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A reader asked for help finding a new automatic wire stripper. That sounds easy, right? Not quite.
Here’s the tricky part – While I’m familiar with many brands and styles of automatic wire strippers, I can’t say I’ve ever swapped parts on one.
Here’s what they wrote:
Hi, I have a Phoenix Contact Wirefox 6sc automatic wire stripper. After years of faithful service, it broke and I’m looking at a replacement. The PC tools aren’t the easiest to get here in the US and was looking for something easier to source and get blades for. What would you suggest?
Here’s the Phoenix Contact Wirefox 6SC. Note the two-part handle grips, the removable cutter module, and the shape of the wire cutting loop below the lower jaw. This will be important later.
The reader said “After years of faithful service, it broke,” which is good, but they want a model that has more easily available replacement blades.
My first thought was to look at Knipex. I have these automatic wire strippers, and they’re quite good for many types of wire.
They have another style that’s a bit pricier.
I also looked at Jokari, which I believe to be the OEM for some of Knipex’s wire strippers.
Certain Knipex and Jokari automatic wire strippers have replacement parts, but they don’t seem to be widely available.
At this point I should point out that the Phoenix Contact 6SC wire stripper is not a casual use tool. In other words, off-the-shelf wire strippers from the home center, such as by Irwin or Klein Tools, probably won’t work well for the user that wrote in.
Phoenix Contact specializes in industrial wiring components and accessories. When installing these products, such as in control panels and such, you need high repeatability and accuracy.
And, as I learned from this request, some users need replaceable parts to extend the longevity of their tools.
That makes sense. If a control panel requires hundreds of connections, a good wire stripper is necessary and will see heavy use of time.
What about this model from McMaster Carr? It retails for around $76 and replacement blades are available for a little over $23. But… it seems only one style of replacement blade cartridge is available, and it doesn’t quite match the style of the Wirefox 6SC.
I’ve heard good things about Weidmuller Stripax wire strippers, but am not yet familiar with the brand, and aren’t sure how widely available replacement parts would be.
What about this one from Automation Direct? It retails for $63, and there are a couple of different styles of replacement blade assemblies you can buy.
The direct replacement, for 34-8 AWG, is $24.50, and a similar blade as the Wirefox 6SC is $31.
Are these the same tool?
The McMaster and Automation Direct tools are both listed as being made in Sweden.
Here’s an Xcelite version, which is available at Amazon.
Digging deeper, I came across the Pressmaster Embla SBC. There’s also the VBC, which has V-blades as standard.
Pressmaster looks to be the OEM, which would mean they manufacturer tools for Phoenix Contact, Automation Direct, and probably others.
The Embla looks to be available with 3 styles of replacement knives.
Assuming all of the tools are the same but with different labeling, that would suggest that the reader can keep his Wirefox tool and simply load it with compatible replacement knife blades wherever they can find them.
The V-blade cassette has part number 4320-0615, and looks identical to the ones sold by Automation Direct and Phoenix for their respective tools.
Here’s where I hit a snag. Phoenix Contact’s images are swapped for a lot of products.
I can easily find straight and V-blade cartridges for the Pressmaster Embla. However, the Wirefox 6SC looks to have a different blade set, suited for “cables and conductors (especially for cables protected against short circuits and ground leakages) 1.5-6mm².”
I can’t find alternate sources for this SC 1.5-6mm² blade set.
Here are all of the replacement blades for the Pressmaster Embla:
- 4320-0614 – Straight Blades, 0.02-10mm² (34-8 AWG)
- 4320-0615 – V-Blades, 0.1-4mm² (28-12 AWG)
- 4320-0669 – Semicircular Blades, 4-16mm² (10-5 AWG)
It seems that maybe the SC are special shielded cable jaws. I can’t find these anywhere else, and unless it’s simply well-hidden, that could suggest that they’re specially-made for Phoenix Contact, which would explain their high price and limited availability.
Hmm. This is a closeup of the V-blades with 0.1-4mm² wire stripping capacity.
Assuming these product images are accurate, is there truly a difference?
Or is it rated for “cables protected against short circuits and ground leakages” up to 6mm² (~10 AWG) or PTFE-insulated wires up to 4mm² (12 AWG)?
So either the SC blades are blade specially for Phoenix Contact, and the likely OEM doesn’t sell it anywhere else I could find, or they’re labeled so as to match suitability to a specialized wire type.
The images could inaccurately give the impression the two products are identical aside from their markings, but that seems less probable.
The Pressmaster Embla fits the readers’ requirement of an automatic wire stripper that’s easier to source with also-easily-sourced replacement blades. The SC blade part, however, is the only part I’m not 100% convinced on.
That all said, is there a different model wire stripper you might recommend?
It – in any of its forms – looks decent. I have found that some models work well for thinner wires, other for thicker, and that different insulation types can really throw performance and repeatability way off. I’ll pick one up for review, and maybe one or two others based on readers’ suggestions.