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Basic Hand Tools for Your Electronics Lab

Electronics has its own special tools and supplies. For starters, you'll need a basic set of hand tools. Specifically, you'll need these items:

  • Screwdrivers: Most electronic work is relatively small, so you don't need huge, heavy-duty screwdrivers. But you should get yourself a good assortment of small- and medium-sized screwdrivers, both flat-blade and Phillips head.

    A set of jeweler's screwdrivers is sometimes very useful. The swiveling knob on the top of each one makes it easy to hold the screwdriver in a precise position while turning the blade.

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  • Pliers: You will occasionally use standard flat-nosed pliers, but for most electronic work, you'll depend on needle-nose pliers instead, which are especially adept at working with wires — bending and twisting them, pushing them through holes, and so on. Most needle-nose pliers also have a cutting edge that lets you use them as wire cutters.

    Get a small set of needle-nose pliers with thin jaws for working with small parts, and a larger set for bigger jobs.

  • Wire cutters: Although you can use needle-nose pliers to cut wire, you'll want a few different types of wire cutters at your disposal as well. Get something heavy-duty for cutting thick wire, and something smaller for cutting small wire or component leads.

  • Wire strippers: Try removing the insulation from two pieces of wire — one with wire cutters and the other with wire strippers. Most likely you will notice the crimping on the one stripped with wire cutters, but not the one stripped with wire strippers. That crimp has created a weak spot in the wire that may eventually break.

    To avoid damaging your wires when you strip them, purchase an inexpensive (under $10) wire stripping tool.

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