Posted by:on September 25th, 2012
I’ve been trying to head to my near-neighborhood small, independent hardware store as much as possible insteadof heading to one of the two big national chains nearby. The limited hours can be a little inconvenient, and the selection can be a little meager, but it’s not too bad. Of course if I go to Lowes or Home Depot, I’m not afraid to buy a bunch of crap I might not need because I know I can always return it. At my local shop I’m more conservative, because they aren’t really set up for doing a lot of returns. I was in the middle of rewiring my garage and misplaced the hundredth roll of electrical tape, so I hopped on the bike to go buy some more. I also wanted to pick up a new pair of electrical pliers because I tried to cut some (non-electrical) hard metal once and really chewed them up. The way these independent stores try to compete is by hooking up with a smaller national chain dealers, which allows them to buy things cheaper than they would if they were completely on their own. My local shop is a Do it Best affiliate, and as a result they have a bunch of product with the “Do it Best” brand. I had a choice of two sets of pliers: the same kind I already had for about $20; or the Do it Best pliers for about $11.
I was hesitant about the DIB pliers because the handles were shorter in comparison, but they did have nicer grips so I decided to give them a shot. I found these pliers almost instantly frustrating. Cutting individual wires is a pain in the ass because the cutting surface is small (basically the same width as a piece of Romex) and it’s on the inside of the fulcrum. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but try un-trainning yourself from a lifetime of using scissors a specific way. It’s really awkward. I was using these to cut 12 gauge wire because 20 amps is how I roll baby. Cutting the fully sheathed Romex was basically not happening. I think I got it work once, basically the first time. On top of that, this tool is missing a super simple but massively useful feature, the little hole next to the edge that you use to bend the wire over and make a perfect little “U” for putting on the terminals of a switch our outlet. It’s got holes for measuring the gauge of wite, but they aren’t aligned in a way to bend the wire. So basically, these pliers are good for stripping individual wires, and that’s about it. The manufacturing quality seems reasonable but the design is so poor that I can’t recommend these pliers at all. My advice, spend the extra money on a different pair.
Next up, Friction tape. Now it’s my fault that I bought this. I grabbed the biggest roll of tape next to the electrical pliers without really looking at it closely. I got “friction tape” instead of pvc electrical tape. I unwrapped it and knew I made a mistake. It was sticky on both sides, but not not really sticking to anything. I wrapped an outlet and it pulled off as I was stuffing it into the box. I had to look up friction tape to see what it actually used for. Friction, I guess, with a secondary use for electricians because of it’s insulating properties. Useless. Maybe it was old stock left over from the 40’s. Maybe they keep it in stock for all the old timers in the neighborhood, but again, it’s useless, so why carry it.
Most unsatisfying trip to a hardware store ever.