If you are a do it yourself type person around your home, there are several tools that you simply can’t be without. Most people would consider hammers, screwdrivers, power drills, and circular saws to be in this category. For those that do electrical work around their home, a good example of a must-have tool would be wire strippers. There really is no electrical task that you can do without having this useful hand tool on hand. The best wire strippers really are that valuable when it comes to electric work.
There is one thing you must be aware of though. Not all wire stripper products are made well. That’s where we can help. In this article, we will do some helpful wire stripper reviews on the top models found in the tool marketplace. We will also tell you what to look for when shopping for a new pair of wire strippers. This information will help you find a pair of wire strippers that will assist you greatly when doing any electrical project.
Best Wire Strippers Comparison Chart
Irwin Vise-Grip 2078300 Self-Adjusting Wire Stripper
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Klein Tools Wire Cutter and Stripper
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Coax Cable Crimper
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Irwin Vise-Grip Wire Stripping Tool / Wire Cutter
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Capri Tools 20011 Automatic Wire Stripper and Cutter
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Klein Tools 11055 Wire Cutter and Wire Stripper
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Reviews of the Top Wire Strippers
Here are some of the best wire strippers buys that you will find in the tool marketplace.
1. Irwin Vise-Grip 2078300 Self-Adjusting Wire Stripper
This company has a good reputation among tool buyers and this pair of wire strippers from them does not disappoint. These quality wire strippers have settings that will allow them to easily strip wires that are 10 – 20 AWG. They even have an adjustment feature that a user can set to strip wires that are under 20 gauge; that comes in handy for those that like to do such electrical tasks as run speaker wire.
The added vice grip feature comes in handy as well. It’s a unique feature on a pair of wire strippers that helps you grab on and hold thicker wires and other materials too. The grips on this tool are comfortable and made of a non-slip material too. It even has wire crimping and wire cutting areas built right into it.
Irwin includes a nice lifetime warranty with this pair of wire strippers too. That should give you confidence in the quality of this pair of wire strippers.
2. Klein Tools Wire Cutter and Stripper
This is a little bit of an odd-looking pair of wire strippers from Klein tools, but it will really help you get all your electrical work done. It’s a quality tool that features precision-machined stripping holes that enable users to effortlessly strip the insulation off wires. This pair of wire strippers can handle stripping wires that are 8 to 22 AWG gauge.
Making electrical connections does not get any easier than when you do it with this model wire stripper. That’s because it features a single-action squeezing motion. This enables the user to both grip and strip electrical wire at the same time. The wire grip is tension loaded so little effort is needed on the user’s part to hold the wire.
These Klein wire strippers are also made from cast alloy metals and are coated with an e-coat finish. It helps to make them highly-corrosion resistant. This product also comes with a lifetime warranty that covers material defects and manufacturing problems.
3. Coax Cable Crimper
This is not a great pair of wire strippers to use for general wire stripping purposes, but it’s the perfect tool to use when running Coaxial wiring cables. It’s a must tool for those that install cable, home stereo systems and satellite dish systems as a hobby or professionally. You can use it when splicing and running RG-58, RG-59, and RG-62 coaxial cable sizes.
These wire strippers are what professionals would call an f-type compression stripping and cutting tool. They use automatic rotary action to get the job done. It’s a wire stripper model that is compatible with most brands of coaxial compression connectors too.
This is a pair of coaxial wire strippers that can be used both indoors and outdoors. That’s because they are built using anti-corrosion nickel-plated steel. The package this product comes in even includes 20 coaxial cable ends. It’s made of impact-resistant steel too, so it is a very durable hand tool.
4. Irwin Vise-Grip Wire Stripping Tool / Wire Cutter
Here is another very good vice-grip style wire stripper. It’s also made by the reputable tool manufacturer Irwin. This pair of wire strippers is suitable for both professional and non-professional use. These are a great general-purpose wire stripping tool. They work on wire sizes from 10-22 AWG.
