The zip tie or cable tie is a well-known tool for bundling together wires and other elements of your project. Here are some little-known tricks for using zip ties to keep things separated.
Zip Tie Stand-Off
Here’s an easy, useful way to stand-off cables across a length of conduit using zip ties and cheap vinyl tubing. It’s a way to tidy up electrical wiring, fuel lines, data cables, pneumatic tubes, and bicycle brake lines.
1. Cut off a ¼-inch section of clear vinyl tubing. You can get this stuff cheap as aquarium air pump tubing.
2. Run your zip tie through the small section of tube leaving it sitting midway down the zip tie like a ring.
3. Take the pointy end of the zip tie and wrap the smooth side around whatever you’re trying to wrangle.
4. Shoot the pointy end back through the ring of vinyl tubing. You should now have a looped cable on one side of the tube. On the other side you should have the two ends of your zip tie with the smooth sides facing each other.
5. Cinch up the loop by adjusting the vinyl tubing ring towards the cable, creating enough length for the ends of your zip tie to be secured around whatever you’re fastening it to.
6. Zip it up, trim off the extra and repeat as needed.
Zip-Tie Cable Weave
I came across this tip as a way to harness sparkplug cables in your engine. It’s a great way to gather up any group of thick cables while simultaneously keeping them separate from one another.
1. Lay your cables down parallel to one another and count them. The number of zip ties you’ll need is equal to the number of cables.
2. Loosely attach one zip tie across the entire bunch of cables like a collar. Leave plenty of slack.
3. Tie loose, perpendicular rings completely around the first zip tie between each cable, parallel to the cables.
4. Tighten the first zip tie, then move on to the small rings. Trim excess.
Going Further: Steel Zip Ties
In case you ever need to wrangle something that would melt through a traditional plastic zip tie, grab yourself a pack made from stainless steel. These are commonly used as straps for motorcycle exhaust pipes, but their shiny chrome look could make for a cool, practical accent for your next project.