Based on a Toolmonger comment we read a while back, we decided to pick up a set of Irwin’s (semi-)new self-adjusting wire strippers, so we thought we’d give you a look at ’em as well. In short: They rock. They’ve quickly become the wire stripper of choice in the TM shop.
Read on past the jump for our hands-on experience and some detail pictures.
Thankfully, these don’t seem to end up in clamshell packaging. In fact, the packaging was so easy to open that we forgot to photograph it before we already had the tool out and in use. Then again, we figured that news would impress you more than a photo.
You know what’s the best part about using these strippers? You don’t really think much about ’em. Just insert your wire and squeeze. No more trying to find the right little hole to get a good strip — just squeeze. Sweet.
Note: Click on small photos to view larger ones.
Here’s the process in detail: First, you insert the wire. We did discover that if you don’t keep the wire relatively close to the bottom of the “jaws,” you might end up with problems. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to keep the wire positioned correctly, and after a few times you just do it out of habit.
As you squeeze the spring-loaded grip, the two top “jaws” clamp down. The one on the left grips the wire while the one on the right provides the cutting blade. As you continue to squeeze, the overall jaws open, stripping the wire.
One other very minor bitch: The piece of stripped wire casing almost always stays in the jaws, and it can be a bit of a trick to get it out. While it’s tempting to bang the tool on the bench to dislodge it, the easiest way to deal with it is to simply leave the casing in there and flick it out with the next wire you’re going to strip.
There are a few additional features that you might use as well, most noticably a little “stop” which lets you set how much wire you’d like stripped. It’s yellow, and you can see it clearly in the photo above. There’s a scale below it to give you an idea of how much wire you’re stripping before you try out the setting, but we found that most of the time we just adjusted it until we got what we wanted, then used it for the rest of whatever project we were working on.
Irwin thoughtfully included a few bevels on the inside of the grips to handle basic crimping tasks. Though we don’t use them much around the shop — we have a couple of good crimpers as well — we did try them out on a 16-gauge insulated blade connector. While it did the job, it was a bit precarious trying to hold the connector in between the grips while keeping the wire positioned and squeezing. However, if you were up in the ceiling (or under the hood) and forgot your crimper, this would do the job.
We also tried the Irwin on a variety of wire gauges with no issues at all. It’ll even handle 26-gauge, though you have to be very careful and you won’t always get a clean strip.
Read on to page two for our conclusions.
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