LAST UPDATED: October 4, 2019
Best Wire Strippers: Tackle Electrical Jobs With Ease
These top wire strippers are a necessary addition to any toolbox
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON October 4, 2019
Wire strippers are designed to do one job: remove the insulation and plastic casing from wires. The tool makes electrical work quite easy and simple to complete as long as you have the right pair for the job. Our buying guide will help you find the best wire strippers for your toolbox, so you won’t get stuck when you need them the most.
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Benefits of Wire Strippers
- Easy to use. Although you can use regular pliers or even a knife to strip cables and wires, neither option is very convenient. Without the proper tool, the process of wire stripping can be rather tricky and time-consuming. That's why wire strippers are super handy, as they allow for ease of use and hassle-free cutting of insulation.
- Precision. Wire strippers allow you to strip all kinds of wires, regardless of the overall length and thickness. With regular tools, it might be difficult to strip the plastic at the desired length without damaging the wire itself. Wire strippers, therefore, allow for more precision.
- Increased Safety. When using a pocket knife or regular pliers to strip wires, you might not only damage the wires, but you could also hurt yourself. Wire strippers are much safer tools that give you more confidence and provide more stability during the process. They keep both wires and your fingers safe.
Types of Wire Strippers
These are incredibly popular wire strippers because they are very easy to use. They have blades with many holes to match wires of different gauges, which means no adjustments are needed. All you need to do is to put the wire in a properly sized hole.
Gauged strippers can also work as cutters or crimpers. They are versatile and get the job done quickly. However, keep in mind that each gauged stripper has a limited number of gauge holes. You might want to buy more than one tool, depending on how many different wires you're planning to strip and cut.
Those who are planning to strip wires of different gauges might want to check out self-adjusting strippers, too. These are quite versatile and convenient because they automatically adjust to accommodate wires of different thickness levels. With self-adjusting strippers, the process of stripping insulation becomes much faster and easier. Additionally, some of the self-adjusting strippers have built-in crimpers and cutters, allowing you to tackle different jobs with just one tool.
Gauged Automatic Strippers
These offer a combination of features from both self-adjusting and gauged strippers. With the self-adjusting head, they take out all the guesswork from stripping wires. You get to put in wires of different gauges, and the tool will do the rest, returning to the starting position right after making a clean cut.
Wire Stripper and Cutter
It's also possible to get a multi-purpose tool that can help you tackle different jobs. Many wire strippers have holes for stripping as well as sharp blades for cutting wires. Because they allow you to do both jobs without changing tools, wire strippers and cutters are convenient for DIYers as well as professionals.
Klein Tools is one of the world's leading companies when it comes to the production of hand tools. It was founded in 1857 and is located in Lincolnshire, Illinois. The reasons for the company's enormous popularity are various, starting with its dedication to producing high-quality products for both professionals and DIYers. Klein Tools offer more than 3,800 different tools, from pliers to screwdrivers to conduit benders. The Klein Tools Wire Cutter and Wire Stripper is one of the best picks on the market.
Irwin Tools is a well-known brand in the hand and power tool market. The company offers a wide range of tools to help professionals and hobbyists all over the world to tackle their everyday jobs. It was founded back in 1885 and is located in Huntersville, North Carolina. Irwin Tools is praised by handymen and women all over the world, and the IRWIN VISE-GRIP Wire Stripping Tool/Wire Cutter is among the most favored tools on the market.
Capri Tools is a company that prides itself on producing top-notch tools for its customers. It's located in Pomona, California, and has been one of the most praised tool manufacturers on the market for years. That doesn't come as a surprise, considering Capri Tools offers everything a professional and hobbyist might need, from automotive to power tools. When it comes to wire strippers, the Capri Tools Precision Wire Stripper is one of our favorites, and it made it to the top of our list.
Wire Strippers Pricing
- Under $15: Most gauged and self-adjusting wire strippers are inexpensive. At just a couple of dollars, you can get efficient and reliable tools that can help you strip wires of different lengths and gauges.
- $15-$30: Those who can spend some extra cash on their new wire strippers can get rather versatile and practical tools. At this price point, wire strippers have built-in cutters or crimpers, allowing you to tackle many jobs without changing tools.
Depending on the type, high-quality wire strippers have quite some AWG (American Wire Gauge) cutting terminals or can be adjusted to a high degree. Still, there must be a limit in numbers, which is why it's essential to check the AWG range before the purchase. You want to make sure a wire stripper can handle the wires you're planning to pull.
One of the crucial things to consider when buying tools such as wire strippers is the overall construction quality. High-end wire strippers are usually made from hardened metals such as steel and titanium. They are designed to withstand heavy use and last for many years. Steel and titanium not only resist daily damage but also water, rust, and other threats. Therefore, look for these materials while in pursuit of the best wire strippers.
