Pro Tips: Armored Cable and Aluminum Wire

Published On
Nov 15, 2021

First place: Preparing armored cable

Jim Hayes
Jim Hayes

Armored cable has a metallic armor between two cable jackets. To remove the jackets, it is necessary to cut the armor. Specialized tools are available to cut armor, but a standard plumbing tubing cutter can be used with larger-diameter metallic-armored cables for cutting through the outside jacket and armor. The depth of the tubing cutting blade—about 1/8-inch deep—is generally correct for cutting the outer jacket and armor without harming the inner jacket or fibers in a metallic-armored cable.

Cut the armor just like metal tubing, making several revolutions around the cable, tightening the cutters with each revolution. Armored cable has a thin metal layer between two jackets for protection against rodent penetration in direct-burial installation. The outer jacket and armor are generally thin enough that once a small part is removed, the cable rip cord can be used to split the armor and outside jacket for easy removal. The armor is too hard to cut with a normal cable slitter, so a regular plumbing tubing cutter is used.

Jim Hayes
Santa Monica, Calif.

This is a reader-submitted suggestion and manufacturers would always want you to use the tool they designed for its intended purpose.

Oldie but goodie: Take the edge off

We hooked up a 1,000A, 480V panel with 500 MCM aluminum wire. Instead of doing knockouts, we cut two square holes at the bottom and lined each hole by slitting open ½-inch PVC and sliding it over the sharp edges. The smooth edge protects your hands and prevents wire cuts.

Joseph Waldner
Faulkton, S.D.

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