Stripping Wire Insulation: Choose the Safest Tool

Stripping wire insulation is a hands-on task, no matter what tool you’re using. Why make it any more dangerous than it has to be? Sometimes a simpler tool is best, but only if it’s a safe tool. Instead of using a utility knife with a dangerously sharp traditional blade, watch this in-the-field demonstration of how the Slice® 10550 Manual Utility Knife easily cuts through cable insulation, without harming the wires underneath or the user.

Stripping wire insulation can be done with a wide variety of tools and machines. You’ll find a handheld cable stripper at your local hardware store for a very reasonable cost. On the other hand, a mechanical cable insulation stripper costs thousands of dollars.

One of the best wire strippers is a utility knife, such as the Slice® 10550 Manual Utility Knife, and your own two hands, as demonstrated in this video. Using our utility knife, with its finger-friendly® blade edge, gives you a nice, clean cut without any damage to the insulated wires inside the cable.

More importantly, there’s a reduced chance of injury to yourself. Using a traditional blade, all it takes is one slip of the knife on that hard outer surface, and a puncture or laceration injury is the likely result. Other characteristics of our finger-friendly blades that make them especially suited to electrical work are their non-conductive, non-sparking, and non-magnetic properties.

The Ideal Wire Strippers and Cable Stripping Tools

Anyone doing a large volume of electrical work will likely want to invest in a cable stripper or some type of insulation stripping tool, especially if you’re wiring outlets, installing lighting fixtures, or wire splicing.

If you do a variety of electrical work, you’ll likely find yourself investing in various types and sizes of wire stripping tools, just to make sure you have the right tool for the job, whenever you need it.

Can you afford to own every cable stripper? Wouldn’t it be far less expensive to have one safe and reliable tool that could handle any job you encounter? One you could easily find without having to rummage through your toolbox to search for the correct tool to handle the specific wire you need to cut?

Slice makes a wide variety of cutting tools that are safer to use in electrical work due to their non-conductive, non-sparking, and non-magnetic properties. Should you happen to touch a live wire or a wire that is carrying residual voltage with one of our knife blades, the electrical charge will not be transmitted to you, the way it would be with a metal knife blade. Electrical work can be very dangerous. Our safety blades mitigate your risk when you’re using a Slice wire insulation stripping tool.

We also make a line of ceramic scissors with the same blades that we use in all of our knives. These scissors can easily cut thin gauges of copper wire, making them handy additions to your electrical tool belt.

If you work in tight spaces or at awkward angles, our 10568 Ceramic Scalpel is a versatile and useful tool. It uses our interchangeable safety craft blades, many of which are useful in electrical work, such as the 10532 Corner-Stripping Blades, the 10537 Pointed-Tip Seam Ripper Blades, and the 10519 Straight-Edge Pointed-Tip Blades.

In addition to our Manual Utility Knife, other Slice knives that work well in electrical applications include the 10562 Folding Utility Knife, the 10513 Manual Pen Cutter, and our 10559 Manual Industrial Knife. These knives give you the option of choosing the handle and cutting depth you prefer.

The Differences Between Wire and Cable

Although it’s a very common practice in the electrical industry to use the terms “wire” and “cable” interchangeably, wire and cable are very different things.

Wires are solid or stranded single conductors, commonly made from aluminum or copper. Wires are either bare or insulated in colored sheathing to protect them.

Cable consists of two or more insulated wires, enclosed within an outer casing. There are four basic types:

  • Twisted Pair
  • Coaxial
  • Multi-Conductor
  • Fiber Optic

What’s the Big Deal About Copper?

Although fiber optics do a better job of conducting signals, copper’s attributes make it the best choice for most applications. First, copper conducts electricity extremely well. Copper also possesses superior ductility; it’s capable of being stretched over extreme lengths without weakening or breaking.

Due to the “skin effect,” electrons flow along the outer surface of the wire, resulting in very high surface temperatures. With alternating current (AC), the temperature of the wire’s surface constantly fluctuates, which copper can tolerate. Finally, copper is widely available worldwide, so it’s become the global standard for electrical use.

Do I Need a Cable Stripper or Will a Wire Peeler Work?

That’s a trick question! Whether you know it as a wire insulation remover, a wire stripper cutter, or a cable insulation removal tool, all of these cable insulation stripping tools perform the exact same function: removing insulation from wire or cable.

They differ in their form; those physical characteristics that determine appearance, such as handle size and shape, handle coating (often rubberized insulation to protect against electric shock), color, and the tool’s dimensions. They also differ in fit; how the tool relates to the material it’s being used on, such as the number and size of the notches for various wire gauges.

No single wire stripper or knife model will suit every electrician. You have to decide which tool best suits your on-the-job needs and your preferences. Whichever knife or tool you choose, make it a safer tool. A good all-around knife that can also strip wire is indispensable.

As an electrician, you frequently work with small, rounded surfaces that can easily slip under pressure. This puts your hands at risk of injury. Without full use of your hands, you can’t perform your job, which can sideline you for weeks, or maybe even permanently. When it comes to stripping wire insulation, you can stay safer by using one of Slice’s non-conductive, safety-bladed tools and your own two hands.