Until recently, I wasn't aware of "thermal wire strippers". These are devices which heat up an element that is then used to melt through the insulation of the wire, allowing you to easily strip it.
I had never realized how miraculously effective they are, nor had my father who built stuff since high school (he was etching PCBs at home in the 50s) and was an electrical engineer for his whole career. Holy shit. They are amazing. Before this, the most time consuming part of wiring up a project was often not the soldering, but just stripping the ends of the short little pieces of wire (shorter wire being harder to strip, because there's less wire to grab and pull).
The thermal stripper does it EFFORTLESSLY. You put it in, twist, gently pull, and off the insulation comes. The one I have doesn't get hot enough to burn you (well, I think the temperature is hot enough, but not enough thermal mass nor power output in the hot part) - the hot element is a little inch-long strip of metal with a slot in the middle, narrower at one end, so you put it in the wide end, slide to narrow end and twist 180 degrees.
It is magic, and I cannot recommend it more highly. The one I have is a PTS-10 from PATCO. I can leave it plugged in over night and it's fine the next day, no prob (just like my old vomit-green colored weller soldering irons) They're like $80 new, and worth every penny. I am in no way affiliated with nor compensated by PATCO - I just want to share this, because, well - because nobody ever told me about these, and I'd been stripping wires the hard way my whole life (well - almost my whole life, I wasn't doing anything with electronics until first or second grade IIRC). If I could go back in time and hand myself one 20 years ago, I totally would.
Has anyone else experienced the magic of these? Why are these such a well kept secret?
Interesting - I'd never heard of these. If anyone's interested in what they look like in action:
I always just use these: http://cpc.farnell.com/ideal/45-121/t-stripper-16-26-awg-stranded/dp/TL00592
They're a million times better than the 'automatic' ones, and seem to work great for most wire I use.
But then I imagine wire with tougher insulation (or insulation that can stretch) would be great with something like the thermal stripper...
We really ought to have a thread or something for useful tools. There are loads of really helpful tools out there that don't get publicised much.
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