Stripping insulated wire doesn’t have to be difficult, as long as you have the right tools. There are a few different ways to do it, but one of the best is to use a wire stripper. Whether you’re working on an electric project or you want to sell copper for scrap, reusing wire can save you money — or even help you make some.
Wire strippers come in a few varieties, and the kind you’ll want to choose will depend on how much wire you need to strip. The kind you might get in an all-in-one tool kit is a gauged stripper that will often combine a few different tools into one, including a wire cutter, bolt-shear or crimpers. These are a great option for light use, as they’re typically inexpensive and easy to use. But if you’re planning on stripping a lot of wire, you might want something that’s purpose-built for stripping wire.
Another great kind of wire stripper is a self-adjusting wire stripper, which is designed to be super easy to use and reduce fatigue on the hands. They allow you to pull in a “grip and strip” motion, easily and continuously pulling off the insulation. A gauged automatic wire stripper combines the utility of different sized gauges for different wires as well as the comfort of a self-adjusting wire stripper. We’ve rounded up a few different kinds of wire strippers, including inexpensive all-in-one tools and comfortable tools for stripping a lot of wire.
1. IRWIN VISE-GRIP Self-Adjusting Wire Stripper, 8″
This wire stripper has a wide range for stripping a lot of different kinds of wire. It can strip between 10 and 24 AWG (American wire gauge). The self-adjusting mechanism allows for easy removal of the insulation without damaging the internal wire. If you’re stripping wire that’s smaller than 20 AWG, there’s an adjustment knob for added precision. Even though this tool is primarily for stripping, it also features a built-in crimper and a cutter.
Pros: Self-adjusting mechanism adjusts the tension based on the thickness of the wire. Can strip wire between 10-24 AWG, in addition to crimping and cutting abilities.
Cons: Not as effective for thinner wires, higher gauge wires.
2. Klein Tools Wire Cutter and Wire Stripper
This Amazon listing makes it easy to choose between wires of different gauges, as thick as 6-12 AWG and as thin as 22-32 AWG. This particular option strips, cuts and loops 10-18 AWG solid or 12-20 stranded. It has a unique design that can help reduce hand fatigue. It has a soft-grip and curved top handle, allowing for easier gripping for longer periods of time. Plus, the spring design automatically opens the tool, reducing the amount of time spent opening and closing the handles.
Pros: Made-in-the-US tool with a variety of applications ranging from crimping, stripping, cutting, and looping. Unique curved handle for comfortable holding. Coil-spring makes it easy to open the tool.
Cons: Cuts a smaller range of wires without buying multiple tools.
3. IRWIN VISE-GRIP Wire Stripping Tool
This tool from Irwin can perform a range of basic functions, including cutting, stripping, crimping, and looping. It has a range between 10-22 AWG for stripping, and you can crimp insulated and non-insulated terminals. The induction-hardened cutting edges help keep the tool sharper for longer, and there’s also a built-in bolt cutter. As far as basic tools to keep in one’s toolbox go, this pick from Irwin is a good all-arounder.
Pros: Good for cutting, looping, crimping, and stripping. Can perform these functions in a range between 10-22 AWG.
Cons: Not spring-loaded like some of the other options.
4. Klein Tools Wire Cutter and Stripper
This wire stripper from Klein Tools features a compound action design, making it easy to grip and strip in a single action. The AWG range is 8-20 for solid and 10-22 for stranded wire. The tension-loaded spring grip maintains control over the wire while cutting, making it easier to strip while protecting the wire from damage. The design utilizes premium construction; precision machined holes reduce damage, and the tool is made from a cast alloy with an E-coat finish.
Pros: Tension-loaded spring grip provides compound action stripping. Can cut a wide range of wire sizes, between 8-20 AWG for solid and 10-22 for stranded.
Cons: May not work as well at the lower or higher end of the stripping range.
5. DOWELL 10-22 AWG Wire Stripper
This inexpensive tool from Dowell is a great option for the average homeowner to keep in their toolbox. But it still features several details that put it above a basic tool. It utilizes a spring design that makes it easier to open the tool, saving time and energy. There’s also a locking mechanism that holds the jaws closed, requiring less hand exertion while stripping. There’s also a blade for cutting, and the handle is made from a soft and comfortable material.
Pros: Affordable, features a spring that opens the tool and a lock that keeps it closed. It can be used for AWG between 10-22.
Cons: Not as effective at crimping.
6. Capri Tools Automatic Wire Stripper and Cutter
You might imagine that a tool that automatically adjusts to different sizes of wire would be really expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. This tool from Capri self-adjusts to different gauges of wire, and the compound action makes it easy to cut a lot of wire. It strips wire between 10-24 AWG, so you won’t be limited to a smaller range of wire. The tool is also compact, allowing the user to cut and strip in compact spaces.
Pros: Works well for a substantial range of wires, as thin as 24 AWG and as thick as 10 AWG. Fully automatic stripping function makes it easy to “grip and strip.” Pistol grip handle makes for a natural hand position.
Cons: Can sometimes leave too much of the jacket on the wire, requiring multiple actions to fully strip.
7. Tacklife Self-Adjusting Wire Stripper/Automatic Cable Cutter
This option from Tacklife is affordable, considering it features a self-adjusting mechanism. That means that it automatically adjusts tension based on the wire, and an adjustable stopper allows you to control the length of the core wire. In addition to convenient and comfortable stripping, it can be used to cut and crimp. It can strip a good range of wire, between 10-24 AWG. The soft rubber grip features textured ridges, which help keep your hand comfortable without having the tool slip.
Pros: Affordable self-adjusting stripper that can strip between 10-24 AWG wire. Can also be used for cutting and crimping.
Cons: Could be more durable.