Top 10 Wiring Tools and Accessories
If you have ever built cables before, you understand that prep is half the battle. If you prep well, final assembly is a breeze. After years of experience and trying out multiple hand strippers, we have compiled a list of some our favorite tools for the job.
The Hakko CHP Micro Cutter is a great budget cutter that is durable enough to last multiple large projects. We mostly use these for cutting individual conductors inside multi-pair cable.
If you want to invest in something that will last you a couple of years, check out the Knipex 77 22 115 diagonal cutters. The price tag is just under $45, but they are built extremely well and won't break on you the same way cheap flush cutters tend to do. We have a few sets of these and they are definitely worth the investment. These are our go-to cutters for trimming leads on PCBs.
The Paladin Stripax Pro 6 wire strippers were a game changer for our workflow and increased the consistency of our cable builds. These wire strippers can be set to accommodate 28-10 AWG wires and it has an adjustable wire stop. The wire stop allows you to make the same length strip over and over again which is ideal when prepping wires for soldering or crimp pins. This tool is extremely well-built and when the blades wear out, you can purchase replacements instead of having to replace the whole tool.
The PA1115P is extremely similar in function to the Stripax Pro 6. The key difference is it can only handle 28-17 AWG wires. It also is configured as a pistol grip for ultimate ergonomics.
As much as we love the Stripax series wire strippers, sometimes they just aren't the right tool for the job. The Klein Tools 11063W is what we use for stripping the inner conductor jackets of Mogami multi-pair as well as power and speaker cable conductor insulation. This tool does not have a wire stop so you either have to eye ball your strip length, or you can do what we do, and mark your wires with a sharpie to achieve a consistent prep length.
Ever wonder how in the world you are supposed to cut through a thick cable like Mogami 24 pair? Don't jeopardize your flush cutters by trying to cut through thick cables, instead pickup up a set of Klein Tools 63225 High Leverage Cable Cutters. You'll be able to cut through any thick cable with ease.
Nothing feels worse than realizing you've nicked the inner conductors while trying to strip the outer jacket of a multi-channel cable. The stedi Round Cable Stripper is a fantastic, budget friendly solution. It takes a little bit of practice to learn how to set it properly, but once you get the feel for it, you can cleanly strip large outer jackets with ease. The tool even has an incision blade setting where you can cut down the length of the cable jacket to make it even easier to remove the outer jacket.
Needle nose pliers are an essential tool for any kind of wiring work. We really like the Weller/Xcelite series of needle nose pliers. They're built well and offer a ton of sizes. The link above is for 5" jaws, but you can get longer or shorter jaws if needed. Perfect for bending component leads, grabbing small parts, or feeding a wire into a solder cup on a connector.
It's a shame we only have two hands to work with. Luckily Panavise has a whole line of vises and clamps that allow you to use your hands more efficiently. They even offer different base styles to fit your bench top needs. The vacuum base is nice as it allows you to temporarily suction the vice in place so it's sturdy, but can be moved easily when you are done using it. The 381 is perfect for holding cables while you work on them or even holding connectors while you solder.
Sometimes one clamp isn't enough. The KOTTO third hand tool uses 4x alligator clips on articulating arms to give you ultimate control on how you position and stage your work. The arms have a magnetic base which allows you to move the arms around on the metal base for an endless amount of configurations.
If you want to check out a link for the entire list of products discussed you can find it here: Top 10 Wiring Tools and Accessories Amazon List