Ideas That Work: Taking Measurements, Easy Handling and Inspiration

By Jan 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!

[SB]Quick and easy ruler

National Electrical Code Section 300.14 states that at all boxes there shall be a minimum wire length of 6 inches, and at least 3 inches must be outside the box. Here is an easy way to streamline and standardize this measurement: Measure 6 inches from your lineman’s or all-in-one plier’s jaws to the handle, and make a mark with a permanent marker all the way around the grip. Make another mark at 3 inches from the tip of the jaws with a scratch awl (on the metal jaws). Now your pliers have become a standard ruler for free wire length and it’s already in your hand. This works great for Type NM, Type MC and THHN/THWN installations.

John Hemmings
Charleston, W.V.

Get a grip

Sometimes you need to change the small indicator bulbs on MCCs when they are recessed and you can’t grip them with your fingertips. I use a wire nut with thin rubber at the bottom. This grips it real tight.

Colleen Barnwell
Totowa, N.J.

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 if you can; hand-drawn 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; email [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. Neither ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR nor Zoro, Inc. assumes any liability from your use of these or any other ideas. Please see full terms, conditions and rules at

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