Last updated: August 5, 2021

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Every now and then you hear about fires in buildings on the news. Not too seldom is a hidden cable fire the cause. Apart from the material damage, these can also be life-threatening. This is often the result of improper stripping of cables and the resulting damage to the conductive wires. Stripping pliers are tools specially made for this purpose that enable even inexperienced people to remove insulation safely.

With our big stripping pliers test 2021 we want to help you find the right tool for you. For this purpose, we have listed the advantages and disadvantages of mechanical stripping pliers, automatic stripping pliers and the stripping knife and compared them with each other so that it is as easy as possible for you to find the right stripping pliers for you and your requirements.




Summary

  • A wire stripper is a special tool that enables the user to remove the insulation from conductors without damaging the underlying wires and strands.
  • Basically, a distinction is made between the mechanical stripper, the automatic stripper and the stripping knife. Stripping cables is guaranteed with all three types of product, although they differ in their design and are suitable for different cross-sections.
  • Automatic wire strippers are particularly beginner-friendly because they adjust themselves independently to the cable cross-section and thus simplify correct stripping.

The Best Wire Stripper: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for wire strippers

To make it easier for you to choose a wire stripper, I have compiled a list of features that you can use to guide your purchase.

You should consider the following criteria when buying wire strippers:

Ergonomics / weight

The ergonomics and weight of the pliers play an important role, especially when working for long periods. You should pay attention to the following so that you don't get tired too quickly.

The weight of the wire strippers varies enormously from model to model. Some products weigh less than 100 grams, while others weigh up to half a kilogram.

Simple straight handles quickly cause pressure points on the hand.

If you want to strip a lot of cable in one session, light wire strippers are better. However, you must bear in mind that lighter materials also have a negative aspect. This will be discussed in more detail in the next criterion.

In addition to the weight, the handles of a pair of pliers determine whether it is comfortable to work with the wire stripper over a longer period of time.

Ergonomic handles that adapt to the shape of the hand reduce this risk and offer greater comfort. Another advantage of ergonomic handles is that less force is required when stripping the wires.

Material

The processed material is a good indication of the durability of the tool.

Metal is generally stronger than plastic. Even if the pliers are heavier and you tire more quickly, metal pliers can be well worth the effort due to their longer durability.

Handles with rubber coating guarantee a comfortable grip on the tool. They also have an anti-slip effect and help prevent injuries.

Cross-section

When buying a wire stripper, you should pay attention to which cables you can work with it. First of all, the cross-section of a conductor is not the same as its diameter. The smaller the area of a conductor, the higher the resistance. That is why the thickness of the conductor is given as a cross-section and not as an average.

It is important that you know the cross-sections of the cables you want to strip.

The size of conductors that strippers can handle is indicated by a cross-section range. Most cables in the home have a cross-section of up to 10mm². However, many wire strippers can only strip wires up to a cross-section of 6mm². So find out about the cross-section ranges of the wire strippers.

Length of stop

With the stop you can choose how much insulation you want to strip. How far the insulation should be removed from the conductors depends on the connection point. The size of the clamping point or the wire end ferrules for stranded wires are decisive for this.

The longer the stop of a wire stripper, the longer you can strip your conductors evenly. Some stripping pliers also offer the option of removing the stop. You can then determine the length yourself, but this makes it more difficult to achieve uniformity.

Voltage protection

It is not always possible to switch off the power source when stripping. That's why you should look for safety certificates when buying your wire stripper that guarantee protection up to a certain electrical voltage. The GS and TÜV seals indicate that the wire strippers are safe. However, these only guarantee the quality of the product.

You should learn the correct procedure for stripping under voltage by reading the instructions for use of the stripping pliers.

Additional functions

Connecting and cutting cables is an integral part of electronic work. Some wire strippers already combine these functions.

Crimping pliers and side cutters are no longer a rarity in universal wire strippers. They can save you space and time.

