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How to use wire strippers correctly

Using wire strippers, no matter the electrical project you have underway, can prove to be quite important. Knowing how to use wire strippers the correct way is something you do not want to take for granted. When you have the knowledge to use a wire stripping tool, it can make the project at hand go faster and with a less possible chance for danger and injury while working on things such as electrical outlets, switches, and more.

For the beginner out there, wire strippers are used to remove insulation that covers electrical wires. In first looking at wire strippers, they can appear to the naked eye to look like a pair of pliers to some degree.

So, what is the best way to use wire strippers, and what safeguards should you definitely consider taking?

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Putting wire strippers to work for you

In using wire strippers, your first order of business is making sure you are safe from any potential electrical accident.

That means you must make sure the source of electricity where you are working has been turned off. Failure to do this could result in an accident, one that can be fatal in some instances. Find the home or building’s main circuit breaker panel and turn the power off. Such panels are typically located in the basement, the lowest floor without a basement, or even outside in a box-like contraption connected to a wall of a home or building.

You’ll also want to be sure there is no standing or running water in the area where you are working on electrical wires. Coming in contact with water while touching wiring can lead you to a fatal accident.

With the power properly disabled and no other hazards nearby, you can then decide what kind of wire strippers you will use. There are different types of wire strippers, so make sure you have the right ones available to tackle the job at hand.

You will want to understand the AWG (American Wire Gauge) you have to deal with. Know that the numbers for the AWG get higher when the wire gauge decreases. Make sure you have the right measurement in place using a wire stripper.

Moving on to your choices, one option would be a pair of self-adjusted wire strippers. This kind of wire stripper allows you to adjust to the different types of wires you may face and the degree of thickness they have. Your self-adjusted wire stripper with a built-in cutter can make the work go faster.

Another option would be the gauged stripper. The gauged wire stripper permits you to use the built-in gauge matching wires. With those at your disposal, you do not have to make various adjustments that a self-adjusted wire stripper calls for.

If you want still another option, you could go with the wire stripper and cutter. Much like pliers, the instrument allows you to cut the wire to the length you desire. Make sure before doing any cutting that you know what the gauge of the wire is you are looking to strip.

No matter the type of wire stripper you decide to go with, know that you do have options.

Stripping wire to move your project along

With the right wire stripper or strippers in your toolbox, you can proceed with getting down to business. That said, you’ll want to locate the wire’s gauge to move to the next step of stripping it.

From there, you’ll move the wire’s tip so that it is in the jaws of the wire stripper you’ve chosen to work with. You’ll then close the wire strippers so they encompass the wire and can protrude through its exterior covering. The last move allows you to remove what is known as the wires’ outside sheathing or protective area covering the surface of the wire. Be sure to remove the paper wrapping surrounding the wire.

During all this work, make it a point not to nick or cut the wires situated underneath or the insulation for that matter. Doing so can lead to a potential electrical short if the copper wire is compromised. With the proper cutting, you are now able to splice wires that are loose so they can be brought together. When looking to splice loose wires together, you can use a wire nut to do the trick.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Caring for and buying wire strippers

It’s important to take proper care of your wire strippers, which means keeping them sharp and clean over time. Failing to do so can lead to dull cutting action when going to use them. Also, make it a point to keep them in a safe area. If you have wire strippers at home and have young children with you, make sure the tool or tools are kept out of your child’s reach. You do not want them thinking the wire stripper is a toy. They could end up with a serious injury if able to get their hands on them for play.

Over time, your wire strippers will become worn and you will want to replace them. Where to buy them and how much you want to spend oftentimes depends on how much use you will get out of them.

If you’re using them on a regular basis for work, odds are, you will want to invest some more money. Your best bet is to go to a hardware or department store selling such tools. You can also go online and search a variety of wire stripper brands. You might decide to buy the wire stripper on its own or as part of a toolbox of various instruments you could use over time.

In the event you will be using them more infrequently, you may be able to find a relatively cheap pair at say a Walmart or even at a swap meet or flea market where tools are sold. When used properly, wire strippers allow you to make the cut when it comes to your electrical work be it on the job or at home.

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