There are many different electrical tools that electricians need in their tool bags and tool belts. High-quality wire cutters and wire strippers will increase productivity for professional electricians while they work. You might also find that you need a set of wire cutters or strippers for your home improvement projects.
Whether you need a standard wire cutter or a professional-grade one, there are many different options to choose from. In this guide, we’ll discuss what to look for when buying a new pair of wire cutters or wire strippers. For example, if you know you’ll be cutting wires more often than stripping them, you’ll want a wire cutter as opposed to a stripper. Plus, we’ll give you our 8 choices for the best wire stripping tools on the market.
Our Picks for the Best Wire Cutters & Wire Strippers
Do You Need Different Types of Wire Cutters?
Generally, professional electricians will need different types of wire cutters to manipulate all the different wires they come across on their jobs. There are a variety of tools that can cut, strip, and otherwise manipulate wires, but the right tools will help you increase your efficiency and productivity; on top of that, the right tools can make the difference between high-quality and low-quality work. The correct tools also allow electricians to safely do their jobs.
Wire cutters are an essential item to have in your toolbox. They are perfect when you need to cut, bend, or hold wires while doing electrical work. There are a few different types of wire cutters.
- Side cutters: A side wire cutter cuts on an angle, so the wire edge will be cut to one side. Side cutters are used to cut wire and other components in electronics. They can also be used to strip the insulation from wires.
- Cable cutters: Cable cutters work best on aluminum cable, tensioning wires, and rope. Cable cutters are used by professionals and DIYers alike because they can cut through thicker cables.
- Flush cutters: Flush cutters cut a wire on an even level. Whereas a side cutter will cut the wire at an angle, the flush cutters will cut a clean, straight line in the wire.
- End cutters: End cutters are useful for cutting electrical wire, glass, wood, and even concrete. They feature very sharp jaws and an almost-flat, bladed head which allows you to cut close to a surface without cutting into it.
- Diagonal cutters: These cutters are great for hard-to-reach areas or electronic and jewelry repair. They have diagonal-shaped edges for cutting harder-to-reach wires.
- Lineman’s cutters: These wire cutters have a sharp edge plus a firm surface to grip. What makes these cutters so special is that they have an insulated handle, making linemen feel safer on the job.
How to Use Wire Cutters
Depending on what you are using your wire cutters for, there are different steps to take before you start using them. The biggest thing to remember is that you should wear protective equipment. You should also shut down your power source before getting to work.
Here are the steps to take in wire-cutting projects.
- When using wire cutters, the first step is determining which type of wire cutter you need. Most likely, it will be one of the six types listed above.
- Next, make sure you have safety equipment handy. You’ll need safety eyewear and protective gloves.
- If you are working on electrical wires, it’s imperative to make sure your power is turned off while you’re working.
- Put the wire on a flat surface if possible. This is the safest and most efficient way to work through cutting a wire or rope.
- Make sure all of your tools are properly cleaned and dry (use oil every few weeks to keep them in good condition).
- Start cutting – but remember these aren’t scissors. Use gentle pressure when making cuts into different kinds of wire.
What’s the difference between a wire stripper and a wire cutter? The main purpose of the wire stripper is to remove the protective coating of an electric wire so that you can then repair or replace the wire. There are a few different kinds of wire strippers on the market.
- Automatic strippers: Automatic wire strippers work exactly how they sound. These wire strippers are a mix of self-adjusting strippers and gauged strippers. You input the gauge for the wire and, after cutting, it returns to the open position.
- Adjustable strippers: This type of wire stripper has a single notch in each blade. It has a screw that lets you set the cut width based on the thickness of the wire to be stripped.
- Gauged strippers: Gauged wire strippers are some of the easiest wire strippers to use. The blades have holes in them and each hole is a different size to fit wires of different widths; no adjustments are needed. Plus, some gauged wire strippers also have cutters or crimpers, so you can strip and cut wires without switching tools.
- Self-adjusting strippers: These strippers automatically self-adjust to wires of different levels of thickness. For more convenience, you can go with a self-adjusting stripper that has a built-in cutter – it’s like two tools in one!
How to Use Wire Strippers
Depending on what you are using your wire strippers for, there may be different steps to take when using them. Safety precautions are very important in electrical work – always remember your safety glasses and gloves. You’ll also need to shut off the power source before stripping or cutting any wire.
Here are the steps to take for wire stripping projects:
- Turn off the power source. You can double-check that this is turned off by testing the circuit for voltage.
