Tech Tips: Tools for The Job

March 2, 2018
Be a jack of all trades with the right tools and equipment

Most locksmiths probably divide their time between sales calls, service calls and installation of mechanical and electronic physical security access and surveillance systems.

Service calls are ideally drive-bys which can be resolved quickly, for which you can charge a flat rate and be highly profitable. Installations take way longer and may require many kinds of tools in order to result in a time-efficient and professional looking end product.

If you are a diversified locksmith, you also engage in a multitude of different types of installations, but not necessarily the same ones every day, so you might get rusty on some tasks.

As you gain experience, you will find specific tools which work well for you. Some are multi-purpose while others may only be for specific purposes and particular occasions.

I admit that it can become rather silly collecting an individual tool for every situation, and it only gets worse if you insist on carrying them all on your work belt. I’ve known guys who have gotten slipped disks and plumber’s butt from carrying a lot of tools on their belt.

I also think toting a ton of tools up a ladder is dangerous for the mechanic and innocent civilians below the ladder.

But do not be afraid to use a tool if it enables you to work faster and provide a good install. You will also avoid damaging delicate parts or screwheads by using the right tool for the job.

Unfortunately tools and test equipment can get damaged, stolen or lost, so perhaps buying the most expensive tool (“AKA Professional Grade”) may not represent the wisest investment for the working locksmith, but trying to do work safely, perform quality work or take accurate measurements with poor equipment is not smart either. You must use discernment. Below are some of my tried and true favorites.

Milwaukee 2202-20 Voltage Detector with LED

The Milwaukee Voltage Detector with LED is used for residential, commercial and industrial applications. The 2202-20 can detect between 50 and 1000V AC and has an industry leading safety rating of CAT IV 1000V.

With a built-in bright LED worklight, the 2202-20 is two tools in one. The durable tip allows for easy checking of power outlets. The 2202-20 is also designed with a green "Power On" indicator light so you know the voltage detector is working properly before use.

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Platinum Tools ezEX-RJ45® Termination System

In today’s networks, twisted pair cables are demanding more speed and bandwidth. To help meet these requirements, Cat5e/6/6A cables have increased in size. Both the outer diameter of the cable and the insulation diameter of the conductors are larger and vary by manufacturer, making cable and connector compatibility a challenge.

The patented ezEX-RJ45® Termination System is the solution — providing greater cable to connector compatibility to meet high performance demands. The ezEX-RJ45® connectors feature a unique integrated Hi-Lo stagger load bar and allows ‘big’ conductors to pass through the front end of the connector making it easy to verify the wiring sequence before terminating.

ezEX-RJ45® Connector features:

• Simple one piece/pass through design, no bars or liners

• Rated up to 10 Gigabit for superior performance

• Works with solid or stranded conductors from 24-22 AWG

• FCC, RoHS 2 & UL compliant

• Made in USA

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Platinum Tools 22-in-1 Security Screwdriver Kit

Security installers can reach into those deep crevices with ease and never be without the right screwdriver. The Platinum Tools 22-in-1 Security Screwdriver Kit features a non-slip, comfort grip handle with a high impact plastic core and 11 double sided security shaft style bits. The shaft style enables access into recessed screws up to 5 inches deep. The bit load includes multiple sizes of security Torx® hex and Robertson along with spanners and tri-wings. This kit can be used on standard hex and torx screws and includes a slotted and Phillips head bit for traditional screwdriver applications.

Bits Included:

Security Torx® T8, T10, T15, T20

Security Hex (Fraction): 1/8”, 9/64”, 5/32”, 3/16”

Security Hex (Metric): 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5.5mm

Security Robertson: 1, 2

Spanner: 4, 6, 8, 10

Tri-Wings: 2, 3

Slotted: 7/32"

Trine 4850-ITL

Trine’s 4800 series electric strikes for surface mounted rim panic devices come equipped with features that make them flexible and adjustable.

Features include a 3 hour fire rated strike, alow current “POE” model and a unique anchoring system for high traffic installations.

