How to Use Wire Strippers

How to Use Wire Strippers

A Comprehensive Guide

Wire strippers are essential tools for anyone working with electrical wiring. They allow you to safely remove the insulation from wires to connect them to terminals or splice them together. Whether you're a seasoned electrician or a DIY enthusiast, learning to use wire strippers properly can save time and ensure safety. Here's a detailed guide on how to use wire strippers effectively.


  1. Taking Safety Precautions
  2. Using Manual Wire Strippers
  3. Using Wire Stripper Machines

Taking Safety Precautions

Step 1: Turn Off the Main Power

Safety should always be your top priority when working with electrical wires. Before starting, make sure to turn off the power supply to the wires you'll be working on.

  • Locate the Main Electrical Panel: Usually found in the basement or lowest floor of your home.
  • Turn Off the Main Circuit: Flip the main circuit breaker or unscrew the fuse to shut off the electricity. This prevents accidents by cutting off the power supply.
  • Alternative: If needed, you can ask the electrical company to shut off and turn on the power for you, but this might require waiting.

Step 2: Test the Circuit for Voltage

Double-check that the wire is not carrying any electricity before you start stripping it.

  • Use a Multimeter: Set it to the voltage setting and attach it to the wire. If the reading stays at zero volts, the power is off. Always test for voltage, not current, to ensure the wire is completely safe to handle.
  • TWS-322 has NCV function

Step 3: Wear Protective Gear

Wearing the right safety gear can further reduce the risk of accidents.

  • Eye Protection: Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes.
  • Gloves: Use rubber gloves to prevent electric shocks.
  • Footwear: If there’s water on the ground, wear rubber boots.
  • Respirator: When using a thermal stripper, wear a respirator to avoid inhaling harmful fumes.

Using Manual Wire Strippers

Step 1: Pick Up a Pair of Pliers

The type of pliers you need depends on the wire size and the task at hand.

  • Electrical Pliers: For wires attached to an electrical circuit, identifiable by their rubber grips.
  • Needlenose Pliers: Best for wires #12 or greater (diameter of at least 0.08 inches or 2.0 mm).
  • Lineman’s Pliers: Suitable for thicker wires.

Step 2: Use the Pliers to Grip the Wire

Hold the pliers in one hand, squeeze the handles to open the blades, and use them to grip the wire securely. Keep the wire away from exposed skin.

Step 3: Lay the Wire Between the Stripper Blades

Manual strippers have notches for different wire sizes.

  • Select the Right Notch: Place the wire end into the appropriate notch. Test until the wire fits snugly.
  • Adjustable Depth: Some strippers have a nut to change the cut depth.

Step 4: Set the Stripper Blades Near the End of the Wire

Position the blades about 1/2 to 3/4 inch (13 to 19 mm) from the wire’s end.

  • Standard Strip Length: Typically, this length is sufficient to attach the wire to a terminal or another wire.
  • Adjust as Needed: For longer wire exposure, strip more casing. For repairs, cut below the damaged part and strip the remaining wire.

Step 5: Squeeze the Stripper Blades Together

Close the stripper blades on the wire and rotate the strippers in place. Once the blades cut into the casing, pull the pliers towards the wire end to remove the insulation.

Step 6: Cut Off Any Damaged Part of the Wire

Inspect for frayed or twisted wires or damaged insulation. Use the strippers to cut below the damaged part and strip the fresh wire as needed.

Step 7: Splice Two Wires Together

If necessary, twist the exposed sections of two wires together and secure them with a wire nut, ensuring no bare wire is visible.

Using Wire Stripper Machines

Step 1: Use an Automatic Stripper for Common Wire Sizes

Automatic strippers handle various wire sizes with less manual effort.

Step 2: Place the End of the Wire in the Automatic Stripper

Use pliers to position the wire in the stripper's jaws. Extremely small or thick wires may not fit.

Step 3: Squeeze the Automatic Stripper’s Handle

Press the handle to cut into the casing. Pull the strippers off the wire to remove the insulation.

Step 4: Use a Laser Wire Stripper for Fine Wires

For wires less than 0.01 inches (0.25 mm) in diameter, use a computer-controlled laser stripper to burn away the casing without damaging the wire.

Step 5: Get a Thermal Wire Stripper for Thick Insulation

Thermal strippers burn away insulation on wires larger than 0.05 inches (1.3 mm). Use these in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling fumes.

By following these steps, you can safely and effectively use wire strippers for a variety of electrical projects. Always prioritize safety and use the appropriate tools for the job.

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