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What are Cable Strippers?

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  • Written By: H. Bliss
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2016
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Cable strippers are tools used to strip the outside coating of a cable to expose the active wire underneath. Usually, this tool is used when two wires need to be connected or when a connector needs to be applied to the end of a coated wire. Cable strippers can also be called wire strippers. Most people use cable strippers to strip audio-visual wire, like speaker wire, coaxial cables, or video wires, to get them to connect to a data source like a cable box or audio receiver. Cable stripping tools are usually hand-held metal tools that look similar to pliers, except they feature a cutting end and stripping hole instead of a grip.

Most cables are coated to improve safety and extend the operating life of the cable. Coated wires and cables are wrapped in what amounts to a protective tube around the wire. This tube keeps the wire from damage, protects against possible fire hazards and guards against interference with other electronic signals. If the wire is such that the conducting metal is visible and exposed, the wire is not coated.

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Any coated cable needs to be stripped to prepare it to connect to plugs or other cables. Usually, stripping a wire or cable involves scoring the coating to the cable to detach it so it slides away from the outside of the wire without damaging the wire. A cut is placed in the coating on the wire, which allows for the length of exposed wire needed to make the connection. If the coating is not cut deeply enough, it likely will not come off without force, and force can break the cable. Cutting too deeply into the cable coating can clip wires that are necessary in transmitting the type of signal that the cable carries.

Professionals such as electricians or cable installation specialists often use size-specific cable strippers that are designed to strip a precise type of cable commonly used in their industries. Automatic cable-stripping machines are used for industrial applications in which many cables must be stripped. Most cable strippers come with cable cutters already built into the tool. Other cable strippers may have specifically-sized holes that are designed to perfectly strip wires of varying sizes. Using a specially-sized cable stripper can make a proper cable stripping job easier to carry out.

Stripping a cable with a cable stripper is typically easy to do, and mistakes in stripping can be corrected easily. Older, brittle, or weathered wires inside a cable can make a successful stripping job more difficult than usual. Unless the amount of available cable is limited, a botched cable strip job can be remedied simply by clipping the badly stripped edge off with a cable or wire cutter and re-stripping the cable.

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