Wire Strippers & Cable Cutters
Wire strippers are simple tools that make installing new connectors on any cable a much simpler job. One of the first steps for installing a connector is peeling back the outer jacket. While this is technically possible with something like a pair of scissors, doing it that way is difficult and delicate work. More often than not, it results in cutting too deep and having to start all over.
Cable cutters are designed to cut exactly through the outer jacket, no more and no less. When used correctly, the blades should never touch anything deeper than the jacket. There are different types of cutters available as well. Most strippers are compatible with multiple cables, with these multi-cable strippers covering different cables that have similar thicknesses.
Rotary strippers are one of the most common types of cable cutters, mainly due to how easy they are to use. The blades inside the stripper are adjustable, allowing users to change how deeply they will cut. After the cable is inserted, the stripper spins around the cable repeatedly until it cuts a ring through the jacket. The loose part of the cable jacket can then slide off the end.
There are 2-blade and 3-blade versions of rotary strippers available. The blades on a rotary stripper work similar to a shaving razor. The first blade makes the initial cut while the second and/or third blades follow up to finish. A 3-blade stripper will work better than a 2-blade since there is an extra blade to help with the work. The blades can also be replaced as they wear out over time.
Typically, rotary strippers are used with either ethernet or coaxial cable. Ethernet strippers can be used with any type of ethernet cable and will usually work with telephone cables as well. Coax strippers are rated by the type of coax they can be used with. Smaller coax strippers usually work with multiple types of smaller cable while thicker coax requires a specialized tool that works with few (if any) other cables.
Clothespin strippers used to be made by taking blades from something like a razor or pencil sharpener and attaching them to a clothespin for a homemade cable cutter. Professionally made, modern clothespin strippers are easier to use and much safer, but the name has stuck due to their similar shape. While it is still easy to make a homemade clothespin stripper today, it is not recommended. Any blade sharp enough to work will also be able to injure you if there is an accident.
Functionally, a clothespin stripper is very similar to a rotary stripper. The cable is inserted and the blades spin around the outer jacket to cut it off. The main difference between the two is how they are held. Instead of having a hole so the stripper can be spun around with a finger, clothespin strippers feature a more traditional handle. Stemming from their made-at-home origins, clothespin strippers are typically made to be used with at-home cables such as television coax.
Manual strippers are an older type of tool that resembles a pair of pliers. Unlike rotary and clothespin strippers, manual strippers are not made to work with specific types of cables. Instead, they cover a range of different AWGs (American Wire Gauges). Manual strippers will have numerous notches on the blade, one for each size of AWG that they work with. Each notch features a laser engraved number to indicate which size AWG it takes. Manual strippers are ideal for small, precise jobs that only involve a few cables and are fairly inexpensive.