Working with any sort of electrical wiring can be stressful and frustrating, but having a pair of best wire strippers that are functional and easy to use can make the work go so much faster.
This article walks through the top ten list for wire cutters, speaking to the features and main selling points of each, as well as recommending whether you should buy them or not.
There’s a buyer’s guide at the end that will give you general guidelines of what to look for when you buy a pair of wire strippers for yourself.
Lastly, we’ll examine the growing trends in the market, and what we think will become popular in the future.
Best Wire Strippers in February, 2020
IRWIN VISE-GRIP 2078300 – Best Self Adjusting Wire Stripping Tool
It also comes with a crimping feature, which is good from 10 to 22 AWG. The wire can be insulated or non-insulated for this feature, which is useful for a variety of projects or wiring issues.
You can also crimp ignition terminals that range from seven to nine millimeters.
The Irwin also comes with a stopper that you can adjust, meaning that you can decide how much of the wire you want to be stripped, and then stop that motion once you reach the end. This is a useful feature and should make stripping one smooth motion since you can move with confidence that you won’t strip something you need to keep whole. They will fit perfectly for electrician or DIY.
Irwin guarantees its strippers with a lifetime warranty as well, so you can have peace of mind that your investment in this tool will be protected.
The Irwin is generally well reviewed, with some reviewers commenting that the tension on the tool is difficult to manage, and has to be turned up often. Others feel that the measurement gauge is more of a hindrance than a help.
Klein Tools 11057 – Best Small Wire Strippers
The Klein 11057 is a wire stripper that comes with multiple options as far as wire sizes. The 11057 focuses on 10 – 30 AWG that’s solid, with a slightly larger range (12-32 AWG) for it’s stranded counterpart.
The Klien comes with no less than nine sperate size and type options for this tool, so there should be no problem finding a model that will meet your needs.
The Klein comes with an adjustable head, so it can scale down to almost any size wire, though the main sizes listed above are what it’s rated for.
It’s also capable of some Romex wire, with sizes 12/2 and 14/2. A small wheel allows you to adjust the tension yourself, meaning that smaller strip jobs might be possible.
The handle on the Klein doubles as a wire cutter, and it also features grooved grips to make holding it for long periods easier. Overall, the Klein is rated highly, with it being best for use with smaller wires.
The very top of the range, 32 AWG stranded, means that you have to separate the tool to fit that gauge. This can cause some separation in the wire cutters, which may or may not be a big deal, depending on how often you need to cut wires as well, or how attached you are to your current cutter.
Knipex 1262180 – Best Professional Large Wire Stripper
The Knipex 1262180 can be used on cables with any cross-sections or types of insulation. The Knipex can be used on cable sizes from 10 AWG to 24 AWG with standard insulation.
It adjusts automatically to the cable size and has an attached wire cutter that’s good for wires up to 2.5 millimeters.
It also has an adjustable stop with a range from six to eighteen millimeters.
The Knipex is made up of hardened steel and has a limited lifetime warranty as well.
It’s fairly highly reviewed and works well with larger gauges of wire, which is something that differentiates it from the other tools we have on this list.
Some report that the tension is a little off for smaller wires, meaning you’ll have to do some fine-tuning to get it to perform reliably. The tool feels sturdy and durable and is used in both professional and hobbyist settings. The main feature that everyone seems to appreciate is the auto-stop that allows you to set the length of your strip before you begin.
Klein Tools 11063W, 8-22 AWG – Precise and consistent
There’s a wire-cutter built-in as well, to take this even farther into the do-it-all territory. The Klein is designed so that it won’t damage wires when it removes the insulation, and it’s specially designed to be able to grip onto wires without warping or bending them.
Klein also offers a limited warranty on their tools, ensuring that the craftsmanship and build quality of their strippers remain consistent. The Klein is fairly highly reviewed, with many customers loving the katapult style of stripper, as opposed to the plier version that’s become more popular in recent years. It’s a sturdy tool, and the quality of construction means that it’s easy and fast to use.
Neiko 01924A – Best Automatic Wire Stripper
The Neiko 01924A is a self-adjusting stripper, with a range of 10 – 24 AWG. The stripper can be operated one-handed, with the jaws gripping in such a way that it removes the insulation easily, even with only one hand.
The Neiko also comes with a tension wheel to adjust the tension yourself for smaller wires.
And auto-stop has lengths from 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch.
The Neiko also has a built-in wire cutter in the handle, and crimpers as well. The crimpers work on 10-22 AWG that’s insulated, and 4-22 AWG that isn’t.
IT’s also good for auto-ignited terminals that are seven to eight millimeters. The Neiko is fairly highly reviewed. Customers are impressed with its auto-adjust features, though it does seem to work better on smaller wires, and some struggled with getting exactly the right grip on the handle for one smooth pull.
