The Right Tools for the Job

Essential for any electrical or maintenance engineer is a kit of tools including screwdrivers, pliers, spanners, hammers, power tools and many others. RS offers a wide range of tools to enable electrical and maintenance engineers to meet just about every engineering requirement in any commercial, industrial or domestic application. Here is a brief overview of just a few of these tools, highlighting some of the key features to look for when selecting the best tool for the job.

 

Screwdrivers and Pliers

Screwdrivers come in many designs and sizes and finishes of course, including offering hard plastic or soft-grip handles and a range of tips including flat/slotted, Philips/cross-point or Pozidriv head tips. Whereas the hard plastic type is the basic kind and is easy to clean, the soft-grip style provides a better grip and delivers more torque and control. One screwdriver option is the ratcheting screwdriver, which has a mechanism that can lock the screwdriver in the traditional way or enable the shaft to rotate in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction, enabling the user not to have to remove their hand and essentially speeding up the operation and saving energy. Most ratcheting screwdrivers have a magnetic slot to accommodate a variety of different screw bits.

RS also has an extensive range of pliers from many leading manufacturers including 1000V VDE approved pliers along with cutters, combination and flat-, long- and round-nose types, among many others.

 

Electrical Safety

A key specification for tools such as screwdrivers or pliers is the VDE rating, which essentially means that a hand tool such as a screwdriver is safe to use when working on live electrical circuits. Insulated tools need to be manufactured and certified to the VDE IEC 60900:2004 European standard and tested to withstand 10kV to ensure they are suitable for working on live circuits of 1000V AC and 1500V DC. VDE-approved screwdrivers for example have a rubber coating on both the handle and the shaft.

 

Spanners and Sockets

A vast range of spanners and sockets are available from RS from leading brands including Bahco and Facom, as well as RS’ own-brand selection of tools. The range includes adjustable spanners, ratcheting wrenches, torque wrenches, hexagon keys, deep sockets and a selection of socket and spanner sets. For example, socket sets from Bahco include: toward the lower end of the Bahco range, a 25-piece socket set that includes a 1/4in drive ratchet, sockets ranging from 4 to 13mm, a bit set and a wobble extension bar enabling flexibility for many different applications; up to a 106-piece set at the top end that is highly suitable for automotive applications and has a wide selection of sockets and power tool bits, including a 21mm spark-plug socket, and two high-quality spanner sets. RS-brand spanner sets include a 26-piece set with sizes from 6 to 30mm in 1mm steps, plus a 32mm device, and 14-piece set made from chrome-vanadium steel, a common tool material that is well known for its strength and resistance to wear and fatigue.

 

Hacksaws

Key elements to consider for saws are which blade material, and how many teeth? Hacksaws of course are particularly suitable for cutting metal and are ideal for working in confined spaces. Many will offer fully hardened and high-alloy super-high-speed-steel blades for sawing metals and other hard-to-cut materials, while many offer more flexible bi-metal blades comprising strong and flexible spring steel with a tooth line made in super-high-speed steel. If a fine finish is required then a higher number of teeth per inch (TPI), the usual metric for saws, should be selected. Typical TPI figures can range from 18 to 32, although 24 is very common. A well-known brand is Stanley.

 

Lightweight 300mm 24-TPI five-position FatMax hacksaw from Stanley

 

Power Tools

A key question naturally is corded or cordless, depending on the availability of power, the level of mobility required and in the case of drills, for example, the target material. RS has a broad range of corded power tools and cordless power tools from leading manufacturers such as Bosch, including drill drivers, hammer drills and circular saws with a wide selection of battery chemistries, voltages and speeds.

 

18V Li-ion autolock cordless impact drill from Bosch

 

Toolkits

Selected for their performance and longevity, RS also offers a range of toolkits from leading suppliers such as Bahco and Facom, in addition to RS’ own-brand selection, that range from simple three-piece electricians’ toolkits to comprehensive kits that number tens or even hundreds of devices.

A key Bahco brand is ERGO™, which features a range of ergonomically designed tools that have been tested for efficiency, reliability and durability in the most extreme environments. In fact, the first Bahco ERGO screwdriver was introduced in 1983 and the range has since expanded to include more than 60 products, including both standard and insulated screwdrivers. One example of an ERGO-based toolkit is a nine-piece general-purpose toolkit, which includes five screwdrivers, side cutters and pliers. At the higher end, another Bahco kit is a 31-piece electricians’ toolkit, which offers an ISO-TECH multimeter, various 1000V VDE-approved screwdrivers including slotted, Philips and Pozidriv types, cutters, pliers, wrenches, saws and hacksaws, hammers, files and chisels.

 

Bahco’s nine-piece ERGO general-purpose toolkit

 

A typical entry-level toolkit from Facom is a 35-piece toolkit, which includes slotted, Philips and Pozidriv type screwdrivers, a selection of spanners (9 to 18mm), nine allen keys, four sets of pliers, in addition to a hacksaw and hammer. In addition, RS has a range of own-brand kits, such as the professional technicians toolkit, which offers the most common basic tools for an electrical or electronics engineer including a soldering iron, pliers, cutters, spanners, screwdrivers and wire strippers. It also has space for further tools with four compartments for the storage of component parts, aerosols or a test meter.

 

RS’ professional technicians toolkit has a carefully selected range of quality tools in a robust ABS case

 

Conclusion

RS stocks a solution for just about every engineering requirement from individual tools to comprehensive multi-piece kits. Some features are universally desirable such as longevity and ease-of-cleaning, whereas others such as the type of material or the product weight will very much depend on the required task. Technical specifications for all of these products can be found on the RS website.