How to strip wires with side cutters

When you’re an electrician and you are your own boss, then your time is money. So, if you are always searching for tools so you can find the perfect one for the job, then you could be costing yourself money. However, if you can use one tool to do several jobs, then you’ll be saving time, and therefore money. Here, we will look at side cutters and how you can use them to strip wires.

What is a side cutter?

Also known as a diagonal cutter, the side cutter is a hand tool used by electricians, electronics workers, and more. They look similar to a pair of pliers but the side cutter has some unique features. The handles of side cutters are more bowed than those of pliers, because the curve applies more power to the hand pressure. On the cutter end, the blades are cut on the diagonal. This makes the blade that first touches the wires a fine cut and as the blade goes deeper into wire, the diagonal blade increases the width of the cut as it is pushed further into the wire. The underside of the side cutter has a flat surface so the tip of the cutter can get as flat as possible against the adjoining surface, allowing you to cut the wires flush.


Once you learn to strip wires with your side cutter, it will become your go-to tool. For cutting, you want to use the section of the cutter blade that is closest to the pivot. This is the space with the greatest level of cut pressure. When you are stripping wires you don’t need as much force so use the part of the blade further from the pivot point. Now, you need to squeeze the handles until the blade cuts into the insulation layer on the outside of the wire, but not through the entire wire. Don’t worry if you haven’t gone completely through the insulation coating. Hold the side cutters at the same pressure and pull the cutters towards the wire end. The insulation cover should slide off the wires with the side cutter. With a bit of practice you’ll learn exactly how far you need to go into the insulation layer to be able to remove it smoothly. Then, you will only need one tool to do the two jobs just like the pros.


After a while, your side cutters will feel very comfortable in your hand, and you will be so used to your own that any other will feel weird. So, buy a set of side cutters that will last. To ensure you buy quality products make sure you buy from a reputable dealer. Our favourite is RS, they have experts available to give you good advice and they have a large range of quality products in stock.

By learning to use a side cutter to strip wires, you will become faster at your job and when time means money, being fast and efficient is important.