Ethernet Crimping Tool RJ45 and RJ12, RJ11 – Networking must have
It’s capable of crimping eight, six and four P connectors, as well as RJ45 up to eight wires, RJ12 up to six wires, and RJ11 plugs up to four wires. It can also strip cat5 and cat6 cables, both round and flat.
The Crimpswell is a great multi-use tool, and its handle is specially designed to allow for comfortable use to prevent hand cramping or fatigue. It comes with an infographic and full instructions as well, so you can see just how many different things you can use this tool for.
The Crimpswell is well reviewed, with some people saying that it’s better at crimping (which is its primary function) than stripping or cutting. Some people are happy just to have a high-quality crimper in their tool line up, but if you’re looking something just for more general use, you might want to look at something else on our list.
Capri Tools 20010 Precision Wire Stripper – Good All around Wire-Stripper.
The Capri has a range from eight AWG to twenty-two AWG. It can strip both solid and stranded types of wire. The Capri’s steel and plastic make-up make it lighter than many of the other strippers of its type, to prevent hand and arm fatigue.
The tool isn’t an auto-adjust, but the holes are provided to help you choose your sizes precisely. The holes themselves are machined and checked thoroughly so that you can strip just the insulation, without damaging the wires.
The stripper itself has to prongs that move outward, meaning that you can strip wires one-handed, and the action itself makes stripping wires faster and easier. It also includes a stop gauge so that you won’t strip off more wire than you need to.
This feature was sort of hit or miss with many customers, with some saying that there were no instructions for how to install it. Other than that, this is well reviewed, with people appreciating it’s ease of operation and the one-handed motion needed to strip wires.
Jonard JIC-375 – Fiber Optic Specialty Tool
The Jonard JIC-375 is a fiber optic stripping cable with three separate settings. The first will strip the outer jacket off of the cable. The next level down removes the 600 – 900-micron coating and the third removes the 250-micron coating.
You can choose which depth you want to go depending on your specific project. The Jonard is obviously a specialty tool and is not meant for anything other than fiberglass cable, which means that it won’t work for AWG or Romax.
The Jonard has had a few customers complain that they needed to adjust their screws set into the stripper before everything worked properly. This extra step is frustrating, and for someone who’s less experienced, might lead to the tool not working. Other than this, however, the Jonard is highly reviewed, with many people pleased with their purchase.
Ideal Industries Kinetic Reflex Wire Stripper – Good for righties and lefties
This Ideal stripper is good for a solid wire from 10 – 18 AWG, and stranded wire from 12 – 20 AWG. The Ideal has a nose that can be used to twist wires as well as hold them, and the mechanism locks for added security.
The Ideal also contains a pair of bolt cutters as well. The handle has a Santoprene coating and added texture for more traction when you’re using the tool, and the extra gap for your fingers and thumb to rest gives you more control over the process.
It’s also something that works well for both righties and lefties, something to think about if you have the less popular dominant hand.
The Ideal is well reviewed, with customers enjoying the insulation and the shorter length of the tool, which grants more leverage. T-Stripper does not have an auto-stop, which is a failure for some people since you’ll have to guesstimate a little bit on the final length.
Hardin WS-1270 Manual Cable and Wire Stripper – Large gauge stripper
The WS-1270 is a countertop or workbench mounted model. It needs to be on a flat surface to work, but it will strip almost any shaped wire or cable.
The wires can be anywhere from 24 AWG to 7/8 of an inch, and the stripper also works on Romex wires as well. The blade itself is adjustable as well, as it’s independent of the mechanism. This means that it should be able to work on many different sizes and shapes of wire.
In theory, the WS-1270 should work by placing the wire between two rollers. The blade then comes down as far as you need it to, and you pull the wires through the rest of the machine to strip the insulation off.
The WS-1270 is a good idea in theory, but it has several people who say that theirs came badly machined or assembled. Others say that the wheels on the side that are supposed to guide the wire are difficult to keep straight and that the entire set up itself is crooked.
Jokari 20030 – Good Flat Cable Stripper
So the first thing to note is there are designed for stripping flat cable. These will strip cable that are physically up to a maximum of 12-mm or half an inch wide and cable from 0.75-mm to 2.5-mm squared, making these perfect for use on domestic lighting and ring circuit cable.
What We particularly like with these cable strippers, is if you’ve got a very short length of cable to work with sticking out of the wall, they’re very simple to place over the top and strip the cable towards you unlike many other cable strippers on the market that strip the cable from the side where you find they’re a bit bulky, they’re hard to get in and get hold of that cable if you’ve got a really short length to play with.
