A lot of the talks at Hackaday Superconference 2017 were inspiring, informative, entertaining, or a combination of the above. But one of them is the first to have a significant impact on my hands-on projects and that honor goes to the Wiring Bootcamp talk by Bradley Gawthrop.
Your first reaction is probably the same as mine: “wiring? really?” Yes, really. At first glance a boring subject, Bradley turned it into an engaging presentation. One portion of the talk preached the wonders of having an actual wire-stripping tool. After the talk I felt motivated enough to try the Knipex tool he recommended.
After using it in a few projects, I found myself really enjoying the luxury of stripping wire insulation with a single motion. This purchase has thus been categorized under “Where have you been all my life?”
Key to the magic is the relationship between the handle, the front jaw (black plastic) and the cutting blade (shiny metal.) When the handle is first pulled, the motion goes towards closing this assembly. When jaw closes on the wire insulation, the blade closes a little bit further to cut into the insulation. Beyond this point, motion on the handle is translated into horizontal movement so the blade pulls the insulation away from the conductor.
There’s no obvious way to adjust the distance between the jaw and the blade. It is either fixed or inferred from some spring tension. This works fairly well, the only problem surfaces when cutting wires with very thin insulation. In these cases the blade bites too deeply and nicks the conductor.
But that is a minor nitpick. I certainly nick conductors at a far higher rate when using my previous wire strippers. Which have been assigned the job of collecting dust while waiting as backup in case the Knipex breaks.
I got myself a real wire stripping tool and loved it. You should do it, too.
[The wiring talk was filmed but as of this writing has yet to be posted on the Hackaday YouTube channel. I’ll update this post with a video embed when it is.]