Ideas That Work: Widening Small Holes, Storing Bits in the Van and More

Every month, Jack Pullizzi picks 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!

Hole saw guide
If you have to make an existing hole larger, take a piece of ¾-inch plywood and drill the size you need with a hole saw. Then either clamp or screw this new hole over the existing, smaller hole. Center it if needed. Use the hole in the ¾-inch plywood as a guide to widen the smaller hole. The new hole will keep the hole saw stable. I’ve done this many times with great success.

Thomas Jancewicz
Forty Fort, Pa.

Marking the fifth thread
We recently were required to install a number of type “d” enclosures in a Class I, Zone 2 environment. The NPT minimum five-thread engagement rule applies to all field-installed rigid/NPT connectors. The problem in confined, poorly lit industrial conditions: working with eye protection and gloves, who is able to accurately count threads? Plus once you start to wrench tight, after the first turn, it’s too late to count. True, most NPT connectors seat at “about” five threads, but just to make life less stressful, we mark all connectors to be used with a red Sharpie at the fifth thread beforehand. It doesn’t take long, and Sharpie does not affect the integrity of sealed connection requirements like paint or tape. Also, inspectors like to see that kind of preparation.

Gene Casstevens
Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Service van storage
To keep frequently used items—such as conduit benders and drill bits—organized in an easy-to-reach location, find a convenient place to bolt two pieces of Unistrut horizontally in your van. Then cut 2-inch PVC pipe to length (18 inches or less). Mount it vertically, and secure the pipe with Unistrut straps. Store drill bits and conduit benders inside the PVC pipes. This idea saves time that you would spend looking around for drill bits.

Robert O’Keefe
Albany, N.Y.

Blow drying lenses and pans
We have all been on relamping or retrofitting jobs where cleaning the lens or pan have been in the contract or requested, and we have used a multitude of cleaning applications, including buckets, hoses, power washing, etc. But drying has always been a problem. Our only options are usually to hand dry or wait, but a common leaf blower does the trick. If using an electric model, a ground-fault circuit interrupter is recommended.

Mickey Ruggiero
IBEW Local No. 363
Highland, N.Y.

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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