- Put on your safety equipment (glasses, gloves, and a mask or respirator if needed).
- Use pliers to hold the wire, then pick your wire stripper from the types above.
- Place the wire between the wire stripper blades.
- Close the wire stripper blades around the wire and rotate the wire strippers in place. Do not move the wire itself. Once the blades have gripped the casing, pull the pliers so that the casing pulls apart from the wire. If this is done correctly, the protective casing should come right off.
Wire crimpers are another tool for professional electricians to use. They are most commonly used to put a connector on the end of a cable. This tool will crimp one or both of the materials, which ends up holding them together. When you shop for a crimper, be sure to check the types of wire or cable that it’s capable of crimping.
How to Use a Wire Crimping Tool
Safety precautions are very important in electrical work and using wire crimpers is no different. It’s important to always remember your safety glasses and gloves. You’ll also need to shut off the power source before working on any wires.
Here are the steps to take in wire crimping projects:
- Place the very end of your wire into the crimper and pull away the insulation.
- Twist the ends of the exposed wire to make it a denser material.
- Insert the wire into the connector.
- Place the connector into the crimper and squeeze down. If the connection is too loose, you can solder the wire to the connector.
- Seal with electrical tape.
Wire twisters allow you to grip two loose ends of a wire and then twist them together so that they won’t unravel. In addition to electrical work, these are used a lot by automotive mechanics, in DIY projects, for making jewelry, and more. These are slightly different than pliers. Pliers are usually a basic-level, multi-purpose tool while the main purpose of a twister is to twist loose wires together.
How to Use Wire Twisters
Wire twisters are fairly easy to use. You don’t usually need to wear safety equipment unless you’re working with a live wire. If you are working with a live wire, be sure to turn your power source off before you start your work.
- Clamp the ends of the wires into a bench vise or another similar tool that will press the wire ends down.
- With the wire twisters open, put the wire through the twister and clamp it in place.
- Close the handles (and make sure the handles are locked).
- Release the wire twister as you pull the rod at the back. This will turn the twister and wire simultaneously, smoothly twisting your wire.
Wire pliers are another essential tool for professional electricians. Many plier tools have multiple purposes, such as cutting and gripping. While wire pliers are important to electricians, they are also a common household tool that can be used for many DIY projects.
How to Use Wire Pliers
Wire pliers are another easy tool to use. If you are working with a live wire, be sure to turn your power source off before you start your work. You’ll also want to be careful while using them to make sure that your fingers and skin are not pinched by the handles or jaw.
- First, figure out which type of pliers are needed for your job. You’ll likely need pliers specifically for working with wire.
- If you need to make any adjustments to the pliers, do that now before proceeding.
- Next, you will close the jaw of the pliers around the wire by pressing the handles together.
- Lastly, you’ll want to rotate the wire pliers as needed for the specific job (i.e., gripping, bending, or turning the wire).
Wire Cutter Buying Guide
There are several different factors that you should take into consideration when deciding what type of wire cutting tool you should purchase.
- Use: Determine how you plan on using the tool and what other tools you already have to help you with the job you need to do.
- Cutting capacity: Think about the wires or other materials that you need to cut. If you’re often cutting thick, heavy-duty wires, you’ll need a heavier-duty tool.
- Insulation: If you’re working with live wires most of the time, you want to ensure that your wire cutter has insulation to protect you from shocks.
- Blade material & design: The blade material and design are important to take into consideration because different materials work better on certain wires.
- Type of handle: Look for the size and comfort of the handle. Do you need a smaller handle? Do you need a comfort-grip handle?
- Quality: If you are investing in tools that will last you a long time, you want a high-quality wire cutter. If you are looking at just a basic wire cutter for DIY or other small jobs, a lower-quality tool might suit you better cost-wise.
- Versatility: What exactly do you need the tool for? Some wire cutters and wire pliers are multi-purpose tools that could help you be more efficient on the job. However, if you need a tool for a specific purpose, you could go with a less versatile tool.
- Safety: Check to see what the tool has for safety precautions. Does it have an insulated handle? Does it have a safety lock?
- Price: Think about your budget and what the main purpose of this tool is. If you’re using this tool on a job, it’s a good idea to purchase a high-value tool.