Decision: What types of wire strippers are there and which is the right one for me?

When buying a wire stripper, you can choose between three types of products.

Product type Advantages Disadvantages
Automatic stripping pliers Time-saving, additional functions High weight, Small cross-section range
Mechanical stripping pliers Easy to use, Space-saving, Low weight More prone to errors, More time-consuming,
Stripping blades Large cross-section range, Round and longitudinal cuts Small cross-sections difficult, Risk of injury

If you are still undecided, you can find more detailed information about the advantages and disadvantages of the different wire strippers in the sections below.

Mechanical wire stripper

Mechanical wire stripper

With a mechanical wire stripper you can perform your first stripping tasks on your own. The operation is simple and does not require any special know-how. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of mechanical pliers.

Advantages
  • Compact
  • Light weight
  • Easy to use
Disadvantages
  • More error-prone
  • Only single wires can be stripped

The mechanical wire stripper has a V-shaped cutter. In addition, its cross-section can be adjusted by means of an adjusting screw. These two features and the associated handles distinguish a mechanical wire stripper.

They are more compact and lighter than their competitors. These pliers are therefore a good choice if your toolbox is rather small and you do not have large stripping projects in mind.

Since you have to do the stripping yourself with the mechanical stripper, you should proceed carefully. Nevertheless, it is easy to set the distance too small or too large. In most cases this is not a problem, because you can simply cut the cable and start again. But it is always annoying.

In addition, with a mechanical wire stripper you can only strip individual wires because of the V-shaped blades.

If accuracy and patience are not your strong points, it is better to use an automatic wire stripper.

Automatic wire stripper

Automatic wire stripper

The automatic stripper works best where the mechanical stripper has its weaknesses. There is no need to adjust the adjusting screw manually and you save a lot of time, especially for larger projects.

Advantages
  • Additional functions
  • time saving
Disadvantages
  • High weight
  • Low cross-sectional area

Some models have straight blades. This allows you to strip several cables at the same time. However, if the work takes a long time, it can be exhausting due to the higher weight.

If you want to work on larger cross-sections, this also means that the price increases. Most automatic wire strippers are designed for small cross-sections up to 6mm².

Crimping and side cutter functions are included in many high-quality products.

Stripping knife / sheathing stripper

Stripping knife / sheathing stripper

The stripping knife is the Goliath among the stripping tools. Especially larger cross-sections over 10mm² can be stripped without any problems.

The following advantages and disadvantages should help you in your decision:

Advantages
  • Large cross-section range
  • round and longitudinal cuts
Disadvantages
  • Small cross-sections difficult
  • risk of injury

The tool’s sharp blades make it easy to remove insulation from cables. You should be careful here, however, because the risk of injury is much higher than with the other two pliers. The blade is usually exposed and should therefore be handled with care.

Large cross-sections are no problem for the stripping knife. Smaller cross-sections of stranded wires, on the other hand, pose a difficulty. The cable knives cannot be adjusted to very thin cables. Moreover, the sharp blades cut through narrow wires effortlessly.

The stripping knife is a good choice for you if you want to remove the sheath from thick cables.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about stripping pliers answered in detail

So that you don't have to search long, we have answered a few frequently asked questions. Here you should find what you are looking for on the subject of wire strippers.

What is a wire stripper?

A cable consists of a sheath, insulation and conductors. First, the sheath of the cable has to be removed to get to the wires underneath. When stripping, the insulating material is then separated from the electrical wires. The aim is to expose the wires in the cables so that they can be connected to other conductors.

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An already stripped cable with sheathing, wire insulation and the strands.
(Image source: pixabay.com / Kevin Graham)

During stripping, these connections must not be damaged. Otherwise, there may be a loss of function or even a cable fire.

The adjustable distance between the blades of a wire stripper minimises the risk of damaging the wires.

Where are wire strippers used?

Basically, these stripping tools are used whenever electrical connections have to be made between cables.

