Module three: Core Electrician's Tools
What are side cutters used for?
Side cutters are predominantly used for cutting wire to specific sizes for the task at hand.
For preparing flat twin and earth wire (this is the grey coloured flat cable used for lighting and plug circuits) an Electrician will first cut along the wire to reveal the earth wire, then using the tip of the side cutter blades, the earth wire is pulled down the length of the cable.
This way the wire rips through the outer insulation, revealing the inner wires without there being any chance of damaging their insulation.
The traditional method for stripping the ends of the inner wires, is to use the blades of the side cutter to lightly cut and then pull off the insulation. It is quite difficult to do without damaging the copper core of the wire.
Doubling back wire
To make extra sure the connections are secure it is common practice (in the UK) to double back the wire. It is normally done by using the tip of the side cutters to roll the wire into a loop before squeezing the loop together using the blades of the cutter.
As you can imagine this takes some skill and can result in some damage to the wire.
Cutting Pattress Screws
Pattress screws? These are the screws that hold a switch or plug cover to the box sunk into the wall. For a variety of reasons, the screw holding a cover to its back box can be too long.
The box could be shallow, it could be mounted very close to the surface or long screws may be the only ones available so they need to be cut to length.
Cutting a pattress screw with side cutters damages the thread sufficiently to make it difficult to start in the box tab, an irritating time waster.
For all the above reasons, C.K Tools developed the combi cutter range