Discuss Do I need a torque screwdriver set? in the Electrical Tools and Products area at ElectriciansForums.net

Steady Steve

Trainee
Reaction score
1
Welcome to ElectriciansForums.net - The American Electrical Advice Forum
Head straight to the main forums to chat by click here:   American Electrical Advice Forum

I've just started my training and am interested in what tools are essential when first starting out. Is the torque screwdriver regarded as one of the useful tools in the toolbag? Thanks
 

Matthewd29

-
Esteemed
Arms
Reaction score
2,232
No probably not.I had one for 3 years and used it twice, then sold it. For some specialist applications then torque tools are required but for the majority of the work I do I'm comfortable I've tightened stuff correctly with a normal screwdriver
 

nicebutdim

-
Esteemed
Arms
Reaction score
2,278
If you're starting to gather up tools, I wouldn't be too concerned about a torque screwdriver just yet.

Pliers, shears, side cutters, screwdrivers would be the basics to start with, then increase that range of hand tools depending on what sort of work you find yourself doing. Maybe add a pair of 8" grips to the list of essential tools - I hate them, but have to conceed they cover a lot of uses.
 
OP
Steady Steve

Steady Steve

Trainee
Reaction score
1


No probably not.I had one for 3 years and used it twice, then sold it. For some specialist applications then torque tools are required but for the majority of the work I do I'm comfortable I've tightened stuff correctly with a normal screwdriver
That's good to know. There seem to be so many tools available - of varying specialisation - that I only want to look at those that are necessary. A cable stripper is something that I did recently purchase.
 
OP
Steady Steve

Steady Steve

Trainee
Reaction score
1
If you're starting to gather up tools, I wouldn't be too concerned about a torque screwdriver just yet.

Pliers, shears, side cutters, screwdrivers would be the basics to start with, then increase that range of hand tools depending on what sort of work you find yourself doing. Maybe add a pair of 8" grips to the list of essential tools - I hate them, but have to conceed they cover a lot of uses.
Thanks, now that's a very reasonable list!
 

littlespark

-
Esteemed
Arms
Reaction score
10,493
The only thing where a torque driver would need to be used is a consumer unit, where there is a Nm value stated for tightening terminals.
If your just starting out, you won’t be doing many of them.

It is argued that too tight can be as bad as too loose, but as you progress, you’ll get a sixth sense with a manual driver whether it’s too tight or loose….

But then, your “tight enough” may be 2Nm, or 3Nm where the stated is 2.5.
 
OP
Steady Steve

Steady Steve

Trainee
Reaction score
1
The only thing where a torque driver would need to be used is a consumer unit, where there is a Nm value stated for tightening terminals.
If your just starting out, you won’t be doing many of them.

It is argued that too tight can be as bad as too loose, but as you progress, you’ll get a sixth sense with a manual driver whether it’s too tight or loose….

But then, your “tight enough” may be 2Nm, or 3Nm where the stated is 2.5.
That's useful to know. I should have tightened a few terminals by the time my training takes me to consumer units.
 

SJD

-
Mentor
Esteemed
Arms
Reaction score
2,183
You might not need a torque screwdriver for day to day use, but I'd suggest you need one in your toolbox once you are completing jobs like consumer unit changes. So that you have the means to tighten terminals to manufacturer's specifications, even if you think you can do it accurately enough without.

Years ago, my college tutor told us of a court case, where an electrican was asked about the content of his toolbox, and it didn't include a torque screwdriver. He was then asked how me managed to tighten the terminals to the correct values. He had no defence. Don't recall the rest of the details (I think something caught fire).
 

pc1966

Esteemed
Arms
Reaction score
6,812
The only +/- ones I have are bits for my torque screwdriver!

But they do make a difference as often the screw heads are easy to damage at higher torques, even if to begin with you are just given the job of dismantling stuff so unscrewing a tight fastener.

