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My dad’s “everyday tool” was a pocket knife he carried since Boy Scouts — until he surrendered it to the TSA on a recent airline trip. Personally, my “everyday tool” is a pair of electrician’s snips. I grew quite fond of them while doing telecom equipment installation, and I still use them for everything. They’re sharp, durable, and I can’t seem to keep enough of them around.

I think with that $5 off $5 coupon at Sears, it might be time to pick up a spare pair — or three.

Electrician’s Scissors [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]
Klein Electrician’s Scissors [Sears]


7 Responses to My Everyday Tool: Electrician’s Snips

  1. Eli says:

    “My dad’s “everyday tool” was a pocket knife he carried since Boy Scouts — until he surrendered it to the TSA on a recent airline trip.”

    If that’s true, I weep for America.

  2. Frank Townend says:

    Eli, you beat me to that comment. Even though Toolmonger isn’t a vehicle for political comment, it is exceptionally difficult to stand-by and watch this nonsense. Nate if you contact me, I’ll buy your father a pocketknife and send it to him. Maybe in this small way, his faith in the country he has watched slip away from democracy can be partially restored.


  3. It’s true alright. December 9th, KDTW, and he found it in his pocket moments before reaching the head of the line. It was an Imperial Kamp King, and not to worry, I’ve already secured a replacement. 🙂 It didn’t ship in time for Christmas, but I’m sure it’ll be appreciated when it arrives, just the same. Speaking of which, I should probably contact the seller and check on it…

  4. Chris says:

    Ooh, the TSA screeners at DTW are particularly annoying. They didn’t like my neoprene slip cover for my laptop, either, and I was going through the crew line displaying my ID and in uniform.

    I’m just going to stop there before I get even more irritated.

  5. James B says:

    I have a really nice pair of electricians scissors like this, but am at a bit of a loss as to what electricians use them for? If anybody could clue me in I would appreciate it. My first guess is for snipping off peeled back insulation.

    “Thoſe who would give up Essential Liberty to purchaſe a little Temporary Safety, deſerve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Most likely published by Benjamin Franklin (early electrician) and written by fellow diplomat Richard Jackson.

    If only we had a choice between traveling freely or giving up liberty.

  6. I’m struggling to grasp how a neoprene sleeve could be a security risk. It’s probably the safest stuff on the plane. Odd.

    I initially knew these snips, paired with a very very heavy-duty knife, in a leather belt holster and the whole thing was called a “splicer’s kit”. Telephone outside linemen use the knife for stripping the heavy jacket on outdoor cable, and the snips for handling the thinner wires inside. The stripping notches on one blade are sized for 19ga and 23ga wire, so they’ll handle pretty much everything a phone guy encounters. (The odd-sized 19ga was used on long outdoor runs before the advent of loop carriers, when it might easily be 20kft back to the CO. Modern installations use thinner stuff because the loops are shorter.) They make quick work of the stiff jacket on drop wire, and they skin icky-pic without a second thought.

    We used ’em during equipment installation, for cutting lacing cord, stripping all sorts of cable (including power cable, though most guys used their loppers for that), opening cartons, and other general tasks. They’ll go through 25-pair 24-gauge cable without too much effort, though gnawing a 100-pair will take longer than just going to get the loppers in the first place.

    Datacomm guys find that these cut cat-5 like butter, and they’re super handy for cutting pull-strings after a conduit run. Technically you’re supposed to use a proper depth-limited stripping tool for removing the jacket prior to terminating a cable, but almost everybody just uses their snips for that too. They’re also supremely handy for trimming labels, because they’re short enough to keep the work close to your hand and easy to control. And anybody who’s ever used a P-Touch knows you have to use the next larger tape size to get the letter size you want, so there’s always trimming required.

    When you wrap something with electrical tape, if you snap the tape under tension, the end gets all wrinkled up and looks horrible, and the tension makes the tape pull back after a while, possibly leaving adhesive residue exposed. You’re supposed to unroll a few inches of tape, cut it with scissors, then lay the last wrap down without any tension. That keeps it from unraveling, and the finished product looks cleaner.

    For several years, my snips (and hands) always had a coating of wax on them, because I mostly used them with waxed 9-ply lacing cord, stitching power runs, distribution frames, vertical cable rack, and anything else that needed to be held in place. (I can still tie a Kansas City stitch with my eyes closed, and have a couple Chicago loops for my Evans needle.. This stuff never leaves your brain.) I simply can’t imagine any other tool for cutting lacing cord, though I suppose any scissors or knife would work, it’s just not the same, you know?

    Around the house, I use them for all of the above tasks, plus everything you’d ask of regular office scissors, plus occasional tinsnip duty. They’re not gonna chop any pennies in half, but light gauge aluminum is easy enough, and copper tape barely requires effort. The industrial Velcro that adorns my laptop lids was all cut to shape with snips, as are the strips of OneWrap that organize my cables. I don’t carry the two-compartment leather “splicer’s kit” pouch anymore, but I’ve found that a Mini-Mag holster is absolutely ideal for keeping a pair of snips under control.

  7. David Moisan says:

    I’ve used my scissors to cut the small wires in Cat 6 cable, and occasionally, I use the stripping notches.

    It’s much more convenient than other, larger tools like regular-sized dikes, since they fit in the small spaces one finds around a patch panel or keystone plate.

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