A wire stripper really is one of those tools that you never plan on buying. But it is also one of those tools you can end up really missing until you do pick one up. Yes, on the one hand they are a very specific type of tool only really designed to do one job.
That does not mean they are a poor investment though. If you work with electronics even only once in a while, these tools can still be invaluable additions to your toolbox. Stripping wires can be fiddly and irritating work, until that is you invest in a good quality set of wire strippers.
In this article we’re going to help you do just that!
The Best Wire Stripper
We’ll kick off the list with this rugged tool from Irwin. For one thing we know it’s rugged and tough, or Irwin wouldn’t offer a lifetime guarantee on the product. It goes without saying that here at CarBibles we are a big fan of lifetime guarantees on tools!
It’s packing a whole more too, with several interesting design features on this model. It is self-adjusting for example, a huge time saver when you are working with several wire thicknesses at the same time. It also has the capacity to strip wire from 10 to 24 AWG (American Wire Gauge), a very useful range that covers the bulk of the most used wire sizes.
Self Adjusting Design
Strips Wire from 10 to 24 AWG
Built in Crimper
- Weight2.4 Ounces
The next tool to make our list is this little blue number from Klein Tools. Klein is of course a well respected and well know toolmaker with a reputation for making excellent gear.
This is a lightweight, compact and very easy to use tool that is packed with features. It can cut, strip and loop wire over a very good range – we’re talking 10-18 AWG Solid and 12-20 AWG Stranded wire. The stripping holes are also precision cut by Klein so can get the most accurate strip that you can.
Cuts, Strips and Loops
Works on 10-18 AWG Solid
Also 12-20 AWG Stranded Wire
Built in Loping & Wire bending Holes
- BrandKlein Tools
- Weight0.16 Ounces
When you go ahead and put Ultimate right there in the name of your product, then you really need to deliver on that! Fortunately for Neiko they have produced a wire stripper here packed with enough features that it makes a strong case for living up to that Ultimate tag.
First of all these are a set of self-adjusting electric wire strippers. They can also handle wires in the range of 10 all the way up to 24 AGW, a wider range that you will see with some other models.
Works on Wires in Range 10-24 AWG
Thumb Wheel to Adjust Tension
Built in Crimper
- Weight12.6 ounces
Back in the list already, we have our second set of Irwin wire strippers to make the list. This is in some ways a far simpler tool than the previous Irwin wire stripper we looked at. This tool does for example omit the self-adjusting feature that we saw on the previous one.
At the same time though this is a multi-tool style of device that means that it is bringing a whole range of features to the table. So for example it has been built with induction hardened cutting edges to the stripping blades. That allows for accurate and precise cuts. It also gives this tool remarkable strength allowing it to even cut bolts to size.
Multi Tool Design
Strips & Cuts 10-22 AGW
Simple But Effective Design
Induction Hardened Cutting Edge
- Weight7.2 Ounces
Another returning manufacturer, this is the second pair of Klein wire strippers to make their way onto our list. They are of a slightly different style of design to many other wire strippers out there, with a stubby body and spring-loaded handles.
This design allows for a single handed stripping motion. That in turn makes this set of wire strippers ideal to use in confined spaces where one-handed operation could be very useful. They also have a nice and wide operational range, being able to strip 8-20 AWG Solid wires and up to 10-22 AWG Stranded wire.
Cuts 8-20 AWG Solid
Also 10-22 AWG Stranded
Single Action Grip & Strip
Corrosion Resistant and Highly Durable
- BrandKlein Tools
- Weight12 Ounces
That design makes it very light, barely 5 ounces in weight. It is also small and narrow, making it perfect for use in tight space. The fact it has a single hand, single motion operation also helps in using the tool in confined areas.
This wire cutter is of an automatic, self-adjusting design. It frankly could not be simpler to use either, pop the wire in, clamp down and strip. Nice and easy.
Single Motion Operation
Light and Easy to Hold
Built in Wire Cutter
- BrandCapri Tools
- Weight5.6 Ounces
ZOTO are the manufacturers of this next set of wire strippers. It is certainly boasting an eye-catching design, meaning you won’t easily lose them in your toolbox! It also has a number of features you would expect to find in the best examples of wire strippers.
