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      • Published 9 Feb 2024
      • Last Modified 9 Feb 2024
    • 8 min

    Stripping It Down: Types of Wire Strippers and Their Uses

    Our guide explains everything you need to know about wire strippers, how to use them, and the best products.

    Wire strippers are indispensable tools used by electricians and DIY enthusiasts for the precise and safe removal of insulation from electrical wires. These tools ensure safety and efficiency in electrical work by facilitating the stripping of wires to expose the conductive metal beneath. Understanding the different types and how to use them is crucial for anyone engaged in electrical projects.

    What is a Wire Stripping Tool?

    A wire stripping tool, commonly known as a cable stripper or wire stripper, is an essential device used to remove the insulation covering wires without damaging the conductive material within. These tools come in various types and designs, each tailored for specific wire sizes and insulation materials. Their primary function is to precisely cut and remove the outer covering or insulation from wires, exposing the metal conductor to attach a second wire, a terminal, a connector or make repairs. 

    Whether it's handling household electrical repairs or industrial installations, a wire stripping tool streamlines the process of preparing wires for connection, ensuring accuracy and safety. These tools are available in manual, automatic, and specialised categories, catering to a wide range of applications in the electrical field.

    The choice of a wire stripping tool depends on the intended usage, wire types, and the required level of precision. Understanding the functionality and types of wire strippers is essential for efficient and safe electrical work.

    Stripping It Down: Types of Wire Strippers and Their Uses | RS

    Types of Wire Strippers

    There’s a wide variety of wire strippers available on the market. While many are just for general use, there’s also a huge amount that are designed for specific tasks like cutting through tougher materials like copper and conduit. They come in a range of shapes and sizes with many looking not so different from a standard set of pliers. Below we’ll go into a few of the most common types of wire strippers used today.

    Manual Wire Strippers

    Manual wire strippers are the simplest form of wire stripping tool. They are usually used in jobs that require minimal force and typically feature a spring-loaded self-opening handle and a safety lock. Amongst manual wire strippers there are a range of different types that we will cover below:

    Adjustable Wire Strippers: These versatile tools feature adjustable settings, allowing users to accommodate different wire diameters. The adjustable mechanism, often controlled by a knob or wheel, enables precise cutting depths, ensuring clean and accurate removal of insulation from various wire sizes. Some also feature an automatic adjustment mechanism, which simply requires the user to insert a wire and the device will automatically adjust to accommodate it.

    Triple Action Wire Strippers: Triple action wire strippers are renowned for their efficiency. They incorporate multiple cutting and gripping mechanisms to reduce the risk of nicks or cuts on the wire’s conductive metal. However, the main feature of triple action wire strippers is their cutting actions which include spiral, linear, and rotary which are each effective at stripping different types of insulation. 

    Sheath Wire Strippers: Tailored specifically for cable stripping, sheath wire strippers excel in preserving the integrity of wires within cables. Unlike other manual wire strippers, these tools are optimised for cable-centric applications, ensuring precise outer sheath removal while safeguarding the enclosed wires.Unlike triple action wire strippers, sheathe strippers usually only feature a rotary cutting action. 

    Pistol Wire Strippers: Characterised by their ergonomic design resembling a pistol grip, these wire strippers prioritise user comfort and control. Unlike other types, pistol wire strippers can both grip and strip wires in one smooth motion. 

    Steel Armoured Wire Strippers: Distinct in their robustness, steel armoured strippers differentiate themselves by being engineered to handle heavy-duty wires with armoured casings. Unlike other manual wire strippers, these tools possess specialised cutting edges and mechanisms tailored specifically for industrial-grade applications.

    Insulated Wire Strippers: Setting themselves apart with enhanced safety features, insulated strippers prioritise the protection of users from electrical hazards. Unlike other types, insulated wire strippers incorporate insulation barriers and safety mechanisms to minimise the risk of electrical shocks during stripping operations.

    Automatic Wire Strippers

    Automatic wire strippers, or wire stripping machines, are sophisticated tools engineered to streamline repetitive wire stripping tasks with precision and consistency. Unlike their manual counterparts, these tools operate on an automated basis, simplifying the stripping process for users. Wire stripping machines excel in handling high-volume tasks, significantly reducing the effort required for repetitive wire stripping jobs, making them ideal for assembly line or production environments.Wire stripping machines ensure consistent and precise stripping depths without the need for constant manual calibration, a feature distinct from manual strippers that may require adjustments for different wire sizes. Their user-friendly designs simplify the stripping process by automating actions such as wire gripping, cutting, and insulation removal, making the operation straightforward and efficient.

    Laser Wire Strippers

    Laser wire strippers are used in industries requiring ultra-precision wire stripping, such as aerospace, medical device manufacturing, and electronics assembly. Their ability to deliver micron-level accuracy and non-contact stripping makes them indispensable in scenarios where delicate wires or intricate components demand precise stripping without compromising quality.They are a high-end alternative to conventional wire strippers that use laser radiation to vaporise the insulation material. As the inner components of the cables are highly reflective they are unaffected by the laser’s beam. Different types of lasers can be used depending on the cable type and whether or not any metal shielding is present in the cable.

    How to use a Wire Stripping Tool

    Using a wire stripping tool demands caution and adherence to safety guidelines to prevent accidents. While wire strippers are safer to use than other tools for stripping wire, like knives or scissors, it is still possible to injure yourself if used incorrectly. Below we’ve provided a step by step guide on how to use a wire stripping tool correctly: 

    1. Select the Appropriate Tool: Ensure you have the right size and type of stripping tool. Different tools cater to different wire sizes and insulation types.
    2. Wear Protective Gear: Wear protective gear including safety goggles or glasses, to protect your eyes from wire debris, as well as gloves to protect your hands from sharp edges
    3. Secure the Wire: Securely hold the wire in place using clamps or a vice to prevent movement during stripping. Match the wire to the corresponding notch on the wire stripper and insert the wire into the notch.
    4. Close the Jaws: Once you’ve inserted the wire into the correct notch, close the jaws of the wire stripper. The tool should cut through the insulation without damaging the core. Rotate the wire to make sure the cut runs around the full circumference of the wire.
    5. Mindful Stripping: Apply gentle pressure and use controlled motions to strip the insulation down the wire, avoiding excessive force that might damage the wire.
    6. Direction of Stripping: Always strip away from yourself and others. Pull the stripping tool away from your body to prevent injuries in case the tool slips during operation.

    By adhering to these safety measures and guidelines, users can mitigate risks and perform wire stripping tasks safely and effectively.

    FAQs About Wire Stripping Tools

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    A member of the Stanley Black & Decker group, Facom produces quality wire strippers for a range of applications, all available at RS.

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