Picture of Coiling a USB power cord
This is an easy way to tidy up cord that are too long or in the way. Great for the car or desk.
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
USB cord for your device (Got mine at Dollar Tree)

Step 2: Wrapping the cord

Picture of Wrapping the cord
Starting at one end of the pencil, tape down one end, leaving about 5 inches of slack. Wrap the cord around the pencil, leave another 5 inches of slack and tape down. Your wrapped part should be tight and not too pulled. 

Step 3: Setting the cord

Picture of Setting the cord
Using the blow dryer on high, blow hot air on it until the plastic is warm. Do this all over the pencil. You can hold the pencil on one end and do this or roll it across a table and blow dry all parts of the coil. 

Step 4: Let cool and enjoy!

Picture of Let cool and enjoy!
Let the cord cool until it is cold to the touch. Remove tape, you should be able to pull the pencil out and use your cord!
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scroft15 months ago

Nice one, it's an old idea, but no doubt many of the youngsters may not of heard of it. A very useful technique in and around the workshop, where stuff gets tangled.
Steve (ex Plastics Engineer)

Bill WW scroft15 months ago

When I was a "youngster" plastic had not been invented. Had not heard of this trick either.

Emma B Bill WW5 months ago

Hey Bill, how old are you... 150? ;-) And don't you even remember the coiled cords on the wall telephone which enabled one to wander about the room while chatting to friends?

samassch Emma B13 days ago

love this!! LOL

Bill WW Emma B5 months ago

Wow, you are good, Emma!

"The first man-made plastic was created by Alexander Parkes who publicly demonstrated it at the 1862".

I'm definitely old enough to remember coiled phone cords, but did not know how to make a coiled cord with a hair dryer!

I'm only 72.

I remember my cell phone from 2008 that had a CAMERA!!!!

I remember having a phone that did not have the coiled cord. I also remember the crank phone in the kitchen. We had the outline of the crank phone behind the dial phone until I was 12, and dad finally repainted the wall.

Those big crank phones had a pair of HUGE 1.5V carbon zinc cells... They were like gold in the 50's when I had a little .49cc glow plug plane motor..

Now they use a single LiPo the size of your finger at 3.7v

Yes Michael, I remember those large 1.5V cells, there were a bunch of old ones in our house when I was 10 years old. They had nice brass screw terminals. The batteries were dead; my friends and I cut them open and used the insides; for some reason we thought it was one of the ingredients to make gunpowder. Luckily we were unsuccessful.

You were thinking of the carbon core I think. You also needed salt peter and something else, it will come to me after I hit post. But all that does is burn with lots of pretty sparks if you just light it. I tried several silly things with it, but nothing ever went bang.

That 'other thing' is, of course, Sodium Hydroxide, AKA potash.

pizzidave (author)  the norm21 days ago

Wow! That's awesome.

Hey I have heard of it...

Very very helpful thank you 8ft cord plus this idea is amazing.

Dude I'm like 13

Thank You, I see the possibility's are endless, "Jumper Cables" maybe.?

Do you mean the kind you use to start one car with another? Because that wouldn't be a good idea...

It would be ok as long as you made sure they were stretched out before you used them but with the crazy amount of current they can carry you could quite easily melt the cables if they were used whilst still coiled. I wouldn't take the risk in case somebody used them wrong.

junits15 JoelSP22 days ago

that is incorrect, the coils cannot induce an electric current unless there is a ferrous object inside the coil. If your cables do not get hot normally they wont get hot when coiled.

HAL 9000 JoelSP5 months ago
wait, what? Why would they behave any differently when they're coiled? my jumper cables haven't even gotten noticeably warm to the touch with use
JoelSP HAL 90005 months ago

It depends what you're using them for and how thick your cables are as they aren't all made equal...

Basic laws of electricity give the equation of P=IxIxR, Power = Current squared times the Resistance. A car's starter motor for a large vehicle can draw up to 600Amps so even with a low resistance ie. thick cables, you can end up with a fair amount of heat.

If two or more parts of the cable are touching each other then the amount of heat adds together.

