What is the best way to strip magnet wire?

I have been wiring up a project using magnet wire. Do to the size and shape of my project I have to use coated magnet wire. Currently I am stripping the wire by touching it to my soldering iron and then adding solder until the coating is burned away. Generally I strip about 1/16 of an inch. Is there any easier way to do this?

I’m not familiar with “magnet wire” but it appears to just be copper wire with an insulating jacket; is there any reason that you can’t use a wire stripper? I bought a quality one that goes down to about 28 gauge for less than $20 at the hardware store.

Butane lighter and sandpaper is the standard procedure.

Some kinds of enameled magnet wire burns off better than others. I usually just sand off the coating with fine grit sandpaper with the wire pressed on top of a small block of wood to protect my workbench. It doesn’t seem to take much work. As soon as some of the enamel starts to come off, the rest just flakes off.

The insulating jacket for electromagnet wiring is a reeaaaaally thin coating of some enamel or whatnot, not a plastic jacket. Hard to strip off.

We used to use cutting tweezers to scrape the enamel off.

Ah, I am enlightened. That sounds like a bit of a pain.

I used to use the back side of a #11 Exacto blade with a piece of wood as the backing. Or as mentioned, 600 grit wet/dry paper works well too.

When I made a small electric motor I needed to strip off about half an inch of the enamel. I just used a pocket knife to scrape the enamel away. I just held the blade at a 90 degree angle to the wire and scraped it back and forth quickly. The magnet wire I was using was coated with a color of enamel that made it difficult to tell if I had stripped it off all the way around, but other than that it worked well.

depending on the gauge of the wire it may take some practice to use a rigid tool and not nick or break the wire. abrasive cloth works though it is still possible to break the wire if too rough, it doesn’t take a lot of force to get the coating off.

Standard enamelled single core copper wire, as used in transformers, motors, relays and solenoid coils etc, has a polyurethane coating, and is designed to be stripped with molten solder. Transformer manufacturers and the like don’t bother pre-stripping, they just wind the wire around the relevant pin and solder to it directly, and the varnish burns off and the residue bubbles to the surface of the solder joint. Perfectly acceptable. If there’s an application where the tips of enamelled wire need to be solder-tinned, then the industry standard method is to dip into a solder pot.

It’s difficult to get all the varnish off cleanly by scraping or sanding, and there’s always the risk of scraping a bit too far and degrading the integrity of the insulation further up, as well as physically weakening the wire by nicking and scratching. But if it doesn’t matter in the application and it’s the method that suits you best, then why not. A little bit of a scrape does help when going on to burn away the varnish with solder, as the varnish is a good heat insulator too.

I’ve been stripping this stuff for years, on and off, and my preferred technique is to hold the wire steady somehow (usually Blu-Tack or pliers/elastic band combo), and using a hot soldering iron (at least 800 deg. F, preferably 900) offer up the tip of the iron to the tip of the wire and melt a big blob of solder such that the wire tip is buried in the middle of the blob. After a second or two the first bit of varnish will burn off, and then I can move the solder blob further up the wire, as needed. The critical bit here is to start the solder blob at the tip of the wire, as the naked copper of the cut end will conduct the heat nicely and get the whole burning-off process started. Trying to burn off the enamel in the middle of the wire is very difficult due to its heat insulating properties.
That said, I’m going to try beowulff’s butane lighter technique tomorrow. It’ll still need to be tinned with solder (copper oxidises easily), but it may save time in the overall process.

A word of caution: The fumes given off by burning polyurethane varnish contain nasty isocyanate compounds, and are so toxic they were known to be dangerous 25 years ago, when practically everything was thought to be safe. Fume extraction or filtering is a must.

I worked for a place that wound its own specialty inductors, and the assemblers there had little alcohol burners for stripping magnet wire.

A strong rare earth magnet to force a quality pole dance?

Think about it.


Thanks for all the ideas. I cranked up the heat on my iron and that helped. Since I am a disorganized klutz I must pass on any ideas involving open flame. Open flame + figure9= disaster!