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Hi guys

Have some trouble here.

So I'm doing terminations at work and using side cutters, usually on 1.5mm or 2.5mm. Seems to happen more with stranded.

I'm squeezing the cutters a bit and turning the side cutters around the wire and often the insulation bags up against the side cutters and just turns with the cutters as I turn them around the cable, without cutting all the way around the insulation, so I can't pull it off easily.

If I go gentler, I have to turn the cutters several times more than my colleagues in order to get the insulation thin enough to pull it off and it just feels like they're rubbing the insulation at all.

Its slowing me down and it's got to the point where I'm concerned it's one of two things.

The cutters I'm using are my first pair and are knipex vde side cutters, the usual short ones.

Either the side cutters I've bought aren't sharp enough or my technique is just wrong. I've heard that recent knipex side cutters aren't what they used to be, people moaning they aren't sharp, I ignored that and bought a pair anyway, but now I'm starting to think they might be too blunt from my own personal experience, but because I've not tried a load of types out, I can't be sure. But I'm also aware I've not got years of experience to back it up and I'm still on my first pair of cutters so I'm probably just inexperienced and I'm sure that's playing a part.

Any tips and any ideas on what you think the problem might be? My colleagues are all using CK side cutters that seem to have a sharper angle on the blades and they do one twist and pull the insulation off with very little force. I'm doing several twists and pulling way harder and not getting it off and sometimes I open the cutters to see they've simply just pressed in to the insulation, gripped it and have twisted it around the conductor. As a side note, I'm a fairly strong lad so this isn't a lack of minerals.

If I'm patient and do more twists and spend more time, I get through the insulation and I can feel the sheath give so I stop there and it pings off fine, but it's taking longer than it should.

If you think it's my technique, I'd appreciate some tips on what you do.

The way I see it, things like this can add up to big time savings as I obviously can't compromise on quality, just trying to be the best I can so helpful answers are appreciated.

Note: I'm not damaging the conductor. All the testing of my circuits have been fine and the sparks checking my work are happy with it, I'm just frustrated with the time and obvious difference in effectiveness when stripping the ends of cables for termination.
 
TL;DR
New side cutters, when I remove insulation they just grab it and twist the cable or if I'm gentle, just rub on it without cutting in to it. Can't seem to just slide the insulation off, it's always one or the other. Cant tell if it's me or if my cutters aren't helping.

SparkyChick

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My personal view... the clue is in the name :)

Side cutters are for cutting... I know people use them for cable stripping but they aren't really designed for it. If you work primarily with 1.5 and 2.5, then might I recommend the Knipex installation pliers. Nice sharp shear for cutting cables (I've cut 25mm tails with mine) and some dedicated strippers for cable sizes up to 1.5 and 2.5. If you work a lot with flex they also have a crimper for attaching bootlace ferrules.

Edit:- Cutters with dedicated stripping sections... they are designed for stripping and so may work well for you, but straight up side cutters aren't meant for stripping cable.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
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My personal view... the clue is in the name :)

Side cutters are for cutting... I know people use them for cable stripping but they aren't really designed for it. If you work primarily with 1.5 and 2.5, then might I recommend the Knipex installation pliers. Nice sharp shear for cutting cables (I've cut 25mm tails with mine) and some dedicated strippers for cable sizes up to 1.5 and 2.5. If you work a lot with flex they also have a crimper for attaching bootlace ferrules.

Edit:- Cutters with dedicated stripping sections... they are designed for stripping and so may work well for you, but straight up side cutters aren't meant for stripping cable.
Its weird because college taught me to use side cutters that have no notches and everyone I've met on the tools all uses side cutters, albeit most have notches for stripping, I've only seen people advise using dedicated strippers or installation pliers on forums or YouTube. Is it really that rare to find people who use them?

Do you think that more recent knipex side cutters are even less suitable than other side cutters to carry out this duty...being aware that many cutters arent notched for stripping or are just all 'basic side cutters with no notches' just a hindrance in this duty?

Thank you for your reply.
 

SparkyChick

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I used to use side cutters a lot for stripping wire for electronics but they were substantially smaller than the Knipex ones I have now. I have used my Knipex ones for stripping the odd cable but just find them clunky compared to tools with a proper wire stripping facility.

