Published In December 2000
We asked a number of tool, tester, and accessory manufacturers to suggest products that would make great gifts for any electrician. Happy holidays. You can’t quite hear the sports scores on your radio over the din on the job? Replace scrawn with brawn with the versatile DeWALT Industrial Tool Co.’s Heavy-Duty Work Site Radio/Charger. It combines a weather-resistant AM/FM stereo radio in a high-impact roll cage sporting steel speaker grills and a one-hour DeWALT three-stage Charger system for 9.6V-18V DeWALT batteries. The charger brings each cell of the battery pack to full charge and keeps the pack fully charged for extended periods. Featuring ample speakers and large controls that can be used with gloves, the radio runs on batteries or AC power. Versatility is also attractive in test equipment. Suitable for residential work and light commercial and industrial applications, the new Ideal 61-702 200 Amp Clamp Meter is compact, yet earns three designations: tester, multimeter, and clamp meter. The product sports an ergonomic, hourglass shape that, when the tester is working as a clamp meter, facilitates separating wire bundles and clamping onto a single wire. Other features include a noncontact voltage sensor on the tester tip to indicate the presence of 24-600 VAC without the use of leads and a clean power indicator that illuminates a green light-emitting diode (LED) when less than 3 percent total harmonic distortion is present. Conversely, an unlit green light warns that a significant level of harmonic is present. The unit also has a vibration mode that, simulating a solenoid tester, provides the user with a tactile sensation when voltage is present. Travel light with the HIOKI USA Corp.’s 3280-10 Clamp on HiTester that gives AC current, DC and AC voltages, resistance, and continuity measurements. Sporting auto-ranging and data hold function, this slim (16 mm), bantamweight (100 g) digital AC clamp on, with 33 mm diameter clamp aperture, features an independent-opening double-lever design, auto-power save, right-/left-hand capability, and optional removable test lead holder. For hand-held cutting and driving applications such as switch installation and faceplate removal and replacement, save pouch space with the new DeWALT Rapid Load Multi-Purpose Tool. Available with or without ratcheting action in a variety of configurations, the product is an ergonomically designed cushion-grip handle and steel shaft with a keyless chuck that accepts various drivers, power bits, socket adapters, and recip blades. A thru-hole at the base of the handle accepts a perpendicular-placed torque bar for applying added force. The stainless-steel Crescent ToolZall Electrician Pro pocket tool offers 21 functions, including a wire bender, a 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, and 10 AWG wire stripper, needle-nosed pliers, wire cutter, one Phillips and two flat-head screwdrivers, and a dual-measure rule. Reminiscent of a Swiss Army knife in the way you access all its talents, the product features a Positive Lock mechanism that secures tool components safely in the open position until a release button is pressed. For convenient carrying, the tool comes with a ballistic sheath equipped with a belt loop. Well-suited to diverse rugged applications, the pocket-sized Fluke T5 Voltage, Continuity and Current Tester—tested to withstand a 10-foot drop—offers easy dial selection of volts (AC and DC with digital readout), ohms, or current. Available in 600V and 1000V models, the tool features detachable Slim-Reach probe tips customized for national electrical standards and a sleep mode to conserve battery life that kicks in after eight minutes of inactivity. The test leads stow neatly in the back of the tester. An optional H5 Holster that holds test probes and leads enables you to clip the T5 right onto your tool belt. For less worry about tool survival in harsh environments, consider the AVO International Megger M5091 hand-held Digital Multimeter. This tester is suitable for general-purpose testing and is water resistant and drop proof. Its 31/2-digit LCD display sports large characters (visible in poor lighting conditions) and annunciators for polarity, over-range, and low-battery voltage indication. The unit can test five current ranges, enabling measurement up to 20 A with maximum resolution of 0,1 mA (micro-amps), as well as fully specified voltage and resistance measurement parameters. Tool toters who are outdoor enthusiasts might enjoy carrying a new tool bag, from Klein Tools. The Camouflage Tool Bag, made from durable, puncture-resistant nylon in the Realtree Advantage camouflage pattern, is available in 24-, 18-, and 14-inch sizes. The bag features a reinforced vinyl bottom and lower sides, stitched and riveted leather handles, retaining straps with buckles for secure closure, and a lockstrap and hasp that accepts most standard padlocks. A matching 121/2-inch zipper tool bag is also available. The pen-shaped Greenlee Textron Volt Tick 1110 is small enough to travel in pouch, bag, or pocket, and stands at the ready to detect, without contact, the presence of AC voltage at outlets, lighting fixtures, circuit breakers, wires, and cables, or to find a break in a wire. The tester, which runs on two AAA batteries, activates a bright LED and audible alarm if voltage is present. Drilling a hole for an anchor and then setting