For many years the skill of sensibly tightening terminals was something that was learned as an apprentice, etc, so you could reliably make connections that would not undo with vibration or thermal cycling, as well as not leading to damage to the wire and/or cable clamp itself. But with the number of botched installations presenting a fire risk the industry has moved towards the use of torque tools to try and reduce dependency on such skill and to help get better control over results.

Also a torque set is quite a handy way to get a feel for what is correct for 2Nm, etc, but you can probably borrow one for such a trial.

That is much the same as garages have been for last 50+ years, most bolts/nuts are done by hand, but critical ones like cylinder head, water pump, driveshaft, etc, finished with a torque wrench.

Another factor is stuff being poorly done and often damaged on assembly is monkeys using an impact wrench. Except for some very specific tools, NEVER use a power tool on electrical terminals! Most impact drivers will, even at the lowest setting, hammer the faster home to a much higher torque that most can cope with. Typically the only ones likely to survive are going to be M8 or larger studs, etc. A moment's carelessness with my own impact driver (Milwaukee M18FID2) resulted in me shearing a M6 roofing screw when assembling cable try, so I am not joking!

Having said that, my impact driver is a most excellent tool to have (though not the cheapest) for drilling with the hex-shank bits, using the 20mm - 32mm hole saws for glands, etc, and for mechanical assembly/disassembly on larger wood screws or bolts as it really gets the job done quickly.

TL;DR Concentrate on basic hand tools first (as @nicebutdim said), then look at some useful power tools for mechanical work and as you get to assembly CU or other stuff with high current terminals then look at a torque set.
 

pc1966

Esteemed
Arms
Reaction score
6,812
You might not need a torque screwdriver for day to day use, but I'd suggest you need one in your toolbox once you are completing jobs like consumer unit changes. So that you have the means to tighten terminals to manufacturer's specifications, even if you think you can do it accurately enough without.

Years ago, my college tutor told us of a court case, where an electrician was asked about the content of his toolbox, and it didn't include a torque screwdriver. He was then asked how me managed to tighten the terminals to the correct values. He had no defence. Don't recall the rest of the details (I think something caught fire).
Very good point!
 

timhoward

-
Esteemed
Arms
Reaction score
3,034
I really shouldn't admit this...but for several years I had something rather like this, picked up for about a tenner. Intended for bicycle use.
Obviously NOT insulated and lethal if not concentrating, but it indicated 2-10nm and got me by. (Some screws are less than 2nm on some consumer units, especially on earth and neutral bars.)

Do I need a torque screwdriver set? 1641980101287 - EletriciansForums.net

When I mislaid about 5 years ago I finally bought a proper Armeg set.

There is a modern bike tool that does 1-8nm and costs £39 but that is getting too close to the Toolstation £64 Draper 1-5nm VDE offering to be worth scrimping on.
So don't do what I did!
 
Last edited:

Rockingit

-
Mentor
Esteemed
Arms
Supporter
Reaction score
4,133
Another factor is stuff being poorly done and often damaged on assembly is monkeys using an impact wrench. Except for some very specific tools, NEVER use a power tool on electrical terminals! Most impact drivers will, even at the lowest setting, hammer the faster home to a much higher torque that most can cope with. Typically the only ones likely to survive are going to be M8 or larger studs, etc. A moment's carelessness with my own impact driver (Milwaukee M18FID2) resulted in me shearing a M6 roofing screw when assembling cable try, so I am not joking!

