Circuit building skill: cable lacing

Circuit building skill: cable lacing

Tired of messy wires getting in the way of an otherwise tidy build? Then you might want to check out cable lacing, where you use a single piece of string to tie together the wires. Keith of Keith’s Electronics Blog ran into this issue when putting together an x0xb0x synthesizer kit, and did an excellent job lacing the x0xb0x wiring harnesses to make a clean build.

Lost Knowledge: Cable lacing

14 thoughts on “Circuit building skill: cable lacing

  1. Steven Roberts says:

    Nice work (and some beauties over at the referenced Lost Knowledge post also). I love cable lacing… it is much smoother than zip ties, and exudes a classic air. It’s also quick and easy once you get the hang of it; a spool of waxed lacing twine is in my tool cabinet.

    One of my first jobs, circa 1971, was installing cabling for telephone switching systems on Army bases. An important tool when working in tight quarters was the lacing needle; I still have mine, and even use it occasionally:


  2. driesberg says:

    DSL Reports has a nice pdf, search for “lacing”

  3. pete says:

    I cant find it now but, Raychem has a guide on how to “twist” wires together to make a very round “cable”; like if you had “Y” wires, x many would go clockwise, then x many anti clockwise then x clockwise etc. I will see if I can find the guide.


  4. RocketGuy says:

    If doing this for a project that will be facing either vibration (i.e. aircraft install, or other motor vehicle) or future expansion/modification you may wish to consider service loops. (And the right connectors of course).

    Sometimes people get things really nicely laid in with no or uneven slack, and connection failures result. Don’t ask me how I know. Ahem.

    Basically a service loop can be just a loop in the opposite direction of cable travel of reasonable length, say an inch or two, which then u-turns back to where you’re actually going after. Doesn’t need to be big, and if planned out, the install can still be totally aesthetically pleasing.

    This helps when you need to change a connection (oops) or to resist vibration. The loop allows the connector to be less stressed, and is therefore more robust in a vibrating or thermally cycled environment. Of course proper support and strain relief also helps, but this is one approach that is simple, cheap, and proven effective.

    All that said, the time you spend on this sort of thing is ideally determined by A) how important it is and B)the builder’s enjoyment of detail execution.

    1. RocketGuy says:

      The above picture is a really nice job, he’s actually used the routing as sort of a service loop in itself, if you look at it from that perspective. I’m just trying to present another method that may be appropriate in places you can’t do this.

  5. jeff-o says:

    Where I work, lacing like this is used on a daily basis on wiring harnesses of all sorts.

  6. pete says:

    In response to an EE friend of mine he said

    Hi Pete,

    It’s actually been quite a while since I last made one of these looms. The attached chart shows how to calculate with the same wire size. The “fillers” can be just the same type of wire and actually looks better. The fillers (apart from being more expensive than the wire!) are made of plastic material and do not form as well in any case.

    Anyway, it gives you an idea. If you have some 2/3/4 inner conductors, you usually twist these inside first with some of the single cores. The outer “lay-pattern” goes in the opposite direction. To be honest, it’s trial and error until you find the best patterns. When we were doing dozens of engine looms and main harnesses, it was worth taking the time of course. You will gat a perfect round loom with the same type and size wire though.

    can I upload a PDF here? with the guide?

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