DIY How To

How to Strip Cable and Flex

DIY Projects - Stripping cable

Working with electricity can be dangerous, please read the safety pages before you begin any work. If you are in any doubt always consult a qualified electrician.

Stripping cables is relatively straight forward, but care must be taken in the following areas.

  • Take care not to cut the inner insulation or into a conductor as you will have to cut the damaged part off and start again, thus shortening the cable.
  • Don't stretch the insulation when you are stripping the conductors otherwise the stretched part will be thinner and give less insulation protection.
  • Don't remove more insulation from the cores than you need to. Remove only enough to allow the conductors to be connected to the terminals, making sure none of the bared conductors are showing.
Strip cable Measure how much of the outer sheath needs to be removed. Score from the measured point along its length to the end. Take care not to cut all the way through until you are within 15mm of the end, then you should cut through to the inner cores.
Strip cable Alternatively you can use a method practiced by the majority of tradesmen, which is to cut through the end of the cable, then pull the earth conductor along the length of cable until the required length is exposed, use pliers if necessary. Care must be taken to ensure the earth core is not damaged, always cut off the end where the pliers have gripped.
Remove excess sheath Peel back the outer sheath, when you have peeled the sheath back to the measured point, fold the excess over and use a sharp knife to cut through the fold. Bend the inner cores down so they don't get damaged when you cut through the outer sheath.
Cable strippers Measure how much insulation needs to be removed from each conductor, allowing for the ends to be doubled over if necessary. Use cable strippers to remove the insulation taking care not to damage the conductor. For cable sizes up to 2.5sq mm the ends should be doubled over if only one conductor is being connected to a terminal. In circumstances where more than one conductor is being connected to a terminal it is better to twist the conductors from different cables together.
Fit earth sleeving Always cover the earth conductor with a length of PVC earth sleeving (green or green/yellow), this prevents the earth conductor shorting to either live or neutral.

DIY Projects - Stripping Flex

Working with electricity can be dangerous, please read the safety pages before you begin any work. If you are in any doubt always consult a qualified electrician.

A flex conductor is made up of fine strands of wire twisted together. The most popular being three core circular sheathed flex, which consists of three conductors (cores) the conductors are colour coded as brown (live); blue (neutral) and green/yellow (earth). The outer sheath comes in various colours the most common being white or black.

Safety AdviceNever use an earth wire with double insulated equipment. Double Insulated

There is also two core flex which can be circular or flat sheathed, the two conductors are colour coded as brown (live) and blue (neutral) the main uses are for double insulated Double insulated symbol small power appliances and pendant light fittings.

Stripping flex is relatively straight forward, but care must be taken in the following areas.

  • Take care not to cut the inner insulation or into a conductor as you will have to cut the damaged part off and start again, thus shortening the flex.
  • Don't stretch the insulation when you are stripping the conductors otherwise the stretched part will be thinner and give less insulation protection.
  • Take care not to cut through any of the fine strands of conductor when stripping the insulation as this will reduce the current carrying capacity of the flex.
  • Don't remove more insulation from the conductors than you need to. Remove only enough to allow the conductors to be connected to the terminals, making sure none of the bared conductors are showing.
Score sheath Measure how much of the outer sheath needs to be removed and carefully run a sharp knife around the sheath to make a score mark, taking care not to cut all the way through to the insulation on the inner cores.
Cut sheath Score from the measured point along its length to the end. Take care not to cut all the way through until you are within 15mm of the end, then you should cut through to the inner cores.
Remove sheath Peel back the outer sheath to the measured length, then peel around the scored mark to remove the sheath, use pliers if necessary.
Wire strippers Measure how much insulation needs to be removed from each conductor, allowing for the ends to be doubled over if necessary. Use cable strippers to remove the insulation, taking care not to damage any of the fine strands.
Twist ends Always twist the bared strands of each core together to ensure there will be no stray strands which could cause a possible short to an adjacent terminal. Depending on the hole size in the terminal and the size of the flex being used it may be necessary to double over the conductors to give a greater contact area in the terminals.
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