How do you cut electrical wires?
When someone mentions the word wire, they are more than likely referring to a flexible, cylindrical piece of metal that can vary in size from just a few millimetres in diameter to several centimetres. A wire can refer to either a mechanical or electrical application. An example of a mechanical wire could be a Guy-wire, but this guide will focus on electrical wiring.
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Electrical wire is the backbone of our society. There is wire in houses to turn on lights, heat the stove, and even talk on the phone. A wire is used to allow current to flow from one place to another. Most wires have insulation surrounding the metallic core. An electrical insulator is a material whose internal electric charges do not flow freely and, therefore, does not conduct an electric current. A perfect insulator does not exist. However, some materials such as glass, paper, and Teflon, which have high resistivity, are very good electrical insulators. Insulation exists because touching a bare wire could allow current to flow through a person's body (bad) or into another wire unintentionally.
One common byproduct of removing a wall or taking down a ceiling is stray electrical wires. If the wires, or circuit cable, will not be used to feed new outlets, light fixtures, or other permanent devices, you need some way to deal with the wires. The safest way to take wiring completely out of service is to disconnect it from its power source and remove all of the wirings so that it won't confuse or pose any risk to future remodelers. But if you don't want to discontinue the circuit entirely, or it is problematic to remove the cable, you can safely cap the wires and terminate the cable inside a junction box.
Terminating the electrical wires and capping them inaccessible electrical boxes is the safe, efficient, and code-compliant method of dealing with electrical wires that will remain energized. All wires that are terminated or spliced need to be contained in junction boxes and the junction boxes must be at the level of the finished surface so that they can be seen and accessed.
Needle nose pliers, also known as pinch nose and long nose pliers, are very popular tools used in wiring projects. Usually, this tool is used by electricians or do-it-yourselfers engaged in electrical projects that require wiring. Although needle nose pliers are usually used to grab hold of small wires, they are also used to cut the wires as well. When using this tool to cut wires, there are safety precautions and procedures that you must keep in mind.
How to select the best pliers?
Needle nose pliers come with different cutting edge angles to suit different types of cut. There are usually 3 to choose from (standard, semi-flush and flush), and it is best to take note of these three before purchasing pliers for electrical projects. The names are used to refer to the amount of pinch that is left on the wire tips after cutting.
Standard cutting edge angles are perfect for wire-cutting applications that are not very sensitive to the shock that is being transmitted to the wire as well as the pinch left on the tip of the wire after cutting. Semi-flush cutting edges are used to reduce the shock being transmitted. Flush edges are typically used for applications that require a minimum amount of shock being transmitted.
When cutting wires, it is safe to consider the above information because not all wire-cutting applications can be made safely with any needle-nose pliers. Flush cutters are often the best to use because they produce a clean-cut and offer a more cost-effective cut than other types. In addition, these cutting edges minimize the shock that runs through the wires, thus reducing many incidences of flying debris. However, semi-flush edges are safer and much more cost-effective when used in electronic assembly operations.
What are the steps to make it?
Turn Off the Circuit Breaker
Shut off the power to the electrical circuit by switching off the appropriate breaker in your home's service panel (breaker box). If you've been demolishing a wall or ceiling in the area, the power should already be off, but double-check that the correct circuit breaker is switched off for the cable you will be terminating. For added safety, place electrical tape across each circuit breaker switch to prevent anyone, even you, from accidentally flipping on the breaker.
Test for Power
Return to the work area and test all wiring you will be working on with a non-contact voltage tester. Touch the tester probe to all sides of the cable jacket and the end of each individual wire. The tester should indicate no voltage. If it detects voltage, return to the service panel and shut off the correct breaker, then retest the wiring.
Choose a Junction Box Location
Choose a location for the junction box that is easily accessible and where the circuit cable can feed into the box and extend past the front of the box at least 8 inches.
Cut the Box Opening
Position the front of the box against the wall or ceiling surface in the desired box location, and trace around the outside edge of the box with a pencil. Carefully cut along the traced outline with a drywall saw.
If it is difficult to access a wall stud or ceiling joist to anchor the new box, use an old-work or remodelling box, which attaches to the drywall with wings that grab the back of the drywall.
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Feed the Cable Into the Box
Pull the circuit cable through the box hole. If there is a lot of excess cables, trim it to length so that roughly 8 inches of the cable will extend beyond the front of the box when it is installed. Gently pry up the clamping tab over one of the holes in the back of the box with a flat-head screwdriver. Push the cable through the hole. If the box does not include clamping tabs, install a cable clamp to secure the cable to the box.