Having said that, my impact driver is a most excellent tool to have (though not the cheapest) for drilling with the hex-shank bits, using the 20mm - 32mm hole saws for glands, etc, and for mechanical assembly/disassembly on larger wood screws or bolts as it really gets the job done quickly.
I have an impact WRENCH (1/2") that I use constantly for deep socket 15/17/19mm work in generator busbar chambers, turns a 2m job into a 1s one - however - it's a Makita one with clever adjustable modes, so it's set so that as soon as it starts to actually impact it shuts off automatically so that you have more control over the final few 1/4 turns. Likewise it senses when the nut is loose and stops spinning so that you don't end up with it flying off. But I can't think that I've ever used a motorised tool on a standard terminal screw, or fixing plate, EVER in my now 34 years of sparkying. As the old saying goes.... "It's only fun until someone (or thing!) gets hurt"
 

pc1966

Esteemed
Arms
Reaction score
6,812
There is a modern bike tool that does 1-8nm and costs £39 but that is getting too close to the Toolstation £64 Draper 1-5nm VDE offering to be worth scrimping on.
So don't do what I did!
I have a selection of torque wrenches and screwdriver-like drivers for mechanical work and so I use them when needed for big terminals.

It makes me very uncomfortable, even when I have done the safe isolation and double checked everything, to be gripping such a large metal object that is now going on to a normally live terminal! Usually I make sure I'm not in contact with anything else, one time I donned my 1kV "you have been Tangoed" gloves as a precaution.

If I did more of that as a profession then I would spend the ~£1k on a VDE socket set and matching torque wrench(s) but as I have only needed to do so a few times in the last year or two I didn't.
 

pc1966

Esteemed
Arms
Reaction score
6,812
I have an impact WRENCH (1/2") that I use constantly for deep socket 15/17/19mm work in generator busbar chambers, turns a 2m job into a 1s one
Makes sense when the tool is able to deliver the torque control needed for the job.

Other than one special (and quite expensive) driver that was intended for speedy screw terminal work I really can't abide such tools used on screw terminals though. Was it Whia that made it? Cost about £300

My Milwaukee conventional battery power drill fails on this front as the torque control is not a mechanical adjustable slip-coupler but appears to be electronic motor control. What they seem to have overlooked is the equivalent inertia of a geared-down motor, it still tries to wrench itself from my hand when it jams, etc :(

Found it £282 inc VAT:
 

pc1966

Esteemed
Arms
Reaction score
6,812
I just checked the spec for my hex impact wrench:
  • Mode 1 : 119 Nm / 0 - 1,900 rpm / 0 - 1,200 ipm
  • Mode 2 : 176 Nm / 0 - 2,800 rpm / 0 - 3,400 ipm
  • Mode 3 : 226 Nm / 0 - 3,600 rpm / 0 - 4,300 ipm
  • Mode 4 : Self-tapping / faster installation time by reducing stripping of fasteners.
So it is pretty obvious why I was able to trash an M6 steel screw with it!

They also do a quieter hydraulic version, about £100 more, but its spec is 40Nm so while stupidly high by electrical terminal work, more reasonable.

From memory a typical M8 high tensile (8.8) bolt/nut is around 30Nm but for electrical use with lower strength materials probably half that.
 

Rockingit

-
Mentor
Esteemed
Arms
Supporter
Reaction score
4,133
If you are a cowboy electrician !!!!
Way back a few years ago we had really bad 'proper' snow down here and nobody could get anywhere as it's all small roads that get gritted last, I had some housecalls to do, just 10 min maintenance type stuff and I seriously considered riding out on my then step-daughters horse to go and get to them, thought it would be a nice novelty piece for the local rag - 'the electrician that always delivers no matter what' kind of nonsense. Then all the Cowboy Electrician potential jokes occurred to me so I refrained!! 🤠
 

LewisM

-
Esteemed
Reaction score
446
You'd have to really give it some with a screwdriver to damage a MCB or cable so a torque screwdriver I think is not worth the money but if you're doing anything that requires things like spanners, ratchets, hex keys etc then I'd use torque wrench or similar as it's very easy to overtighten fasteners/terminals as you have much more leverage and force
 
Reaction score
154
Some of these comments are just crazy...

