Introduction: How to Strip Wire (Without a Wire Stripper)

Picture of How to Strip Wire (Without a Wire Stripper)

This is a method of stripping wire that one of my friends showed me. I noticed that I use wire for a lot of projects and don't have a wire stripper. This way is useful if you don't have a wire stripper and you're either broke or too lazy to get one. It may seem like it takes a while to do, but once you get used to it it barely takes any time at all. This method is similar to the one by Weissensteinburg, but my friend said that this way may be better for the wire (less likely to damage it) but I'm not sure. Feedback is always appreciated!

Remember, If you liked it you could always rate it +1 :)

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

A utility knife (see pictures)
Your wire
Good lighting
A marker

*Optional (Only needed if your sharp knife can't make it through the wire)

Step 2: Wire Lengths

Picture of Wire Lengths

Measure out the lengths of wire that you need and cut them. You can use your utility knife, or scissors if the utility knife doesn't make it through. I just used the knife. If you decide to cut using the knife, position your finger/thumb on top of the knife and use the tip of the blade to cut. It will work better that way.

Step 3: Mark

Picture of Mark

Using the marker, make a mark about half a cm from the end of the wire on each side. This isn't strictly neccesary but helps you to see where to cut, which is helpful if you have very small wires or bad lighting.

Step 4: Scoring

Picture of Scoring

Now, begin scoring around the spot you marked. This is where the good lighting begins to become important to see your marks and where you cut. Score around the entire wire and try not to nick the actual wire. The whole key is finding the right amount of pressure. You have to make it so it cuts through but doesn't damage the actual wire. This is easy after a couple of tries. Here is the method I use.

Hold wire down

Apply pressure with knife

Keep pressure applied and turn wire

...Which now brings us to the next step.....

Step 5: Tip Removal

Picture of Tip Removal

Now you should see a tiny bit of copper/what-ever-your-wire-is-made-of peeking through all the way around the wire, like in the picture. If you can see this all the way around, grab the end and pull it off. If not, keep cutting. Look at the pictures if this step is at all confusing.

Now just repeat for the other end, and the other wires.

Step 6: There You Have It

Picture of There You Have It

And there you have it, an easy way to strip wire without wire strippers. If you have any suggestions or problems, please tell me.


SebastianP138 (author)2017-08-11

I use a vegetable peeler works fine

wire stripper剝 (author)2016-11-22

AlenL4 (author)2016-11-13

John T MacF Mood (author)2016-08-05

I use a pocket knife, and have learned how to nick the cover enough to strip the wire without touching the write. Works every time. it takes practrice, but after over 50 years of electronics, it's easy. Try it, you'll find it easy once you master the technicque.

sheriff1200 (author)2015-07-13

Myself, I prefer to cut the wire with a razor knife but, instead of cutting the wire all the way around and taking the chance of damaging the actual wire. I cut the wire along it's length and, then peal the wire back as far as I need and, then just clip it off.

majordadsage (author)sheriff12002015-12-12

Excellent idea.

RebeccaT3 (author)2015-03-19

I have a CopperMine Manual Wire machine, which is very great for me. I achieve a best result quickly and easily with this machine when I remove the coating of wires or cables without any hitches. really no hitches. Check out where I buy from here.

GeraldM2 (author)2015-03-11

Awesome DIY guide on stripping wire. Although I work alot with wire I have been making a killing lately with my StripMeister Automatc Wire Stripping Machine.

cheese10 made it! (author)2014-09-19

Awesome! Thank you, this helped me put new speaker wire on my stereo speakers!

DC4Projects (author)2014-08-05

Easier way: Just tear both ends of the wire(s) with your teeth!
*Make sure to was your mouth after that!*

jonathanmlang (author)2014-01-05

Scissors work well too, you hold the wire against the blades and as you cut they split a bit which allows them to strip the wires.

secondplanet (author)2012-01-08

Thanks, awesome tips there.

Mayday001 (author)2012-01-02

You gotta love the internet, four years later and the advice here is still useful. I'm a woman, not particularly handy, and I used the burn method to strip my speaker wire. Worked like a charm and I love the sound of my new, clear sounding speakers. Thank you to all above who posted, helping to rid the world of one more set of old static-ey speakers.

Aar000n3y (author)2008-02-02

Interesting way of doing it. But the fastest and easiest way is to just take a lighter to it for a second, let it cool for a second, and strip it off with your fingernails. It works very well.

Gjdj3 (author)Aar000n3y2008-02-02

Sounds like it would. Thanks for the feedback.

rsk11584 (author)Gjdj32008-02-04

At my workplace I have a candle, I just light the candle, and grab one end of wire, and hold the point from where it needs to be stripped over the candle, its the best method without losing a single string..

guggenheim (author)rsk115842009-05-25

Wow, really good tip, I'll try that.. Any tip on how to strip those extremely thin mini jack plug cables?

multiplecats (author)2009-03-06

Good instructable. I've never tried it with a utility knife, I think I'd probably get too happy and cut through it. I have to go at it in a much smaller way - I tend to prefer using the tiny little Swiss Army knife scissors I'm usually carrying on me. I just take the wire, bend it across the lower shear, then carefully close the beak until just the edge of the wire casing is nicked. Then I turn the wire and repeat until I've got a few nicks in it, at which point the casing can just be manually pulled off. Or, you can use the same tool and simply use the very tip of the scissor beak to nick the casing, and then continue as above. But either way, I can strip a wire in just a few seconds, usually without error.

alvincredible (author)2008-02-05

lol or you can do what TimAnderson did and pull it off with your teeth ( i think it was him, but i could be wrong)!