First of all it should be noted this is a self-adjusting style of tool. The jaws of this stripper can work on wires of between 10 and 24 AWG, a very useful range. There is also a built in crimper, which is pretty powerful too, being able to tackle between 10-22 AWG of insulated wiring.
Built in Crimper
Bright, Eye Catching Design
- Weight9.9 Ounces
This is another returning manufacturer, Capri Tools here with their own second entry to make the list. This tool, as the name suggests, is all about precision.
The settings here are very precise and what’s more the cutting holes have been machine engineered by Capri and cut to provide the highest degree of accuracy they can. This will really help you to strip the wire casing without damaging the wires underneath – always a useful feature in a set of wire strippers!
Cast Alloy Chassis
Tension Loaded Grip
Precision Tooled Cutting Holes
- BrandCapri Tools
- Weight15.2 Ounces
Next up we ask you to say hello to this little wire stripper from WGGE. The first thing to note is that this is a Multi-Tool device so it is bringing a range of useful abilities to you.
First and foremost of course is the fact it is a wire stripper. In that function it is not self-adjusting, but it can cut wires in the range of 10 to 22 AGW in thickness. It also has a cutting element, being able to cut through wires and screws. Finally it has the ability to crimp wires.
10-22 AWG Range
Cutting and Crimping
- Weight4.2 Ounces
We’ll finish off our list with this product from KINEE. This is the second of what could be referred to as the modern style of wire stripper. As such, it is coming with some features not present on other strippers, but it also has a few extras not found on the other modern style wire stripper we looked at earlier.
The fact it has a replaceable blade system is the big stand out. This means that after heavy use stripping wire over a prolonged period, you have the ability to put brand new blades inside to prolong the lifespan of the tool. That is a very useful feature, and not one that we see too often in these styles of tool.
Works Across 10-24 AWG Wires
Automatic, Self-Adjusting Design
Replaceable Blade System
Simple to Use
- Weight7.2 Ounces
Best Wire Stripper Buying Guide & FAQ
In our buying guide, we’ll take you through the features that you should keep an eye out for when picking out the best wire stripper for you. After that, we’ll take a look at how best to use your new tool and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this extremely useful product.
What to Consider When Buying a Wire Stripper
- Wire Range
Make sure that you are picking a wire stripper with the capacity to strip the size of wires you work with most often. Most strippers will cut wire in the size of 10 to 22 AWG. If you use thicker wire, there are tools that can handle that but just make sure you check the specs before putting your money down.
Cutting Edges Whether they are blades (as found on self-adjusting tools) or cutting holes on manual wire strippers, always look for precision engineering in the construction of this element. The cutting edge is really the most important element in a wire striper tool, so it needs to be as good as possible to ensure accurate cutting and stripping time after time.
The other big decision is going to be between self-adjusting and manual tools. A self-adjusting tool is much easier to use, simply insert the wire, clamp and pull. This makes it perfect for using on jobs and projects with lots of wire to strip, especially if that wire is of various thicknesses.
- … Or Accuracy
A manual wire stripper on the other hand is far more accurate. A self-adjusting model, after all, is designed to adjust the cutting gap on your behalf. That is all well and good when it works properly. When it doesn’t though it can end up with the electrical element of the wire being damaged. No such worries with a manual tool, which uses cutting holes that never change shape or pressure.
Benefits of Using Wire Strippers
For us there are number of reasons why it makes sense to invest in a good set of wire strippers. Amongst the key reasons are:
Whether they are self adjusting or not, a set of good cable strippers is going to let you strip away the plastic casing on your wiring to the exact lengths that you need. This can be a real help during electrical work, especially when splicing wires, as accuracy can be the difference between an efficient job and having to start all over again.
- Safety (For Wires)
How accurate do you truly feel you can be when removing wire casing either with your teeth or with a pocketknife? In this instance we’re not talking about accuracy in terms of the length of casing to be removed. No instead in this instance we’re talking about accuracy of the pressure required to strip the plastic casing without damaging the wire underneath. Again, this is going to be a heck of a lot easier with a wire stripper, due to the accuracy it delivers in terms of stripping and cutting pressure.