SJD made the best comment... BS7671 which we use to cover our butts, if something goes wrong we can stand up in court and say it was not our fault cause we followed BS7671.... In there it states that electrical equipment must be installed by manufacturers instructions.. If the manufacturer specifies a certain torque level then how will you tighten it to that exact torque level without a torque screw driver? If you dont use a torque screwdriver you havent followed manufacturers instructions, if you havent followed manufacturers instructions you havent followed BS7671, if you havent followed BS7671 then you dont have a leg to stand on...

As for the impact driver, I hope that was a joke, I have one of those fancy Makita impact drivers, I still can break a no6 screw sometimes on the softest of setting with a bit of a slip and too many dugga dugga's.. They are great for quickly putting up cleats or screwing into wood etc but are too powerful no matter what setting you have it on for a terminal screw and risk causing damage that you sometimes cannot see..

There has been some great videos on both these topics by efixx, check it out..
 

nicebutdim

-
Esteemed
Arms
Reaction score
2,278
Some of these comments are just crazy...

SJD made the best comment... BS7671 which we use to cover our butts, if something goes wrong we can stand up in court and say it was not our fault cause we followed BS7671.... In there it states that electrical equipment must be installed by manufacturers instructions.. If the manufacturer specifies a certain torque level then how will you tighten it to that exact torque level without a torque screw driver? If you dont use a torque screwdriver you havent followed manufacturers instructions, if you havent followed manufacturers instructions you havent followed BS7671, if you havent followed BS7671 then you dont have a leg to stand on...

As for the impact driver, I hope that was a joke, I have one of those fancy Makita impact drivers, I still can break a no6 screw sometimes on the softest of setting with a bit of a slip and too many dugga dugga's.. They are great for quickly putting up cleats or screwing into wood etc but are too powerful no matter what setting you have it on for a terminal screw and risk causing damage that you sometimes cannot see..

There has been some great videos on both these topics by efixx, check it out..

OP is a guy starting out as a trainee.

Thread went sideways as expected, but I think he gets the drift that no trainee will be expected to turn up on their first day with anything more than a basic range of tools - certainly not a torque screwdriver.

What I would suggest to the OP is keeping an eye on tools you intend buying in the future - maybe even a list on Amazon where everything can be kept in one place. As offers appear from various suppliers, you can save a significant amount. Even basic hand tools can vary by £10-20 from one place to the next, so plan ahead and keep costs to a minimum.
 

Matthewd29

-
Esteemed
Arms
Reaction score
2,232
Some of these comments are just crazy...

SJD made the best comment... BS7671 which we use to cover our butts, if something goes wrong we can stand up in court and say it was not our fault cause we followed BS7671.... In there it states that electrical equipment must be installed by manufacturers instructions.. If the manufacturer specifies a certain torque level then how will you tighten it to that exact torque level without a torque screw driver? If you dont use a torque screwdriver you havent followed manufacturers instructions, if you havent followed manufacturers instructions you havent followed BS7671, if you havent followed BS7671 then you dont have a leg to stand on...

As for the impact driver, I hope that was a joke, I have one of those fancy Makita impact drivers, I still can break a no6 screw sometimes on the softest of setting with a bit of a slip and too many dugga dugga's.. They are great for quickly putting up cleats or screwing into wood etc but are too powerful no matter what setting you have it on for a terminal screw and risk causing damage that you sometimes cannot see..

There has been some great videos on both these topics by efixx, check it out..
I am extremely confident fitting an mcb without a torque screwdriver. Extremely confident. As for the non compliance unless your an incompetent idiot who can't tighten a terminal screw or tightens it to the point it splits the breaker it's not an issue. Starting out as an apprentice he most certainly does not need a torque screwdriver yet.
 
Reaction score
154
I am extremely confident fitting an mcb without a torque screwdriver. Extremely confident. As for the non compliance unless your an incompetent idiot who can't tighten a terminal screw or tightens it to the point it splits the breaker it's not an issue. Starting out as an apprentice he most certainly does not need a torque screwdriver yet.

