Best wire stripping tool for model railways and household electrics

best wire stripperThe 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 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, and rotate it around the wire slicing through the casing to cut 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 on either side of where I want the exposed 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 some time.

It’s this wire stripper and cutter and after approximately six months of working with it on my layout and the occasional DIY jobs around the house, I’m now a big fan.

First impressions

It’s larger than expected, much larger than a normal pair of cutters, but given it incorporates the functionality of 3 other tools this is something I can put up with. Its size also makes it easy to spot when it’s amongst a disorganized 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.

Using as a wire cutter

wire cutter

The reverse side, showing the cutter, is positioned mid-tool. Works well but would be better if it was at the top near the stripper.

As a cutter, there’s really no difference in cutting wires between this and other cutters. It made easy work of the droppers, bus, and general wiring around my layouts and other projects I’ve used it on. It cuts cleanly and quickly through all the wire gauges 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 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 🙂

Using it for stripping wire

How to strip wires 

To strip wires with the tool, place the wire to be stripped into the jaws at the top, adjust the plastic backstop to how much wire you want to be exposed, and simply squeeze the handles.

The wire is 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. As said, if you want to strip thinner wire, the Klein stripper will be a better choice.

Struggling with electrics around your layout, these guides will help.

How it performs

After a few trial runs to understand the plastic backstop operation and tension control knob, the operation has been faultless.

Different gauges of wire and core composition were placed between it’s jaws, and it stripped the outer sheaf perfectly each time.  It grips the wires firmly and pulls away the casing cleaning and quickly. There’s really not a lot more to be said.


I wasn’t familiar with the manufacturer before but took a risk and haven’t been disappointed.

I think it offers the best 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 defects. After almost 9 months of use, the cutting blades are just as sharp and it feels the same in operation.

It’s now one of my recommended tools.

> Buy it here.

Footnote: This article has undergone review and fact-checking to ensure its accuracy. It has also been edited for clarity and to ensure the information is up to date and reviews the latest models as of November 2023. Your insights are crucial—should you spot any inaccuracies or have suggestions, please contact me. I welcome your questions, feedback, or personal stories. Please get in contact in a comment below or via my contact page


Full disclosure: The reviews I share here come from hands-on experience establised over many decades of making and building models and model railways. I personally test each product, often for weeks or months, before writing about it. For this review, I purchased the product myself at the regular price, and the seller had no idea it would end up featured here. No special treatment or behind-the-scenes deals – just honest feedback on my experiences of using this product.



Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and 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. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.
  1. I bought a pair of these in the local hardware super store for $22. DCC Concepts like to make out that their wire stripper is the best you can buy. Naturally they’ll say that rather then the worst you can buy but certainly one of the most expensive from memory about $60. The late Bob Symes said that any model railway tool sold in model shops for which there is an equivalent in a hardware store will cost three times as much. He also said don’t buy any tools with no place of origin otherwise the first time you apply pressure to them, they’ll break and you may get injured.

    • Hi Roy, totally agree. I always try to find the tools I want from non-specialist suppliers as they’ll always be cheaper. Having said this, it’s worth supporting local stores where you can. Andy

  2. I started apprenticeship in the electronics industry in 1962. I was provided with a pair of, adjustable, wire strippers, which I still have.
    The suggested stripper seems great but still does not address the question of stripping in the middle of a wire
    Jim P

    • Hi Jim, thanks for your comment – good point that I’d missed. For stripping wire in the middle, t works exactly the same way as with ends of cables. Just place the wire into the tool with the jaws to the left of where you want the stripped section and close it. The sheaf will be pulled away in the middle of the wire. I’ll try to add another photo showing this in the next day or so. Cheers, Andy

  3. Yes, that stripper appears to be able to do the job well. As an electronics technician/engineer, I became familiar with another brand, the Ideal Stripmaster. I have two now, purchased at discount via eBay. Why two? well, with my work, I needed not just the regular wire size, but also the smaller of 26, 28 and 30 AWG gauge. What you present here is probably just as good and a bit less pricey.

Add Comment

Required fields are marked *. Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.