F-zero (author)alvincredible2009-02-27

hhaha i do this too, i swallowed a bit of wire by accident once xD

Gjdj3 (author)alvincredible2008-02-05

Using the teeth sounds quite popular (and painful) from reading some of the responses to this Instructable.

benthekahn (author)Gjdj32008-07-27

Its not painful. Maybe of you have bad teeth it is but its pretty easy normally.

splatterpaintballer (author)2008-03-03

using my teeth has always been easyest for me


The teeth are a great tool!

bikerbob2005 (author)Gjdj32008-07-25

should not use teeth the plastic? insulation has lead in it (yikes)
yes enough to be a bad thing

vitruvian8807 (author)2008-07-17

Hmm, I just use my finger nails, they are usually sharp enough to draw blood, cut plastic when I slice it, and strip wire when I need it, except when the wire is really small. I'm a guy, so I keep them clean when I let them grow, they come in useful too when you're doing soldering, and I'm also somewhat of a photographer, so I can usually get away with long finger nails. : ) :P

Plasmana (author)2008-07-14

LOL! My dad uses his teeth to strip wires!

marc92 (author)2008-02-02

I have yet to find a pair of decent wire strippers (or I'm not willing to pay for a good pair) therefore I use my teeth to strip wires. It is very convenient because you always bring your teeth with you, (for now.)

pappyld04 (author)marc922008-06-03

There is a great pair on the market now. Look like a pair of pliers on one part and strippers on the other. Wire is gripped by one side and stripped by the other. Mine are blue handled and look like a pair of pliers with some MacGyverism done to it. Don't get the thick flimsy handled ones where you put wire in the front and it should bite down then wtrip. These last almost long enough to get to the important part of the job then start screwing up badly. They are JUNK!

gmoon (author)marc922008-02-02

I've had a notch in one front tooth for years from biting a bit too hard while stripping wire (I still do it occasionally anyway...)

marc92 (author)gmoon2008-02-02

Oh, wow. I try not to bite too hard and when I notice that I am I usually stop.

garrettmikesmith (author)marc922008-02-02

that's exactly what i was thinking

hrmcguire1976 (author)2008-05-26

use a lighter to heat the plastic and wait for it to hit the melting point and blow out flame. use pliers or something to grab off hot plastic and presto...clean non crimped wire.

pappyld04 (author)hrmcguire19762008-06-03

My friends and I all use this burn method but we just pinch the unwanted with a thumb and forefinger and pull. We are all used to this but I would advise others to wait a minute or so until it cools off. Melted plastic does not make a nice feeling.

nightninja87 (author)2008-03-14

my mother taught me when i was younger to use nail clippers its a little tricky cause if you push too hard you'll cut the wire takes some practice works easily for me great instructions

Xellers (author)2008-02-29

I just use scissors.

Kiteman (author)2008-02-02

I know it's bad knife practice, but I just trap the wire 'twixt blade and thumb, then pull the wire.

Gjdj3 (author)Kiteman2008-02-02

Haha. I love the word 'twixt.

PKM (author)Gjdj32008-02-04

The word "betwixt" actually appeared on an A-level physics mark scheme- it was a question about a spring sliding on a rod and the phrase they were looking for was "friction betwixt rod and spring". I guess "between" is grammatically inaccurate here. Go figure.

Gjdj3 (author)PKM2008-02-04

Cool. Lol. A slightly less interesting place it has appeared was the TV show "Chuck." That was the first time I had actually seen it used seriously.

s666666666666 (author)Kiteman2008-02-02

I'm with stupid. ha I just roll it with my finger like kiteman. I try to stay away from the teeth though. If you're doing it LOTS with your teeth, I figure a $50 pair of strippers is cheaper then a dental bill

GorillazMiko (author)2008-02-02

My dad does this all the time, good Instructable, thanks for showing!

Gjdj3 (author)GorillazMiko2008-02-03

Thanks! Remember, if you like it you could +1 :-)!

GorillazMiko (author)Gjdj32008-02-03

+1 rating, WAH-KAH-CHA!!!!!!

Gjdj3 (author)GorillazMiko2008-02-03


GorillazMiko (author)Gjdj32008-02-03

Did somebody -1 this Instructable? Because it says rating 0, and I already +1 it.

killerjackalope (author)2008-02-02

If you have a pair of scissor, like nail scissors or something elas really sharp you can do the same trick faster by really lightly squeezing the scissors and turning the wire in the blades a couple of times, get your thumbnail in the grooze and slide the casing off, same trick different tool I guess... Yours is likely to be more accurate because it's easy to move the wire when turning.

I use scissors too. Probably one of the best ways (as long as you don't cut too deep :) )

pingeee (author)2008-02-02

You can also use the soldering iron to melt the outer plastic, it will be much faster.

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Bio: Music, chemistry, electronics, etc.
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