Well done, the problem is still some muppet comes in after you and does not tighten it properly afterwards, this causes a fire in which the whole family die, it is found the fire was due to a lose connection, using building compliance certificate it is found that you recently installed the consumer unit..

You end up in the dock and the first thing they ask is "Do you have a torque screw driver"... Your answer is "No".... They show you the big blue book and ask "Do you know what this is?" You reply "Well yes its BS7671 18th edition"... They ask did you comply with BS7671 when installing the consumer unit?"... You reply "Well obviously yes"... They then ask "So how did you achieve the correct torque settings required by the manufacturer which is also part of BS7671 installing equipment to manufacturers instructions?"

You are going to rely on "Its alright judge I am extremely confident, I dont need to comply with BS7671 cause im not a complete idiot who cant tighten a terminal screw correctly, it must have been someone else after me."

My point is even if you have actually done a good job, the fact that you cant show you complied with BS7671 could get you in trouble..

I am not saying its the first tool an apprentice needs but as soon as they are fully qualified and the buck is stopping with them then I would say yes it is important just to cover yourself.

I have to say it is amazing how tight 2.5nm actually is and I bet you would be surprised how far off you actually are, and how inconsistent you are, I don't care who you are how long you have been doing it you cannot get the correct torque setting using your arm alone and as its basically now a requirement of BS7671 if you are not using one you are not complying with BS7671, if your not complying with BS7671 then are you not really a bit of a cowboy? Honestly for the cost just buy one and you will be amazed how much more you need to tighten some of the terminals especially the higher range 2.5-3nm, you really have to hold on and crank it.
 

PEG

-
Mentor
Esteemed
Arms
Reaction score
6,593
You might not need a torque screwdriver for day to day use, but I'd suggest you need one in your toolbox once you are completing jobs like consumer unit changes. So that you have the means to tighten terminals to manufacturer's specifications, even if you think you can do it accurately enough without.

Years ago, my college tutor told us of a court case, where an electrican was asked about the content of his toolbox, and it didn't include a torque screwdriver. He was then asked how me managed to tighten the terminals to the correct values. He had no defence. Don't recall the rest of the details (I think something caught fire).

Hi,i reckon that college tutor would struggle to provide the details of that case,to make his point....

Any electrician,could justifiably state,that his ability to know if the terminals were adequately tightened,was due to training,and experience.

Tracing the cause of a fire,to a possible loose terminal,is a reasonable expectation,pending investigation,but asserting that the reason for it,was initial incorrect torque,would be extremely tricky.

As we all know,terminals can become "less torqued",for many reasons,temperature,vibration.....even repeated switching of MCB's on a busbar with some movement in it.

I have many instances where the correct torque,has resulted in either a terminal which was not sufficiently tight....or one which sheared off,before the correct torque was reached ......a manufacturer's instruction,should never trump a qualified opinion.

I think many of these types of story,are intended as instructional rhetoric,with the good intention, being a lecture point....which i can half understand.

I would like to think,that if the electrician in the story,had said he used his torque screwdriver,and the using of it allowed his defence.....the opposing brief,in order to justify his 800 dabs an hour,then asked him ".....and of course,you know the torque was correct,because you have a current and regular calibration of this device...." 😉

There are a lot of electricians out there,who terminate correctly and adequately,while a torque screwdriver sits in their tool bag,like the squeeky penguin,at the back of the shelf,on Toy Story 😗
 

Matthewd29

-
Esteemed
Arms
Reaction score
2,232
Well done, the problem is still some muppet comes in after you and does not tighten it properly afterwards, this causes a fire in which the whole family die, it is found the fire was due to a lose connection, using building compliance certificate it is found that you recently installed the consumer unit..