In order to strip the insulation properly without damaging the wire or leaving a messy cut, you have to hold the tool securely and with confidence. That's why you need a wire stripper that offers quality handles. They need to provide excellent traction and allow for a firm hold, so you can strip and cut the wire with high precision. Thermoplastic rubber grips are one of the best options, but well-built plastic handles will work too.
- Ease of Use. It's also important to consider the overall design of wire strippers and the extra features they provide for hassle-free use. Some tools, for example, can secure themselves around wires and allow for a clean and easy cut. Others are less functional and require some experience for flawless results.
- Automatic or Manual. Consider which type works best for you: a manual or automatic wire stripper. The first type requires more effort because you need to center the wire with one hand and hold the tool in the other one. Still, they are convenient for delicate tasks. Automatic tools allow for effortless and quick cuts, but they might break small gauge wires.
Best Wire Strippers Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Our top pick is one of the most popular. It's a versatile tool you can use to cut, strip, and loop 10-18 AWG solid and 12-20 AWG stranded wires. Even better, it allows you to shear 6-32 and 8-32 screws and achieve flawless results.
The tool features a strong-gripping serrated nose, which means it's convenient for a variety of jobs. This design type allows for the wire stripper to bend, shape, and pull wire effortlessly. Furthermore, the tool is ideal for small wires, and it won't break or damage the object in any way. You don't even have to put in a great effort in the entire process. The Klein Tools wire stripper is an easy-to-use tool suitable for both professionals and DIYers.
Still, keep in mind that you might have an issue with locking the wire stripper. The jaw might stay a little bit open, so you need to transport and store the tool carefully. A tiny gap might be present between the blades, too, making the process of cutting single-strand wires more challenging.
If you're looking for a budget-friendly yet highly reliable option, the Irwin wire stripper is an excellent choice. It’s designed to strip and cut wires of 10-22 AWG. That means you can use it for a wide range of purposes, from home to construction jobs. Additionally, the wire stripper crimps both insulated and non-insulated terminals.
The thing that makes this tool special is the pliers-style nose. The unique nose allows for the stripper to pull and loop wire, achieving excellent precision at all times. The Irwin wire stripper features textured-grip handles that are very comfortable. There are also AWG selection dials, quick-release locks, and built-in crimpers. Even more important, the tool is made of quality metals and features induction-hardened edges.
The tool is not without drawbacks, though, with the main one being the overall effort it requires for the wire stripping process. Although it feels comfortable, the wire stripper might cause fatigue because it’s not spring-loaded. You have to move it back and forth all the time. Overall, it might take some time to get used to the tool.
Irwin offers a self-adjustable wire stripper that has a two-inch wide jaw and is very efficient. You can strip wires from 10 to 24 AWG, crimp 10 to 22 AWG insulated wires, 10 to 22 AWG non-insulated wires, and 7-9mm ignition terminals. On top of everything, the wire stripper is well-made and super durable.
Thanks to the heavy metal used for the construction, this wire stripper can withstand quite a bit of daily abuse. It’s also easy to use. A self-adjusting mechanism and a swivel knob allow for micro-adjustments, so you can use the tool on wires smaller than 20 AWG. Additionally, the handles have ProTouch Grips and ensure comfort even with extended use.
However, be extra careful when using the tool. The metal on the jaw is very sharp on the side, and it might ping or tear your shin. Also, keep in mind that the tool can strip super small gauge but might require some extra effort to do so properly. It takes some time to gain the leverage and learn how to properly handle the tool in all situations.
Klein Tools offers another versatile tool you can use for cutting and stripping 8-20 AWG solid and 10-22 AWG stranded wire. Thanks to the quality materials and innovative design, the Klein Tools wire cutter and stripper is ideal for daily use and a variety of tasks.
The tool allows for a single-action squeezing motion, which means you can grip and strip the insulation in one move. The holes are accurate and designed to remove the insulation without damaging the wire. In just one step, you can remove up to one inch of insulation. Furthermore, the tension-loaded head accommodates the wire securely without twisting it out.
Buyers also love that this tool is made of cast alloy and has a quality finish for more resistance to corrosion. Overall, the Kleins Tool wire cutter and stripper is highly reliable and durable. It feels good in the hand and provides clean and easy strips and cuts.
However, this particular model might be unsuitable for extra small gauge wire. You might need to put in some effort to avoid stripping both the insulation and the wire. Also, the cutter is a little bit tricky, especially when trying to use it on long lengths of wire. You need to position it properly and point the exact place to cut, which is time-consuming.
This is a handy tool that strips and loops 10-22 AWG solid copper wires and aluminum cables. It's rather popular among users, mostly because of the remarkable efficiency and excellent cutting results. A lot of DIYers find it ideal for light daily tasks around the house.
The WGGE wire stripper features a serrated nose that ensures a firm and secure grip. It's able to bend, loop, and pull wires of different gauges. Additionally, the tool has an ergonomically designed and curved handle for comfort during every use. You'll also be pleased to know that this wire stripper is made from high carbon alloy steel. It ensures clean cuts and proves to be very durable.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind with this tool, though. First, it might be bigger and heavier than expected. Those with small hands might struggle a little to hold it properly. Second, due to the size, these wire strippers are not very convenient for small gauge wire. They might even damage the wire in the process, so make sure to use them carefully.