a screw in the anchor in the hole can be time consuming. The Bosch Clic Change quick change bit system, for 3/8-inch and 1/2-inch drills, bypasses need for the standard key and chuck operation, speeding up the whole process. Available in 27-, 10-, and five-piece sets, the kits feature a keyless check and accessories for one-handed loading and unloading. Pressing the hex-shank bit into the quick-change chuck locks it into place with an audible click. Tired of squinting to see hash marks? L.S. Starrett Co.’s DigiTape Plus 1-inch x 25-foot digital measuring tape with an internal optical sensor displays length in large digital figures. Considerate to southpaws, who read rule numbers upside down or backwards, the high-carbon steel bladed tape has a “flip” display for viewing measurements from either side of the case. Offering zero reset at any position and the ability to freeze measurement in memory, the tape includes a serial output port for connection (via an optional cable) to personal computers or Starrett Data Acquisition devices, for documenting measurements. Electricians who do lighting surveys and want to get accurate readings easily could appreciate Amprobe’s ACDKW-1 AC TRMS Watt Clamp Meter, which sports a 4KW range with 1-watt resolution and has the capability for a MAX or MIN record, AC or DC voltage readings, and true RMS readings. The unit, which runs on two AA batteries, features a 33/4-digit LCD with a 40-segment bar graph. An automatic shutoff will save batteries after half an hour of inactivity. It pays to be informed. With a three-phase motor, it can be difficult to get the wires in the right places the first time out. The new battery-operated AEMC Instruments Phase & Motor Rotation Meter, for determining the appropriate wire connections in a three-phase motor, features three functions: open-phase indication, phase-sequence indication, and motor-rotation indication. The meter, which takes the guesswork out of hook-ups, comes with three 4-foot leads with large alligator clips and a pouch. Give the gift of easier effort when cutting through threaded rod with the Greenlee Threaded Rod Cutter, which yields one-stroke cuts through threaded rods cleanly, eliminating need to grind or file before threading a nut onto the cut end. A wide base keeps the cutter stable on the work surface. (A mounting hole is incorporated.) The tool handles 1/4 inch-20 soft steel rods and 3/8 inch-16 soft-steel rods, depending upon the cutting die set matched to the tool. The compact (21/2 pound) Bosch 1638 Rotary Cutter, designed to make cutouts in sheet rock or ceiling tile, does those tasks quickly and well and also cuts neatly into plastic, acrylic, fiberglass, ceramic wall tile, wood, hardboard, and laminates. The unit, which could come in handy for cutting crisp holes for outlets and ceiling boxes, comes with a guide that holds the tool perpendicular to the work surface so that you get a clean cut and acts as a depth guide. The 3.6-amp motor delivers 30,000 RPM with spiral cutting bits. Looking for studs behind walls or under flooring surfaces (up to 3/4-inch thick) can be a piece of cake with the new Gardner Bender Electronic Stud Seeker. Operating on four .5-volt button-cell batteries, this “Slim-Jim” of a detector uses a sequence of bright LED lights to find and indicate front and far edges of wood or metal studs. Getting into tight places with a screwdriver often entails uncomfortable manipulation of tool or hand or is sometimes flat-out impossible. The Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation Off-Set Screwdriver Power Head, set into the Cordless 2.4 Volt Screwdriver, could save effort—or even the day—time and again. The 1/4-inch hex shaft (which fits into all cordless screwdrivers with chucks or hex drives) sits on the end of a die-cast, chrome-plated, angled drive head with magnetic socket that holds slotted, Phillips, Torx, or other types of 1/4-inch insert bits. The shaft runs through a 360-degree adjustable thumb flange for additional manual torque. For more power in tight (if not quite as tight) spots, consider the 3/8-inch Milwaukee Reversing Close Quarter Drill, featuring a 55-degree-angled check and zero to 1300 RPM trigger speed control. Run out of juice once too often when you are almost done? You might appreciate the new Makita USA Model 609DWBLE drill/driver kit. It includes a 3/8-inch cordless driver-drill that runs 70 percent longer than previously achievable on two nickel-metal hydride batteries (included), a keyless chuck, a DC1411 charger that handles both Ni-CD and Ni-MH batteries, and a 9.6V flashlight that can stand sentry on its base while you work. The drill, with an ergonomically shaped rubberized grip, offers six stage torque settings, two-speed gear selection, variable-speed trigger, and an electric brake. All the goodies fit nicely into the job-toting tool case. The Stanley Works’ new, professional-grade aluminum magnetic FatMax Level, available in 24, 36, and 48 inches, will stick to conduit, freeing hands to level the pipe within 0.0005 inch/inch accuracy. Sporting scratch-resistant plumb and top-read vials, the level has nonmarring, shock-absorbing end caps and soft cushion grips. The Feldmans provide Web content for companies and write for magazines, trade associations, building product manufacturers, and other companies on a broad range of topics. They can be reached at or (914) 238-6272.