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A pocket knife. But if you want to be fancy and try to save .5 of a second, and your linesman is new enough, you can grab just the edge of the insulation at the cut end of the romex, tear that off, then grab the ground and rip it to length.
I do it that way most of the time, but I use the ***** to cut the sheath, then grab the copper wire and pull back the length I need. Works well when going into the panel.

If you haven't used a knife on it then you may want to try this. They do both 12/2 and 14/2 and strip the conductors as well


View attachment 172811
Now that I have one of those, I use it all the time. Super easy.
When I'm going into the panel I use the method I mentioned above.
 

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I've ran into the same issues with Southwires 14/2 the past month. Jacket so hard it almost shattets when ripping it off.

On the MH forum I believe someone reach out to a Southwire rep and it was a raw material supply issue.

Cerro is my preferred brand right now. CME, Colonial and all the other small manufacturers seemed to have improved their product in the past year or so though. Gone are the days of the sandpaper jacketed nm from them.
 

Hackenschmidt
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I used this or a utility knife, I was just curious about what others use.
I am 1/2 of the way done with my garage/gym with an upstairs for storage.
I'll finish with my utility knife.

This will most likely be the last structure I wire, with arthritis in my wrist and hands it is taking me twice as long as it should and my wrist is killing me by the end of the day.

I had an opportunity to go to the Bahamas for work but based on the last two days I may pass.
If you're trying to reduce the strain on your wrists that's a different question. Terminating switches and receptacles can be hard on the hands, especially if you go minimalist and work with the simplest tools and using force to make it work. If you have some aches and pains it's smarter to figure out a way to work around them rather than just try to work through them.

I would try the bent nose type romex stripper. I think Klein had them first but the Southwire might make a better one now. With these you can put the romex in the box with the jacket on, then strip the jacket. This way your left wrist is doing nothing, and your right wrist is pulling the tool in a more natural position / direction. However I have discussed this one with Professor Hackworth, if I remember right his preferred method is to use the regular not-bent NM type to ring the jacket, then leave the jacket on and push it into the box, then tug off the jacket. Fast, little chance of damaging the insulation, and finesse rather than force so you spare your hands and wrists.

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Regular wire strippers can put strain on your wrists too, depending how deep they ring the insulation and how hard the insulation sticks to the wire. The automatic strippers are much easier, I have had great luck with the Knipex below. So much faster and easier, and more consistent.

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Try getting a cordless screwdriver or impact, I like the M12 impact, and stop turning screws by hand as much as possible. Get the ECX bit or just a #1 square for terminal screws.

Twisting wire nuts by hand can be hard on the fingers etc. Dottie makes a wire nut bit for the impact driver / screwdriver. You can use a 5/16" gearwrench type ratcheting wrench on tan wire nuts, fits perfect. There are lots of alternative ways to make it easier on the hands and wrists. Of course the best is to use Wago lever nuts instead of wire nuts.

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I like to travel light as much as the next guy and I understand you can get most things done with a minimalist set of tools. It's OK for service calls and troubleshooting etc. where you're only doing a little work on terminations. But if you're doing a bunch, you can get more done faster with fewer mistakes and less strain on your body if you tool up with the right tools for the job rather than trying to do everything with the same three tools.
 

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Sharp blade in a utility knife. In the olden days we used to strip the sheath before putting it in the box. You can get nicer cuts but it is faster to strip the sheath inside the box. I don't like working in the dark but it is faster.

Once in a while if I have a super crowded box, I will still strip them and then put them in the box
 

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Electrical and communications contractor, New York NEC 2017
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always strip first. Doesn't look so.....DIY.
How does stripping in the box look DIY? If it does for you, it's probably because you don't know how to do it or don't have the proper knife if you can't cut the sheath back far enough. Either way shouldn't look any different. But do whatever you are used to and works for you.

-Hal
 

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Brian, is there paper between the outer insulation and the conductors or is it missing?
 

Light Bender
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How does stripping in the box look DIY? If it does for you, it's probably because you don't know how to do it or don't have the proper knife if you can't cut the sheath back far enough. Either way shouldn't look any different. But do whatever you are used to and works for you.

-Hal
Not so easy in a deep box or in a box with many cables. I also strip before putting it in the box.
 

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How does stripping in the box look DIY? If it does for you, it's probably because you don't know how to do it or don't have the proper knife if you can't cut the sheath back far enough. Either way shouldn't look any different. But do whatever you are used to and works for you.

-Hal
So you strip immediately after entering the cable in the box? How is it faster to do it at the back of a hole? Especially if you have multiple cables.