The 4850-ITL Custom Center Punch installation tool has magnets installed which allows it to attach to metal frames, allowing you to:

  • Adjust and center the strike before ever drilling a hole eliminating the mistakes.
  • Increase your installation speed on those larger jobs.
  • 1/4” Spacer included, so the tool becomes 3/4” thick, and is also magnetized. (screws on side anchor the spacer to the tool)

More Info:

IDEAL 61-035 E-Z Check Circuit Tester

Use the Ideal E-Z check circuit tester to verify whether a receptacle is properly wired and working without having to use a meter or some other means. Receptacles can be miswired with the ‘Hot’ and ‘Neutral’ interchanged, or the earth ground not connected any of which can potentially cause problems or pose a danger to you or to individuals using equipment connected to them.


  • No-slip ergonomic design maximizes comfort
  • Premium neon lamps prevent false readings
  • Tough, impact-resistant case
  • Tests for correct wiring, open ground, reverse polarity, open hot, open neutral, hot on neutral, hot and ground reversed with open hot in 3-wire, 125V AC circuits
  • 5-year warranty

More Info:

A1 Bulls Eye Installation Tool

A1’s Bulls Eye Installation Tool was designed specifically for locksmiths. The Installation Tool comes ready to drill 1½ and 2⅛ cross bores. The Bulls Eye Installation Tool includes an automatic toggling backset adjustment and self-centering alignment guide which allows users to easily drill a latch hole. The clamping surfaces are lined with a neoprene surface that virtually eliminates slipping when properly mounted to a door. Users also have the ability to add straps and another BUL-2 for interconnecting locksets or dual bores.

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IDEAL Cable Tester

The IDEAL 62-200 is an easy-to-use and very durable LinkMaster™ UTP/STP Tester for UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) and STP (Shielded Twisted Pair) wiring.

• Checks continuity and configuration of wiring with unshielded and shielded modular plugs.

• Tests for open circuits, shorts, miswires, reversals, and split pairs.

• SHIELD detection tests a cable’s shield integrity.

• Main unit and one remote allow one person testing of T568A, T568B, 10Base-T, and Token Ring.

• Remoteunit has wiring chart on it identifying T568A and T568B wiring configurations.

• DEBUG quickly identifies which cable pairs have a specific wiring fault.

• Battery low LED indicates replacement is necessary.

Note: Although the IDEAL LinkMaster™ jack contact main unit and remote are equipped with 8 position modular plug jacks, cables with smaller 6 position and 4 position connectors may also be tested.

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Lutz 6-in-One Screwdriver

If you want to travel light while making sales, service calls and scouting missions, the Lutz screwdriver might be the one you choose.

You can also order this product and keep a display on your sales counter next to the cash register. Get you company name put on them as an excellent advertisement.

This tool has ergonomic handles and high-strength, heat treated bits, the Lutz “Mult-Bit Screwdriver Collection” is a quality product.

It will last forever unless left out in the rain for a few seasons, or it you try to use it to chisel concrete.


  • 6-in-One Driver offers:
  • 1/4" Slotted Bit
  • 3/16" Slotted Bit
  • #1 Phillips
  • #2 Phillips
  • 5/16" Nut Driver
  • Lifetime Guarantee

All Lutz Bits are long-lasting, made of chrome vanadium 6150 steel alloy and are heat treated to a Rockwell of 58 to 60. In addition, they are sprayed with an oil mist to avoid rust.

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Klein Electrician’s Scissors

I used to sneer at electricians and telephone guys walking around jobsites with electrician’s scissors rather than “sophisticated” wire strippers. But once you use these for a while, you begin to appreciate what a versatile device they really are.

With practice, you can strip just about any wire from Category 6 solid conductor, low voltage stranded cable like #18 gauge, and even solid electrical “house” wire without damaging the wire or yourself.

I prefer the models with the unique oblong finger grip and yellow insulation. Plastic insulated grips make me feel a whole lot safer than using an uninsulated tool on an electrical cable, (even if they swear the breaker is off.)

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These are available in a variety of configurations, from many different vendors, at many price points. I’ve have my current one for at least ten years. It has gotten damaged, but I’ve repaired mine to brand new condition. Quality tool suppliers like SOG have spare parts.

I always have one on my belt since they are light and inobtrusive, and they can have many many tools in one package.

My biggest complaint about my multi-tool is that it is uninsulated, and I am usually nervous using the pliers around anything with electrons.

I’ll usually try to use my scissors first, but scissors just do not work as an adequate substitute for pliers.

Of course there is a half a ton of all sorts of hand and power tools on the van, but you know the saying “Time is money” and if the van is 20 floors below in underground parking, it’s tempting to try to get’er done with what you have at hand or in your pocket.