Must-Have Install Gear You Hadn’t Even Thought About

I’ve never met an AV Pro who didn’t love tools and gadgets.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that of all the AV pros I’ve known all these years, their love of tools and gadgets vary only by degree. Some, like my friend and former co-worker Mike, one of the most talented installers I’ve known ,are at the far end of the bell-curve, in full-blown toolphoria. The man loves his tools, which he carts around in no less than three wheeled toolboxes of descending size, like poppa, momma and baby bear.

When the catalogs from tool vendors like Klein Tools arrived in the mail with their glossy, full-color pages, Mike’s eyes would light up like a child’s on Christmas morning.

In that context, I’m much more reasonable. I seldom impulse purchase shiny new tools. Well, hardly ever. What, to me, defines a tool is that it accomplishes a result that is either impossible to achieve without it, or does it better than an alternative.

Pablo Picasso famously said “Everything is either easy or impossible.”

The line between the easy and the impossible isn’t carved in stone, either. Often the difference between the two is having the right tool for the job.

There are a lot of great tools out there. And not all of them are expensive, esoteric or even all that glamorous. Sometimes the most useful tools are so unassuming that you can be forgiven for not knowing about them. Today I’m going to talk about two of them.

lee-gear_tie-1013NiteIze is a manufacturer that makes a variety of gadgets, from LED flashlights to tie-downs. Their Gear Tie family of products are reusable rubber twist ties which have a tough rubber shell that provides excellent grip, and a strong wire inside that holds its shape. Gear Ties are essentially a reusable zip tie. They come in six sizes (3″, 6″, 12″, 18″, 24″ or 32″) and have quite literally an endless number of applications.

The larger sizes are handy for things like tying up the cords of your power tools in neat coils or lashing tools and devices to a ladder when working up high. The smaller sizes can be used for all sorts of things, the most common being cable management in installations.

As a consequence of developers building MDUs as fast and as cheaply as they could during the housing boom the interior walls of many condo developments used sheet steel studs instead behind the drywall. A direct consequence of that for AV pros is the load-bearing capabilities of lag bolts and anchors when hanging flat panel displays or anything else for that matter.

lee-snaptoggle-1013It’s been around for a few years now, and yet I still find a lot of AV pros who’ve not heard of the SNAPTOGGLE, which is an essential anchor for mounting anything that has some mass to walls with metal studs. The SNAPTOGGLE Hollow-Wall Anchors holds up to 356 pounds in 5/8″ drywall. They also only require a hole from a 1/2″ drill bit, which minimizes the risk of mangling the client’s drywall. If that wasn’t enough, they’re reusable in the same hole; you can remove the bolt without losing the anchor behind the wall.

Here’s a handy instructional video that demonstrates how easy these things are to install. You can go to for more information, but they’re widely available at big box hardware stores.

Remember, having the right tools is often the difference between easy and impossible.