- Safety (For You)
Hey, don’t say we’re never looking out for you here at CarBibles! One of the big benefits of investing in a set of wire strippers is the fact that this is a much safer way for you to strip wire. With a pocketknife or other kind of blade, there is the risk that in addition to stripping the wire casing you can also slice the top of your finger or thumb of with it. As for stripping the wire off with your teeth, let’s just say that we’re pretty sure your dentist would not approve of that! Trust us on this, a trip to ER is not the way to get your electrical wiring projects done quickly and efficiently.
How to Use Wire Strippers
One of the big benefits of electric wire stripper tools is how easy they are to use! That being said, there can be a little difference in their operation, which will mainly come down to whether they are a self-adjusting design or not.
- Self-Adjusting are essentially the plug and play models of wire stripping tools. You simply insert the wire to the length you want to remove, clamp and pull. The tool itself will set the cutting tools to the appropriate depth for the wire you are working with. They may not always be as accurate, but they are certainly a lot faster.
- Manual styles of wire stripper are far simpler devices, though that does mean more of the work is put on you. With these devices you will find a number of pre drilled cutting holes. You have to put the wire into the hole that corresponds with the thickness of wire or cable you are working with. This means you need to know the wire thickness in advance, or otherwise be prepared to experiment a little. In operation though they are similar to self-adjusting models, at least once you know the right cutting hole size to use. Insert the wire to the length you want to remove the casing, clamp down to cut down to the wire then pull to remove the casing.
Best Wire Stripper FAQ:
Do you have any questions about how to use your shiny new cable stripper, or even what it actually is? Well in that case read on to find the answers to some of the questions that we get asked the most about these incredibly useful little tools.
Q: What are wire strippers?
A: Wire strippers are one of those tools that very much do what they say on the tin. That is to say that they are designed to strip wires, in this case they strip the plastic casing from the outside of electrical wires.
There are a number of reasons why you may like to strip the casing from a wire, such as to attach it to a terminal, to splice with another wire or when performing rewiring of an electrical system.
Whilst there are a while range of ways to get that plastic casing off the wire such as biting it off or using a pocketknife, an electric wire stripper is faster, safer and more accurate. It will protect your from harm (especially if you are in the habit of stripping wire with your teeth!) and it will protect the wire itself from damage, promoting a better connection to terminals or when splicing.
Q: Can wire strippers crimp terminal connectors onto wires?
A: Quite a lot of models can, though this is not a universal ability across all models of wire strippers. If this is a capability you need, then look for wire stripper models that include slots for crimping wires.
Q: Can I strip Teflon-coated or wet wires with these wire strippers?
A: Only if they specifically state that they can. The majority of wire strippers are designed to strip the normal plastic casing found on most types of wiring. Teflon coating really cuts down on the grip that a typical set of strippers can generate on the wire, and most normal wire stripper tools will struggle with Teflon-coated wires.
If you work with these components frequently we would suggest investing in wire strippers designed to tackle Teflon-coated wiring.
Q: How long will it last?
A: Just like with any tool, there are a number of factors that will affect the lifespan of your wire stripper. So for example as we mentioned above the material that the tool is made off is going to have an impact on its lifespan. We would suggest looking for materials like stainless steel in the cutting elements and rubber (or rubberized material) in the grips.
Both of those materials are going to be long lasting and also resist damage during everyday use and storage.
It’s not really possible to sharpen the cutting edge on a wire stripper either. That being said, care in storage can help to prolong the life of the cutting edge somewhat. Make sure, for example, that the tool goes into a toolbox or tool drawer and is stored dry to avoid rusting.
Our Top Pick
It’s a tough task today as this is a list of very high quality tools here, so choosing the best wire strippers from the products we drew together is no easy task. But taking those hard decisions is what you come to CarBibles for, so we won’t let you down!
Comparing what each model is bringing to the table, we’ve got to go for the IRWIN VISE-GRIP as the best overall tool on the list. For us it just packing everything you would look for in a wire stripper. It has good capacity across a range of wire sizes, it is self-adjusting and it can crimp wires too.
It’s backed up with a lifetime guarantee and is constructed of high quality materials. The very reasonable price tag is the final bow on top of this, our Top Pick for best wire stripper.
- How to Strip Wires - WikiHow