I watch some sparks on YouTube and some seem to use side cutters (with and without the stripping notches).

Like many things to do with tooling, it's probably personal preference. My two most used pliers are my Knipex side cutters and my installation pliers. I cut and trim with the cutters and do nearly everything else with the installation pliers. That's just how I've ended up working and it suits me.

There are alternatives such as automatic wirestrippers. Maybe look into some of them?
 

ipf

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Remember, just because a cable tests OK, it doesn't mean you haven't damaged the core. It is, after all, a very small amount of insulation being stripped and partial damage would make very little difference to continuity test readings. Under load condition, things could be very different. I've seen 'time saving' cost more than a few minutes.
I was taught using a knife and still use one. I also like the 'notched' stripper cutters, in some instances' but precision is vital. I've used all sorts of methods....it all comes via practise and ability to adapt to what you're using.
 
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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #6
I used to use side cutters a lot for stripping wire for electronics but they were substantially smaller than the Knipex ones I have now. I have used my Knipex ones for stripping the odd cable but just find them clunky compared to tools with a proper wire stripping facility.

I watch some sparks on YouTube and some seem to use side cutters (with and without the stripping notches).

Like many things to do with tooling, it's probably personal preference. My two most used pliers are my Knipex side cutters and my installation pliers. I cut and trim with the cutters and do nearly everything else with the installation pliers. That's just how I've ended up working and it suits me.

There are alternatives such as automatic wirestrippers. Maybe look into some of them?
I can see why you'd use those two.

I've seen people using shears to do work on 1.5 and 2.5mm, what are your thoughts on using them? They look like they cut more than they crush, but I'm not sure if that's just a bad idea or not.
Post automatically merged:

Remember, just because a cable tests OK, it doesn't mean you haven't damaged the core. It is, after all, a very small amount of insulation being stripped and partial damage would make very little difference to continuity test readings. Under load condition, things could be very different. I've seen 'time saving' cost more than a few minutes.
I was taught using a knife and still use one. I also like the 'notched' stripper cutters, in some instances' but precision is vital. I've used all sorts of methods....it all comes via practise and ability to adapt to what you're using.
Thanks for your reply.

I've not had any issues yet, but that's not to say there might not be one in the future, sort of why I'm here in the first place, to see what other people with more experience do.

I've considered a pair of notched cutters and SparkyChick has even pointed out a pair of installation pliers.

Ideally I'm looking to carry as few extra tools as possible, so perhaps the notched cutters or notched shears if they exist... Not sure if shears are just asking for it and will keep damaging the conductor.

I'm going to avoid using a knife where I can for now, perhaps look at that down the line when I'm on a project where I can often not see what I'm doing. The work I'm doing is in very difficult positions with not a lot of slack so I need to be sure I'm playing as safe as I can be.
 
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Pro tip... The pliers should never leave your hand...… use it to cut, strip, crimp and hammer.

why are you twisting? score the side with the cutter blade, score the top and gently pull, sheath slides off. With the right amount of pressure you will not touch the copper.
Always buy good quality pliers and you wont regret it. You will never use side cutters again.
 

littlespark

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I was taught at college to use proper adjustable wire strippers.... 2 v notched ends and an adjusting screw so you couldn’t close them too far and damage the copper.

Afterwards, I just got used to using combination pliers... but sometimes you got a tough piece of insulation that needed a knife.
After the pliers have cut through a live cable, it has the perfect sized notch:eek:

I now use an automatic wire stripper. But I’m finding sometimes the waste I’m pulling off gets stuck on the blade, and it doesn’t work on the next cable until I clear it.
 

James

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It is unlikley to be that your cutters are not sharp enough, I presume they are new or nearly new.

Over time you will develop your own techniques and get “the feel” for your own set of cutters.
After some time they will eventually feel like an extension of your hand and act almost intuitively.
Even picking up another sparks “identical” pair of cutters will feel wrong as soon as you use them.

Stick with it, practice makes perfect.
 
