Strip Wire

Strip wire the easy way and use the copper to make jewelry and other craft projects.

Age: Adult

Difficulty: Easy

Time scale: 1 - 5 depending on how much stripping you want to do. Oh?

Supplies:

  • Household electrical wire
  • Sharp exacto/utility knife
  • old towel

All that glitters may not be gold but copper is pretty shiny and it's pricey too! Copper wire is quite expensive to buy at the craft store. Use recycled household electrical wire, instead. The plastic coating can be stripped off quite easily and the copper inside, used for your crafts.

how-to-strip-wire

Use left over pieces from home reno projects, Habitat for Humanity restore or scraps from new home construction. If you plan to collect wire leftover from a construction site, ALWAYS get permission. Never take any, assuming you can just have it. Copper is actually becoming a hot commodity now a days.  I'm not actually sure if home builders are reusing these leftovers or not. Check and see, if you are hoping to acquire some this way.


Use the household wiring with the white coating. It will have three wires on the inside. One twelve inch piece will give you thirty six inches of copper.

Cut-open-plastic-sheathing

How to Strip Wire

Fold up an old towel so it is multiple layers and put it on your leg. This will save you from getting a hole in your pants and possibly slicing your leg open. Yes, I was being silly for 5 milliseconds and I put a hole in my pants! I didn't cut open my leg though. If you do this, don't blame me.

Please don't tell me this method isn't safe. It is a lot safer than other things I can dream up to do. This brings me to the question... Which do you think would be safer to use, a table saw or a bread knife? The answer is a table saw, of course. I can use many different tools but a knife, not so much. The exacto knife is not my friend. I did require a band aid but it was NOT from stripping the wire. Well, not directly. I poked myself with the end of the knife, before I even began to strip wire!

You will need to start by removing the main coating over the wires. Lay the wire on the towel. Use the exacto knife to slice down the center of the coating. There will actually be an indentation in the wire that you can follow along. Hold the knife still and pull on the wire. This is the easy part.

Cut-plastic-cover-off-with-exacto-knife

Remove the three wires from the inside. One is the ground wire which won't have any other covering on it. The other two inside the main plastic sheathing have a coating on them, one black and one white. These are the ones that can be a little more difficult to get out. 

Make sure the wire is as straight as possible, with no kinks.

Hold about four inches down from the end of the wire.

Place on the folded towel. Don't start off with the blade too close to your hand.

Push down on the wire with a sharp exacto/utility knife, at a slight angle, so it cuts into the plastic coating.

Now start pulling on the wire, in the opposite direction. Leave the knife stationary.

Peel-coating-with-exacto-knife

The knife should glide over the wire, but cut into the coating. If it is not cutting into the plastic coating, change the angle of the knife, slightly. If it is digging in and nicking the copper underneath, use less of an angle.
When you have the angle correct, you can pull on the wire and the knife will cut easily through the coating.

Keep pulling until you are to the end. Now turn it around and finish up the end piece, that you were originally holding.

Now the plastic covering will pull off of the copper, quite easily.
You can watch the strip wire demo to see how quick and easy this really is.

You will now have loads of copper wire to use for a fraction of the price it would be if you purchased it from the craft store.

Even the plastic coating can be repurposed. I used it to tie up my plants in the garden.

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