Tips on ripping OUTDOOR NM Cable?

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Old 04-03-09, 12:19 AM
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Tips on ripping OUTDOOR NM Cable?

All my DIY electrical work has been with conduit (in Chicago). But I'm now rewiring a carport in the country (first wired by my grandfather 54 years ago!).

I'm finding ripping 12/2 and 12/3 NM outdoor cable very annoying--I keep nicking the wire insulation. Any suggestions on how to do this? I've tried Googling but all I find are links to using a cable ripper for indoor NM (which seems ridiculously easy compared to outdoor where the inner wire is actually embedded in the outer plastic of the cable).

I seem to have the best luck using a utility knife, pushing through the outer insulation and then pulling it toward me. But I was taught long ago it is not a good idea to pull a knife towards my body and anyway I'm not happy with the results.

Are there any tricks/suggestions as to how to do this more easily? I'd even buy a hand tool to help (hopefully under $30 but I'd probably go $50 if it really worked). The big box stores don't seem to have any such tool except both GreenLee and Ideal make a wire stripper that has openings that are supposed to rip and strip 12/2 and 14/2 flat cable. I bought one as most of what I'm doing is 12/2 but I don't think it is strong enough to work very well (or I'm not strong enough anymore:-)

TIA, jim b
 
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Old 04-03-09, 06:32 AM
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outdoor "NM" is "UF"

So,what I do is run a sharp utility blade, full section cut, run along the bare ground wire at a slight angle, as to not cut the copper. You should be able to push the blade away from your body, while holding the free end of the UF with the other hand.
 
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Old 04-03-09, 06:44 AM
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Seatek makes a UF cable stripper called the Zip Stripper that works pretty well. It will strip 12/2 but not 12/3.
 
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Old 04-03-09, 08:05 AM
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UF Stripping

Take sharp utility knife and score the end 1 1/2" of the cable down to the center ground wire. Bend the ground wire out so you can grip it with pliers. Hold the section of UF with the sheathing on it with another set of pliers, and pull the bare ground wire away from the sheath, the idea being to rip the copper wire out of the sheath. Pull to desired strip length, then cut off first 1 1/2 inch of cable, and the insulated conductors will come right out of sheath. When electricians get sent to hell, they have to wire whole houses in UF.
 
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Old 04-03-09, 08:25 AM
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Craig is got the right idea. You want to "score" the cable sheathing without actually cutting through it. That way, you can't nick the conductors with your knife.

Hopefully you're not trying to strip more than 6-8 inches or so from the end of the sheathing. If you're trying to strip more, please tell us why.

And presumably you're just doing this a small number of times. If you're doing it a lot, tell us why too.
 
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Old 04-03-09, 09:54 AM
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This way may be wrong so wait for the pros to tell me I'm wrong before taking my advice but I often just left a bit of the sheathing on the individual conductors if there was enough room in the box. Just split it on top of the ground, pulled the ground free, split the remainder apart, and whittled as much as I dared of the sheathing off the conductors, just didn't try to remove it all.

P.S. It is UF not outdoor NM.
 
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Old 04-03-09, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Craig480 View Post
When electricians get sent to hell, they have to wire whole houses in UF.
Haha! I like that one........
 
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Old 04-03-09, 10:22 AM
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You have to get some of these. There is no sweeter tool for stripping UF. One quick squeeze and pull the insulation, nice and clean. fits inside boxes and you can strip 2-3' if you'd like.
Ideal Underground Feeder (UF) Cable Stripper Model No. 45-235
 
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Old 04-03-09, 10:42 AM
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Thanks all. Sorry for not using correct name (UF). I started out referring to it as 'outdoor romex' but thought it said 'NM' on packages. Probably my memory and as all the wire is 110 miles south I can't look (I'm back in Chicago).

When I get back to the site (about a week) I will try out the tips. I will also check out the 2 tools suggested. BTW this really got annoying with 12/3 when I wanted to add a switch and receptacle at the tail end of some lights. Interestingly I had to go to 4 stores to find 12/3, I don't know if that is coincidence or if it isn't used much.

As to how much of this I'm doing, I'm moving or adding half a dozen porcelains for lights, adding a couple switches and a couple receptacles. This is all in or near the rafters of a screened in carport. The old work and some updates were all done with 'outdoor' cable so I 'assumed' that is what I should be using? It is not underground but is exposed to the weather and could get wet if windy. It is not underground, am I using the right cable? I have some more to do later to a patio, post lights and dock at lake--much of which is underground now--so I figured it was worth getting some advice on making it easier :-)

BTW I also find it annoying to straighten the rolls enough to neatly staple to rafters but I suspect no particular tricks here?

Thanks all and I'll let you know how I do when I try this in a week.

jim b
 
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Old 04-03-09, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by GISjim View Post
It is not underground, am I using the right cable?
UF-B is the right cable for exposed areas.

BTW I also find it annoying to straighten the rolls enough to neatly staple to rafters but I suspect no particular tricks here?
It is a little tricky when just using the packaged roll. There is a device called a "pay out dispenser" or something like that which is a metal spindle to unroll the roll smoothly. It's probably not worth buying one for just one project though.



There are several different types out there.
 
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Old 04-03-09, 11:35 PM
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Off-topic: In my younger days, I think I made beer in those contraptions!

On-topic: Boat docks may have an entirely different set of wiring requirements than your carport, and may not be "grandfathered" according to code.
 
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Old 04-04-09, 11:06 AM
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To straighten out the wire I just unroll it along the floor from the outside of the roll.
 
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