Tools For Marine Electrical Work

Tools For Marine Electrical Work

Tools for Marine Electrical Work 

Below is a list of my go-to tool choices for simple electrical work aboard boats. I have used every tool on this list daily for the past two years. They have yet to fail me (and I just jinxed my whole tool bag now).

Please Note: I only recommend products from Amazon that I have personally ordered and used the heck out of it. If you decide to click on a below link and make a purchase, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases

 Screwdriver Set- Wiha six-piece insulated slotted and Phillip set. I love all six of these screwdrivers. They all get used daily (minus the largest slotted one). I really enjoy the grip and the machined tips. The Phillip series tips fit beautifully in almost every Philip head I have come across on a boat. Especially with all the products from Blue Sea Systems. I have yet to strip a screw head with this set. I also really enjoy that they are insulated and rated up to 1000V AC and 15000V DC. Wiha six-piece insulated slotted and Phillip set from Amazon

Wire Cutters- Klein Tools 11054 Wire Cutter and Stripper. This bad boy has probably made over 250,000 cuts and continues to cut great. I only use this tool to cut 8AWG wire and smaller. I also never use the stripping feature on this tool as I have a dedicated stripping tool. This tool will most likely strip wire well, but after using a Klein 45-092 Stripmaster, all other stripping tools (in my tool bag) are subpar. Klein Tools 11054 Wire Cutter and Stripper from Amazon

Cable Cutters- TEMco TH0001 Cable Cutter with 12-inch handles. When it comes to larger cables, this tool cuts through them with no problem. This tool is coming out if I cut cable ranging from 6AWG to 4/0AWG. I really like the 12-inch handles for that extra bit of leverage. For 4/0AWG cable, I will sometimes use a solid surface (garage floor, truck bed, dock etc…) to rest one handle on and use both hands on the other handle to push down and make a clean quick cut. This method places a lot of force on that one handle I am pushing down. I was at first nervous I would snap the handle. I have yet to snap the handle. Or break any piece on that tool. And this tool has probably cut 4/0AWG cable over 100 times. TEMco TH0001 Cable Cutter with 12-inch handles from Amazon

Wire Strippers- IDEAL 45-092 Stripmaster. 1000s and 1000s of strips and this tool still strips as perfectly as it did on day one. This tool’s only downside is working in a very tight area (Like a small bilge compartment or breaker panel enclosure). Due to the tool’s action, you need a little space around the tool to perform a clean easy strip. This tool’s insulation cutting dies have AWG and SAE stamped on them. You must make sure you are looking at the correct size for your wire gauge. Since this is for boat electrical work, you should always be using AWG-sized wire and cable. Other than that, I love this tool. I could have a stripper/cutter combo tool in my hand, and I would still walk over to my tool bag to get this tool out to perform the strip. IDEAL 45-092 Stripmaster from Amazon


Cable Strippers- GONICC Professional 8-inch Pruning Shears. I know I know. Why the heck did I just list pruning shears as my go-to cable stripper? Simple answer- It works great. Just like cable cutters, I use this tool for any cable between 6AWG and 4/0AWG. This tool makes cutting through the insulation relatively easy and produces a great even cut. It may take some practice at first, but you will develop the perfect technique of stripping off the insulation without even nicking a cable strand. I did use this tool as a cable cutter as well, but I ended up snapping a handle off while cutting through 4/0AWG cable. I now keep this tool strictly for stripping. GONICC Professional 8-inch Pruning Shears from Amazon


Ratcheting Crimp Tool- I have two. My all-time favorite ratcheting crimp tool is a Pro-HST (blue grip handles) I purchased from back in 2020. Since then, the Pro-HST has made 99.9% of all crimps. It has yet to fail me and is one of my most used and trustworthy tools. Sadly, Marinehowto no longer sells them, but they may be available in the future.

The silver medalist is the UL Listed FTZ 94230 ratcheting crimp tool (red grip handles). This crimp tool is a great option for the DIYer who doesn’t want to spend all his/her tool money on one tool. Performs a great crimp on both heat shrink and insulated terminals/connectors. For under $60.00 dollars, this tool is very hard to beat. 

UL Listed FTZ 94230 ratcheting crimp tool from Direct Current Boatworks


Heavy Duty Lug Crimp Tool- The FTZ Correct Crimp Heavy Duty Lug Crimp Tool 94284 is my tried-and-true tool when it comes to attaching lugs to cables. 100’s of crimps have been made with this tool. From 6AWG to 4/0AWG. All amazing crimps. When properly calibrated (which is an easy process) this tool will crimp to UL Specifications. FTZ Correct Crimp Heavy Duty Lug Crimp Tool 94284 from Direct Current Boatworks

Zip Tie Cutter- Tsunoda KBN-150 Cable Tie Cutter 6inch model. This tool has provided more clean flush cuts of zip tie ends than I can count. I personally pride myself in knowing the zip tie ends that I cut will do no harm to the unexpecting boat owner or Technician. The zip ties that bite are the ones cut with the infamous household dyke tool. This tool also has serrations at the base of the pliers which can grip the zip ties tightly while pulling it tightly around your wire bundle. Tsunoda KBN-150 Cable Tie Cutter from Amazon


