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Old 01-26-2010, 03:06 PM   #1
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How to Strip the Sheath


Can someone provide me a "how to" on stripping Sheaths?

As I understand the codes (based on what was in a wiring book), when a piece of Romex enters a plastic box, the sheath must conintinue into the box by something like 1/4" minimum, and shouldn't be any longer than 1" maximum.

I assume the proper procedure for wiring a box is to pull the wire still in the sheath through the rear opening and out the main openning. Then you cut the wire to length and strip the sheath back to the required length. But even with small boxes, you're having to deal with sheath still inside the box.

Now there are all sorts of cutters for splitting the sheath open. That part isn't a problem. But what I find is a problem is how to trim the sheath once you have it open. If you just try to pull, the sheath stretches. It generally seems like you have to have some sort of starting cut latterally across the sheath. But it's rather difficult to get an exacto knife deep inside the box to make the proper cut across the sheath without going too deep and start cutting the insulation on the conductors.

And while I'm on the subject, I've also run into some problems trying to properly get the wire on the screw terminal just right. I seem to recall that the wire MUST go 1/2 way around the screw, and isn't 3/4 way ideal? But acheving that seems to be pretty difficult given the way the wire tries to move as you tighen it down. So any tips on best way to get the wires on the screw terminals would be appreciated also.

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Old 01-26-2010, 04:13 PM   #2
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How to Strip the Sheath


I cut the wire usually with 8" extra wire + some slack
I bring the wire to the back edge of the box, measure off another 8"' & cut
Strip off about 7" using cable strippers
If you are working from a full roll you can't pull it thru the box

I bought cable strippers, cut - then pull the sheath off
No exacto knife or razor blade
I cut while outside of the box
Then I put it thru the box, make sure the sheath is in the box & secure it

I use needle nose to curve the wire into a loop to secure under the wire
Once one I also again use the needle nose to tighten it around the screw if needed

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Old 01-26-2010, 04:32 PM   #3
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How to Strip the Sheath


Another tip is to put the long end of wire on the left side of screw and the short or cut end around the right side.Then when you tighten to the right , the screw tends to pull the wire inward.
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Old 01-26-2010, 05:25 PM   #4
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How to Strip the Sheath


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Originally Posted by antlerdancer View Post
Another tip is to put the long end of wire on the left side of screw and the short or cut end around the right side.Then when you tighten to the right , the screw tends to pull the wire inward.
If I'm understanding you correctly... then that's just pointing the bend of the wire in the same direction as you screw the wire (and actually I believe I even saw one time that code REQUIRES you to do it that way).

But I run into problems. On is where the screw pulls the wire such that you go beyone all-the-way around the screw and the cut end starts trying to push the long end out. Seems like when a try to shorten the amount of bend in the wire, then I don't get enough wire around the screw thread. Then there is just plain the fact the bend of the wire isn't matching the turn of the screw and that seems to throw things off.

Scuba_Dave sounds like he might be talking about using the plyers a second time once the curve of the wire is hooked on the screw, but with the outlets I've been wiring, once the wire is hooked on the screw, there isn't any room to get your plyers in there to pinch the wire down on the screwn.
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Old 01-26-2010, 05:37 PM   #5
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How to Strip the Sheath


I use needle-nose pliers after the wire is on to tighten it around the screw as needed

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Old 01-26-2010, 05:41 PM   #6
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How to Strip the Sheath


Depending on your wire strippers, there may be two little holes which are used to bend the wire. Practice with a few and you will figure out how big to make them. I try to go 3/4 or a little more.

When you bend it you want to do it clockwise and then put the wire on the terminal clockwise so when you tighten the screw the wire pulls in nice and tight.
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Old 01-26-2010, 06:13 PM   #7
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How to Strip the Sheath


I too have a nice set of romex cable strippers (will strip wire too) and a nice automatic wire stripper. I forget which brand but they look like these. Saves a lot of time. I have a right angle pair of needle nose that come in handy.


Last edited by user1007; 01-26-2010 at 06:22 PM. Reason: Added image
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Old 01-26-2010, 10:43 PM   #8
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How to Strip the Sheath


These Klein 90 degree strippers are made to remove the jacket from romex that's already in the box. Note the bent nose. It only cuts the jacket. I have some...Don't use them all that often but when I need them they're awesome. Home Depot item around here as I recall.

They make one for 12/2 and one for 14/2...They're not interchangeable.
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Old 01-26-2010, 11:33 PM   #9
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How to Strip the Sheath


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Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
These Klein 90 degree strippers are made to remove the jacket from romex that's already in the box. Note the bent nose. It only cuts the jacket. I have some...Don't use them all that often but when I need them they're awesome. Home Depot item around here as I recall.

They make one for 12/2 and one for 14/2...They're not interchangeable.
Cool tool, I'll have to go look for some.

Stinks that I'd need to get two sets though.

I'm about to finish in a basement, and while all the new circuits will be 20amp, I've got to modify the current 15amp basement circuit. The orignial build used the basement circuit to power all outdoor outlets, ground level outdoor lights, one set of lights covering the whole basement on one 3-way switch, the garage door openers, and a few GFCI protected outlets spread around the basement.
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Old 01-27-2010, 07:41 AM   #10
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How to Strip the Sheath


The straight stripper that Sdester posted has both 12-2 & 14-2 on the same tool
You need (2) of the bent nose due to the bend
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Old 01-27-2010, 08:23 AM   #11
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How to Strip the Sheath


If you use the yellow tool posted by SD you can cut the sheath and then insert the cable in the box. After you get enough sheath in the box you just pull the cut sheath off.

If you use a knife to slit the sheath while it is in the box you can use a pair of diagonal cutters to cut the extra sheath.
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Old 01-27-2010, 09:11 AM   #12
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How to Strip the Sheath


I like the idea of the bent nose because of the ease of stripping the sheath after it's in the box.

I'll have to remember the dikes idea as well. Seems a lot safer than inserting an exacto knife. After all, from experience, it seems like all you need is the start of a cross cut in the sheath for it to easily rip off (as opposed to just streatching).
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Old 01-27-2010, 11:58 AM   #13
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How to Strip the Sheath


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Originally Posted by sdsester View Post
I too have a nice set of romex cable strippers (will strip wire too) and a nice automatic wire stripper. I forget which brand but they look like these. Saves a lot of time. I have a right angle pair of needle nose that come in handy.

I use the old fashioned type Romex strippers. They seem to work the best and cost about $2.00.
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Old 01-27-2010, 01:00 PM   #14
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How to Strip the Sheath


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Originally Posted by J. V. View Post
I use the old fashioned type Romex strippers. They seem to work the best and cost about $2.00.
Once you try the NM stripper posted by SD I doubt that you will go back. With the other tool it is just one quick squeeze and you are done. No need to run the entire length of the end you want to strip back.
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Old 01-27-2010, 01:39 PM   #15
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How to Strip the Sheath


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Originally Posted by J. V. View Post
I use the old fashioned type Romex strippers. They seem to work the best and cost about $2.00.
I bought one of those old fashioned strippers and did NOT like it. It is not very sharp and therefore does more to tear the sheath than cut it.

So far, I've replaced that with a similar tool that uses a sharpened blade. It's splitting the sheath real well... no problem "openning" the sheath. But that still leaves me with my original question, how to make a lateral cut in the sheath to remove it. If you only split it with a tool like this, when you pull on the sheath to remove it, it tends to streatch. But if you do somthing to at least start a lateral cut, the sheath rips open starting at the cut pretty well.

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