There are many features to like on this model wire strippers. That includes such things as their 6-precision wire cutting stations and their ProTouch soft grips. There is also a built-in adjustable stopper. It’s designed with a plier style nose that makes it perfect for pulling and looping wire too. There is also a crimping feature built right into it.
As with most Irwin hand tools, it comes with a very nice lifetime warranty. Irwin hand tools are quality made and this shows what type of confidence the manufacturer has in the durability of their tools. This pair of Irwin wire strippers also meets or exceeds all ANSI standards.
5. Capri Tools 20011 Automatic Wire Stripper and Cutter
Here is a nice pistol grip style wire stripper from Capri Tools. It’s also an easy to use automatic wire stripper. You just place your wire in it and then with a simple squeeze of the trigger it strips any size wire from 10 to 24 AWG. It’s also a very affordably priced pair of wire strippers with all that it does for you.
Its pistol-grip style is not the only nice feature on it either. There is also a built-in wire cutter and it has self-adjusting blades too. This helps it strip wires smoothly on a consistent basis. It can cut through stranded as well as solid wire. These wire strippers are also designed to make stripping wires easy when working in tight spaces.
These wire cutters are made using a combination of rugged steel and tough polymer plastic. The high carbon steel is very resistant to corrosion, so these are suitable for indoor or outdoor use.
6. Klein Tools 11055 Wire Cutter and Wire Stripper
Here is a lightweight and easy to use pair of wire strippers that are handy to have around. It will make any wire stripping you need to do for an electrical project very simple. There are so many wire functions you can perform with this 9” pair of manual wire strippers. Both professionals and do it yourselfers will find it very useful when doing all types of electrical work.
It will strip wires that are anywhere from 10 to 22 AWG. That includes both stranded and solid type wires. You can also use it to cut wires, loop wires and grab and pull wires through conduit with it. This is a very versatile pair of wire strippers, to say the least.
These wire strippers will not only strip and cut wire, but they will also easily cut through smaller screw sizes. This tool also comes with Klein tools limited lifetime warranty. So the manufacturer will replace it if there is a material defect or poor workmanship involved in its failure.
What Are Wire Strippers?
If you have ever done any type of electrical work, you are most likely familiar with the fact that electrical components come in parts and pieces. There is no such thing as a wire that already has switches, outlets, and junction boxes attached to it. That means that when you do any type of electrical work; junction boxes, switches, and outlets need to be added. All these electrical components have built-in places where wires get attached to them.
The only problem is, wire is bought in spools with the required insulation wrapped around the bare wire. You cannot attach wire wrapped in insulation to electrical system components. Before you can do that, you must expose an inch or so of the end of the wire by taking off the insulation. This is called stripping a wire. Hence the name given to this useful electrical tool that’s used to strip the insulation off the end of wires.
Wire Strippers Buying Guide
Here are some characteristics of wire strippers that should be strongly considered when you are shopping for a new pair.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a New Pair of Wire Strippers
Even though there are many wire strippers to choose from in the marketplace, there are still many differences between models. Because of this, you must ask yourself a few questions before shopping for one. This will help you get your wire stripper purchase right. They include:
How often will I use my new wire strippers?
This will give you a good idea of how much you want to spend on a new pair of wire strippers. It will also guide you as to what type of quality should they be. Professional and high volume users will want a better quality pair of wire strippers that are made for heavy use. On the other hand, hobbyists and occasional do it yourselfers don’t need an expensive or fancy pair of wire strippers.
What types of working conditions will my new wire strippers be used in?
Will you be using your new wire strippers just for occasional indoor use? Maybe you are a professional who will be using your new wire strippers outside several times a day. Answering this question about the working conditions that you will be using your new wire strippers under tells you how durable they must be. It may also alert you to the fact that your wire strippers should be made from highly corrosion-resistant materials.
Will you be working in tight quarters with your new wire strippers?
There are two ways in which wire strippers work. They can use either manual or automatic wire stripping action. If you are an electrician that does wiring in small, tight areas, you may want to consider getting an automatic pair of wire strippers. You also may want to purchase wire strippers that are smaller in size.
