How To

When Stripping Wire, Be Sure To Use The Proper Tools

By Staff Reporter , Nov 29, 2019 11:48 AM EST
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Wire cutting and stripping can be confusing to understand. That is why proper tools are important. A safe and reliable electrical connection requires that your wire be properly stripped. It's important to remove the outer plastic without damaging the delicate wire inside. If it is damaged, it could result in an electrical short or other problems.

Manual Strippers


Manual wire strippers resemble scissors and feature notches to accommodate different wire gauges. Using the appropriate notch helps prevent damage to the wire. While you could use a knife to strip a wire, this is an easy way to damage it and is not recommended. You also run the risk of accidentally cutting yourself.

Self-Adjusting Strippers

Self-adjusting wire strippers make life easier when you have a big job. Simply insert the wire into the mechanism and compress the handles. They work with a large range of wire gauges and strip very reliably. Some even come with a feature to let you crimp or cut wires.

Wire Wrapper

If you're using a special tool to wrap the wire around something, it might also be equipped for stripping. With these, just insert the wire you want to strip into the appropriate spot and pull gently.

Using Manual Strippers

Insert the end of the wire into the appropriately sized notch until roughly 1/4" of the wire sticks out, or whatever length you wish to strip. Depress the handles and twist gently to sever the plastic sheathing. Afterwards, with the handles still depressed, carefully pull the cut portion of the sheathing off of the wire.

Using Self-Adjusting Strippers

This specialized stripping tool can save you a lot of work whether you're stripping one wire or several. For instance, you would strip an electrical cable by inserting it into the tool's cutting section and moving the guide away from the end to set the desired length. You may move the guide back to its original position when you're happy with the length. If stripping cable, it's recommended to cut a little more than the guide suggests. Place the cable into the stripper's jaws, adjust the tension knob as needed and squeeze. After the plastic layer is removed, insert the inner wires into the jaws, adjust the tension knob again, squeeze and you'll have a beautifully stripped wire.

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Wire Stripping Tip

It's extremely important that you use the correct notch size for your wire gauge. If it's too big, the wire won't strip or you may only remove a partial layer of the sheathing. If it's too small, you could cut too deep and cause damage. The notch will cut through the sheath and into the bare wire. If the wire is braided or stranded, this will cut off some of the small wires and weaken the overall structural integrity, making it susceptible to breaking. It could also cause an electrical short, which may damage equipment or cause a fire. If these small wires do become damaged, it's recommended to remove the damaged portion and start over.

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