Printable wire stripper lights up when you hit the conductor

Agonize no more over stripping the insulation off of tiny wires like those used in ribbon cables. For years we’ve used razor blades to do this, as the tiniest wires don’t have a slot on our trusty wire strippers. But often we cut all the way though the conductor (or many of the strands) when doing so. [Bjbsquared] came up with this design that will alert you when you’ve hit the conductor.

It uses the two metal razor blades as electrodes in the LED circuit. When anything metal connects the two, the LED will be illuminated. This way you know you’ve cut far enough, and should be able to tug the insulation off of the wire. This image only shows half of the printed unit, a second piece covers up the inner workings, and helps keep stray fingers away from the edges of the blades.

Overkill? We don’t think so, and we hope everyone will agree this is a wonderful design.

[via Reddit and Gizmodo]

57 thoughts on “Printable wire stripper lights up when you hit the conductor

    1. I LOVE THIS TOOL IDEA!

      I use my teeth sometimes but I try not to, it’s horrible for them, and it’s easy to mess it up on smaller wires too. I got an automatic wire stripper from harbor freight and was AMAZED by it, you put the wire in, and squeeze and it’s stripped perfectly — until it broke from being hauled around loosely in my backpack for a few weeks, then I ordered a replacement, and the replacement seems to not work as well. :-/

  1. wow i never thought of this idea … save me some time dealing with cut leads and dealing with plastic strands :P

    tho i still swear by my pull type radioshack stripper

  2. 20 years ago I was given a Paladin stripax – self adjusting wire stripper, and it still is fantastic – it can strip 4 or 5 conductors at a time of a ribbon cable easily, as well as just about anything else.

    1. There is a company, ripley-tools.com, which makes NO-NIK brand strippers, calibrated for specific wire gauges. I post this because they are hard to find, and probably a better solution if you’re stripping lots of the same, absurdly small, gauge wires.

      However, this is a seriously cool hack. It would be even cooler if (can’t tell from the write-up) the whole housing lit up when you made contact!

    2. my first job after graduating high-school was stuffing circuit boards by hand. we used the stripax to strip telephone cords used in the products we sold. I haven’t seen a stripper as good as the stripax since then.

      however this project is very cleaver and elegant.

  3. Neat idea, but I think I’d still nick or cut the conductor before the audio alert stopped me.

    I always just burn off the insulator with a lighter and pull the char’d plastic off with my fingers. Then trim the exposed wire to length.

    1. The problem with that is that it increases the metal fatigue of the conductor, it would break more easily in the future..

  4. I’m thinking that by the time the light activates, it already damaged the conductor. Maybe some proximity sensing? Now THAT would be genius.

    1. What about setting an adjustable guard? After using one piece of wire to find where you will hit the conductor, adjust a gate to just a hair above that, and you are all set for that size of wire.

  5. Personally I just use a somewhat dull knife to press the cable against my thumb and then I just pull. Seems to work fine for me.

    Or, I use a sharper knife, squeeze the cable between knife and thumb and then twist the wire. You only need to score the insulation. Then, just pull.

    But hey, I’m sure this might work better :) (but please, please increase the number of segments on them Sketchup circles! :) )

    1. I alway did this, but it doesn’t work that well for all wires.

      I will print one… or two of these when I get home. As always, this version won’t work for me, as I has different nuts and bolts, and different batteries. So expect a derivative soon.

  6. This is a great design and a cool idea, but I’m not sure how practical it is… especially if you have to strip a lot of wire.

    I use Paladin Stripax, and Ideal strippers for nice clean wire stripping on most of my projects.

    1. That is how I ended up with a chipped front tooth… Do not do this. Dad was right. Every time he saw me stripping wire with my teeth he would yell at me “you’re gonna ruin your teeth”.

      I find that for thin gauge wires (like wire-wrap or printer cable wire) the stripping tool that comes inside of a wire-wrap tool is perfect.

      If you pull the back end of this cheapo wire-wrap tool off there is a stripper hidden inside that works great.

  7. Very cool !
    Stripping wire wrap wire covered in kynar can be a challenge and wire strippers normally don’t go that small.

    I saw a recommendation in a magazine to use an alligator clip for stripping small wires, put the wire in through the end , pull. Works well for kynar.

  8. Most wires that aren’t coated with teflon or otherwise hard to cut plastic can be easily peeled using a pair of standard side cutters.

    close the cutters far enough to grip the insulation firmly without cutting the wire, pull the insulation off the end.

