• 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.

  • Wed 2018.08.15

    The link to this post turned up in a Google search result set for tools, and was surprised to find myself back here in the Espruino forum.

    I debated about even posting as my response would date me a bit and the original post is aging. What pushed me over the edge was the following two exclamations:

    re: Has anyone else experienced the magic of these? Why are these such a
    well kept secret?

    re: Interesting - I'd never heard of these

    Maybe this tool use is regional perhaps, as I'm surprised to see that others haven't seen this type of tool. My first exposure was over thirty years ago, back in the late eighties working for a small electronics manufacturing facility in Butler, a suburb outside Milwaukee Wisconsin USA. Near Harley Davidson mfg for we bikers out there. . . . I digress.

    A colleague of mine made the purchase in an attempt to find a suitable tool to strip 30AWG Kynar wire-wrapping wire. Does anybody still wire wrap circuit boards anymore? The thermal strip tool was produced for and marketed by Amp back then, but hasn't changed a bit. We used a C-Clamp to fix to the end of our bench to make a more stable work surface and could easily strip 30 wires a minute using the adjustable stop. We had contests to see who could prep wire harness bundles the quickest to pass on to the crimpers. Boy does that bring back memories!!

    The tool was good for PVC type insulation but was lousy for Teflon or the inner insulator of Coax cables. Never did get it to work reliably for the Kynar wire as it was just too small a diameter and not suitable for the angled thermal blade innermost edge.

    My preference for stripping tools is this one, StripMaster


    The one I own, also thirty plus years old, has an adjustable stop and years ago had a small plastic enclosure that captured the trimmed ends, although that got in the way more than it helped. Just slide the wire in, up to the stop and squeeze. The wire is trapped in the spring loaded jaw that allows for the expanding mated jaw to slide off the stripped end, all in one squeeze. No nicked strands as can occur during rapid use of the Ideal/Klein type:


    Brought back a load of memories from my 'youth and treachery' days. Now it's 'age and wisdom' I rely on.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

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Thermal Wire Stripper - the most amazing timesaver ever.

Posted by Avatar for DrAzzy @DrAzzy