A few months back we ran a survey asking newsletter recipients to tell us about their favorite hand tools—specifically, their brand preference for 16’ tapes, 25-30’ tapes, screwdrivers, adjustable wrenches, lineman’s pliers, and pump pliers. The questions were multiple-choice so some brands may be missing. The tables below contain the responses of the 58 electricians who answered the survey. I have no idea if this is a statistically significant sample; all I know is 58 people took the trouble to respond, so I’ll share what they had to say.

Be sure to see the links to responses from other trades and the comments pulled from the surveys. Both can be found at the bottom of this page.

Electricians are more likely to use 16’ tapes (fewer say they do NOT use them) than finish carpenters, remodelers, and GC’s doing new construction. It makes sense; except for measuring the building and installing long runs of conduit, most of their measuring work takes place at close range.

Of the trades that responded to the survey in significant numbers only electricians favor Milwaukee's tapes over Stanley’s (Stanley or Stanley FatMax). Milwaukee has long been associated with the electrical, plumbing, and mechanical trades so it’s no surprise their hand tool products are popular with this crowd—even though they have only been out a few years.

I expected Klein to be dominant in the screwdriver category but to be the favored brand of nearly 3 out of 4 of the electricians who answered the survey is incredible.

There’s a reason why adjustable wrenches are referred to generically as “crescent wrenches”.

No surprise here. When an electrician asks for a pair of lineman’s pliers he usually say’s “hand me those Kleins”. Now we know why.

Tongue and groove slip-joint pliers were invented by an engineer at Champion DeArment in 1935 and trademarked as Channellock. The brand became so associated with tongue and groove pliers that in 1963 the company changed its name to Channellock.

Survey Results for Other Trades
Cabinet Maker/Installer or Finish Carpenter

  • All Trades Combined

    Selected Comments from Electricians

    16’ Tapes

    likes Milwaukee; says “It used to be Fat Max by Stanley but Milwaukee wins now!”

  • likes Milwaukee; says “Magnet is a must”
  • likes Stanley; says: Nice bright yellow with easy to read numbers. will extend almost 7 feet without bending/kinking.
  • 25-30’ Tapes

    likes Stanley; says “Also like Klein tapes”

  • Screwdrivers

    likes Craftsman; says “I like Craftsman brand because I really 'beat up' screwdrivers & these are guaranteed for life @ Sears. As I get older, I'm leaning towards Greenlee brand due to the rubber grip handles (I don't 'beat up' on screwdrivers as much anymore).”

  • likes Klein; says “They fit the screw head perfectly.”
  • likes “Other”; says “Used to like VACO, but don't think they're around anymore. Klein is good. Also Stanley and Craftsman.”
  • Lineman’s Pliers

    likes “other”; says “I have a 42 year old T&B Lineman's pliers that I wish they would make again.”

  • likes Channellock; says “The wire cutters are hardened and last a good long time. I've even cut a nail or two, and I still can't see 'daylight' thru them. The jaws are hardened also; giving a nice 'diamond' pattern that seems to last forever. The only time I will give up these pliers is when the insulated grips wear out/thru.”
  • likes Klein; says “Used Klein 5 to 7 days a week for 50 years.”