How to Strip Coax Cable

Stripping coax (short for coaxial) cable is not very difficult, and can be mastered with a little practice.  While tools designed specifically for this purpose are available for relatively little cost, this minhour will explain how to strip RG6 coax (a very popular cable and satellite TV cable) with a common razor knife and cutters to prepare for a typical "F" (cable or satellite TV) connector.


Hold the cable in one hand (as if it were a stick to be whittled), with the end to be stripped pointed away from your body.

Hold the razor knife in your dominant hand and extend the blade if not done so already.

Firmly press the edge of the blade (not the point) into the cable at a right angle (perpendicular to the cable) about an inch from the end.

The object of this cut is to cut through the outer jacket, layers of foil and / or braids and finally the dielectric foam (usually white in color) that surrounds the center conductor. There will be some opposition to the blade as it sinks deeper into the cable. When the blade approaches the halfway point through the cable, ease up on the pressure of the blade. This will occur when the blade has reached the center conductor of the cable, which is at the halfway point through the cable. It is very important to not damage this center conductor by nicking it with the blade.

Run the blade halfway around the cable by rotating the tool around the cable.

Do not allow the blade to nick the center conductor as you continue to cut around the center conductor.

Reposition the cable as needed in the other hand, so that the blade can easily continue to be rotated around the cable to continue the cut, while still being held in a comfortable position.

Return the blade to the storage position in the tool and put the tool down.

Grasp the the cable between the end and the fresh cut. Firmly pull the end off of the cable while twisting the end back and forth.

Discard the cable end and pick up any stray wires from the “metallic shield” or braid.

Cut off any braid wires that extend beyond the jacket so that they are flush with the jacket with the knife or wire cutters.

Carefully inspect the center conductor for nicks.

If it is nicked, it will be required to repeat the above steps until you are able to perform the steps without damaging the center conductor. It may take 6, 10 or more attempts before it can be done successfully if never attempted before.

Remove any film or dielectric foam remaining from the length of the center conductor (if present) by gently scraping the center conductor with fingernail.

Be sure the center conductor is clean all the way around over it’s entire length.

Hold the cable again as earlier to prepare for removal of the outer jacket.

There are different types of “F” connectors and ways to attach them to the cable. Most common “F” connectors can be attached to cables prepared with the dimensions used here and should be used unless the connectors you are using specifies a different dimension.

Hold the razor as before, aligning the the blade on the jacket about 5⁄16 inch (0.8 cm) back from the cut made in the previous step.

The purpose of this cut is to penetrate the jacket only, and leave the braid intact. The cut will be perpendicular to the cable like the first cut. Many “F” connectors specify that the braid not be removed, while others prefer it removed. Plan to leave it in place for now, as it can be removed later, if needed. The braids are woven around the length of the dielectric foam, and lie just beneath the outer jacket. The individual wires that make up the braid are thinner than a hair, and are easily cut. Gently press the blade into the jacket and run it around the cable, in the same manner as was done in the first cut to the center conductor. Once the blade has cut around the circumference of the jacket, press the tip of the blade against the jacket at this cut and gently cut towards the end of the cable. Again, try not to cut the braid.

Return the blade to the storage position in the tool and put the tool down.

Peel the 5⁄16 inch (0.8 cm) jacket off of the cable, leaving only the braid covering the dielectric.

Fold the braid back, over the outer jacket.

This should expose the dielectric, which surrounds the center conductor. There is no concern if some of the braid wires were cut. Check the requirements (if any) of the “F” connector you will place on the end of the cable.

Inspect the cable end.

It is very important that there are no wires, filings or other conductive bits between the center conductor and the braid. The white dielectric should show anything that bridges these two parts easily. Remove anything found.

Place the “F” connector on the end of the cable.

Make one final inspection by looking into the connector. Make sure that no conductive debris is between the center conductor and the “F” connector before securing to the cable.

The “F” connector is fully seated on the cable if the dielectric is flush with the “bottom” of the connector, when viewed from the end – looking in.

It should not extend beyond or be recessed more than 1⁄16 inch (0.2 cm) from the bottom of the connector. Under no circumstances should the center conductor be in contact with the “F” connector.

Secure the the “F” connector to the cable only with the tool designed for the connector.

  • Coax compression connector tool
  • Coax connector crimping tool

Inexpensive crimping type tool.

Cut the center conductor so that it extends beyond the “F” connector 3⁄16 to 1⁄4 inch (0.5 to 0.6 cm).


  • Leave as much braid intact as possible. Doing so will give your coaxial cable a path to ground in the case of electrical failure. Cable TV wire is usually grounded at the point of entry into the home and will protect other devices from being fried if something happens to short in your equipment.
  • Cut enough off the end to be worked so that there are no kinks, bends, evidence of corrosion, etc in the cable. Work with straight, clean cable whenever possible.
  • Understand the parts of the cable. From the outside, working in to the center: the outer jacket (usually black or white), braid / foil or both (some have yet a second set of braid and foil, too), dielectric (usually white) and finally center conductor of copper or copper-clad steel. Some cables also have a “messenger wire” as well. This is usually a copper-clad steel solid wire that is attached continuously to the outer jacket. This messenger cable is used almost exclusively to support the cable between a pole and the point of attachment of the home. The messenger cable is connected to the ground block by many professional installers.


  • Do not attempt to hold the cable by mechanical means such as a vise. Coax is rugged, but can fail when crushed or bent at sharp angles. The “rule of thumb” for bending cables is the radius of the bend should be no less than 4 times the cable diameter.
  • Use extreme caution working with the razor knife, for obvious reasons. The work is small scale, and it can be difficult to hold all the parts comfortably.

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