Zip Tie Remover- ACT Cable Tie/Lacing Cord Removal Tool. When it comes to removing zip ties from wire bundles, wire looms, etc… this is the only tool you should use. It won’t gouge, nick, or cut anything but the zip tie you wish to cut thanks to the guards at the end of the snips. When using this tool, you will feel like a surgeon as you must be delicate and precise when removing zip ties from wire bundles. ACT Cable Tie/Lacing Cord Removal Tool from Amazon


Torque Wrench- Tekton 1/4th Drive Click Torque Wrench (20-200inch lbs.). Almost every studded post has a torque specification. From battery posts to terminal blocks. Blue Sea Systems is great at providing the torque specs right on the packaging of the product and on their site. Some battery manufacturers have the torque specs listed on the battery label while for others you have to go online and search for it. I truly believe all nuts on electrical posts should be torqued down. It’s a vital connection point and an extra minute of your time to torque to standard will most likely save you hours of trouble later down the road. Tekton 1/4th Drive Click Torque Wrench from Amazon

 Tool Set- DEWALT Mechanics 247-piece Tool Set. This tool set has yet to not provide me with the correct size tool when it comes to electrical work. If you are planning on doing mechanical work or installing a component other than electrical, you may find the largest sockets and wrenches inadequate. All the tools function and look the same as the first day I received them. I even got caught in a couple of rainstorms with this tool kit open and all I did was give the tools a quick wipe down and closed the case back up. I was certain I would open the case the following day to see rust everywhere. I was wrong. To date, these tools are rust-free. DEWALT Mechanics 247-piece Tool Set from Amazon

Heat Gun- Wagner Spraytech HT400 Heat Gun. My favorite part about this heat gun is how small it is in comparison to others. It can easily get into small bilge compartments, behind breaker panels, and in small center console helms. It has a low and high setting. I use the high setting (around 680 degrees) 99.9% of the time. I really enjoy the relatively low temperature of even the high setting as it won’t immediately begin to alter/melt the insulation of the wire of the heat-shrink material. I have used some heat guns in the past where you must be at an exact distance for an exact period or else the heat shrink material simply rips and or the insulation begins to melt. This heat gun is simply forgiving. This perk could also be seen as a minor downside as it takes a little longer for the heat shrink/adhesive to melt. Not much longer, but it does take a little more time. Wagner Spraytech HT400 Heat Gun from Amazon


LED Work Light- Lmaytech Rechargeable Work Light. These work lights have treated me well for the past few seasons. They are small, have a magnetic base and the light output is solid enough when working in bilge compartments, behind electrical panels and other small dark areas on a boat. These lights will not light up large areas like engine rooms. I bought the two pack, so I always have a work light on charge (via USB adapter in truck). The run time on these lights isn’t too bad and you will get solid lighting for around two hours or so. As time goes on, the light output will get dimmer and dimmer on you. They are also built well enough to be dropped multiple times in grimy bilge water. Which is a huge plus when switching out faulty bilge pumps. Lmaytech Rechargeable Work Light from Amazon


 Tool Mat- GRYPMAT. I have the medium size mat. Every single time I step aboard a boat, this mat is in my hand. One of my rules is to never lay a tool bare on a boat. Meaning I hate to place a tool right on the boat deck, a seat, the helm etc… There must be a safe barrier between my tools and the boat. This accomplished that task flawlessly. This mat also keeps all your tools, screws, parts etc.. all in one place as well. If you ever laid a screwdriver down on the deck or the bilge, you know it ends up rolling away from you. This mat prevents that and will stay in place wherever you place it. I am very thankful I came across this product. GRYPMAT from GRYPMAT


Tool Bag- Rugged Tools Titan Deluxe Tool Roll. I needed a compact tool bag that could hold all of my essential tools. Well, I found it. I never realized how great a rollout tool bag was until I got one. This tool bag has five big zipper pouches and a flat zipper pouch at the top. This tool bag easily holds all my essentials and gets carried on board with me 100% of the time. Rugged Tools Titan Deluxe Tool Roll from Amazon



 At this point in the article, you are probably saying - "Hey Ben, where the heck are your diagnostic (multimeters, conductance testers, etc..) tools?" And that would be indeed a great question. I left out these tools as I feel they deserve their own article, and I am currently testing out more budget friendly multimeters. My go to multimeter currently is the Fluke 325 True RMS Clamp Meter. I love this multimeter and it has treated me well for years. However, this multimeter is most likely overkill for most boat owners with a price tag most will run away from (me included, but it's a crucial tool and a necessary work expensive). So, stay tuned for a future article pertaining to budget friendly multimeters. 

And like always, don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, thoughts or concerns about anything within this article, or about your boat's electrical system in general. If I can help out, I most certainly will. 


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