All the DOs and DON’Ts of using Wire Strippers

wire strippers

If you gloss over the importance of proper wire stripping with the best and most experienced electricians, you’re sure to get a mouthful.  That’s because while whipping off the outer plastic insulation layer may seem like a necessary and yet basic step in a larger process, you simply won’t get the lasting, safe and effective electrical connection you’re seeking without a wire strip that is clean, accurate and precise.  Just a single nick to those wires below is enough to disrupt or prevent the connection, or even cause a devastating electrical short.

So before grabbing those wire strippers to get stuck into an important task that your most crucial business operations may rely on, let’s get a few things straight.  Firstly, no – a sharp knife almost certainly won’t cut it as a substitute tool.  Time may be a factor, but when it comes to wire stripping accuracy, a quality set of wire strippers is simply a must.

What are wire strippers, anyway?

What they do may be obvious, but how it’s achieved with such a degree of accuracy and reliability is less well known.  There’s a range of different products on the market, but what we’re talking about here are manual hand-held wire strippers that are a fundamental part of every professional electrician’s toolbox.  Given the highly meticulous design and manufacturing, all the user needs to do is apply pressure and rotate – and the plastic sheath will be cut by the serrated teeth.  An automatic wire stripper, on the other hand, is similar but even easier to use, even for a novice.  Experienced electricians, however, tend to prefer the manual versions because of the greater control, and a tendency to either damage small wires or fail to work with bigger ones.

Ready to go wire stripping?  Although using the tool is easy enough, achieving the outcome you seek is even easier if you adhere to the following DOs and DON’Ts:

DON’T use the wrong tool

If you’re still determined to try stripping a wire without wire strippers, consider this – is it really worth nicking or completely damaging the wire in question?  While you may get away with a clean strip once in a while with a knife or scissors, pricing for quality wire strippers starts in the mere two digits – so there’s no excuse for cutting a corner and getting it all wrong.

DO use the right wire strippers

Even if we’ve convinced you to grab a pair of wire strippers, bear in mind that there are quite a few different types.  Adjustable or self-adjusting wire strippers are a great addition to the toolbox for various common wire thicknesses, while a gauged wire stripper is ready to accommodate a single gauge or multiple gauges with high precision.  You may also like your wire strippers to include a cutting feature, and if you’re going to be doing a lot of work with it, consider tools of notable high quality for extra precision and durability.

DON’T strip live wires

This one should go without saying, but safety always comes first so make sure the wires you’re working with are not live.  To be extra sure, test the wires for voltage before proceeding.

DO use the correct technique

We said wire stripping was easy – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few tricks of the trade as well.  For instance, for particularly thick wires such as electrical cords, it may be easier to score the sheath with a knife prior to grabbing the wire strippers. It’s also better to use quality gauged strippers for particularly thin or delicate wires rather than the cruder automatic option, while strippers may not be suitable at all for the biggest and toughest of wires – like underground cables.

DON’T use damaged wires

Although wire strippers are highly reliable, almost no tool is 100% perfect – and wire nicks do happen.  Therefore, after stripping the wire and noticing even the smallest bit of damage, don’t press ahead because electrical issues down the road may occur and you can forget that the cause was your dodgy job.  Instead, simply snip off the damaged bit and try again.

DO buy from the best sellers

If all you want is to throw some wire strippers in the toolbox for when you need them, you don’t necessarily need to buy the most premium offering that would look good on a professional electrician’s belt.  However, what is important is to check the reputation of the actual seller or supplier, because they’ll be up-front about the differences between the products they’re offering – and nothing in the catalog will be junk that may skimp in precision, materials, and durability.

So if your organization or operations may need to do some wire stripping, it’s a no-brainer to add a tool or two to the toolbox.  Try to make do without could only cost you a lot more in terms of slowed productivity, wastage due to damage, and downtime – or worse – in the event of wire damage and subsequent poor connections and even shorts.  To get the perfect tool for your needs, ask an expert today.