Important Wire Stripper Features
These are some traits of wire strippers that should be taken into consideration when shopping for new ones either online or in-person:
Wire Sizes/Types That They Can Strip
Wires are labeled by the size of their internal metal load-carrying wires. This size is referred to as a wire’s gauge. Wires are also labeled by the type of wire they are. For example; common household wiring is often referred to as AWG type wiring. Typical household wiring sizes are 14-gauge AWG, 12-gauge AWG, 10-gauge AWG, 8-gauge AWG, and 6-gauge AWG.
Why is it important to know the type and gauges of the electrical wire that you will be using your new wire strippers on? Because each pair of wire strippers is made to cut specific types of wire sizes. For example, if you do mainly household wiring, you must make sure that your new wire strippers can at least strip the ends off 6-gauge to 14-gauge AWG wires.
This is the single most important thing to consider when shopping for a new pair of wire strippers. That’s because even the highest quality pair of wire strippers are no good to you if you can’t strip the wire sizes that you are working with.
Automatic or Manual Stripping Action
We won’t get into this too deeply here because it will be explained in more detail later in this article. So just FYI; wire strippers work in one of two ways as was previously mentioned. That’s by either manual or automatic means. Simply put, this means that it takes more effort to strip wires using manual type wire strippers. So your working conditions and the volume of wire stripping you do should help you determine which of these styles of wire strippers will work best for you.
Many wire stripper manufacturers choose to add a spring-loaded operating mechanism to some of their wire stripper models. This has the effect of making that pair of wire strippers much easier to use. That’s because the spring-loaded action pushes the wire stripping handles quickly back into place so the strippers are ready to use again. This is definitely something to consider if you are using your new wire strippers professionally. It can save you some hand fatigue as you strip the insulation off of the ends of multiple during a workday.
For the most part wire strippers are not big and beefy hand tools, but there are exceptions. Some are made to work on extremely thick and hard to cut wire. These are the type of wire strippers that those that work with power lines would use. They could be as much as 18 inches long. Most wire strippers for doing more common tasks will range between 6 to 12 inches long. You must match wire stripper size with the difficulty of stripping the wire gauges that you will be working with.
If you only use your wire cutters occasionally at your workbench, then their weight will not matter much. On the other hand, wire cutter weight is something to consider if they are part of your tool belt. Some model wire strippers are extremely lightweight and others are heavier so they can handle tough stripping tasks. This really comes down to personal preference as opposed to some rough guidelines that wire stripper users have developed.
If you look around, you can find a pair of wire strippers that sell for as little as $5. You will also find models that sell for or as much as $50 or more. It’s a safe bet that the $5 pair of wire strippers will not last you as long as the more expensive pair. They probably will also not offer much in the way of corrosion resistance either. Cheaper quality wire strippers often will show signs of corrosion just a few days after being exposed to moisture. So here it’s very important to match the construction and material quality of a pair of wire strippers with the types of jobs and the working environments you will be using them in.
Wire strippers come with all different types of grip material and types of grips on them. You will find wire stripping tools that have grips like pliers, pistol grips, and more. Some grips will be bare metal and others will be lined with sturdy foam or other materials for comfort. Once again, grip selection really comes down to personal preference but it is something to consider.
Many people when they are doing electrical work prefer not to keep switching tools back and forth to do different wiring tasks. That’s why a pair of wire strippers that can perform other functions is a very useful and versatile hand tool. Here are some of the other capabilities that are nice to have in a pair of wire strippers.
- Wire Cutting Capability
- Wire Looping Capability
- Wire Crimping capability
- Vice Grip Ends
- Plier Style Ends
So look for these things if you would like your new wire strippers to be more of an all-around wiring tool.
Even though wire strippers are not what is considered to be an expensive electrical tool, you still want to get a warranty on them if you can. Try and get a warranty that lasts as long as possible on the wire strippers that you buy. Some of the more reputable tool companies will even offer a lifetime warranty on the wire strippers that they manufacture. Lifetime warranties only cover workmanship and material defects, so don’t expect to have the wire strippers replaced if they’re abused.