    There is also the Weidmüller wire stripper series, above all the Stripax, which is good for almost any dimension of wire with soft insulation such as PVC.

  9. This seems to be pretty useful for sure. I don’t think it would be something I personally would use though.

    I usually use the back of my knife blade or, especially in the case of ribbon cable, a hot soldering iron since most projects I use ribbon cable for requires tinned leads. The heat usually melts the plastic away. Just have to get used to the smell of burnt plastic.

    1. Don’t you find that the burning plastic messes up the tips ability to tin properly? I always have to sand the crap of the tip of my iron after I get burnt plastic on it.

      1. The sponge in my soldering stand is slightly abrasive so a few strokes of the iron is all it usually takes. If it’s really bad, I use my pocket knife to gently scrape the stuff off of it. That’s a very rare occurrence, though. Fine grit sandpaper or emery board or whetstone work great as well. A good sponge (made from real sponge, not the plastic type) is best. Just swipe the iron tip as soon as you melt the plastic.

  10. Actually the stripper has to contact the wire twice (once for each blade) to complete the circuit. By the time the second blade contacts, the first may have done some damage to the conductor.

    1. I have the same concern.

      I suppose a variant that connects to the wire itself before cutting it and has each blade with a separate light might work? Would require tapping the wire before cutting it… but could work well.

  11. Nicks in solid core wire are to be avoided at any cost…in this case, $15 for a decent wire stripper that has curved cutting surfaces instead of straight ones guaranteed to nick the wire. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve stripped Kynar any old way, only to wonder why the circuit doesn’t work and see it popped loose somewhere.

  12. Clever idea, but…When when I was learning all this stuff, we where told if your tool hits the conductor, you may have already fucked up. Even the smallest nick could create a point where a stress fracture could occur. In reading the use instructions, using this as explained could possibly(will?) result in a score completely around the conductor. Respectfully Mike, and the builder, this is a horrible design. IMO Hackday should promote good construction practices. For those too impatient and/or lazy to develop skills there are tools out there better than this. Yes they cost much more than this, but doing things the right way easily is always going to cost more.

  13. Seems like a solution just looking for a problem.

    Does anyone here really have that much trouble stripping wire without messing up the conductor?

    Are you really going to slow down enough for something like this “tool” to be useful?

    Yeah, me neither.

    For solid wire just score the insulation and pull.

    For stranded, just melt the insulation off (and to the comment about that “weakening” the metal – might want to look into the various temperatures used to melt plastic versus vs annealing metal).

  14. The dual razor blade stripper is not really a new idea but the electronic part is good. I started making this sort of double-blade stripper in 1991 and I have three left. I milled the body out of aluminum. I made these specifically for 30 gauge wrap wire and teflon insulated wire. They work perfectly.

    1. They work fine when constructed for a specific wire and insulation thickness, where the tool holds the wire suspended so the copper never touch the blades.

      Many coax peelers are made like that.

  15. Please keep all this stuff out of your mouth! Pocket knives are for camping and earthy work. I rally at work that they produce poorer work than real tools with handles attached. If I see such electrical work it’s cut it off and do it over! I don’t care if it’s 10ga or the 30ga hookup stuff. I either use the side not tip of iron or gun or one of several scissors type notch and screw adjustable set for small sizes like Teflon wifi coax.
    A hack like this printed stripper is far better than admitting to using such survivor skills in a lab world.

  16. why didnt i think of that? im sure wer all sayin!

    those “kynar” or whatever wires DRIVE ME INSANE!!!
    other then that i use my teeth,…

    BFR’s are toxic??? oops my bad

    BFR = Bromiated.Flame.Retardent

  17. Yeah I used to use my teeth(when I was a kid) and over the years I have bought and built fancy stuff like the above (it’s actually an old idea) … But after years as a tech I realised: I can strip anything perfectly almost every time with side-cutters anyways! Once in a while I might use a scalpel for outers on multicore or whatever.. but otherwise a good tech will get it right everytime BTW the above concept isn’t that good as u need to stop BEFORE you make electrical contact (generally) otherwise the pressure u used to get there usually takes a strand… Just use side-cuuters trust me!! You have to move along the wire aat a shallow depth, u can feel the insulation being squashed etc.. The old cliché is true: It’s all in the wrist!

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