It would probably be fine if you stretch them out before you use them or if you've got decent cables and a small car and it starts quickly but the worst case scenario could be pretty bad hence my advice against it. It's up to you if you do it, but I'd say better safe than sorry.

jongscx JoelSP5 months ago

I'm still not convinced that IS the reason why you shouldn't do it. Resistance is based on material property*material cross-section*material length. You're not changing any of these things, it's still copper, the wire is still just as thick as before (or that's one hell'a powerful hair dryer), and it's still just as long, albiet coiled up now.

So, P=I^2*R is still gonna come up with the same thing.

HAL 9000 jongscx5 months ago

I think he was mostly concerned with the cables having a reduced capacity to dissipate heat if some of the coils are touching. Still, it shouldn't have any *real* effect, unless you throw a blanket over the top of it or something

ipalic HAL 900022 days ago

If you remember electromagnetism.
That's why you shouldn't coil power cords, of any kind. It induces magnetic field that creates force opposite of the current that flows through the cord.

kenahoo JoelSP5 months ago

I liked the P=I^2*R part, but you lost me at "fair amount of heat". The resistance in any standard jumper cables (6-gauge or lower) is so low you shouldn't ever feel them get hot.

All the same, I wouldn't coil them up like this because they'd take up more room in the car.

A nice jumper cable banter is here:

etcmn JoelSP5 months ago

Yea I was just wondering it this idea would work with an extension cord for my power tools. That's a lot more than a USB cable but a very small fraction of what the jumper cable need to carry (up to 1,000 amps). Power tools 15amp max.

Thank You. = Voted. : - }

thats a great idea aha but youd need one hell of a pencil


never heard of this trick but I think its a handy trick aha

I'm in my 50's and never thought, nor heard, of this.

nkedz2011 scroft15 months ago
indeed, this youngster has not heard of this before :-P
dan3008 nkedz20115 months ago

Nor had I

Nice ible

SussoGobbino made it!5 months ago

Thanks for the Instructable, I wasn't aware of this trick, and I tried it on my printer's cable, which is always awkwardly hanging somewhere.

The result was nice, but, since it was a long and not very flexible cable, I had to do it twice to let it keep some shape. If I stretch it too much, it tends to go back to its original straightness, but it's still an improvement!


Hey that is really nice!! I have a solution to prevent it from going back to its original shape.

1.) Redo this instructable on the same chord.

2.) Attach one end of the chord to a power drill (Yes, the one which you use to drill holes in the wall) and fix the other end.

3.) Now, turn on the drill and rotate the cable in the direction OPPOSITE to that of the coil. Keep rotating until the chord gets tightly coiled in the opposite direction.

That must do it! Tell me how it goes. Its the procedure that is used in the industry. Check out:

I was skeptical until I watched the video (I love any industrial video about how things are made) and saw it done. I spin yarn so I work with twist, but I can't quite get my head around how this works. But seeing is believing! Thanks for sharing the video.

It is done!
I chose to heat it with the hairdryer, as its heat output can be as much as 85°C.
After removing the rod, it was really tight, and I proceded to reverse the coil.
During the reversal, however, the spiral ended up being tighter, but the diameter increased. I'm trying to manually narrowen it by coiling around itself, but it's no use without a heat source. I will not heat it, or the rewound coiling would fail to keep it springy.
Still, from 2 metres to 25 centimetres is a big improvement for my printer :)

Oh, I hope it still works after being tortured like this!

pizzidave (author)  SussoGobbino5 months ago

Nice work!!


However, when I used and stretched it, it wouldn't go back to its position. now it's about 60cms long, I might use the oven at 90°C if I ever do it again, the hairdryer might not be strong enough.

Rajath's right -- I saw an episode of the TV show How It's Made, which showed how coiled cables are manufactured. The process is Identical to this dandy Instructable, plus the one step you mentioned: Once cables are coiled, the coil direction is reversed, and the shape holds. Good addition!

I recoiled it, this time using a threaded rod with bolts and washers to keep the cable perfectly in place. I'm going to heat it now I have yet to decide wether to use the over or the hairdryer!


Ahaha thank you, I had just finished viewing the same video you linked!
I'll try this later and post an update :)

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