You’ve probably witnessed professional electricians using various tools to pull cables and wires. Whether you’re dealing with high-voltage or low-voltage cables, it’s crucial to have the best wire pulling tools at your disposal. Understanding how each tool works and performs differently is equally important. In this article, we will help you make the right choice when it comes to selecting a wire pulling tool for your specific needs. We will also delve into the functions of different tools and the situations in which they excel. So, let’s get started!
The Mighty Fish Tape: A Game-Changer for Cable Pulling
If you’re looking to pull 12-gauge or low-voltage cables through conduits, investing in a good fish tape is essential. This versatile tool can make or break your cable pulling experience. Look for features that prioritize safety and efficiency.
Consider opting for non-conductive materials like fiberglass, or choose tapes with threaded or adjustable nosepins that can adapt to your specific requirements. Fiberglass tape offers additional protection against contact with live circuits, although it may be less rigid compared to steel tapes. Steel tapes, on the other hand, provide greater authority and force before bending.
When purchasing a fish tape, ensure that you have enough length to handle your tasks effectively. Additionally, invest in stable and sturdy reels that won’t easily tangle. We highly recommend the Southwire SIMpull range and some models from Klein Tools. For longer, curved 1/2″ conduit jobs, you might require the stiffness of a traditional steel or fiberglass product.
For your convenience, here are our top recommendations for the best fiberglass fishing line tape and fish tape:
- Best Fiberglass Fishing Line Tape: Southwire SIMpull Non-Conductive Fishing Line Tape (Video) – Buy Now ($76.99)
- Best Fish Tape: Klein Fish Tape – Buy It Now ($24.99)
Pull Rods: Your Trusty Fishing Companions
Pull rods, also known as fishing rods, offer a different approach compared to fish tapes. Unlike fish tapes, they are shorter and do not require reels. These rods are perfect for fishing up and down wall cavities and navigating through hidden areas. Their extra rigidity gives you a competitive advantage. You can even splice rods together to achieve longer lengths.
Consider purchasing rods with glow sticks that enhance visibility in ceiling, floor, and wall cavities. If you primarily work with light tasks or shorter distances, non-conductive wire tie rods will serve you well. With lengths ranging from 3 to 6 feet and various head options (such as magnetic, loop, and hook), pull rods are ideal for pulling network cables, cable/satellite TV, telephones, thermostats, and other short-distance wiring or cables.
We highly recommend the Klein Tools Splinter Guard Rod and the Greenlee Fiberglass Fishing Rod:
- Best Fiberglass Rod: Klein Tools Splinter Guard Rod – Buy It Now ($144.99)
- Also Recommended: Greenlee Fiberglass Fishing Rod – Buy It Now ($63.27)
Piping Pistons, Airbags, and Blower/Vacuum Systems: A Clever Solution
To successfully pull cables through lines or pipes, you need to attach them to a catheter plunger and use suction to guide them through. This technique ensures a seamless and efficient process, simultaneously cleaning the pipes. It’s particularly useful for high-end residential and commercial jobs that involve longer distances. Although there is some preparation involved, the benefits are worth it. When dealing with bent or blocked catheters, airbags are an excellent choice as they accommodate the needs of non-direct catheters more effectively.
Lightweight Nylon Drawstring/Rope: Your Reliable Companion
When it comes to cable pulling, you’ll need a properly sized nylon rope that is strong, lightweight, and offers high tensile strength. The tensile strength is typically measured in pounds, indicating how much force the rope can withstand. Keep in mind that higher strength usually means a heavier rope. Some companies, like Kena, offer piston/cord combo kits for vacuuming through ducts.
For short runs, you can explore options like the Klein Tools Magnetic Pull Line System – Buy Now ($38.91) or the Fish n Pull Pull Line System.
Essential Tools for Commercial Conduits
When working on residential electrical projects, a right-angle drill is usually sufficient for making holes in metal. However, if you’re dealing with steel studs in commercial settings, investing in metal stud punches can save you a great deal of hassle. These punches eliminate the need to insert metal conduits through steel studs and ensure they are protected from sharp edges.
Conduit benders are another essential tool, especially for commercial catheters. While more complex models are available, manual “hand” benders can efficiently handle tasks if you don’t anticipate bending a large amount of material in a day. The “hand” bender rests on your foot, with the metal handle serving as the fulcrum for the bend. For larger projects, a power pipe bender is often present to facilitate bending larger pipes.
Here are our top recommendations for catheter and power benders:
- Best Catheter Bender: Klein Catheter Bender – Buy It Now ($40-$80)
- Best Power Bender: Southwire Bendmax Compact Power Bender – Buy Now
Wire Lubricant: The Unsung Hero
It may sound obvious or even like a bad joke, but wire lubricant significantly eases the process of pulling wires. A high-quality wire lube not only reduces mess but also goes a long way with minimal usage. Look for non-corrosive options compatible with materials such as aluminum, copper, PVC, and galvanized steel. After application, the lubricant dries into a non-toxic lubricating powder. Wire lubricants are especially useful for high-stress electrical work and telecommunication cable pulling, where friction is a major concern. Most lubricants are water-soluble and gentle on the skin. The newest offerings claim to be 100% non-toxic and eco-friendly.
Our top recommendation for wire lubricant is the Klein Foaming Wire Lubricant.
We hope this guide has provided you with valuable insights into the best wire pulling tools available. By choosing the right tools, you can significantly reduce the time and effort spent on pulling wires through walls or conduits. Familiarizing yourself with lesser-known tools like airbags can help you navigate through imperfect conduits with ease. Additionally, advancements in fiberglass glow sticks and foam lubricants promise to accelerate your workflow. Let us know your personal favorite wire pulling tool in the comments below!
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