# Stripping Cable

#### gafftapegreenia

##### CBMod
CB Mods
What is the best thing to strip off cable jacket with? I'm tired of using razors and/or knives. What about those purpose made cable strippers? Or electricians scissors? or electricians knives? Or should I eventually have all three?

#### gafftaper

##### Senior Team
Senior Team
Fight Leukemia
Are you talking about rotary cable strippers like this? I've never used one either but I would love to know how they work.

As far as the smaller wires once you get the jacket off be careful of the strippers you see at home shows that look sort of like this:

#### icewolf08

##### CBMod
CB Mods
Personally, I prefer to use a manual stripper/crimp/cutter all in one tool. It handles almost all the common wire gauges and it works all the time, and it pretty hard to break. It is also one of the least expensive wire strippers you can buy. For stripping the jacket off something like 12/3 SO cable I use a knife just like JD was saying.

#### gafftapegreenia

##### CBMod
CB Mods
I use one of the spring loaded strippers/cutters to strip the actual wire and use it regularly. I prefer the spring kind as opposed to the all-in-one. I also have a seperate pair of crimpers. My question here is specifically concerning the jacket, and I'm thinking I might get one of those rotary tools or the style gafftaper is suggesting.

#### derekleffew

##### Resident Curmudgeon
Senior Team
Here is the one I use and, I think, the one about which most people are talking. It does have its problems and takes some getting used to, but I'd rather use it than an open blade.

I don't remember where I got it, or how much I paid.

Last edited:

#### Van

##### CBMod
CB Mods
I just stick the end of the wire in my mouth and gnaw on the insulation, till my teeth hit metal. Then I just pull the wire into the big space between my teeth, and use them to tear off the insulation. No tools needed, and the dentist says, " You must floss quite a bit."

#### avkid

##### Not a New User
Fight Leukemia
If it can't be stripped with either Lineman's pliers or medic's scissors it probably shouldn't be done in the field.

#### gafftapegreenia

##### CBMod
CB Mods
Ok, but what about in the shop?

#### avkid

##### Not a New User
Fight Leukemia
Ok, but what about in the shop?
That's why you have a bench vise, silly.

#### ship

##### Senior Team Emeritus
Urr, I don’t allow automatic cable strippers. Much too likely they are out of adjustment and will nick conductors.

First concept is the stripper, is it cutting or ripping away. How easily does it adjust for various thicknesses of jackets and conductors? How properly adjusted is it for what you are cutting? Is it nicking the insulation on inner conductors or nicking copper to conductors? Why bother?

Nick the inner conductors to an outer jacket by way of utility knife stripping it or automatic cable stripper and once that cable gets some use and or tension from pulling and that little nick is the stress pint that turns into a cut. That cut than turns into something that just needs moisture to turn into a short. I don’t accept automatic cable strippers other than for ethernet or BNC cable. And in those cases I’m very much adjusting to make sure the stripper is set properly.

Pinch pull method with dikes and a good pair of wire strippers where the jaws surround the conductor not just come together at the conductor is what I recommend. First the dikes in the pinch/pull technique described earlier ensures that the blades are nowhere near the inner conductors or at least on theormoplastic or Euro cable, just nicking the outer conductor in no worse a way than the other techniques. The wire strippers by way of control of them and what the heck use does automatic wire strippers for individual conductors have anyway?

Thermoplasitc and espcially Euro cable is a serious challenge to strip and ones that especially will in Euro cable have that problem of a just slight nick to an inner conductor opening up a large cut down to the conductor. Only way to deal with such cables is manually.

If of interest, I’m totally against such strippers and see no use for them unless an electrician for permanent install purposes of solid wire. Technique is what separates the armature from the tech person. Hand these strippers to an actor and they can do your job with direction. Never hand tools to actors, nor attempt to use automatic wire strippers to do what’s in my opinion best done by hand. Also ban the utility knife from most uses. Old barbarian, and new barbarian - both do bad jobs of doing it properly in my opinion.

#### gafftapegreenia

##### CBMod
CB Mods
Point taken, ship. Is the pinch-pull method the one JD described?

And about that vice, my electrics shop doesn't have one. I'll add it to my list but I think the college is going to get tired of my recommendations pretty soon.

#### ship

##### Senior Team Emeritus
doubt it.

Technique in pinch pull is to have a really good pair of dikes that stay sharp. Not your local Ace Hardware or Craftsman types. Others will stay sharp for a while including the common grade of Klien but the Kilen Journeyman 2000-48 series of or the J248-8 hardened dikes stay sharp longer. Dull dikes are like dull knife blades useless.

