Electrician Barry Shaw explains how his time-saving, socket spacing invention Speedy Sparky was conceived.
Electricians are an inventive bunch. It’s great when we get stories about guys on the tools coming up with their own creative solutions that help solve everyday problems and complete work quickly and efficiently. Some inventions are better suited for the mass market, and it’s fascinating to hear how these ideas come about and when the inventors had their “eureka!” moment.
Barry Shaw, an electrician based in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, got in touch with us recently to talk about his socket spacing invention, the Speedy Sparky. “As any good electrician knows, having the right tools makes the job ten times easier,” he explained. “I always keep my eyes open for any tool which can speed things up.”
“The Speedy Sparky, as it exists today, is made out of a tough plastic with a structural ribbing on the back which helps keep the product light but strong.”
It was this approach that led to the conception of his product. Barry had been completing the first-fix on a run of three-storey townhouses, replicating the same routine of work across all the properties. Early on in the job he realised that some form of stencil would dramatically speed up the process. He could quickly mark where each socket should go, ensuring they’re all straight, spaced evenly and uniform with each other.
“I went out that night to the local electrical wholesaler to buy what I thought was quite an obvious and simple tool,” said Barry. “I asked in the first wholesaler and they didn’t have anything like it. I then went on to try all of the wholesalers that I knew but not one had a tool for speeding up the marking of my electrical sockets.”
Refusing defeat, Barry took matters into his own hands. He cobbled together a rough version of his own solution out of wood that night and when he took it to the site the next day, he completed his work in a fraction of the time.
“It was a bulky piece of kit but did the job,” he says. “The next day, I took it in and went to work on my next townhouse first-fix. I received a lot of weird looks carrying the tool to and from the house which I was working in, but it did speed up my job five-fold.
“There were obvious flaws in the initial design, so that night I went back to the drawing board, this time coming up with a flat stencil which was light, easy to use and incorporated a spirit level.”
Ready for market
The Speedy Sparky, as it exists today, is made out of a tough plastic with a structural ribbing on the back which helps keep the product light but strong. The sides of the product have a 30° angle to aid in the marking of sockets on the walls with your pen or pencil and there is a 40° angle on the drill hole positions to help guide where to position your drill bits.
It’s a very simple piece of kit but Barry is confident of having a product that can help our nation’s sparks to save time on each job and maximise their potential earnings.