT Technologies

Hollow-shaft nutdrivers

This series of nine 6-in., hollow-shaft nutdrivers reaches into deep recesses and fits over extra long bolts and studs to tighten and loosen fasteners. The handle dome of each driver is color-coded to hex sizes.

Klein Tools

Fiberoptic cable puller

The 1996 model Fiber Optic Cable Puller is 30% lighter and offers bidirectional pulling capabilities. This improves its transportability and eliminates time-consuming setup changes. It offers a patented tension measuring and sets new standards for safe, accurate pulling of fiberoptic cables.

Condux International

Cutting tool

The Spira Cut SCS gives users a fast, clean cut through solid surface materials, cement board, and drywall to plaster, acoustical tile, and ceramic tile. Powered by a precision, torque-balanced 4.0A electric motor, its 30,000 rpm allows smooth power while users cut straight lines or curved edges.

RotoZip Tool

Crimping tools

A series of terminal crimping tools, the Contour Crimp, is ergonomically engineered to fit comfortably in the contour of the human hand and reduce, by up to 50%, the force necessary to crimp terminals. Available in three different styles; models CT-1550 and CT-1551 crimp most No. 22 through No. 10 nylon and vinyl barrel insulated terminals, disconnects and splices; and model CT-1570 crimps most No. 22 through No. 10 noninsulated products.

Panduit

Flashlights for hazardous environments

LightSource flashlights provide portable lighting for abusive and hazardous environments. Ergonomically designed, battery-powered, and made of a nonabrasive, impact-resistant material. All four flashlights are suitable for Zones 1 and 2 (IP65 watertight). Cover Class I, Div. 1 and 2, Groups A, B, C, D areas. The unit has a halogen lamp and offers Zone O suitability.

Crouse-Hinds/Cooper Industries

Vacuum fish tape system

This rugged, self-contained fish tape system blows or vacuums fish line, poly line, or measuring tape. Durable 12-gal plastic tank and storage box make this unit ideal as an industrial wet/dry vacuum to clean debris and water from conduit. An automatic shutoff valve protects the motor from water.

Ensley Tool

Cable tie tool

This new power-assisted cable tie tool tensions and cuts off a cable tie with just one trigger depression. The Mark 7 Electric combines the efficiency of electric power with the ergonomic design.

Tyton

Tool box

The color of the Hi-VIZ Tool Boxes makes these durable lightweight products easy to locate on the job. Available in two sizes, the compact units feature three nested compartments, positive locking latches, and a V-groove on lid for supporting conduit while cutting.

Klein Tools

Step stand

This Step Stand is constructed of fiberglass and other nonconductive materials for use around electricity. The 300-lb-rated heavy-duty unit features a large (14 x 19 1/4 in.) molded top with a slip-resistant, diamond-treaded surface. The aluminum steps are 6 in. wide and feature heavy-duty connections to the side rails. Available in four sizes: 1 ft, 2 ft, 3 ft, and 4 ft.

Louisville Ladder

Cable cutter

Roto-Flex 170 strips all steel- or aluminum-cased MC cable from .84 to 1.84 in. in nominal diameter and cuts Greenfield flexible conduit from .5 to 1.5 in. trade size. Equipped with a curved ergonomic handle and blade storage cartridge nesting in the large cranking knob.

Seatek

Portable cable reel

The portable cable reel, CR 16-14-16, is compact and lightweight, yet handles a large capacity of power cable for its size and weight. It comes equipped with a three-conductor collector ring assembly, housed inside the drum and prewired.

Hannay Reels

Convertible flashlight

Called "WOW," the 5-in., 5.6-oz flashlight instantly converts to a head lamp for use in situations that require hands-free lighting.

Streamlight

Fish tape

The Tuff-Grip fish tape is designed for maximum comfort and durability. Nonslip handle design and finger tip grooves produce a positive grip with increased operator comfort. Payout is fast, and tapes rewind smoothly. The case design maintains positive tension on the tape.

Ideal Industries

Screwdrivers to prevent slippage

A five-piece set of screwdrivers features an oil-resistant, anti-slip, and plastic flock on the handles to help prevent slippage. Allows the transfer of more torque, even with wet or oily hands. The strong blades are made of special, high-alloy steel.

Klein Tools

Wire strippers/cutters

Improved wire strippers, that cut, gauge, and loop a range of solid wire, now come with wider handle grips with cushion ridges that provide greater user comfort and help reduce fatigue. Two models are available: No. 11045 to strip solid wire ranging from 10 to 18 AWG and No. 11047 that strips solid wire ranging from 22 to 30 AWG.

Klein Tools

Torque tool kit

A 25-piece electrician's torque-tool kit, designed for installation of mechanical connectors used with aluminum and/or copper conductors, includes two micrometer-adjustable torque wrenches covering a range of 40 to 1200 in.-lbs. Includes a torque-limiting screwdriver with 2 to 36 in.-lbs.

Klein Tools

Conduit entry template

Conduit entry template eliminates critical calculations and measurements. The transparent two-piece set provides center, (for KO pilot or hole-saw), cross-hairs through center (for perfect KO alignment), and edge of KO (for perfect spacing), for 10 trade size KOs. The small piece lays out 1/2-in. through 1 1/2-in.

Kerry Tool