The easiest, fastest and best way to cut and strip wires for electrical work.
Cutting and stripping wires is something you get very familiar with while making a model railway.
I was taught to do it the old fashioned way. Grasp the wire in a pair of pliers in one hand and with a pair of cutters, gently grip the wire with a pair of cutters and pull away the plastic sheath in a grip and flick action. Applying the enough force with the cutters to slice through the protective outer plastic layer but not cut the thin wires inside just takes a bit of practice.
It’s an old school technique that works but it’s not easy to do when working upside down under a baseboard, on thicker wire that needs more pinching by the cutters. In these circumstances, I’m tempted to grab a knife, rotate it around the wire slicing through the casing to cut to it free.
And it doesn’t work when I want to expose wire in the middle of a cable for t-splices, then I just use a razor blade and slice through the plastic either side of where I want the expose bit and then cut away the bit in the middle.
A while back however I treated myself to a new tool and have been experimenting and testing it for sometime.
It’s this wire stripper and cutter and after approximately six months of working with it on my layout and the occasional DIY job around the house I’m now a big fan.
It’s larger than expected, way larger than a normal pair of cutters, but given incorporates the functionality of 3 other tools that’s something I can put up with. Its size also makes it easy to spot when its amongst a disorganised pile of pliers, tools and wires that strangely often appear on my workbench 😃
It handles the heavier wire gauges from 10 to 22 AWG, so it’s good for normal thick DC wiring, DCC bus wiring and thicker droppers but not for thin wires. (If you’re looking for a thinner gauge wire stripper for lighting and connecting to decoders for example I can recommend the Klein Tools 1105 stripper).
Aside from removing the outer casing of wires, that we’ll come to in a minute, it also has a cutter and crimping edges.
These work exactly as expected and will cut through pretty much the gauges of wire used on a model railway.
It’s made from carbon steel so is harder and more durable than stainless steel but could rust in time. Personally, for a tool that will, by its very nature, get a lot of wear and tear I think the choice of the harder carbon steel is the better choice.
Use as a cutter
There’s really no difference for cutting wires with this verses any other cutters and its made easy work of the droppers, bus and general wiring around my layouts and other projects I’ve used it on.
One consideration however is that the cutter is in the middle of the tool rather than at the top (see picture above) as with more normal cutters, so you’ll need to have lots of play in the wire to get it around the handles. It would be great if a small shears could be added at the top, such as with the SK 7699 Hand Tool, to allow small wires in confined spaces to be cut.
But it’s the stripper that I was particularly interested in and where this promises to be a cut above the rest 🙂
How the stripper works
To strip wires with the tool, place the wire to be stripped into the jaws at the top, adjusting the plastic backstop to how much wire you want exposed, and simply squeezing the handles.
The wire in gripped in a set of crocodile teeth on one side while jaws on the opposite side automatically apply just enough force to cut through the outer plastic and pull it away from the core as you close the handles.
This works on wire from 10 to 24 AWG (.2 to 5.0mm thick) with the backstop allowing you to control how much wire is exposed and the thumb wheel adjustment nut allows control of how much grip is applied if you need to adjust it.
After a few trial runs to understand the plastic backstop operation and tension control knob, operation has been faultless.
I wasn’t familiar with the manufacturer – Daniu – before but took a risk and haven’t been disappointed. After almost 9 months of use, the cutting blades are just as sharp and it feels the same in operation. On some tools I’ve used, bits break, degrade over time or nuts work loose but this hasn’t happened here.
Overall, I think it offers the best good balance of price, features and reliable operation compared to other wire strippers of this type and others that I’ve used and it has so far lasted without any major defect. It’s now one of my recommended tools.
> The Daniu wire stripper and cutter is available here.
> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.
Full disclosure: I spend days, weeks perhaps months testing modelling and model train products for the reviews on Model Railway Engineer and have used hundreds of tools, accessories and materials over many, many, years. No money or gifts were exchanged for this review. I bought the product at the normal advertised price and without the supplier knowing it would be reviewed here. The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, B&Q, Amazon or Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here: