July 10, 2013

How to Strip Copper Electrical Wire for Jewelry Making

Most of the wire I use is purchased in coils from jewelry supply companies like Thunderbird Supply, but I also use copper electrical wire.  A lot of times it is remnants left over from a remodeling project given to me by friends or family.  In either event - the big problem when I get this type of wire is how to strip it!

The wire strippers I've seen in the hardware store usually just remove the last inch or so of the plastic cover.  I need to strip at least a foot at a time, and usually more than that.  

Typically, I use a box cutter knife and turn the blade at an angle so it slices the top layer plastic off the wire.  I try to do this working away from my body, so there's no chance of cutting myself.  It works, but sometimes I end up nicking the wire.

A great idea I heard about recently is using a vegetable peeler.  I would have never thought of that!

 I tried it today and it worked really well.  It was easy to get the right angle to slice just the insulation without nicking the wire.  I use  the type that is like the red or orange one in the picture.  Mine has a blade that swivels.  I put one end of the wire in my bench vise and pull the wire taut while I am peeling.  I pull the peeler towards me which is an easier motion for me than pushing away from my body like I was doing with the box opener.  I think I have more leverage that way.

Here's a picture of my freshly stripped wire and the old peeler that has a found a new home in the garage workshop.



12 comments:

  1. How many swipes do you have to make?

    I think they have a tool for cutting the circumference of the coating on the wire. So just cut a foot up, and then slip the coating off.

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    1. You just have to make one pass - it cuts a nice slice down the entire length and then you peel off the coating. It really is much simpler than anything else I've tried.

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  2. what a fantastic idea! does it work for stranded wire too?

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  3. oh wow thank you for this tip.. i have been using a razor blade and scoring the insulation but there are some wires that are really hard to get a good run down the insulation.. i am going to try this for sure..

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  4. Thanks for sharing this tip. I've always used a sharp knife but it's such a faf and I oftern nick the wire accidentally. Using a vegetable peeler is pure genius.

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  5. What a great idea! I bet it will save a lot or wear on fingers if I still have my veggie peeler.

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    1. Like any other tool - it takes a couple of slices to get the angles right, but it works like a charm once you get it down.

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  6. What a great idea!! Thanks for posting this tip! I have also been cutting the insulation off using a box cutter with lots of damage to my wire and fingers!! I'm definitely going to use the peeler from now on.

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  7. Wow! I have 100 feet of heavy Guage wire from my generator, which I had to replace, because the insulation is cracking-it is OLD. The amount of get in scrap is NOTHING, especially compared to the cost. I was going to keep it, but I wasn't looking forward to stripping it with a box knife. I may still have to use box knife on the outer insulation, is REALLY thick, but it is cracking, so it won't be real bad. Where this WILL ROCK is on the 3 pieces of insulated heavy Guage wire on the inside! I'll let you know how it goes when I get around to it this spring, when I can work outside. It's too big to bring in.

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  8. a couple years ago I was in a store somewhere and they were clearing out some wire. I got the whole real (sp). Call me crazy, but I love stripping the wire. Oh, I use a knife and also gouged it a bit. Love my wire.

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  9. Can't wait to try this! I had to laugh when I was thinking about the wire stripping because I work with a large group of volunteers that do construction of all of our places of worship in the central Texas area. And no one's too old to help out as we have a canopy that usually shades several older women sitting there stripping all of the leftover wire so that we can redeem the copper. I was bordering on heat exhaustion one day & was asked if I wanted to join the strippers over at their tent for awhile. Ohhhh, the look on my face before understanding crept in! Another hack I find interesting about the vegetable peeler is that we typically use only one of the two blades, So when yours gets dull (and you have no words to strip), either switch directions or trade peelers with an opposite handed person- it will feel brand new!

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