The best way to remove the insulation without nicking the copper is to use a wire stripper. Most strippers have a set of cutters for the most common gauges. Gently twist the strippers back and forth once or twice, and pull the insulation straight off the end.
Unintended flow of electricity from a circuit to a non-circuit conductor. A short can occur when a hot circuit wire touches anything other than its intended contact. A short will cause a circuit breaker, fuse or gfci to instantly shutoff electrical flow to prevent injury or fire.
Shut off the electricity at the service panel for the circuit you will be working on. Test the circuit using a known working lamp or other electrical device to be sure it’s off. Flip a light switch to be sure the bulb doesn’t light, or use a volt meter to test the wires and confirm the circuit is off. Remove the cover plate and the top and bottom screws holding the mounting strap to the outlet box. These are long screws and easier to remove with a drill-driver if you have one.
A current-carrying wire in an electrical circuit. There may be one or two hot wires in a household electrical circuit. These wires are always insulated and may be colored black or red, or in the case of some ceiling fans, the hot wire may also be colored blue.