your 8 ohm speakers are fine with the receiver you have. the impedance of speakers varies with the frequency and power of the signal feed to them, you just don't want them dropping too low - like 1 or 2 ohms. The 8 ohm rating is an average.
For your setup, 16 ga. would work fine - use 14 ga. if you just want the additional "insurance", and 12 ga. would be overkill (and might not fit the connectors on the back of the speakers well). Any Lowes or Home Depot will have 16 ga. or 14 ga. speaker wire......common lamp cord (also called zip cord) will work equally well as long as the diameter (gauge) of the wire is the proper size.....copper is copper ! If you mail order, then www.monoprice.com is the place to go.
thank G*d there are some sensible people in the audio world. Plain old zip cord or for a little cooler look, use an outdoor extension cord (14) and just cut the plugs off.
I use Miller 101 strippers all day every day and have for 30 years. They are inexpensive and can strip everything from 10awg THHN house wiring to the leads on a tape head (30awg). I do remove the spring and the surround strap though.
Just use your fingers to control the depth of the cut and you will be fine.
"ecomovie" - usually there is little danger of banana plugs touching once properly seated in the female receptacle on the binding posts. The spring action of the plug fits and holds the connection very well. It is a very solid connection (that is why so many folks like them at the rear of a crowded a/v receiver).
You may be thinking about the other speaker wire connector, the "pin connector" where the wire is terminated with a very small diameter metal pin, useful with the old style spring clamp speaker wire connectors used before they started using the current 5-way binding posts. (except Yamaha seems determined to still use the crappy spring clamps on all but their top end units
) Just due to the nature of the pin connectors, they can move around in the spring clamp and if the metal bodies touch + to -, they will short out.
I really doubt that will be a problem with banana plugs - just make sure the equipment is off when you install/remove the plugs in the equipment or speakers. But if you want insurance, just get some good 3M electric tape and cover the exposed metal....you could even get some red colored electrical tape to mark and cover the + leads.
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