Automatic Vs. Manual Wire Strippers
We have mentioned a few places in this article that there are two different working styles for wire strippers.
The most common are manually operated wire strippers. They are popular because they are easy to carry around and once you get used to working them, they are also very simple to use. As the description implies; you must do every phase of the wire stripping operation yourself. That means holding the wire, lining it up properly in the stripper teeth, and then moving the tool and stripping the wires. It sounds a lot more complicated than it is.
Automatic wire strippers still require much user help but they do save a few steps in the wire stripping process. The hardest part with these is getting the wire lined up correctly in the tool itself. Once that’s done, the lever action of the handle takes care of the rest including moving and stripping the wire.
Wire Stripper Uses
Many people see wire strippers as an electrical tool that is very versatile. In most cases, you can do much more electrical and regular work tasks with them than just stripping the ends of wires to make electrical connections. Much of this depends on the way a manufacturer designs each of its wire stripper models. Some of them do just a few extra electrical work functions, while others perform a wide variety of helpful electrical wire working uses.
Here are some of the most common uses for wire strippers:
- Stripping the insulation off of the ends of wires in order to make electrical connections
- Cutting wire to length while running it throughout a home or building
- Grabbing on to the end of a wire to pull it through conduit
- Bending and shaping wire to get it to pull through conduit easier or to help make a smoother electrical connection
- Often have a slot for crimping various wire connections tightly onto the wire they will be used on
- Some model wire strippers are made using a vice grip style end so they grab wires tightly or can be used for other purposes too
- Many wire strippers have needle nose plier style ends; this makes them useful for doing just about any task you can use regular needle-nose pliers to do
- Some are made to Shea off small size screws to save time having to saw them off.
Benefits of Using Wire Strippers
Here are some of the benefits that using a pair of wire strippers gives you when doing electrical work:
- Makes stripping the insulation off wires and then connecting them to junction boxes, switches, and other electrical terminal points very easy
- Gives you the ability to do other wiring tasks without having to switch tools
- They make cutting wire to size much simpler
- They can be used for such things as grabbing onto a wire and for effortlessly cutting the heads off smaller size screws
Wire Stripper FAQ’s & Answers
Here are some of the most common questions that we get concerning wire strippers and their use:
- Question: What are the most common size of wires that need to be stripped and should you get a pair of wire strippers that can strip all of these?
Answer: Most people can do most household electric jobs using a pair of wire strippers that have the following common wire stripping capabilities. These include the ability to strip #10, #12, #14, #16, and #18 AWG solid wires. You should also have slots on your wire strippers for stripping #12, #14, #16, #18, and #20 AWG stranded wires. Yes, you should get a pair of wire strippers that has all these sizes. That will help you do 95% of your home wire stripping needs.
- Question: Is it good to have a pair of wire strippers that can strip wires smaller than #20 AWG?
Answer: Not for normal household wiring applications. But if you work with extremely small wires such as those for stereo and audio setups you will. That’s because these mini size wires are very difficult to splice by hand.
- Question: Which are better; manual or automatic wire strippers?
Answer: This is pretty much personal preference with a few exceptions. Such as automatic wire strippers are usually easier to use if you work in small, confined areas such as crawl spaces.
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A Few Final Thoughts on Wire Strippers
Wire strippers are definitely a handy tool to have around for everyone. As was mentioned, most can be used for many more tasks than just stripping wire. If you are a do it yourself type person you never know when you will have to repair a wire on a table lamp connection or must replace a light switch. Tasks like these go much easier if you have a pair of wire strippers on hand. If you do any type of electrical work, then having a pair of the best wire strippers available is extremely useful. They are a must-have item for professionals that work with electrical wires every day at their jobs.
If you follow the advice in this article you should be able to find the right style of wire strippers for yourself. Make sure you look at everything that was mentioned in the buying guide section in order to do this best. You can also never go wrong by purchasing any pair of these useful electrical tools that we did wire stripper reviews on.