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Hakko CSP-30-1 Wire Stripper
IRWIN VISE-GRIP Multi-Tool Wire Stripper/Crimper/Cutter
IRWIN VISE-GRIP 2078300 Self-Adjusting Wire Stripper
Wire Stripper,ZOTO Self-adjusting Cable Cutter Crimper
Self-Adjusting Wire Stripper and Cutter
WORKPRO 8-inch Self-Adjusting Wire Stripper
GB SE-94 10-gauge to 26-gauge Automatic Stripper and Crimper
Kinee Adjustable Automatic Cable Wire Stripper
Ideal Industries Stripmaster Wire Stripper,
Grizzly G9723 Wire Stripper
…Let’s start with something a lot of us probably already have. Here are two examples of manual wire strippers. These Hakko CHP ones here I’ve probably owned for 10 years. 9 times out of 10, these are what I reach for when I’m working on electronics.
They don’t take up much room, they’re lightweight and lock up to go in your pocket. They handle a 20 gauge all the way down to a 30 gauge, and also work as cutters and pliers. If you work on electronics and don’t have something like these, you did something wrong.
I also like the spring action that allows you to open and close it one-handed. Most of the options I’ll show you will spring open like this. But not these. These 8-inch wire strippers from Irwin are intended for electrical work and thicker solid-core wire.
There are a ton of interesting features packed in here — crimpers, pliers, screw cutters. Unfortunately, these are practically useless for me. I rarely work with electrical, and when I do, I prefer a spring-loaded option I can operate one-handed. With these, you have to awkwardly flick them open every time you use them.
I bought these by accident because they come up as an Amazon choice for Wire strippers. What I didn’t know is that the page bundles three different models, and that the more useful, popular models are these 6 and 7-inch ones that have a spring grip. So watch out for that.
But really, if there’s a Vise-Grip wire stripper to seek out, it’s this one. For around $20, this self-adjusting model is, in my experience, the gold standard for this type of tool at this price. I’ve got four other variations in a similar design I’ll compare it against, but first let me show you how these work if you’ve never seen one.
The self-adjusting action on these makes it so that when you place a wire in these within a common range — in this case 10-24 gauge — the jaws will automatically apply just the right amount of pressure to pull the sheath from the wire.
And because it’s more of a clamp and pull motion — not so much about cutting — these are less likely to damage your wire in the process.
The other really cool feature of this design is this adjustable stop block. If you’ve got a job where you need to make 10 or 1,000 identical lengths of wire with a half-inch of sheathing removed from each end, you can set this so that you’re removing the exact same amount of sheath each time. It makes your work much more consistent.
The other elements here are a tensioner so that you can dial the grip up or down a bit for better results. These also include a relatively sharp cutter, and a good range of crimping options.
Now, what makes this specific model so great, in my opinion are the small details. They’re easier to squeeze, so your hand doesn’t tire out as fast. The range of wire gauges is actually etched into the metal instead of painted on the handle. And you also get a ½-inch and ¼-inch reference etched in here for the stop block.
For reference, here it its cutting and stripping 10 gauge wire. And here it is with the kind of common 24 gauge stranded wire I use for electronics.
Now let’s compare this to a more generic option from a brand called ZOTO, though I only know that from the Amazon page. There’s no logo on the tool or the package it came in, so I think it’s fair to expect that this is being sold under a number of different brand names. At $17, you’re not even saving a lot of money.
It’s the same idea, only the action is a little stiffer, the cutter is on the dull side, and the crimper cutouts aren’t what I’m used to. But the biggest difference is that the stripper head is really sharp. It does the job, but might damage your wires.
Here it is on 10 gauge wire. And here it is with 24 gauge.
Next up, here’s a version from Klein Tools. These were $2 more than the Irwin, and Klein has a good reputation for quality. I was a little disappointed, though.
The action on these was the stiffest out of all of them, and I think part of that is due to this nice sharp cutter in the handle that has overlapping blades that add add just a bit more friction….
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