You end up in the dock and the first thing they ask is "Do you have a torque screw driver"... Your answer is "No".... They show you the big blue book and ask "Do you know what this is?" You reply "Well yes its BS7671 18th edition"... They ask did you comply with BS7671 when installing the consumer unit?"... You reply "Well obviously yes"... They then ask "So how did you achieve the correct torque settings required by the manufacturer which is also part of BS7671 installing equipment to manufacturers instructions?"

You are going to rely on "Its alright judge I am extremely confident, I dont need to comply with BS7671 cause im not a complete idiot who cant tighten a terminal screw correctly, it must have been someone else after me."

My point is even if you have actually done a good job, the fact that you cant show you complied with BS7671 could get you in trouble..

I am not saying its the first tool an apprentice needs but as soon as they are fully qualified and the buck is stopping with them then I would say yes it is important just to cover yourself.

I have to say it is amazing how tight 2.5nm actually is and I bet you would be surprised how far off you actually are, and how inconsistent you are, I don't care who you are how long you have been doing it you cannot get the correct torque setting using your arm alone and as its basically now a requirement of BS7671 if you are not using one you are not complying with BS7671, if your not complying with BS7671 then are you not really a bit of a cowboy? Honestly for the cost just buy one and you will be amazed how much more you need to tighten some of the terminals especially the higher range 2.5-3nm, you really have to hold on and crank it.
To summarise loosely, because i don't have a screwdriver families will die? Thank god I don't get involved in domestic work I'd be a mass murderer by this stage
 

nicebutdim

-
Esteemed
Arms
Reaction score
2,278
I am not saying its the first tool an apprentice needs but as soon as they are fully qualified and the buck is stopping with them then I would say yes it is important just to cover yourself.

First year apprentices shouldn't be working unsupervised and certainly not on DBs. As such it's fairly apparent that they won't need a torque screwdriver this early in their career.
 
Reaction score
154
First year apprentices shouldn't be working unsupervised and certainly not on DBs. As such it's fairly apparent that they won't need a torque screwdriver this early in their career.

Um I think thats exactly what I said, I said as soon as they are fully qualified and the buck stops with them.. A fully qualified electrician that is responsible for their work is clearly not an apprentice..
 
Reaction score
154
To summarise loosely, because i don't have a screwdriver families will die? Thank god I don't get involved in domestic work I'd be a mass murderer by this stage

Wow totally missed the point.. Thats not what I said and the worst summary.. A better summary would be using a torque screw driver proves you complied with BS7671 which covers your --- in the event of a problem even it it was not your fault...

Your argument is the same as someone that can drive but does not have a driving license.. Why do they need a driving license, they can drive, they have not got into an accident so why do they need one?
 

Reply to Do I need a torque screwdriver set? in the Electrical Tools and Products area at ElectriciansForums.net

Similar Threads

just thought I'd post these here in case anyone was interested in them. Have them advertised elsewhere also so may be removed any time. Armeg...
Replies
40
Views
2K
I am having more dealings with western power. In turn, they are now fitting series 8 cut outs and generally an isolator. Both of these have hex...
Replies
36
Views
2K
I lost my electric screwdriver for the day. I had to undo many, many socket screws by hand or with a big clunky drill and it made me realise how...
Replies
24
Views
2K
Hi Guys, Is my understanding of why it is bad for a star/delta motor to be stuck in star correct? 1) Star delta starting is used as a method of...
Replies
14
Views
661
During some down time, I was comparing tools tool carrying bags etc, e/when I harked back to the days of my mentots carrying their tools in a old...
Replies
19
Views
772

Electricians Tools | Electrical Tools and Products

Thanks for visiting ElectriciansForums.net, we hope you find the Electricians Tools you're looking for. It's free to sign up to and post a question yourself to find a tool or tool supplier either local to you, or online. Our community of electricians and electrical engineers will do their best to find the best tool supplier for you.

We also have a Tiling Tools advice from the worlds largest Tiling community. And then the Plumbers Forums with Plumbers Tools Advice.

New Posts (Please Reply)

Top