One aspect of DIY home renovation that I really truly enjoy is doing electrical work. I’m not sure why this is, perhaps it’s the analytical way you need to think about doing electricity, or maybe it’s because it feels like you’re getting to the end of a project and the lights make the work come alive. Whatever the case, I just feel like I get into the groove with electrical work and just like doing it, but there are some drawbacks, especially with how my hands feel in the days after I finish the work. Much to my relieve, I recently found a tool that has largely solved these issues.

When I was working construction in college, the general contractor and electrician I was working for was always complaining about the beating his hands had taken over the years of doing construction work, and especially electrical work. Whether you’re cutting, twisting, stripping, crimping, splicing, or terminating, you’re using your hands in ways that put a lot of stress on your fingers in very tight spaces.

I feel like using a good pair of Mechanix work gloves when I do electrical work helps my fingers take less of a beating. However, I still hate the process of stripping the plastic jacket off of romex and also of getting the right bend on the end of a wire to loop it over a screw post. Both of these items constantly had me removing my gloves to pull, tug, maneuver or whatever else was necessary, leaving my hands wishing for a better solution.

About a year ago, while in our local Ace Hardware, I randomly came across this great little device called the "Lil' Ripper Stripper" in the electrical supply aisle. I don’t even know why I looked at it other than because it was yellow (they got me), but then I noticed what it was. This device turned out to be an all in one electrical work helper.  Just check out all of secondary uses for this little dynamo. 

  • The exterior of the tool has a rubber grip and several markings to help with strip depth and gauge measurement. 
  • There are a bunch of small holes on the exterior that allow you to slip the end of stripped wire through them to give you the perfect curl to mount wire over screw terminal posts on switches or plugs. No more wrestling with needle nosed pliers to constantly adjust the size of the curl because it was too small or too large.
  • Fitting the end over a wire nut with wings let's you get a better grip to twist, saving your fingers once again.

But the best part is the small metal hook that sits on the side of the hollow interior. This little blade works to hook the edge of the plastic sheath covering of romex wire and lets you easily and safely slide the tool up the wire cutting as you go. Just slip the tool off when you’re done and you’ve got yourself bare wires with the jacket removed. Just turn the tool over to cut the excess jacket with the tool's bladed notch and you’re good to go. No more bothering with those cumbersome metal tools with the little tooth hanging down, always worrying that you’re going to cut the inner jacket of the wires beneath the covering.

For such a simple and inexpensive device, I really can’t believe I took so long to both find and buy it. How this would have made our early days on the renovation easier, not to mention my construction work in college.

Do you have a similar tool that you use? Or maybe you just have a preferred method of electrical work that doesn’t leave your hands beat to hell for days after you’re done?

Did you enjoy reading this post? Want to learn more about our first-hand experiences with other tools, devices or items used throughout our renovation? If so, check out our complete list of product reviews in our Toolbox Tuesday section

Note: We weren't compensated for this review. We simply want to share good products when we see them, and hope that learning from our mistakes can help save you time, money and frustration.

Comments 5


1/24/2012 at 11:56 AM
These are really nice, as it can be painful to strip the sheathing off Romex cable using other methods. The only gripe we have about these is they are really easy to lose if you aren't careful. We've lost at least three of them in the course of working on our house - one fell down a vertical shaft in the wall for heating pipes and two others were misplaced in construction projects, never to be seen again. Someone will probably find them in another hundred years when the walls are open again. I can almost see someone in the future wondering why so many of these are inside the walls of the house!
That's really funny that you keep losing them that way. I know we've dropped a couple of things in areas that are out of the ordinary, so we can understand that. I don't know how I haven't lost it thus far. I thought I had a couple of times, but it keeps showing back up. Such a useful tool, I should probably buy a second just in case.
1/24/2012 at 12:50 PM
Going to look for one of these asap. In the spring, I'm helping rewire my front porch. If I don't use it, the son will.

The POs installed an oversized front porch light that people over 6 foot have to duck under. I found a small vintage fixture to put there. To compound the issue, that box is NOT waterproof and at some point, it fused and took out the exterior (porch) electric boxes with it - yugh. I hope we don't have to pull all new wires.
Ugh, I hate poorly performed electrical work, especially outdoors. Good luck, and absolutely pick up one of these helpers, they do save your hands from some paint.
1/25/2012 at 4:24 PM
Well this is timely! I just started my "Electrical Techniques" classes in anticipation of an Electrical Apprenticeship this fall!! I'm definitely going to keep my eye out for this one! Thanks for the tip!
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