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After successful stripping, an electrician can connect the cables.
(Image source: pixabay.com / ID 272447)

This is the case, among others, in the professional field of housing and plant construction. But private individuals and hobby electricians also use wire strippers, for example, to repair broken cables. Stripping pliers are also used in model railway construction. The filigree conductors in model making require very special concentration and the appropriate stripping tool.

Which wire stripper do I need for which cable?

Special pliers are not necessary for the majority of cables. What is important when choosing the stripping pliers is the cross-section of the conductors. Here are a few examples of frequently used cables and their usual cross-sections:

cable type cross-section of conductors
telephone cable 6mm² / 8mm²
NYM cable 1.5mm² - 16mm²
solar cable 4mm² / 6mm²
speaker cable 2.5mm² / 3.5mm²
cable for model making 0.14mm² - 0.75mm²

So all you have to do is find out about the cross-sections of your cables and buy a wire stripper with the appropriate cross-section range.

You will usually find this information in the product description of stripping pliers in the following format. Example: 0.03 - 10.0mm²

How do I use a mechanical wire stripper?

You need to follow these three steps to successfully use a mechanical wire stripper.

  1. Adjusting the set screw: First, take a look at the cross-section of your cable conductors. Then turn the screw until you have reached the appropriate distance between the V-shaped blades.
  2. Apply the wire stripper: Now you have to apply the stripper in such a way that you release as much wire as you need.
  3. Removing the insulation: Now press the two blades together until you reach the set distance. The insulation should now be cut. Finally, simply pull off the sheathing.

You should pay attention to the correct setting of the adjusting screw. If the insulation cannot be pulled off, you have set the cross-section too large. If, on the other hand, the stripper is difficult to press shut, you have set the distance too small. Then you should check that you have not damaged the wires. If there is damage to the wires, it is recommended to cut the cable and start again.

How do I use an automatic wire stripper?

With an automatic wire stripper you do not have to adjust the distance between the blades yourself.

However, if you have never used them before, you can find a short overview of the individual steps here.

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Stripping with an automatic wire stripper. The cable insulation is placed at the desired length against the red stop, cut and pulled away.
(Image source: pixabay.com / Bruno Germany)
  1. Determining the stripping length: Set the stop to the desired length.
  2. Inserting the cables: Since the adjusting screw automatically adjusts to the cross-section of the cables, you only have to place them between the two blades.
  3. Removing the insulation: Here we have the same procedure as with the mechanical stripper. You cut through the insulation and pull it off the wires.

Even automatic stripping pliers do not always guarantee faultless stripping. That's why we always recommend checking the conductors afterwards.

How do I use a stripping knife?

A stripping knife is mainly used for removing thick cable jackets. You can see how to do this here:

  1. Setting the blade depth: First you determine the thickness of the cable sheath. Then set the blade to the appropriate depth, usually with the help of an adjusting screw.
  2. Putting on the tool: Most stripping knives have a clamp or pliers for this purpose. This allows you to fix the cable at the desired depth.
  3. Cutting the sheathing: Finally, turn the stripping knife around itself once. The blade cuts through the entire sheath once so that you can easily remove it.

What does a wire stripper cost?

For infrequent stripping work in a private environment, a mechanical wire stripper is perfectly adequate. These are available for as little as €7. However, if you have to do more frequent work in this area, it is worth spending a little more money. To save time, you can use automatic wire strippers. You can buy these for 12€ and up in the shop. For larger cross-sections, a stripping knife is worthwhile. These are on sale from 8€.

What are the alternatives to a wire stripper?

Basically, a carpet knife or a side cutter is an alternative to a wire stripper. However, we strongly recommend that you proceed very carefully when stripping. With a carpet knife there is a risk of slipping and injuring yourself. Damage to the conductor is also much more likely.

Wire strippers minimise the risk of damaging the wires. They are now available for little money and you are sure to find the right one for you among the different types.

Image source: Sasha85ru/ 123rf.com

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