Take the 2-minute tour ×
Electrical Engineering Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for electronics and electrical engineering professionals, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Any tips for stripping and soldering thin, tiny wires like these below, (maybe even thinner!)?

enter image description here

Initially, I would think of using a knife for stripping because wire strippers will definitely not work. Then with soldering, too large solder flows are highly unwanted. Someone recommended to heat a small bit of solder onto the soldering iron tip and then letting it flow to the joint. Any recommendations? Thank you! enter image description here

share|improve this question
5  
First: use a smaller iron tip :) –  clabacchio Feb 24 '12 at 20:21
1  
Related: electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/7489/… –  Kellenjb Feb 24 '12 at 21:49
1  
if that's enamel coated magnet wire - 1109 milliseconds in the flame of a butane lighter will make the wire glow red and the enamel crisp off. Let it cool (takes about 3 seconds) and rub the soot & burnt enamel away using a bit of fine steel wool. –  JustJeff Feb 25 '12 at 12:13
1  
When using sidecutters to strip wire you'' see they have 2 "sides" relative to the cutting line. Measuring "angle" relative to the wire being stripped, - deeper lower angle on one side and low depth higher angle on other. Low depth side of jaw should face end of wire being stripped. This makes a substantia difference. –  Russell McMahon Feb 25 '12 at 14:36
3  
@Just: Doh! I had my butane enamel coated wire stripper set to 1110 ms. I'd better go back and check all my connections. –  Olin Lathrop Feb 25 '12 at 21:10

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I've used a high wattage soldering gun and just burned the enamel off, then clean it up. Tin it when it was all clean.

Commercial enamel wire strippers are available.

Something to experiment with would be dipping the wire in acetone. I would do this far away from a heat source!

You are correct though, using an Xacto knife or sandpaper will ruin the integrity of the wire by creating very small nicks in the copper.

share|improve this answer
2  
I wouldn't bother with acetone, or any solvent for that matter. while it can have an effect on some plastics, I've recently personally witnessed some kinds of wire insulation soak in acetone for weeks without dissolving. And back in the day, a chemistry prof I worked for as an undergrad thought we could get the plastic off ribbon cable using methylene chloride, AKA dichloromethane (DCM), which is known to be effective as a powerful paint stripper. Hours of soaking in DCM only just softened the plastic, and even in that state it was still tough to remove. –  JustJeff Feb 25 '12 at 12:09
    
@Mark - That commercial wire stripper looks more than a little shady. I'd be much more trusting of a link like mcmaster.com/#wire-strippers/=gelimz or search.digikey.com/us/en/products/PTS-30/PTS-30-ND/102961! Also, I'm not sure of the wire you're using, but I'm not familiar with any wire that's vulnerable to acetone. –  Kevin Vermeer Feb 25 '12 at 19:24
    
The question is asking about enameled or varnished solid core wire. The answer below adds the solder pot which is another solution to strip enameled or varnished wire. @Kevin, the URL I posted was just an example of the tool I was talking about. I've used that same stripper for 15 years and it's fine, nothing shady about it. Never use diagonal cutters to trim insulation, you will leave nicks in the outer strands compromising the integrity of the wire as a whole. I know acetone won't dissolve PVC insulated wire, my answer was in reference to enameled wire. –  MarkSchoonover Feb 25 '12 at 23:57
    
@MarkSchoonover - The product description reads, in part, Portable paint stripper /enameled wire stripping machine HB-8 with good quality and low price ,we are professional manufacturer, ... superior performance,completely instead of handiwork.It improves the efficiency. ... It is kind of poleless regulator,single phase series motor,strip cutter,adopt mini-size inching switch and Spin carbon brush,fast speed,high efficiency,simple operation,stable function, modern design. I'm glad the product worked for you, but that website certainly doesn't instil confidence! –  Kevin Vermeer Feb 26 '12 at 0:28
    
@Kevin, ok, I could have picked a better example. :) –  MarkSchoonover Feb 26 '12 at 3:36

If that is enammelled wire as it appears, then, as others have said, the best method of stripping is to heat the ends with a flame to destroy the insulation and scrape off the residue. If you have a solder pot then "soldering through" enamel wire can be tinned in the solder pot with no trimming.

For sleeve type insulation, when can use sidecutters to strip wire with little risk of damage to the conductors once you get adequately skilled. Sidecutter jaws have 2 "sides" relative to the cutting line. Measuring "angle" relative to the wire being stripped, - deeper lower angle on one side and low depth higher angle. The stripped end should be on the small depth side of the jaws. The diagram below is completely wrong. Reverse cutters 180 degrees and try again,

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
    
This approach will also nick the wire. Use a T stripper instead. idealindustries.com/… –  MarkSchoonover Feb 25 '12 at 18:10
1  
A/the phantom down voter strikes again. It seems that some people can not read English properly and / or are not aware that a lack of personal technical competence does not mean that others cannot do better. On wires where a stripper can be used (ie not like the 'polyurethane covered' wire mentioned here) it is definitely possible to strip the wire with side cutters without doing significant damage to the conductor. AS I said "you can do this with little risk of damage when you get adequately skilled". Getting the pressure and general technique right is mainly a matter of experience. –  Russell McMahon Feb 26 '12 at 10:39
    
What makes this wrong? I actually make it a point to hold my diagonal cutters (these are not wire strippers, by the way) in this orientation, since I always end up nicking/cutting the wire if I hold the cutters with the flat face towards the end of the wire. –  Shamtam Jun 20 '13 at 20:25
    
@Shamtam - anything that works perfectly is fine enough :-). I consider that the above orientation is "wrong" because I achieve far superior results when the cutters are reversed 180 degrees to what is shown above and many others agree with me. When used as shown the wire tends to break. I think that the outer insulation is compressed onto the wire and is stopped from sliding off, thus transferring force to the wire. HOWEVER if the way shown works best for you, by all means use it. –  Russell McMahon Jun 21 '13 at 12:35
    
@RussellMcMahon That's very interesting. I can generally strip wires both ways, but sometimes damage the wire with the orientation you suggest. I find that the most important aspect is to have sharp dikes, because otherwise the insulation just gets sheared and not actually cut, regardless of orientation (which leads to exactly what you mention). I've never had anyone else to compare to, since all my peers strictly use wire-strippers (specifically these: ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/317nI06rQgL.jpg), and they all think it's black magic that I can strip wires consistently with dikes =P –  Shamtam Jun 21 '13 at 13:30

The most reliable way I know is Thermal strippers, often called Hot tweezers. I have one actually sold as Hotweezers. Regardless, they run about $200, http://www.all-spec.com/products/FT8002-01.html?gclid=CPSYounJ87cCFYuf4AodkFMARw

share|improve this answer

protected by W5VO Jun 21 '13 at 0:17

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.