Install the Junction Box
Fit the box into the hole, so its front edge is nearly flush with the wall or ceiling surface. Pull out more cable, as needed, so it extends about 8 inches from the front of the box.
On an old work box, tighten the two mounting screws so that the wings on the box pull forward, cinching the box tight against the drywall. It's best to do this with a manual screwdriver, so you don't over tighten the screws and strip these screw heads or break the wings.
If you're using a conventional, or "new work," box, mount the box to the wall or ceiling framing with the provided screws or nails.
Prepare the Wires
Use a cable ripper to cut the cable sheathing a few inches from the cable's end, then strip back the sheathing and trim off the excess with the utility knife or scissors. It is not necessary to strip the insulation from the individual wire ends since the wiring will not be powering any devices. However, if the ends of the wires are mangled, snip them back until you reach a smooth section.
Cap the Wires
Cap the wire ends with wire connectors or wire nuts. Choose the appropriate size of nut for an individual wire, and twist each nut clockwise while pushing it onto the wire, until the nut is very tight. Tug on each nut to ensure it is secure.
For additional safety, you can tape each nut onto its respective wire with electrical tape, then tape the wires together. Bare copper ground wires do not need to be capped.
Install the Box Cover
Gently fold the wires accordion-style and push them into the box. Be careful not to detach the wire nuts. Attach a blank (no holes) cover to the electrical box, using the provided screws.
It is now safe to restore power to the circuit if desired.
Properly outfitting a workbench to work with wire might include more tools than first comes to mind. Although it can be a fun challenge to work on a project MacGyver style, using the proper tools will always lead to better results. For this reason, it's important to understand the difference between wire strippers, cutters, pliers and crimpers.
First off, let's get to know the standardized system for measuring diameters of single, solid round electrically conducting wire, the American Wire Gauge (AWG). You will see AWG referenced when determining the appropriate size of some wire tools. With AWG, an increased gauge number signifies a decreasing wire diameter. It is based upon a circular mil system; one mil is equal to 0.001 inches.
What is a wire stripper?
Wire strippers are used to remove the insulation from electric wires in order to make contact. There are two primary types: manual and automatic. Of course, there is the time consuming scissor method as well as the destructive method of biting off the insulation that can result in pain and a hefty dental bill. We don't recommend either of the latter two methods.
A manual wire stripper has opposing blades like a pair of scissors but has a notch in the middle of the blades to place the wire. The stripper is then rotated around the wire, so the outer insulation comes off while leaving the actual wire intact.
Some wire strippers have varying notch sizes which allow you to strip wires at various AWGs without twisting. There are also automatic wire strippers. They have one side that grips the wire while the other side removes its insulation. Although an automatic stripper greatly reduces the effort required, it can also break thinner wires, so they are not suited for all applications. When choosing a stripper, make sure that it has a comfortable grip, cleanly removes insulation from wires, and that it keeps the actual wire intact.
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What is the easiest way to strip wire fast?
Whether you're rewiring an old lamp, installing a new doorbell, or adding another outlet to a wall, the first step to this sort of do-it-yourself maintenance project often involves stripping the sheathing from the wire. While this introduction to electrical work may seem scary, it's a skill that's not hard to master. Specialty tools can help you with the task, but aren't a necessity; you can still get by just fine without them with a little bit of practice. Learn how to strip wire—any type, using whatever tools you have on hand—and you'll soon be tackling future home wiring tasks with confidence.
The wires and cables are often insulated with a plastic or other non-heat or non-electrical conducting material. In order to use the wires, the insulation has to be stripped off.
Stripping wire fast is a bit tricky. There are a number of ways of stripping the insulation from the wires.
Some of the methods are fast, whereas some are considerably slower. Some are more effective than others are.
The method you choose to strip your wires will depend on the wire length, size, and the number of wires you have to strip.
The method you choose will also be determined by the reason why you want to trip the wires in the first place, whether it is for household use of resale.
The following are the options you have to strip your wires. The methods are discussed from the least effective to the most effective.
What are the ways to strip wire fast?
The sun warming method
You can only use this method when there is a burst of bright sunshine that is quite hot. This is only possible during the summer.
Since most insulation is made of plastic, putting the wires out in the hot sun could help soften the plastic. This makes it easier to pull it off.
Once the wire is hot and soft enough pull the insulation to strip off the wire. However, the method might not be effective for thick cables and wires that are heavily insulated.
The sun warming method can be used alongside other methods such as cutting or with a manual wire stripper.
You will need the following items to strip wires using this heating method.
- A metal barrel
The first method you can use to remove plastic insulation from your cables is heating. To use the heating method, you need a metallic barrel, water, and firewood.
