I need a pair of wire strippers, which should I buy?
Instead of a simple answer, how about I just show you the wire strippers I’ve bought.
This is a showcase of the wire strippers and combination electrical tools that I have purchased for personal use over the years, along with brief notes about why I bought them and how I like them. I’m not an electrician or tech, and mainly use these tools for small electronics projects.
Stanley Wire Stripper 84-199
I bought this stripper a while back after being frustrated with my father’s no-name stamped-steel multi-tool. One could say that I didn’t know any better at the time, but to be honest it’s never given me anything to complain about.
This stripper is simply designed and inexpensive, but reliable.
The one I have was made in the USA, but newer ones might not be.
Available via Amazon (<$15)
Klein Wire Strippers 11045 and 11046
I bought the yellow-handled general-use wire stripper (11045) as part of a 3-piece electrician’s tool set. In hindsight, although the set was a good bargain, it was ultimately a waste as I ended up with tools that haven’t seen much use over the years.
The red-handled stripper (11046) works with finer wires -16-26 gauge stranded vs 10-18 for the other one – and is a bit handier for electronics work where you work with hookup wire.
When I bought these, I had not had much personal experience with Klein pliers or strippers, but I had always good things about them. I was on a budget and looking to upgrade to something better than what I’ve been using, so I gave them a try. The finer-sized model was purchased shortly after the kit that included the general purpose stripper.
Both of these strippers are a great bargain, but they could be improved with a handle/spring lock and colored markings.
Gardner Bender Automatic Wire Strippers
I bought this bad boy about 5 years ago, and it works great with stranded speaker cable and thin solid wires. This model, SE-94, can be hard to find, but there’s a new thicker-gripped model available (GS-394) for $14 via Amazon.
The automatic stripper can be cumbersome to use at times, and I’m not in love with it, but I’m not ready to give it up yet.
If I had to replace this, I would instead try Irwin’s version ($18 via Amazon) since it has an adjustable depth stop feature.
Craftsman Professional Wire Strippers
I lusted after Klein’s Kurve strippers for a while, but I didn’t really need them. I eventually splurged on these nearly identical Stride/Imperial-made Craftsman ones when they went on sale at Sears. The handles are very comfortably cushioned, the markings easy to read (opposite side markings are not colored in), and they cut and strip wires effortlessly.
If all of my wire strippers mysteriously disappeared and I could only buy two replacements, these, or rather the Klein versions, are what I’d get. In hindsight, I do wish I purchased these before the above Klein 11045 and 11046 strippers.
Beta Wire Stripper
I ordered these because Amazon was clearing them out for $8. In the 9 month since, I haven’t used them at all except to test them out. This type of stripper works well when you need to dial-in the cutter width very precisely to avoid damaging fragile wires, and they offer great repeatability. But they’re a pain to use on smaller wires.
Maybe the similarly styled Knipex strippers ($30 via Amazon) would perform better.
Craftsman Wire Strippers
I don’t quite remember where the Craftsman 82544 stripper places in my acquisition timeline, but I believe I picked them up before the red-handled Kleins. It’s a basic model, but it served me well.
This stripper can handle fine-sized wires 16-26 gauge, and the opposite side has high-visibility markings. The stripper left my tool box a couple of months ago, not because I didn’t like it, but because it was destined for a new home in my brother-in-law’s tool bag.
I avoided going into too much detail about the individual tools, but there’s always more to say. If you have any questions about any of the tools or their other features, just let me know.
What’s in Your Tool Box?
I showed you mine, now tell me (and everyone else) about your wire strippers!
(Prices are noted for reference purposes and are subject to change.)