Strip Wires the Easy Way!


Introduction: Strip Wires the Easy Way!

About: I enjoy photography, horticulture and carpentry, and am almost always doing something relating to of those things.

When I was making my pressure plate, my wire stripper decided to disappear..that's when I discovered this laughably easy technique for stripping wires. It's so easy, that I can't believe that I haven't seen it before. The scissors on my leatherman were perfect for this job, because they could cut through the plastic coating on the wire, but not the metal itself. This same method will work with normal scissors to, as long as you don't use all your strength when cutting.

Step 1: Cut!

Simply act as if you were going to cut the wire in two...but don't. Stop adding pressure when you reach the wire, and spin the wire around. You want the blades of your scissors to have touched the wire all the way around. When you're done with that, the plastic will just be indented all the way around. Next, give it a few bends...the plastic will easily split, revealing the metal.

Step 2: Finish Up

Once the wire is exposed all the way around, you can just pull the plastic off with your fingers. If you cut too far in, you may have to use pliers (or teeth, in a pinch) to get it off, but fear not, it will come off quite easily with such implements. Automatic wire strippers are favorable to this, but if they decide to disappear on you, like they did to me, you'll be OK now that you know this little trick!



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    This method will work in a pinch, but depending on what gauge wire you are using there is a good chance of cutting or breaking some of the strands of copper. It is hard to tell from the pictures but I'll guess that you are using 14ga. or 16ga. wire. These wire gauges use larger strands of copper that will offer better resistance against the blades of the scissors. If you try this trick using something like 24ga. wire, which uses smaller copper strands, you'll probably cut some of the wires and/or rip them out when you pull the insulation off the end. I'm not trying to come down on your instructable; I think many of us have used this trick from time to time. Still, this technique should be treated as a last resort and not a great alternative to buying a respectable pair of wire strippers. Happy Stripping!

    1 reply

    Good points. As a full time handyman I used this technique (most often I used a knife) and it works well. Practice helps and some smaller wires are harder to do, obviously. Nice tip.

    I tried this after I read this instructable. It worked great. Nice 'ible! Thank you very much.

    Pretty neat! Check out my diy for a wiring time saver. I bet it would help you, and feel free to vote?

    Yeah, except wire strippers are precise and won't nick or damage the wire.

    It's pretty much how the old kind work, yeah. But automatic wire strippers grip the wire farther in, and then two straight blades squeeze and pull.


    Instead of bending the wire, grab a cigarette lighter and heat the cut briefly (1 or 2 seconds), then just pull the plastic off, it helps if your hands are not metro-man and tough like mine.

    This lighter technique can be used without even cutting the plastic sheath, just heat where you want the final length the most then quickly run the flame along the sheath to be removed whilst rotating the wire, pinch the wire sheath and pull. I suppose you could use pliers if your fingers are sensitive, though your fingers will toughen up after the first day of using this method.

    I used to use that method for years, although I usually used a knife instead of scissors... Have to be very careful when cutting the sheath though, very easy to cut the wire if your blade/scissors are sharp, and I tend to keep mine very sharp... But now I have a Leatherman wave which has a built in wire stripper on the pliers/wire cutters so I just use that.

    1 reply

    I think the wire 'strippers' your talking about are the hard wire cutters

    my friend and i used this trick on paper clips when our keys to the CAI (not car) didn't reach us so he improvised on a few of my paper clips and picked his way into the central computer and projector

    Yeah Yeah, I did this before but it is DAMN hard to do this tho, too little it doesnt strip too much it cuts it off.

    I've looked at every one I could find on the market, and I think the Leatherman Juice S2 is probably the best multitool ever made.

    Lazy! I just use my teeth. (had some funky-tasting wires, but it's all good).

    4 replies

    Please don't use your teeth, the copper in the wire might be poisonous, even in small amounts.

    A few things made of copper: Water pipes Cooking pots Eating utensils Sinks



    me too all my buddies think im weird when i put the end of a wire in my mouth

    Just don't dull the scissors Me likes me leatherman!