Ideas That Work: Keeping It Clean

By Anton Mikec and Jesse Mikec | Oct 15, 2017
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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!

Attracting the mess

When I was drilling into electric panels with delicate, printed circuit boards, I noticed that metal chips pose a serious issue because they fall into the circuit board. I use a round magnet with a 11/8-inch hole in the middle. Then, all the metal shavings attach to the magnet, not allowing any shavings to fall into the panel. Magnets from old speakers work great for this purpose.

Bill Boone
Chicopee, Mass.

Laying the groundwork

When drilling into the top of a panel to add conduit, I use a portion of a carpet square instead of cardboard to catch the metal shavings and slugs. The hot shavings melt into the carpet and stay where they land. I always keep an assortment of carpet pieces on my cart for such jobs.

Mel Salisbury
Plainwell, Mich.

Bag it up

When drilling a hole in electrical equipment such as a panelboard, I take a plastic or paper bag and insert a magnet into the corner of the bag and place it near the area I am drilling. After drilling the hole, I take the bag to a garbage can and remove the magnet, then the chips fall off into the can. For larger jobs, I place a magnet in a bag on both sides of the steel. As a precaution, I tape a loosely fitted plastic bag to the underside so I can see if anything was missed by the magnets or if I am drilling aluminum.

Gregory Kamlay
Sterling Heights, Mich.

Idea Igniter

Protecting your tools

This month, we are looking for ways to prevent others from borrowing your tools without your permission. Who hasn’t needed a tool only to find it missing? Doesn’t it always seem to be a tool you only have one of? No matter if it’s your ladder, drill battery, favorite lineman’s pliers or a core drill that you know you left in the electrical room last week, they all are important to getting the job done. Lost, missing or stolen tools can cost a project time and money. It’s not just the replacement of the tool but the time spent searching for it and the halting of production until it is found or replaced. How do you identify your tools so you know they are yours? What ways have you come up with to ensure that no tools are left behind?

Anton and Jesse Mikec

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 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


Each published author in Ideas That Work receives a $50 American Express gift card from ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. In addition, each month’s FIRST PLACE winner will receive a $100 gift certificate from Zoro, to be used at

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.

About The Author

Anton Mikec is the Ideas That Work editor for Electrical Contractor magazine. Contact him at [email protected].

Jesse Mikec is the Ideas That Work editor for Electrical Contractor magazine. Contact him at [email protected].





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