I was taught at college to use proper adjustable wire strippers.
This might be sound advice if you work for a boss that pays you hourly rate, but terrible advice in general. If you are working as a contractor or want to be a good leco, you don't have time to grab different tools just to connect a piece of wire. The job needs to be done professionally and in a timely manner, otherwise you wont make money. It is not hard to use pliers when you use them all day. After a while they become an extension of your body and you will start to feel when you have the right pressure to score the cable enough to strip the sheath. If you continue to use different tools you will never become "one" with your pliers.


but sometimes you got a tough piece of insulation that needed a knife.
Woah, knives are too sharp, you will cut too deep and nick the copper.
 

Pete999

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Hi guys

Have some trouble here.

So I'm doing terminations at work and using side cutters, usually on 1.5mm or 2.5mm. Seems to happen more with stranded.

I'm squeezing the cutters a bit and turning the side cutters around the wire and often the insulation bags up against the side cutters and just turns with the cutters as I turn them around the cable, without cutting all the way around the insulation, so I can't pull it off easily.

If I go gentler, I have to turn the cutters several times more than my colleagues in order to get the insulation thin enough to pull it off and it just feels like they're rubbing the insulation at all.

Its slowing me down and it's got to the point where I'm concerned it's one of two things.

The cutters I'm using are my first pair and are knipex vde side cutters, the usual short ones.

Either the side cutters I've bought aren't sharp enough or my technique is just wrong. I've heard that recent knipex side cutters aren't what they used to be, people moaning they aren't sharp, I ignored that and bought a pair anyway, but now I'm starting to think they might be too blunt from my own personal experience, but because I've not tried a load of types out, I can't be sure. But I'm also aware I've not got years of experience to back it up and I'm still on my first pair of cutters so I'm probably just inexperienced and I'm sure that's playing a part.

Any tips and any ideas on what you think the problem might be? My colleagues are all using CK side cutters that seem to have a sharper angle on the blades and they do one twist and pull the insulation off with very little force. I'm doing several twists and pulling way harder and not getting it off and sometimes I open the cutters to see they've simply just pressed in to the insulation, gripped it and have twisted it around the conductor. As a side note, I'm a fairly strong lad so this isn't a lack of minerals.

If I'm patient and do more twists and spend more time, I get through the insulation and I can feel the sheath give so I stop there and it pings off fine, but it's taking longer than it should.

If you think it's my technique, I'd appreciate some tips on what you do.

The way I see it, things like this can add up to big time savings as I obviously can't compromise on quality, just trying to be the best I can so helpful answers are appreciated.

Note: I'm not damaging the conductor. All the testing of my circuits have been fine and the sparks checking my work are happy with it, I'm just frustrated with the time and obvious difference in effectiveness when stripping the ends of cables for termination.
Use dedicated stripping tools, ignore the fact that you said that you haven't damaged the conductors, no amount of electrical testing will prove this, there will be damage to the conductors, especially stranded conductors, that you wont be able to see with a cursory check, unless you actually find that you have less strands than you should have, even solid cable, if you stuck any of these terminations under a magnifying lenses, and seen the results of using the wrong tool, you would soon change your opinion, use the right tool for the job Mate, you know it makes sense. Is the work you are involved in mainly new builds, where speed counts? these other Sparks that check your work, how skilled are they?
 
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Andy78

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I use knipex and they stay sharp for years, but any cutters should be sharp and keen as new so won't be that.
As SC says, they can strip but are not made for it. That said, it's an easy enough task with side cutters, I can only assume it's practice you need.

I personally use Jokari FKZ for small twin cable stripping nowadays. Faster and neater than cutters and less thumb strain for me. I was starting to suffer with permanent strain injury.
 

Lucien Nunes

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As Pete says, the damage to a conductor caused by using the wrong tool may be difficult to see with the naked eye, yet it can be weakened .and stressed so that it snaps off later when flexed.

A good spark should be able to make a sound connection with any tool, but will favour the correct one i.e. an appropriate stripper or stripping section of electricians' pliers.
 
Just because everyone doesn't mean it's the right way.

Also sometimes was right for others isn't right for you. Don't be scared about trying different techniques and tools to see what work for you. Within reason of course.
 

Matthewd29

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Get yourself a pair of decent knipex ones. Stripping cable will come with experience. There is no right way to do it just whatever you are comfortable with.
 