So this cable stripper is a bit limited in its functions. It will only strip cable up to 2.5-mm squared, and it will only strip cable that’s physically a maximum of 12-mm wide.
It also doesn’t cut or crimp cable like many other wire strippers on the market. Having said that, it does exactly what it says on the tin. If all you’re looking to do is strip domestic cable, this is extremely quick and extremely accurate. So would I recommend them? Definitely.
Best Wire Strippers (Automatic and Manual) – Buyer’s Guide
Now we will take a look at the overall components you should consider before you purchase a pair of wire strippers. Each list will have the quality you might find important, with the strippers on our list that meet those criteria.
Easy on the Hands/Ergonomic
Also, doubles as a crimper or cutter
Performs well on larger wires
Performs well on smaller wires
Allows for one-handed or one step operation
Why do I need a wire stripping tool?
This tool comes in handy for separation and replacement of wires during electrical work. It makes the work easier since you can cut, adjust and join wires as desired to work on particular projects.
What are the key features that I should consider before buying a wire stripping tool?
During window shopping, check if you can adjust it to suit different needs through stoppers included in it. This will prevent you from over stripping on wires. Consider the warranty in case a part gets damaged so that you avoid wasting resources looking for a replacement. Some wire stripping tools come with a lifetime warranty. Check if the device comes with a measurement gauge and a user-friendly tension.
Which is an ideal stripping tool for my small wires?
In this case, Klein tools 11057 has a head that you can quickly adjust according to the size of your wire. You can also control the tension using its small wheel making it possible for small jobs. The grooved grips on this stripping tools add comfort while holding it in position. Its automatic stop allows precision, and it can also work on Romex wires.
What do I need for my large wires?
Not all stripping tools work on all sizes of wires. If you have large cables, a Knipex 1262180 will give you good service for your job. It is ideal for 10-24AWG cable sizes and works for wires up to 2.5 millimeters. It is a sturdy and reliable stripping tool that comes with an auto-stop for easy set-up.
I multi-task a lot, is there a stripping tool I can operate using one hand?
Yes. There are automatic wire strippers that allow you to work easily even with one hand. Neiko 01924A is a self-adjusting tool that makes you work on insulated wires quickly. Its tension wheel is also efficient for easy adjusting of tension. It also comes with additional crimpers and cutters.
I am worried about bending and damaging my wires as I strip them, how can I prevent this?
Stripping tools are designed differently. Not all of them have to bend your wires as you get rid of the insulation. Select one with machined holes that allow you to work on the insulation without bending or damaging your wires.
What styles exist for wire stripping tools?
While some tools are constructed with the plier version, others come with the catapult style. Each version comes with its own merits. For instance, a catapult version in a stripper enables you to work fast as you slant in various positions or when you are using a single hand as opposed to the plier version. It provides a better grip than the plier version in a stripper.
How do I prevent hand fatigue if I need wire stripping tool for extended use?
Get one with a plastic handle that does not strain your hands. Stripping tools are designed differently, some with a more comfortable grip than others. A Santoprene coating in your wire stripping tool can also help you get additional traction. A light stripping tool also prevents strain while using it.
Can I get a stripping tool for my fiberglass cable?
Yes, this delicate piece requires a specific type of stripping tool. Choose Jonard JIC-375 that comes with three settings to strip your cable in bits. It allows you to select the suitable settings when working on different projects. It also gives you the liberty to remove or keep the buffer coatings of your fiber-glass cable. This tool is not meant for amateurs but professionals to avoid frustrations.
The basic idea of a wire stripper is something that hasn’t changed over the years, but as machining gets more precise and customer’s needs become more and more versatile, more than one style is beginning to rise to prominence.
The auto-adjusting tool is great for DIYers or home hobbyists but might become frustrating for seasoned craftsman or contractors. Thankfully, there are still plenty of traditional best wire strippers in the market.
Becoming more prominent is the one-handed, or one-step stripper, which makes the process easier for people in odd positions, or trying to do more than one thing at once. This idea is becoming more and more popular with professional electricians and people who use the tool daily.
Along with one-handed operation, ergonomic handles and tools that take more advantage of leverage are becoming more popular, as workers try to find tools that take some of the day to day strain off of their hands.
This means the plier’s shape is rising to prominence, as well as the catapult variance; though some still prefer the more “old-fashioned” staple shape that allows you to grip with one hand and pull with the other.
Multitools have always been popular, and the idea of having a wire crimper or cutter in the base is just as appealing these days, and no doubt will be more so in the future. Wire cutters seem to be more common currently, but crimpers are becoming more prominent as well, as DIYers and do-it-all craftsmen who love their multitools take more prominence in the market.