Ideas That Work: Build a Spool Tool, Using Coat Hangers and More

Every month, we pick the top four 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!

Homemade spool tool
We built a tool with a drill to wind electrical wire and rope to a spool. The kit consists of a spooling tool and ¾-, 1-, 1½- and 2-in. ridged pipes to fit various size spools. The different sizes of pipe are used for various-sized center holes in spools. They have threaded couplings on one end and a reducing bushing on the other to fit the spooling tool. We use it to spool wire sizes from No. 18 through 6. You can also use it to respool pull rope. It is a time-saver versus hand coiling. It is also great for spooling multiple wires together, so you have your runs ready to pull in your pipe. And, if you could salvage 1,000 feet of No. 10 stranded wire that you were going to send to the scrapyard, it would pay for itself!

Marc Awalt, College Station, Texas

Put a ring on it
Hole saws work great until the saw jams on the mandrel. Try putting an O-ring between the saw bit and threaded mandrel. The bit can’t seat metal to metal and can usually loosen by hand. 

Gene Casstevens, Glendale, Calif.

A hole in the attic
To locate where to drill a hole in the top plate of a wall in the attic, I get a metal coat hanger and straighten it out. Push it through the drywall ceiling, so when you get in the attic, you can see where to drill. The coat hanger only leaves a small hole to spackle, and it saves a lot of time.

Joe Klees, Bella Vista, Ariz.

Hanging cords
Heavy-duty plastic coat hangers are perfect for hanging cords neatly and cleanly out of the way on metal studs. They satisfy safety demands in walkways and doorways. Nonmetallic, no chance of pinches, easily moved—they work extremely well.

Jeff Gerken, Fairmont, W.Va.

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, 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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