In this article, you will get to know the proper tools to both cut and strip wires. Many different tools could in theory be used to get the job done. However, to get the best long-term result, you will need some specific tools.
To cut a wire, you will need a diagonal plier, called a wire cutter. To strip a regular wire, you’ll need a universal wire stripper, that can handle both the outer cap and the inner insulated wires. For stripping lamp wires you’ll need a self-adapting wire stripper to get the best result.
Electricians, engineers, and other hands-on folks have their own favorite way of stripping and cutting wires. I work in the electrical trade myself and have developed my own preferences, which helps me in the daily work tasks related to this subject. In this article, I will tell you my favorite way of doing this job effectively and quickly.
Wire Cutters and Wire Strippers
Although many people use different tools for the same tasks, in order to do it correctly, you will primarily need two tools, to get the job done. A wire cutter and a wire stripper. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes. As cables also will come in different sizes, you can’t always use the same wire strippers and wire cutters for the same job. However, in most cases, in a typical household perspective, you will in most cases only need the following.
Wire Cutter: Tool to Cut a Wire
As the name suggests, a wire cutter is a proper tool to cut a wire. The correct term for this type of tool is a diagonal plier. There are many kinds of diagonal pliers on the market today. But when working with cables and wires, we want one with the ability to do heavy-duty work.
When choosing a wire cutter, you will need to look after some features. First of all, the most important thing, is that the grip of the plier is insulated. This protects you from most electrical hazards, in any instance, that the wire that you cut has a live current. If the grip was not insulated correctly, you would quickly realize that, if you’ve cut a live wire. The insulation has to protect your hands as much as possible and also needs to provide you with a firm and non-slip grip.
In order to deal with a few different sizes of cable, you have to choose a wire cutter, that can handle a few sizes. This means, that we want to pick a plier that is also able to do some heavy work. In this way, we can use it for many years to come. By choosing a heavy-duty wire cutter, this tool can also be applied in doing other tasks. In my job as an electrician, this tool is always in my pocket, as it comes in handy lots of times.
I don’t personally strip wires with a wire cutter, as many other electricians do. The reason is, that when stripping a wire with a wire cutter, you can accidentally damage the cobber or aluminum. By making a tiny scratch, the cable can actually break (or snap), and make the electrical components faulty. So, always use an insulated wire cutter for cutting a wire. I also don’t think it got its name by accident.
Wire Stripper: Tool to Strip a Wire
This tool will be applied to stripping insulation of a regular wire. To see the proper wire stripping tool for pulling off the insulation of a lamp wire, see the next section. Although, in most cases, the following tool will be all you need.
As mentioned, there is a multitude of wire strippers on the market today. Depending on the size of the cable, different tools will be needed. In order to strip the main power cable, you will oftentimes just need a folding knife, to pull the insulation off.
However, in this article, I will show a tool, that I have come to love over the recent years, for stripping regular cables. That tool is called a universal wire stripper and has been developed by KNIPEX. The universal wire stripper has functions that allow you to both easily pull off the other cap and remove the insulation on the inner cables.
The most important thing, as with the wire cutter, is that a wire stripper needs to be insulated. Added to that, the wire stripper needs to be insulated properly without having scratches, which could otherwise prove to be an electrical hazard. I know that could be perceived as an obvious statement. But I have been shocked myself by using tools with faulty insulation. This you only do once, as it hurts like a m**f***. In pliers and wire strippers, the insulation is made out of plastic and should cover the grip and tool area.
Wire Stripper Alternatives
The two mentioned tools for wire cutting and wire stripping would in most cases, be all you need. Although, if you were to install a lamp wire, these have wires that are distinctively different from a regular wire.
A lamp wire is different from a regular cable, in the structure of the cobber inside. In a regular cable, the cobber or aluminum is a solid structure. In a lamp wire, the cobber is made out of multiple tiny wires. By using a regular wire stripper you can risk removing a portion of these tiny wires. By doing so, the electrical component will in some cases not be provided with the power, that is needed.
Self Adapting Wire Stripper: If I am on an assignment where lamp wires need to be installed, I make sure to always bring a self-adapting wire stripper with me. This is a type of wire stripper that will carefully pull off the insulation and nothing else. This makes sure, that the wire will not be damaged in the process of stripping the insulation off.
On a job site doing multiple power outlets and lots of wire stripping is needed, I also use this to strip regular cables. This type of tool also has a way of pre-installing the length of the insulation, that is needed.
I hope you found this article helpful and wish you luck with your projects. If you want to read more about the tools used in electrical work, you can also read this article.