To save small parts during a project, don’t overlook plastic sandwich bags or the small plastic bags available at the grocery store. Throw the parts in the bag and tack it up on the wall. Then, if you don’t get back to the job right away, all the little parts will be there waiting for you. This idea works well while doing electrical work; put receptacle screws and covers in a bag and tack it up next to the outlets as you work on them.
Keep a mound of modeling clay handy to your soldering equipment. You can use it to hold small pieces at odd angles to each other. Push the ends of the items into the clay and position them so they meet each other. The modeling clay will hold the pieces securely and eliminate any metal contact from a vise that can conduct heat away from the work.
Never use an extension cord while it is coiled or looped. Never cover any part of an extension cord with newspapers, clothing, rugs, or any objects while the cord is in use. Never place an extension cord where it is likely to be damaged by heavy furniture or foot traffic.
Don’t overload extension cords by plugging in appliances that draw a total of more watts than the rating of the cord. Use special, heavy duty extension cords for high wattage appliances such as air conditioners, portable electric heaters, and freezers. When using outdoor tools and appliances, use only extension cords labeled for outdoor use.
Check the plug and the body of the extension cord while the cord is in use. Noticeable warming of these plastic parts is expected when cords are being used at their maximum rating, however, if the cord feels hot or if there is a softening of the plastic, this is a warning that the plug wires or connections are failing and that the extension cord should be discarded and replaced.
Replace cracked or worn extension cords with new. #16 gauge cords that have the listing, of a nationally-recognized testing laboratory, safety closures, and other safety features. With cords lacking safety closures, cover any unused outlets with electrical tape or with plastic caps to prevent the chance of a child making contact with the live circuit.
If your extension cord gets tangled up, don’t pull on the ends. Instead, gently loosen all the tighter snarls in the middle until them become larger loops that can easily be untangled. A way to avoid tangles is to use a retractable cord reel. It will let you reel out only the amount of cord you need, then quickly reel it back when you’re done.
When you hook up a power tool to an heavy-duty extension cord, remember that all cords are not alike and all power tools do not necessarily require the same size cord. Check each tool’s owners manual to find out its requirements. Here’s a helpful guide for cords less than 50 ft.
#12 gauge – 1920 watts – 16 amps – large bench saws
#14 gauge – 1440 watts – 12 amps – portable power saws, routers
#16 gauge – 840 watts – 7 amps – belt sanders, recip saws
#18 gauge – 600 watts – 5 amps – drills, small sanders
Wiring that falls out of its routing on equipment or trailers has a tendency to get torn off. Metal clips work to solve this problem, but another solution is to use silicone caulk. Put a dab where you want the wire to run, then push the wiring into the dab. Tape the wire lightly so it stays put while the silicone cures.