Boil the water in the barrel and dip the insulated wires in the boiling water. This should be done outdoors or open area.
Let the wire sit in the boiling water for approximately 10 minutes or more.
Remove the wire and pull it to slide off the insulation. You should do this as soon as you remove it from the water before it gets cold and stiff again.
Care should be taken not to burn or scald. The heating method is not very effective when scraping thicker wires. Furthermore, the boiling process may release fumes that are toxic and not good for your health.
You should not burn the insulated wires to get the cables. Burning plastic cables pollutes the environment. This could get you in trouble with the law. Burning also destroys the wires and reduces their quality.
What are the different cutting methods?
These are the items you will need for this method.
- Cutting blade
- Thick gloves
The knife or the cutting blade you choose should be very sharp. You should wear thick gloves to protect you from cuts and bruises from the cutting. This method can be reasonably used only if you have a few wires to strip.
This method is easy to apply, and the materials are readily available. However, you can only strip a few cables at a time. It is quite slow.
The process of cutting to strip a wire off start with marking the point or length you want to strip. Then hold the knife or the cutting blade you have over the market spot. Press on it and turn the wire.
When you turn the wire, the cutting blade cut through the insulation. Be careful to press it a little bit light so as not to cut the wire inside. Once you see the wire, grip the end of the cable and pull the insulation off. You can grip it with pliers or hand.
Using a homemade tabletop wire stripper
Items you need are:
- Wooden board
- 2 Screws
- Cutting blade
There are many methods to make a tabletop wire stripper at home. This is one of the easiest to make. You can easily make this yourself at the garage using the items listed above.
The homemade stripper can come in handy when you have a couple of wires to strip. You can easily make this yourself at the garage using the items listed. Follow the video at the link below to make one.
Using a manual wire stripper
This is one of the faster methods to strip wires and cables. Especially if you have many wires to strip, they are mainly tabletop but manual.
They do not use electricity. There are many wire strippers on the market, and you can purchase one depending on your usage and budget.
The manual wire strippers are operated by hand using a hand-held motor, and they are fixed with adjustable blades. The blades can be changed after some time if the initial ones become dull.
Using the electric wire stripper
Electric wire strippers are the best. They are most effective when you need to strip a great bulk of wires.
The electric wire strippers are a little more costly than the manual wire strippers are. They are a good investment if you want to strip wires for sale or for other commercial purposes. Scrap metal dealers mostly use them, but you can also purchase for home use.
You will need to read all the instructions of the machine before using. It is effective for stripping all types and sizes of wires.
How to cut without wire strippers?
If you don't have a specialty tool for the job, don't be dismayed. A resourceful DIYer can still figure out how to strip wire as long as he or she has an implement sharp enough to cut the sheathing, like a utility knife, a pair of scissors, or even a sharp pocket knife. The process is similar but takes a little more practice to get just the right touch—enough pressure to cut off the sheathing without damaging the actual metal wires.
When working with a utility knife
Lay the wire across a workbench or piece of wood. In one hand, hold the utility knife so that its blade gently rests on the wire's sheathing at the exact point you intend to cut to strip it off. Use the other hand to roll the wire across the work surface so that the blade scores the sheathing all the way around the wire. Pull the sheathing off with your fingers, and inspect the wire beneath to make sure no damage has been done.
When working with a scissors
Open the scissors halfway and fit your wire as close as possible to where the blades meet. With just the slightest pressure, begin to close the scissors—you want to bite into the sheathing but not cut through the wire. Use your fingers to twist the wire around within the open scissors so that the sheathing gets completely scored by the pair of blades. Once the end sheathing has been separated, go ahead and pull it off.
It really is that simple. As mentioned, take care not to be so enthusiastic with the task that you accidentally nick or the insulation or wiring beneath the sheathing. Worst case scenario, you can lop off the end of the wire and start over. With a little bit of practice, some concentration, and a steady hand, you'll be prepared for how to strip wire for any DIY electrical project quickly and cleanly.
As mentioned before the method, you will choose to strip wires will depend on the size, length, and quantity of the wires. However, you can combine methods to strip wires fast.
What are the safety precautions before cutting wires?
Before cutting metal wires, make sure to wear eye protection. Even though the needle-nose pliers have a flush cutting edge, it is not a guarantee that the cutting process will not cause the cut wires to fly off. Always protect the eyes from such incidents. Before the cutting operation, always make it a point to inspect the cutting blades. If they are sharp enough, this will definitely reduce accidents.
Cushioned handles on the needle-nose pliers are not a guarantee that it will protect the user from electric shock. Never cut wires that are running current, whether low or high. Shut down the power source first before working with the wire-cutting operation.