Ideas That Work: Tip Protection, Wire Crates and Cabinet Lighting Fix

By Dec 15, 2015
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Every month, we pick the top Ideas That Work submitted by you, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR readers. These ideas can't be found in any code or guidebook and are only learned or devised through years of experience and thinking, "There's got to be a better way to do this!" Please remember, the ideas presented in this article are for consideration only. Before using such ideas, make sure codes and safety standards have been fully adhered to.

Now, without further ado, here are this issue's Ideas That Work!

Don’t get the point

For anyone who has ever been stuck by the sharp points of the “needle tip” probes when using a multimeter, this one’s for you. The protective rubber tips that come with the probes usually get lost soon after the meter’s first use. For a more permanent solution, strip off two 5/16-in. pieces of No. 14 wire with rubber insulation (neoprene from SO cord works great). Slide them over the probe tips. Slide the rubber pieces back toward the handles to expose the sharp tips. When not in use, slide the pieces forward to extend over the tips for safe storage.

Anthony Tonon
San Francisco

Spooled milk

Want a better way to handle spooled No. 12 and No. 10 wire? Use rectangular milk crates. Cut two spindles out of ½-in. EMT, use a couple of ¾-in. washers and drill holes near the end for cotter pins so the spindles won’t walk. You can use ¾-in. washers or ¾-in. rigid couplers between the spindles to keep them from jamming each other up while pulling. The crates can be hand-trucked around the job site or loaded on a furniture dolly. They are easier to load and unload than a wire cart, and they stack and store easier, as well. They can also be loaded with other gear (fish tapes, lube, wire grips, etc.) when changing pulling locations.

R. Paul Lusich Jr.
Coalinga, Calif.

Serpentine solution

A customer installed lighted cabinets in their studio on a wall with a height of 8 ft. to 12 ft. that left a dark spot above the cabinets. We installed rope light on top of the cabinets in a serpentine pattern (front to back). We put more rows on the high side and less on the short side. This accomplished a uniform lighting, and a dimmer switch finished the job.

Kenneth Freygang
Paso Robles, Calif.

IF YOU HAVE AN IDEA that has saved you time or money on the job, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR ­readers would like to hear about it. Be sure to include a good photo of your idea—hand sketches are often hard to interpret. Note that some similar ideas are submitted by more than one person. In these cases, the one that is more clearly written and includes a photo is given precedence. Send your letter and photo to Jack Pullizzi, Ideas Editor, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, 3 Bethesda Metro Center, Suite 1100, Bethesda, MD 20814-5372, e-mail [email protected], or use the online submission tool at

CASH AND TOOL PRIZES FOR WINNING IDEAS Each published author in Ideas That Work receives a $50 American Express gift card from ELECTRICAL ­CONTRACTOR. In addition, Southwire ( will send the following set of electrician’s tools to each month’s first-place winner:

• Cable cutter
• Fish tape
• Long nose pliers
• Side cutting pliers
• Diagonal cutting pliers
• Pump pliers
• Screwdriver
• Wire stripper
• Crimpers
• Multimeter

DISCLAIMER: The ideas presented in this article are for consideration only. Before using such ideas, make sure codes and safety issues have been fully adhered to. ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR disclaims any liability from your use of these or any other ideas. ­ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR reserves the right to reprint the words herein at its discretion.

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