So you grab the outer jacket with the dikes in pulling them away from the inner conductors, pivot on one of the blades to pull the outer jacket away from inner conductors. Than the outer jacket once pulled away from the inner conductors and like at a 45 degree angle, than you make your cut. Go around the outer jacket like this four or five times in new sections. Not cutting while near the inner conductors - more stretching the outer jacket away from the inner conductors than cutting it. If not all of the outer jacket was cut away sufficiently, and such areas don't cut themselves away with a quick sharp bend to the cable, put a sharp angle to the cabe and either touch the blade of the dikes to the remaining rubber or pinch pull those sections remaing and grab the outer jacket more agressively next time. This until free. How much outer jacket to grab is dependant upon cable type and experience. With type SJT for instance, one wants to make little nicks to the cable without being able to pull it away completely more than for say SJ and SO type cable that will pull away from the inner conductors completely with stretching.

It's kind of as if you were grabbing this cable with a pair of pliers, pinching them up and rocking that pinched section away from the inner conductors remaining. There is a certain amount of stretch you can get, only in this case you are pulling and stretching with the dikes before making your cut. Takes practice but I don't know of anyone that has mastered this technique that either would go back to another technique or is not just as fast in using it than with other methods including automatic strippers.

No matter what technique you use, as you are removing that outer jacket - you see a nick in a conductor's insulation - even if just small, cut the cable right there and start over no matter the type - that's where the next cut in those conductors is going to be at in time. See hundreds of instances of this per year where bare copper is exposed to someone having nicked the cable and the outer jacket being pulled so it opens up later.

Most rough of all is Euro cable and Euro heat wire - even worse than thermoset cable that's constructed in a similar way but out of different materials. Nick those wires, flex and you have a cut. Worst of all is heat wire cable that is mostly silicone based. At times it will be noted that a just plain light knife nick to the outer jacket with flexing and time will open up to inner conductors - this without even being deep. Really miss Rockbestos as a brand that was quality.

Most important overall is you don't even nick the inner conductors of the cable. You do so, you start over. I accept the old timers that use a utility kive and won't learn a new better technique as long as the respect this overall rule. It can be done with a utility kife if careful to not hit the inner conductors and as you bend that outer jacket in stipping and afterwards - give the inner conductors a good inspection. But it's rough to do so because it's all about the depth of cut. One cannot be lazy in attempting to do better next time or being in a hurry with that method or any method. (Don't strip as much cable these days and infrequently I also nick the inner conductors even with the pinch pull - when I don't pull as much. Choke it up and cut the cable - don't try to use it.) With automatic wire strippers it's very much depth of cut and in no way faster than other methods where quality is concerned - this especially where a multitude of different cable types is concerned. My opinion of them in at some point in my career having had them - don't use them. Not accurate enough, that ripping away of the jacket over a multitude of wire types or in reality faster.

Practice and experience is what is accurate and some automatic tool is not going to give it to you just waste your money in making it seem like a pro way of doing it. Experience and technique leads to speed and proper wiring skills. Can easily beat anyone with automatic strippers. That's experience and technique plus talent that comes from practice and aptitude. I highly don't recommend the use of automatic wire strippers.

Last edited:

#### gafftapegreenia

##### CBMod
CB Mods
This is why I ask. I think I'll save my money for other things, and get a nice pair of dykes.

#### gafftaper

##### Senior Team
Senior Team
Fight Leukemia
I wrote a long post last night and fell asleep while writing it then woke up and closed the browser without hitting send.

Short version. It is a long time electricians tradition to call them "dykes", which was short for "Diagonal Cutters". However, I would strongly advise you younger folks to train yourself to call them "Diagonal Cutters", "Diagonal Pliers", or "Diagonal Cutting Pliers"... I think all three are acceptable names for the tool. You'll find most manufacturers do not call them "dykes" anymore.

This industry is about who you know and who you impress. You don't want to make the mistake of offending the wrong person by calling them "dykes". Old established guys like Ship can get away with calling them what they want. He has a reputation, it is the correct term in the electrican's world, no one is going to question his motives for using the term. But, as a young tech starting out, it's a lot safer for your career to use the technical term and not the slang.

For me working in the educational world, it would be career roulette to call them "dykes". It's not worth the risk of offending someone who doesn't know that it is correct industry jargon and not just a slang word you made up because you hate lesbians. It's just not worth it.

CB Mods