I would think the back side of a 3-wire cable to be extra ignorant.

I prefer to strip out in the open air where I can see that there are no inadvertent nicks and have a nice clean jacket end.

I guess I'll have to YouTube that method and have a look.
 

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So you strip immediately after entering the cable in the box? How is it faster to do it at the back of a hole? Especially if you have multiple cables.
Usually. I use that Klein hawk billed knife and keep it pretty sharp. You can reach in all the way. I can see a problem trying to do that with a razor knife, too big. Reason I do it that way is that I like to dress my cables and staple them or place them in stackers to make them look neat outside of the box first. But now I'm thinking, what do I do with AC and MC? Have to remove the armor before putting it in the box, right. :)

-Hal
 

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Usually. I use that Klein hawk billed knife and keep it pretty sharp. You can reach in all the way. I can see a problem trying to do that with a razor knife, too big. Reason I do it that way is that I like to dress my cables and staple them or place them in stackers to make them look neat outside of the box first. But now I'm thinking, what do I do with AC and MC? Have to remove the armor before putting it in the box, right. :)

-Hal
So I went and looked at a few vids and I think I figured it out.

I completely forgot our neighbor's plastic box/push-in connector fetish. I use metal almost exclusively and all our boxes come with multiple ground screws. So if I want to aim for the screw directly below the built in clamp, I only have a small distance to work with as far as removing the jacket goes. So I do it outside the box and leave a relatively square, neat looking jacket termination.

So it's a regional thing, I guess.:p
 

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I don't think stripping inside the box is the fastest way, and chance of nicking something. I just hold the cable to the box and make a mark to strip to, trim to length if necessary. Then use the NM cable stripper to ring / score the jacket in that spot, slide it off a couple inches and see if the insulation got nicked, which it never does. Push the jacket back up, push the end of the cable into the clamp (if you don't tear out the clamps) then grab the end and pull it snug from the inside. You can leave that jacket on until it's time to terminate, fold it up and it may protect the wire from the sheetrockers and painters.
 

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Really? I tried this years ago and took it back. 2 1/2* stars?
Idk, I鈥檝e had good luck, used the same one for a few years. I cut off the yellow piece of plastic that is used as a depth setter for stripping. When that yellow piece was in position it wouldn鈥檛 strip the sheath, but with that out of the way it works like a charm.
 

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So you strip immediately after entering the cable in the box? How is it faster to do it at the back of a hole? Especially if you have multiple cables.

I would think the back side of a 3-wire cable to be extra ignorant.

I prefer to strip out in the open air where I can see that there are no inadvertent nicks and have a nice clean jacket end.

I guess I'll have to YouTube that method and have a look.

There are a lot of advantages of stripping first but there are disadvantages as well, mostly time.
I agree that it is a better finished result because yo can perfectly align your knife cuts and you can get all the damn paper out :). But the individual wires often get stuck in the box openings. If I do a cut in box I always strip first so I don't put any added pressure on the box tab clamp thingies.

I use metal almost exclusively
GAH :) Metal boxes with NM was a bad idea back in the 70's when I started. :)
 

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There are a lot of advantages of stripping first but there are disadvantages as well, mostly time.
I agree that it is a better finished result because yo can perfectly align your knife cuts and you can get all the damn paper out :). But the individual wires often get stuck in the box openings. If I do a cut in box I always strip first so I don't put any added pressure on the box tab clamp thingies.



GAH :) Metal boxes with NM was a bad idea back in the 70's when I started. :)
Paper? What is this "paper" you speak of?

What, exactly, is weong with metal boxes?
 

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Most of us have been at it for awhile. My buddy insists on strip before going into the box, he's a residential and other parts of the trade new construction wiz. I always have stripped afterwards. I do mostly reno and service. What I care about is safe and that it looks good after the finish is done. My hands ache, as does my right elbow. My shoulders aren't too great either. That said, I work at a pace I am comfortable with. No sense in beating yourself up over a garage as long as it meets your standards and passes inspection. There are more ways to do this and be correct.
 

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Paper? What is this "paper" you speak of?

What, exactly, is weong with metal boxes?
Here, the bare ground is 'insulated' with paper. It's not insulation but it separates it from the current carrying conductors in the mfg process.

A plastic box will never cause a short to ground. They have the proper fire rating so, why not use them? I have seen a batch of Slater (quick lock, quick stab, whatever they are called) plastic boxes from the 70s that got brittle and the screw holes broke and had to be replaced but this was a rare occurrence in my experience.
 
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