Best Overall Wire Cutter/Stripper: Klein Tools 11055 Wire Strippers
Our pick for the best overall wire cutter/wire stripper is the Klein Tools 11055 Wire Strippers. This Klein wire stripper features wire looping and bending holes, a coil spring for fast self-opening, and precision-ground stripping holes. This stripper can cut, strip, and loop 10-18 AWG solid and 12-20 AWG stranded wires.
Why We Picked It: This is our pick for the best overall wire cutter because of its features. In addition to its technical features, it also has a closure lock for easy storage, double-dipped comfort grip handles, and allows for flexibility to reach tight areas.
Best Wire Cutter: Knipex 74 06 160 Insulated High Leverage Diagonal Cutter
Our pick for the best wire cutter on the market is the Knipex Insulated Diagonal Cutter. This wire cutter features an integrated forged axle for heavy-duty cutting. It’s also suitable to cut through any type of wire, including piano wire.
Why We Picked It: The angle on this wire cutter allows for the cutting of difficult-to-reach wires. The high cutting performance allows you to do your wire cutting jobs with minimum effort.
Best Wire Stripper: Irwin Vise-Grip Wire Stripping Tool
The best wire stripper on the market is the Irwin Vise-Grip Wire Stripping Tool. This wire stripper can strip wire from 10 to 24 AWG. It has an adjustable stopper that controls core strip length. It includes a swivel knob that micro-adjusts for gauges smaller than 20 AWG.
Why We Picked It: We picked this tool for a few reasons. Its ProTouch grips give you maximum comfort while on the job. It also includes a wire cutter which adds to its versatility. You can use this tool for multiple electrical jobs.
Best Wire Crimper: Greenlee KP1022 Terminal Crimping Tool with Molded Grip
Our choice for the best wire crimper is the Greenlee KP1022 Crimping Tool. This crimping tool features two die positions so that you can crimp both insulated and uninsulated terminals and splices. The precision machined and hardened blades make wire cutting easy for you.
Why We Picked It: This tool is a convenient one to have on the job. The smooth pivot action allows you to use this tool easily with just one hand. Not only that, but the quality of steel that it’s made from will provide long-lasting use. The double-cushioned handle-grips make it easy on your hands.
Best Wire Twisting Tool: Felco 1.51mm Safety Twist Plier
The Felco Safety Twist Plier is our choice for the best wire twisting tool. This tool features a diagonal nose, reversible twist, high carbon alloy steel forgings, and a spring return feature that allows for easier faster work.
Why We Picked It: This 3-in-1 tool allows you to do multiple jobs with ease and efficiency. With the Felco Safety Twist Plier, you can grip, twist, and snip safety wires quickly and easily. It’s a versatile tool that will help you do reliable safety-wiring.
Best Automatic Wire Stripper: Knipex 12 12 14 Automatic Wire Stripper
Our choice for the best automatic wire stripper is the Knipex Automatic Wire Stripper. This Knipex wire stripper is made of steel and is durable enough to strip the thickest protective coating from a wire. This tool also has a second pair of blades that will hold the insulation in place for you.
Why We Picked It: This tool will allow you to maximize productivity while working. This is a versatile tool that makes it so you don’t need a ton of other tools to get the job done. It’s convenient, heavy-duty, and durable.
Best Wire Stripping Pliers: Milwaukee 6-in-1 Comfort Grip Combination Pliers
The best wire stripping pliers on the market is the Milwaukee 6-in-1 Comfort Grip Pliers. These combination wire stripping pliers feature a forged dual-head design for better functionality. These pliers are heavy-duty enough to cut #6 and #8 bolts, and they also feature a swing-lock design for one-handed use. This tool can cut, grip, strip, and smooth.
Why We Picked It: These Milwaukee wire stripping pliers deliver maximum productivity for your electrical work. This 6-in-1 tool is perfect for even the toughest job sites. It’s lightweight but extremely durable and will last a long time through regular usage.
Best Self-Adjusting Wire Stripper: Knipex 12 40 200 Self-Adjusting Wire Stripper
The Knipex Self-Adjusting Wire Stripper is our pick for the best self-adjusting wire stripper on the market. This can be used for single, multiple, and fine-stranded conductors, with either standard plastic or rubber insulation. This tool can cut copper and aluminum wires up to 7 AWG (multi-stranded) and up to 10 AWG for single-stranded.
Why We Picked It: This self-adjusting wire stripper automatically adjusts to the cable you’re using, which helps to prevent damage to the conductor. It can also be manually adjusted for different insulation materials. It’s lightweight and has a mechanism for smooth operation.