Cool Tools: Special Tools
Published: April 2009
Each month, Cool Tools reviews a specific tool or equipment category that is used for electrical and voice/data/video con-struction and maintenance. The goal is to provide readers with information about new products, significant advances and im-provements in tools, and trends influencing tool designs that make today’s products more productive, easier to use, and more du-rable. Typically, Cool Tools reports on the tools most often used by electricians with topics repeated as tools in each category evolve and new tools are introduced.
Some products, however, do not fit into standard tool categories, and this month’s report is devoted to them. It includes accessories that major tool companies offer and products that are a departure from their traditional tool lines, unusual features added to conven-tional tools and other useful tools that don’t fit conventional categories. Some could be called gadgets, but that’s all right. Don’t all elec-tricians love gadgets?
There also is a trend for major tool companies to offer specialty products, such as tool bags and personal protective equipment and useful promotional items bearing their names and logos.
For example, Klein Tools (www.kleintools.com) offers a variety of hardhats, including one with a lineman’s profile and a West-ern outlaw design, gloves, canvas tool bags, leather portfolio, flashlights and hand cleaner. Promotional items include caps, shirts and other wearables. Other suppliers also offer various promotional items. Klein is one of two well-known manufacturers to pub-lish handsome hardcover coffee table books about their companies’ impressive histories. The other is the Bobcat Co. (www.bobcat.com), which traces its history back to the first skid-steer loader.
Best known for power tools, Milwaukee (www.milwaukeetool.com) now offers two cordless wet/dry vacuums, both powered by lithium-ion batteries. Their toolbox design includes an on-board hose and accessory storage, as well as a washable wet-dry filter with a built-in blower port. Another nontraditional addition to the Milwaukee line is a compact digital inspection camera, which can provide a clear look inside conduits, behind walls and in other hard-to-reach areas.
Bosch (www.boschtools.com) is among tool makers that now offer job-site radios. Its Powerbox model has an AM/FM stereo with compact disc player; it provides extra outlets and charges batteries.
The Triple Tap threading tool for making new screw threads, retapping burred and stripped threads, and clearing obstructions is an addition to the Ideal Industries (www.idealindustries.com) line of hand tools. Ideal Wipes are multipurpose disposable wipes for cleaning tools and hands. They don’t require water to activate the cleaning solution and are packaged in a recloseable, moisture-holding dispenser.
Gardner Bender (www.gardnerbender.com) Circuit Alert tools detect live voltage without physically contacting wires or outlets—a sensor integrated into each tool warns the user of the presence of live voltage. Circuit Alert tools include pliers, wire strippers, screwdrivers, electricians knives and work lights.
The Greenlee Textron (www.greenlee.com) Quick Connect flexible-shaft extension allows hole drilling and pulling light to me-dium wire through multiple joists and other hard-to-access locations. Quarter--inch quick connect receivers on shafts accept most ¼-inch quick-change drilling and pulling accessories ¾-inch and less in diameter. Extensions permit work to be completed from one location to distances from 12 to 60 inches. Designed to be used with Greenlee punch drivers, the Slug-Splitter SC self-centering knockout splitter is designed for punching perfectly centered pilot holes. Simply tighten the punch on the draw stud, and the tool centers itself on the hole.
Triggers from Maxis (www.maxis-tools.com) are dual-remote foot pedals, providing power control of cable pulling and feeding through the puller’s power source. Color power lights on each foot switch indicate the pulling machine’s status. The device will work with any brand puller.
Zircon (www.zircon.com) electronic stud finders locate wooden and metal studs through drywall and other building materi-als. Several models are available to locate the center and edges of studs and joists in walls, ceilings and floors. The StudSensor i60 finds studs to depths of 1½ inches and has a built-in erasable marker. It also detects hot electrical wires during the scanning process.
The Quick Saw (www.qksaw.com) hole saw accessory quickly removes plugs from hole saws after holes are made. The de-vice is a conical stainless steel spring that attaches to the pilot drill in the hole saw. Plugs are expelled with 35 pounds of spring pressure. They are available for hole saws of 7⁄8, 11⁄8, and 13⁄8 inches.
The RectorSeal (www.rectorseal.com) Wire Snagger wire-pulling tool—developed specifically for electrical work—is an effective, easy-to-use alternative to wire “socks” and set screws. Pulls are made by screws and by inserting wire into the tool to the bottom of the cap and pulling back to set teeth into insulation. After the pull is performed, wire is cut two inches below the tool, the cap is unscrewed and the short piece of wire engaged by the tool is removed.
