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Puckdropper has scored 248 goals and 269 assists in his lifetime.

The $5 Thermal Wire Stripper

I'm working on signals for a model railroad (the ice rink posts are done for the year), and one of the signals has traditional insulation on the wires but uses much thinner wire than my finest wire stripper will strip. This posed a problem, as the wire is so thin and delicate that it was difficult to strip without nicking.

So, I got to thinking... What is a thermal wire stripper but a thin piece of metal that gets hot and melts the insulation? A piece of Nichrome wire is exactly that... A thin piece of metal that gets hot enough to melt insulation. I had some in my parts box, but you can buy hot wire cutter wire from your local hobby shop for about $5.

Building the stripper is straightforward. I drilled and tapped 3 2-56 holes in a triangular pattern and drilled a larger hole in the middle of the triangle. Then, the Nichrome wire was looped and twisted on one end, so the screw would hold the wire securely while the Nichrome formed a tight angle over the larger hole. The ends of the wire were then attached to a wire from a model railroad power supply.

I realize now that it may not be necessary to do such a fancy loop and twist move, and simply installing two strips of Nichrome in an X pattern might do the same thing.

The stripper is used by turning on track power then waiting a few seconds for the wire to get hot. Then, the wire is lowered into the hole next to the Nichrome wire and moved against the Nichrome wire and twisted. (This is easier to do than say.) The wire can now be removed and the insulation pulled off.

In the case of heavier wire, it may be necessary to increase the voltage to melt through the heavier insulation.

Build this if you want, share it by linking back to this post. If you decide to try to sell this commercially, let's talk first. I'm not protecting a patent, I simply don't have that kind of cash. This is, to the best of my knowledge, an original idea.

Parts list:
Nichrome Wire
Copper Wire
Power Supply, variable voltage is best

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