Capri Tools offers an efficient wire stripper that works on 22-8 AWG wires. It's an easy-to-use tool designed for professional and DIY purposes. The sturdy construction and ergonomic design make it one of the best choices on the market.
The wire stripper is made of cast alloy and features solid and sharp jaws. The stripping holes are specially designed to avoid all the guesswork from the stripping process. All you need to do is to place the wire on the properly-sized hole, and the tool will remove the insulation. There's even a built-in, tension-loaded grip to give you more control over the process. Once the cut is made, the tool immediately returns to its default position.
One of the drawbacks of this product is the fact that there are no instructions about how to install the strip-length gauge extension. It might be tricky to do it without guidance. Another issue comes from a very strong spring. Although highly reliable, it causes hand fatigue because you need to apply extra pressure on the handles.
Here, we have an automatic wire stripper from Capri Tools. It's an inexpensive yet highly reliable tool you can use to strip 24-10 AWG wires and cut 12 AWG wires. Just like most of the other Capri Tools products, this model is built to last and ensure more efficiency in the working area.
The tool is automatic, which means it accommodates the wire and adjusts to its size in just one move. Thanks to the narrow profile, the wire stripper reaches tight areas and deals with wires of different gauges. Furthermore, the tool is designed to ensure comfort during use, and it feels good in your hand.
However, keep in mind that this is an inexpensive tool mostly suitable for light jobs around the house. It's not a high-grade wire stripper you can use for professional purposes. The plastic parts are also a little fragile, so you need to be extra careful when using and storing the tool.
If you are looking for an alternative to stripping wires manually, this automatic machine might is a great option. It's a unique device you can use to strip wires from 18 gauge to 250 MCM. Such an impressive range makes it ideal for all kinds of purposes, from home to industrial jobs.
The wire stripper is made from aircraft-grade aluminum and has stainless steel hardware. It's a rather durable machine that can withstand heavy abuse and different weather conditions. Another important thing is the fact that the operation is super simple.
The machine makes quick adjustments all on its own, accommodating wires of many sizes in a breeze. The strips and cuts also happen in the blink of an eye, and you don't have to worry anymore about manually damaging the wire during the process.
The machine is somewhat tricky, though. It does take some time to get used to the overall design. Some users complained about having to watch online videos to figure out how to properly strip wires of different gauges. Also, it's quite expensive. Those who are on a limited budget might want to check out regular hand-held wire strippers on our list.
Last but not least, Greenlee offers a versatile and quality tool to help with everyday tasks around the house. This wire stripper is designed to strip 10-18 AWG solid and 12-20 AWG stranded conductors, and shear 6-32 and 8-32 bolts. You can even use it to crimp 16-10 insulated and non-insulated terminals.
The tool is made from stainless steel that can withstand a lot of pressure and resist corrosion and other threats. The stripping holes are made to ensure clean and easy insulation removal. Overall, the tool is well-built and offers a high level of precision. The coated handles are quite comfortable, and they open and close in a breeze, preventing hand fatigue during extended use.
One of the things to keep in mind with this tool is that it might not be perfect for cutting solid wires. The blades are a little thin, and although they handle stranded wires perfectly, the solid ones might cause damage. Also, the tool is small at the top. If you’re looking for pliers too, this tool is probably not the best option.
- Choose a wire stripper that is compatible with the size wires you typically work with. Most will cut wires that are 10 to 22 AWG (American Wire Gauge). However, some tools can handle larger-sized wire as well.
- Do not remove wire casings with your teeth or a knife as you could damage the wires (and your chompers). These methods are not nearly as effective as using a good pair of wire strippers.
- Some wire strippers grips that are more comfortable than others. To prevent hand fatigue, choose wire strippers that have a plastic handle. Lighter tools also cause less strain.
Q: How long will a pair of wire strippers last?
A: It depends on the material and durability of the tool. It's really not possible to sharpen the cutting edges, which can rust if you don't properly take care of the tool. A wire stripper will last longer if you store it properly in a dry toolbox or drawer.
Q: Can I use wire strippers on wires that are covered in Teflon?
A: You can, but only if the brand is specifically designed to do so. It's very difficult to strip Teflon-coated wires using an average pair of wire strippers.
Q: Can I use wire strippers to crimp terminal connectors on the wires?
A: Several brands of wire strippers can do this task, but not every pair has the ability. If the strippers have slots for crimping wires then you're all set.
Our pick for the best wire stripper is the Klein Tools Wire Cutter and Wire Stripper. It easily bends, shapes, and manipulates wires of a variety of sizes.
For a more budget-friendly option, consider the IRWIN VISE-GRIP Wire Stripping Tool/Wire Cutter.