Tech Tips: What’s In Your Toolbox?

Oct. 2, 2019
Handy installation tools for door hardware and electronics help get the job done right the first time

The purpose of tools is to make your work safer, faster and better and to leave behind a legacy to your professionalism and workmanship.

During the course of my career, I’ve used a plethora of tools towards these ends. Some tools claim to be labor saving, while others promise to be able to take the place of technical knowledge and craftsmanship.

Tools can definitely save you labor, but in my opinion rarely can act as a substitute for experience and skill.

As a matter of fact some tools are dangerous in the wrong hands, causing injury to the operator or damage to the device being installed and its intended destination (a door or frame or wall, or whatever).

Also having too many tools is problematical since they are heavy to carry and in order to be most effective you have to be able get your hands on the right tool when you need it.

Some technicians (like me) are involved in many activities involving many technologies. And there are always new and exciting tools and products being introduced.

As you use a tool, eventually it will wear out, and you are faced with the decision of whether to replace it with the same thing or find a new love.

This was the case for me many times, especially with battery powered tools and electronic test equipment.Also drill bits and hand tools.

If you bring your own tools to work, be sure you have an agreement with your employer that anything damaged or lost on the job will be replaced.

If you are self-employed, you already know the deal.

As an employee and as an employer, I was astonished at how otherwise normal individuals adopted totally irresponsible attitudes towards our employer’s (or in some cases MY) property, as if tools and materials were free and could be used and abused at will. Such behavior is wasteful and expensive.

You may have to lend your tools to apprentices who will break your stuff, and that items on your vehicle or left on-site may get stolen or lost. I’ve dropped many tools down into the abyss and they were gone forever.

Finally technology has evolved and needs change. For example, I used to carry around a multimeter that cost a few hundred dollars. I found that I had to be able to measure resistances and voltages safely and accurately.

At some point in time, my meter’s LCD display became damaged. I think moisture was able to seep into it after the glass cracked when my helper dropped the meter off a ladder.

So this was a terrific high-end meter, but the manufacturer discontinued it, and parts and service were unavailable. They said to buy the newer model they introduced to replace it.

But by that time, home centers started to sell many more low voltage accessories, and multi-meters were in widespread use.

So I replaced my meter with one that cost me less and I consider more an asset than a liability.

If you are a technician who works in a fixed location, you can have a big red console with many drawers brimming with shiny tools, but if you spend your time on the road and on a ladder, you may need to adjust your tool selection accordingly.

Trimco Fantom Series

These tool are offered by a company I featured in one of this month’s other articles, TRIMCO.

I like these because you have all the items you need to install the product in one place, knowing you has the right size, it is sharp, and it is appropriate for your installation.

How often have I started to install something and had to go up or down a size because the correct size bit was dull or missing? Working with dull bits or using the wrong size almost guarantees the job will take longer and will not be workmanlike.

PN FANTOM-INSTALL: This kit includes all tools (except powertools) required to install the Fantom Doorstop.

PN FANTOM-SHIM: For use when doors have a gap exceeding 10mm. The shim brings down the height of the striker plate and magnet to achieve a lower gap.

PN-FANTOM-TILE: For use when installing in a tiled flooring surface. The Diamond Corer allows for a clean, round 14mm hole to be drilled into tiled surfaces.

PN-FANTOM-ALUMDOOR: The Magnet Housing has been disguised to allow installation in hollow extrusion such as aluminum or steel framed doors. Can also be used on hollow core doors if necessary.

PN-FANTOM-CARPET: For use when installing in a carpeted flooring surface. It allows for a clean, round 14mm hole to be punched into the carpet before drilling, removing the risk of threading the carpet with the drill bit.

PN FANTOM-FACEMOUNT: Fantom Face-Mounts are designed for use when the installer does not wish to take the door off. Face-Mounts are ideal for use on front doors which often have thresholds and/or weather seals

Trimco added the Fantom line last year through an exclusive partnership with Fantom Hardware, a firm focused on the design and production of innovative products in interior design.

“We are excited to finalize and announce this channel exclusive partnership with Fantom Hardware. Leveraging our specification and manufacturing strengths in the North American construction markets, Fantom’s unique and patented product offering compliments Trimco’s position in the market as a trusted manufacturer of high-performance architectural hardware” states Trimco Vice President, Adam Matusz. “Along with our unique 3-dimensional branded Identity Hardware® portfolio, EPA-certified bactericidal copper Healthy Hardware® products and potential life-saving Lockdown Hardware™, the Fantom partnership and unique product range supports Trimco’s product strategy to deliver unparalleled product solutions to our distribution partners and end-user relationships.”

Fantom Hardware's Fantom Doorstop range has received multiple international design accolades including RedDot Design, Good Design, Design for Export and The Design100. The Fantom Doorstop is the #1 most viewed/searched doorstop product in the world with over 25 million impressions.

Mark Sellar, Fantom Hardware’s Managing Director comments, “Trimco has been an industry leader in the US for many decades so I feel very fortunate and humbled to be working with such a professional, longstanding business. With Trimco specializing in hardware specification and supply allows us to access US projects directly from the initial planning stages, which is a huge bonus as it secures our manufacturing schedule well into the future. On some occasions the hardware specified with Trimco may not be supplied for up to 18 months, so this gives us a fantastic opportunity to have a secured sales pipeline well into the future. I am thoroughly looking forward to working with the team at Trimco not only on our current product range but also on our future Fantom Defender range. We now have over 50 product SKU's in Fantom Hardware and will only expand on that in 2019.”

More Info:

Milwaukee 2202-20 Voltage Detector with LED

I’m not an electrician, but out of necessity have to deal with line voltage regularly. Determining if there is voltage present on a receptacle or power is a good starting point for troubleshooting why a door will not unlock.

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 work light, 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.

It’s under $30, and fits in your pocket. If you need to go deeper, get your multimeter.

More Info:

Platinum Tools ezEX-RJ45® Termination System

Most cameras are IP and use CAT5, and there are many POE access control and locking devices being used. But using the Platinum Tools EZ RJ-45 is a blessing because installing a RJ-45 connector on a piece of cable can turn into a frustrating time consuming project if you use conventional connectors.

Clinging to a ladder with perspiration in your eyes in poor lighting can create a hellish environment for connecting a surveillance camera.

I really like the EZ RJ 45 system.

Platinum Tools puts it this way:

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 new 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® Connectors

• 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

More Info:

IDEAL MODEL #62-200 Cable Tester

The IDEAL LinkMaster™ UTP/STP cable tester is easy to use and very durable.

Once the connectors are installed, you need to verify that the cable works. I’ve used several testers, including CAT 5 certification instruments.

For me the big problem has been that they burn out if you are testing a misfired cable. My helpers were always miswiring things then frying my testers.

They were probably pretty toasty themselves. And back then, it wasn’t legal. Today it’s got to be even a bigger problem.

This unit has survived and does the trick at a very reasonable cost.

• Test device used with 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.

• Remote unit 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. 

More Info:

About the Author

Tim O'Leary

Tim O'Leary is a security consultant, trainer and technician who has also been writing articles on all areas of locksmithing & physical security for many years.