Workshop
Workshop Tricks: Tangle-Free Power Cords

Dirt Farmer Jay, who does a lot of useful videos about homesteading, gardening, and rural living, offers this video tip for a superior, less kinky way to store power cords. The basic steps are:

  1. Starting from one end work all of the twists out of the cord
  2. Plug the male end into the female end
  3. Grab the doubled cord below the loop that marks the half-way point and flip it over so the loop is facing down
  4. Push the doubled cord through the loop and grab it with your other hand
  5. Repeat to form a chain

Jay ventures into controversial territory when he says you can keep sections of the cord chained during use. (Jay claims he’s been doing this for years and never had a problem with overheating.) However, as the discussion on the YouTube post and elsewhere attest, some people swear this is dangerous while others says it’s OK as long as the power applied is within the cord’s rating and the load is not sustained over an extended period of time.

If you’re uncomfortable with doing this, you can still chain-stow your cable as he suggests, just make sure to completely unchain it before use.

4 thoughts on “Workshop Tricks: Tangle-Free Power Cords

  1. I thought this was going to be a cutesy-but-not-practical video, but it looks pretty legit, even with 100′ cords. I’ll give it a try and see how it works out. Thanks for sharing.

  2. My dad bought a bundle of extension cords from a auction one time, and they were all chained like this (not all together, each one was it’s own chain). At first he thought “What a mess, this is going to take forever to unknot”, then he looked and we both were taught a new way to keep extension cords. It works really well for those 100′ cords. For shorter ones I still prefer the “wrap around my arm” technique as it is faster for those shorter ones.

  3. A trick I learned from running large scale LANs is to use garden hose reels to store long power/ethernet cables. Dump a weight on the feet and just walk away with the end and it unreels itself. When you’re done just attach one end to the spool with a half hitch and crank the handle to wind it up.

    The wrap around the arm technique is a good way to ensure your cables get twisted and never lie flat again. The over-under technique is much better as the cable wont twist and can be thrown out to unravel. After a few coilings the cable “learns” how it should go and will tell you which way you should wrap it.

    This method looks like it would be a mess if you tried stashing a bunch of cables on top of each other in a crate or something.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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