Article
Installing a new light fixture or updating a light switch or receptacle often requires preparing a new wire termination and connection, so many of us amateur DIY’ers have a handheld wire stripper or two in our toolboxes – and have also mastered the art of twisting a stripped conductor around a terminal screw.

How to Tool Up for Larger Terminations

Chuck Ross
Installing a new light fixture or updating a light switch or receptacle often requires preparing a new wire termination and connection, so many of us amateur DIY’ers have a handheld wire stripper or two in our toolboxes – and have also mastered the art of twisting a stripped conductor around a terminal screw. But for professionals working in commercial, industrial and utility settings, a whole different set of tools is required to get the job done.

This list begins with the cutting tools used with the larger-gauge conductors providing service to these facilities – your handheld, pliers-style wire cutter simply won’t (pun intended) cut it in these applications. Ratcheted manual models are available for aluminum and copper cable, but for larger diameters and when working with steel cable, battery power can replace manpower to make the job a lot easier. Today’s lithium-ion batteries can deliver more than 7 tons of force to cut through 3 in. or more of copper or aluminum cable.

Of course, once the cable is cut, its end will need to be stripped in preparation for its connection. Again, the strippers used in commercial/industrial applications don’t look anything like what you might have in your kitchen tool drawer. Instead, more ergonomic – and powerful – manual options are available to make the circular, lateral and spiral cuts needed to expose cable for connectors or terminations.

Crimping tools, also, are significantly more impressive at industrial and utility scale. In these settings, ensuring compression meets manufacturers’ standards is especially important. Battery-powered crimping tools, with or without dies, help ensure pressure is sufficient to complete the termination or connection without damaging either the conductor or compression lug.
Photo courtesy of ILSCO
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