Midwest

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I've used side cutters for years for stripping wires, admittedly I didn't do a very good job to start with, and this was before dedicated wires strippers were easily available. Bit like on here where some say torque screwdrivers are a waste of time.

Nowdays I use side Combi cutters for your 1-2.5mm cables, as its just plain quicker. I also somehow acquired those strippers that @littlespark mentioned, dream to use I must say.

@MeggerHertz_NW I would recommend carry on training stripping small cables with side cutters, its a basic skill you should have. But eventually, you'll find using a dedicated stripper just less complicated.
 

Strima

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Auto wire strippers for small cables and T&E sheath. Notched cutters if doing 1.2/2.5 and shears for bigger stranded cables.
 
I am also a trainee. (3rd year) I also had a problem stripping to begin with.

my personal view is you should persevere with using the side cutters or pliers. You are currently learning your trade and you should take full advantage that your not on a price.

yes wire stripping tools is a quick and easy fix and could make you quicker short term. however in the long term learning to do it with one tool will eventually make you a better spark
 

freddo

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Wire in left hand, cutters in right. Grip insulation with cutters but not enough to cut into copper. Use thumb of left hand to push cutters away from end of cable while maintaining the same gentle grip with the right hand. Insulation comes off with no effort and no scratching, or scoring of the copper below.

If the conductor needs folding over I always use pointy pliers.
 

Lucien Nunes

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Yes, if I'm going to use cutters, that's how I do it. Depending on the cable type I'll sonetimes give a quick pinch, then move 90 degrees around the cable before the main squeeze. Works best for mid size cables.
 
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Megawatt

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Hi guys

Have some trouble here.

So I'm doing terminations at work and using side cutters, usually on 1.5mm or 2.5mm. Seems to happen more with stranded.

I'm squeezing the cutters a bit and turning the side cutters around the wire and often the insulation bags up against the side cutters and just turns with the cutters as I turn them around the cable, without cutting all the way around the insulation, so I can't pull it off easily.

If I go gentler, I have to turn the cutters several times more than my colleagues in order to get the insulation thin enough to pull it off and it just feels like they're rubbing the insulation at all.

Its slowing me down and it's got to the point where I'm concerned it's one of two things.

The cutters I'm using are my first pair and are knipex vde side cutters, the usual short ones.

Either the side cutters I've bought aren't sharp enough or my technique is just wrong. I've heard that recent knipex side cutters aren't what they used to be, people moaning they aren't sharp, I ignored that and bought a pair anyway, but now I'm starting to think they might be too blunt from my own personal experience, but because I've not tried a load of types out, I can't be sure. But I'm also aware I've not got years of experience to back it up and I'm still on my first pair of cutters so I'm probably just inexperienced and I'm sure that's playing a part.

Any tips and any ideas on what you think the problem might be? My colleagues are all using CK side cutters that seem to have a sharper angle on the blades and they do one twist and pull the insulation off with very little force. I'm doing several twists and pulling way harder and not getting it off and sometimes I open the cutters to see they've simply just pressed in to the insulation, gripped it and have twisted it around the conductor. As a side note, I'm a fairly strong lad so this isn't a lack of minerals.

If I'm patient and do more twists and spend more time, I get through the insulation and I can feel the sheath give so I stop there and it pings off fine, but it's taking longer than it should.

If you think it's my technique, I'd appreciate some tips on what you do.

The way I see it, things like this can add up to big time savings as I obviously can't compromise on quality, just trying to be the best I can so helpful answers are appreciated.

Note: I'm not damaging the conductor. All the testing of my circuits have been fine and the sparks checking my work are happy with it, I'm just frustrated with the time and obvious difference in effectiveness when stripping the ends of cables for termination.
Klein side cutters and practice practice practice
 

edexlab

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In the OP you say you don't know if it's you or your side cutters that are the problem

Use another pair borrowed from a colleague and get him to try yours

If you still can't strip the cable more efficiently than with yours it's your technique

Your Electrician mate will tell you if your cutters are blunt

I used to work with T+E and found it was the technique wasn't right by trial and error
I did have side cutters of all common makes and found some were sharper than others of the same brand

I ended up scoring with a knife pulling the cpc and snapping of neatly
I work in controls now and still use the knife but I do use US style wire strippers for the cores
 

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