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I bought some speaker wire and an adjustable auto-stripper. I don't remember the gauge of the wire, but I wanna say it's 16ga. It's got a pretty sturdy plastic outer insulation and the speaker wires are twisted inside.

The outer wire is too thick for my auto-stripper and I'm afraid of damaging the wires inside when I'm trying to strip it. So, my plan has been to cut the outer layer by using just a dumb little craft scissors, because that's the only scissors I have right now, but it's obviously slow going. I've been cutting down the wire, being careful not to nick the speaker wires inside and then cut the insulation once I've exposed enough of the inner wires to strip them/fit them in my banana plugs.

My question is this: Is there some kind of specialty scissors I can get that is effective at cutting the outside insulation while also not really damaging the inner wires? Is there a recommended type of scissor, like a small but blunt nose, so I can fit it inside the outer insulation but not cut the inner wire?

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    Don't use scissors of any kind. You are apt to cut too deep. Use a utility knife to score the outer sheath; but don't go too deep, you are not trying to reach the wire. Once scored just pull the outer sheath and it should rip away. – MonkeyZeus Mar 13 at 15:26
  • Is there a small fiber in the twisted wires? I ask this because cables like cat,3,4,5 ect have a small Kevlar fiber used to strip the outer cable, many do not know this is what this is for, I use telecom scissors to cut the outer sheath ~1” then use that 1” and wrap the fiber around the insulation and pull at 90 deg the fiber cuts the outer sheath quickly , a quick score around the outside of the cable with the scissors for a clean break and pull the covering and it breaks clean, then cut the fiber. Yes you can pull with fingers but every now and then the fiber tangles and will cut fingers. – Ed Beal Mar 13 at 15:28
  • No fibers or anything, just a bit of a harder plastic outer sheath. – howradisit Mar 13 at 15:30
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    I think you just need better wire strippers. I've used wire strippers on heavy gauge speaker wire very effectively. The trick is to make sure that you use the correct gauge setting. – HoneyDo Mar 13 at 15:40
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    @Michael This amazon.com/dp/B0758CSSF2 is the speaker wire I have--not sure if the gauge is right. And yeah, it's to remove the white part and not damage the inner speaker wires. – howradisit Mar 13 at 18:51
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For speakers, losing a couple of strands of the wire itself is irrelevant. I know that some of the wire mfrs hawk their "gold plated" wire and make a huge deal about conductivity, but in reality it's all bunk. 16ga wire is rated for 10A, even a typical 350W speaker is going to draw maybe 6 to 7A.

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    Exactly this. Be a man and use your teeth to strip wires :-) – Carl Witthoft Mar 13 at 17:02
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    @CarlWitthoft - yeah - I used to do that - now all my teeth are crowned ... – brhans Mar 14 at 0:36
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Being stingy, and not averse to minor personal injury I'd attack the white outer with my trusty pocket knife,

The idea is to cut it most of the way through the white layer and then flex the cable until it tears the rest of the way though.

Cutting while flexing works well too.

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Greenlee 1161 Adjustable Fiber Jacket Stripper

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I used to use these until I learned how to just do it with a utility knife.


If the jacket is loose enough, you can try these.
"Slitting blade [not visible in picture; it's inside] rips outer jacket of NM cable cleanly and quickly"

IDEAL Lil' Ripper Wire Strippers

enter image description here

(source)


I've owned "The best wire stripper of 2019" for some time now. However the insulation on (jacketed or not) speaker wire is too thick to use them reliably.

Klein Tools Katapult Wire Stripper and Cutter

enter image description here

(source)

All that would be left is a coax cutter and a utility knife; then every tool I've ever used to cut wire insulation (successfully) for the last 30y would be pictured (wire stripping pliers are garbage).

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With experience, you can just cut the outer insulation (trick being, not all the way though - you make a weak spot/stress concentration by grooving it, and then pull off the waste, and it breaks where it's been grooved.) You can practice by cutting off less of the outer sheath than you need a few times, so any nicks on the inner insulation would be stripped off anyway.

To do that reliably without experience, there are tools (cable ringing tool might be a good generic term - rotary coax stripper is another, but may have more limited capacity) which rotate on the cable sheath and have an adjustable blade that makes a groove only so deep, no deeper. Some include a different blade so you can also slit the sheath up to the end of the cable (cable slitting tool is a good search term, some do indeed do both jobs). If you don't have regular need for such tools, purchasing one to do 4 ends of two sets of speaker wire (or 12 of six if it's surround sound) is probably a poor use of funds, to be honest.

You could MacGyver one up from a grooved block of wood and a razor blade/craft knife blade/utility knife if you wanted to make that effort.

If proceeding as you plan, sharp tips are actually preferable, as they can get inside the sheath to an extent, and that's why wire shears are commonly made that way. Just keep them between the inner wires as the inner wires twist.

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    Or just get a pair of wire strippers. $7 from Amazon, maybe even next day delivery if you have a Prime account amazon.com/s/… Or check at your local hardware store. – CrossRoads Mar 13 at 15:29
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    As to the wire strippers, I have an auto-stripper so I don't want to purchase another tool (and it's fantastic for cutting individual wires link). It just can't handle the outer layer. – howradisit Mar 13 at 15:34
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    you can't have too many wire stippers; i seem to have 1 fewer than i need... – dandavis Mar 13 at 21:02
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You have a 'Stanley knife'? - common UK name for a generic tool I know of no other name for.

  • Hold wire against knife with thumb.

  • Carefully push thumb so wire rotates.

  • Stop before blade reaches thumb.

  • Pull end of plastic insulation off.
    if it fights you a bit, drag the tip round in a circle, putting pressure on each side in turn.

This has been the trade method of stripping wire too fat for a small domestic stripper since time immemorial. Most trade don't own a wire stripper. All own a stanley.

Don't use teeth.
Stanley blades are about 10p/¢ each. Tooth caps/crowns… not so cheap.

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  • Oh yeah. I've mostly used them to cut boxes open. Either that or a really cheap box cutter. I was more looking for a scissors or something. – howradisit Apr 13 at 18:43

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