The Strapper Pole (www.strapperpoles.com) telescoping rotary pole (a 2008 NECA Showstopper) permits making overhead instal-lations from floor level and uses a bottom-mounted drill or rotary hammer to install pre-tied wire or duct strap clip combinations with wood or concrete screws. The Slammer 6000 manual telescoping pole makes overhead installations of pre-tied wire and wedge anchor combinations.
Ericson’s (www.ericson.com) e-Cart2 mobile power distribution center can be moved easily around work sites and can go through a 36-inch door to bring power where it is needed. It includes three- phase or single-phase 480 or 600V ventilated transformer; NEMA 3R load center with ground- fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection; and NEMA 3R fused primary disconnect.
Werner Ladders (www.werner-ladders.com) offers a combination ladder/work station designed specifically for electricians. De-signed to fit Werner 1AA-rated fiberglass ladders in five heights from 4 to 12 feet, the work station includes a holster top with slots to hold most-used tools and adjacent grove to hold up to 1-inch pipe for quick measuring and marking; a bungee system to keep tools from falling; an integrated conduit holder with safety shields to prevent accidental cutting of ladder rails; a hacksaw hook and wire spool holder brackets.
Turn scrap copper and aluminum wires into cash after stripping off insulation with the portable Strip Tec (www.striptec.com) wire stripper. Powered by a 110V, single-phase motor, stripping blades are machined from solid alloy steel and heat treated. Self--feeding for easy use, simply insert wire, and it comes out stripped (a 2008 NECA Showstopper).
Exaktime’s JobClock (www.jobclock.com) simplified logging workers’ time on projects. The rugged, weatherproof, and ex-tremely compact JobClock is locked down on a job site 24 hours a day. Each employee carries two key tabs—green for start, red for stop—and touches in and out every day with the key tabs, eliminating the need to fill out time cards. Supervisors use a PDA to collect time and attendance records. Software is available to create reports that can be exported to accounting and payroll software.
DUZcart (www.duzcart.com)—a 2008 NECA Showstopper—is a mobile dust containment cart for use on infection-control job sites. Designed for ceiling access, DUZcart has a sturdy, anodized aluminum frame with easy height adjustment and fire-retardant nylon fabric drapes that meet NFPA 701 requirements. The cart rolls on nonmarring casters with swivel-locking brakes of the two front casters. A 1¼-inch vacuum hose port connection accepts most standard vacuum hoses.
Qwik-Lok from Rack-A-Tiers (www.rack-a-tiers.com) is a replacement or retrofit connector for extension cords and locks cords and tools together and accepts both two- and three-prong plugs. The device eliminates trying to loop and tie cords to keep them con-nected and reduces downtime and the frustration of disconnected tools.
Arrow’s (www.arrowfastener.com) T72 wire and cable staple gun was designed to make cable installations fast, neat and easy. Its contoured nose guides a staple over the cable to prevent penetration of the jacket. The wire guide perfectly centers cables for sizes up to ½-inch and can be removed for larger cables. The tool has grooved wire guides and driving blade and patented jam-proof mecha-nism.
Knock over a Wobble Light and it bounces back up. This tough, self-righting light from Petersen Brands (www.petersenbrands.com) is built to stand up to severe abuse from drops, hits from debris and vehicles, and other abuses. A shock absorber protects the 120W fluorescent bulb from jarring, and an internal ventilation system keeps the light cool enough to touch. Battery backup charges anytime the unit is plugged in and power automatically transfers to DC if AC power is lost.
Duckbill (www.duckbill-inc.com) ergonomic tool-carrying systems incorporate a tool belt with or without suspenders and leather and nylon modules and holsters to distribute tool weight comfortably over an expanded portion of the wearer’s upper mus-cular skeletal structure. The systems are designed to keep users as upright as possible and reduce bending, twisting and lifting. Vari-ous platforms are available to fit individual needs.
A Jotto Desk (www.jottodesk.net) truck laptop computer mount adapts the cab of a truck to a mobile office. Mounting bases are available for major truck brands and install in minutes with simple hand tools. The laptop computer locks firmly to the desktop and can be moved to different positions for ease of use. The unit can be easily removed when not needed.
GRIFFIN, a construction and tools writer from Oklahoma City, can be reached at email@example.com.