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Stripping Cable

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by gafftapegreenia, Nov 5, 2007.

  1. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    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?
     
  2. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    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: [​IMG]

    While the product is a great one if built correctly with metal, the one's I've seen at the county fair and home show's tend to be made of plastic and break easily, I've broken two. So shop around for a good one made with lots of metal it'll last you a long time. GB, Klein, or Ideal all make nice ones for around $20.
     
  3. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    Truly an age old dilemma!

    I don't like the cable strippers as the internal wires can be at an unpredictable depth and the stripper can nick it. The whole thing is more of an art than a science. For me, I score the outer casing with a box cutter, then score from that point down to the end of the cable. Next I rip the casing open starting at the end and up to the circular score, then tear that around. The whole concept is to not have the blade come in contact with any of the inside wires. (or thumb or forefinger!) When done right (say on 10/3 so) it only takes a couple of seconds. Fine for rubber, and plastic, but useless on Teflon or plenum grade cables! Still, there is a lot of opportunity for "box cutter" to become "thumb cutter" so what works for me might not work for you.
     
  4. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    gafftaper, yes, a rotary tool like that. I've used those ones pictured before too, including that exact model, did not like it. I think thats the some one that comes with the Coldheat (another waste of money).
     
  5. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I forgot to comment on what I do now without the cool tool. Basically the same as JD describes. Score the outside, make a deep cut at the end, and tear away. It's definitely a job that requires a very sturdy and stable locked blade knife, and you can't be in a hurry.
     
  6. Cyclical

    Cyclical Member

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    The rotary strippers work all right in my experience. The one I have has two annoying problems: The blade always seems to push in when it's inserted into the jacket, forcing me to set the depth slightly deeper than necessary, and I almost always have to adjust it for every cable; and the blade always wants to work toward the end of the cable as it's rotating. I can quite easily produce a nice, long, black pigs-tail from the cable, without fully removing the jacket, if I don't put a fair amount of care into using the tool. However, I've never once nicked a wire sheath with it. I always seem to get the sheath on the ground with about every tenth cut when I use a razor knife.
     
  7. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Like I said spend $20 on a good one and you'll love it. The good ones are precise and don't damage the wire. Quick and easy.
     
  8. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    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.
     
  9. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    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.
     
  10. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    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: Dec 12, 2007
  11. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    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."
    ;)
     
  12. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    If it can't be stripped with either Lineman's pliers or medic's scissors it probably shouldn't be done in the field.
    [​IMG]
     
  13. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    Ok, but what about in the shop?
     
  14. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    That's why you have a bench vise, silly.
     
  15. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    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.
     
  16. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    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.
     
  17. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    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: Nov 6, 2007
  18. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    This is why I ask. I think I'll save my money for other things, and get a nice pair of dykes.
     
  19. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    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.
     
  20. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Actually, you could spell it "Diags", using a hard "G" it sort of sounds like a "K". I did have an employee go off at me one day years ago when I used the nickname Diags, when referring to a pair of cable cutters, I just sort of looked at her and said, " You're not actively serious are you?" Seemed to only make her madder. 'Course there was also the anniversary card I sent to a couple of friends of mine. It just had a pair of cutters on the front page, with sparkly blades, on the inside it said, " Happy Anniversary. To the sharpest pair of Dyke's I know." They got a real kick out of it. :mrgreen:
     

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