Introduction: How to Neatly Wrap Power Tool Cords

Picture of How to Neatly Wrap Power Tool Cords

I'm sure everyone has encountered some kind of tangled cord nightmare, be it at their job or in their home work spaces.

In public access workshops, like TechShop, we are always looking for ways to improve our tool organization and storage so that items are easily found and stay in top working order.

Here is a simple, easy, and neat way to wrap up the cords for all your power tools without putting unnecessary stress on your cables or brain!

Step 1:

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First, make sure you get all the existing tangles and knots out of the power cord

Step 2:

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Next, fold your cord in half.

If you have a very long power cord, you may have to fold it in half a second, or even third time.  You want to end up with a 18"-24" length of cord.

If you are wrapping a thinner power cord (like a hot glue gun or other home appliance cords) you can make your cord lenth smaller (somewhere between 8"-12")

Step 3:

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Next, you are going to make a basic overhand knot with the folded over cord lengths.

Step 4:

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There you go!  A easy way to keep your tool bins tidy!

Step 5:

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And unlike these other examples, this method will not put unnecessary stress on your cable connection points and extend the life of your tools.


Murtu01 (author)2017-11-14

Great idea

mole1 (author)2014-11-28

Nice box to keep them in ,too!

Power Tools Pro (author)2014-09-06

Clean workshop is a happy workshop.

buskrat (author)2013-11-28

I am a mechanic for a construction company and deal with hundreds of hand held electrical tools and honestly best method found is a mix of step 4 and 5 but always remember leave a loop where the cord leaves the tool this only needs be 4 inch or so will do this keeps the cord on the tool and not getting shut in truck box doors and chopped off from hanging out there in the open and a worn out cord is not the end of a tool they can be replaced

David_n_Redena (author)2012-03-06

WOW - who would have thought power cord storage would bring on such emotion?? I just used my circular saw. In the past I had wrapped the cord around it 3-4 times and tucked the plug into one of the wraps. I KNOW! That's probably terrible. I tried your method and it took less time and stored back on my shelf quite nicely. I just did your overhand knot, not the figure-eight that has been suggested. You'd have to pull it pretty tight to cause any stain on the cord. Thanks for a great method !

Yeah, I use to loosely rape my cords around the tools but I stopped that and changed to this method quite some time back not only because it seems to be better for the cord but also because I some how managed to cut the jigsaw cord, I'm not sure if that was due to catching a new sharp jigsaw blade or if it got caught on something else in the tool shed, but to make sure I stopped rapping the cord around the jigsaw just to be on the safe side :)

This discussion raises a lot of emotion because trashed power cords turn expensive and needed tools into paperweights. Everyone who has been around for a time has seen a lot of needless damage, waste and lost time owing to improper care of cords.

Larry Breed (author)2012-04-12

Knots damaging cords? Look at step 4. KaceyK has tied an overhand that is only snug enough to keep the coil from self-unwinding. That's a lot softer than a knot that could cause damage.

Several commenters have claimed that coiling once introduces a 180º twist. In my cords, coiling once introduces a 360º twist.

jolshefsky (author)2012-03-15

I'm just going to cross-recommend a link to Recycled workshop organzier.

Redstormx1 (author)2012-03-14

I have all those tools but cordless. The battery chargers still have cords though but there neatly cable tied .

Set271 (author)2012-03-07

Wow, I'm an Construction Electrician with 30 years experience and you would all have been fired by now tryin' to figure out how to wrap up your tools and stow 'em in the gang box. It's the movement of the chord, there by moving the individually-insulated wires inside the chord that matters, that causes the wear and tear on the entire chord assembly. If left unmoved, protected from the elements(especially the sun - ultraviolet radiation breaks down petroleum based materials) any insulated wire or chord will last forever. As long as some apprentice does run it over with anything really heavy or set something sharp on it. Wrapping it up loosely but conservatively because gang box space isn't just for company tools, chords can last longer then the motor in the tool. Besides most damage occurs at the ends. Abuse and misuse of the tool let alone it's power chord usually shows up at the ends of the chords'. Remember, tools don't get old sittin' there. They get old by being moved around and used.

techshopzack (author)2012-02-29

Power chords are for rock stars! You, my dear are certainly that...but...well, most folks will be expecting the other kind of cord.

KaceyK (author)techshopzack2012-02-29

I have never been known for my spelling... only my awesome ideas!

blkhawk (author)KaceyK2012-03-06

Self praise always stinks!

jbrune (author)2012-03-06

Great instructions. I'll use this simple advice a lot.

oilitright (author)2012-03-04

I am retired from the commercial sound and electronic organ repair business. Previously I was a Chief Electrician in the USN.

Which is why I agree totally with the comments from pfred2. Electrical cords of any and all types should NEVER be tightly wound.

I have dropped many miles of electrical cables, microphone cords, speaker cables and others in and around, up and down more different types of locations then you can imagine.

Any sailor I caught tightly coiling anything was risking no liberty. The rule of thumb we used was you stretched a length of cable/wire the length of your reach arms outstretched, this was the size of the loop. Cables that got used a lot would typically have a length of rope secured to the cable that was used both to keep the cable coiled and as a means to hand the coil on a peg or hook.

ManifoldSky (author)oilitright2012-03-05

As a sound-tech, you should know that this is simply not true. Tightly winding cords does NOT, in and of itself, lead to cord damage. It only appears to be associated with this damage because it also tends to be associated with coiling cords. It is this coiling which leads to most cord damage.
As I pointed out above, every two coils in a cord leads to a 360° twist in the cord. This twisting (and consequent untwisting) is what strains the metal/plastic in the cord, and leads to its eventual failure. Most cords and cables are actually quite good at resisting damage from bending, and the strain reliefs at either end further protect against this damage. But they do not protect against the torsional forces that lead to elongation stretching, that DOES damage the cable or cord.
This is (one of a number of reasons) why well-trained sound technicians always counter-wrap expensive cords.

BOFH_2 (author)2012-03-04

I use the wrap around the tool method. I straighten the cable so that the end in the tool is mostly straight like your example, then I lay the cable up the tool toward the business end, then I start at the top of the tool and work towards the base, when I have 6 to 8 inches left I put the end through the loop and the base.

I do not have any thinner tools than my 4 inch grinder so I do not have to worry about any tension wrapping the cord around the tool. I cannot wait for the - how to wrap your extension cable.

ManifoldSky (author)BOFH_22012-03-05

This is VERY bad for your cables, and will eventually lead to cords damage.

pfred2 (author)2012-03-04

If you're a pro then you can afford to treat tools like pros do. Which isn't always in the kindest and gentlest ways possible. There's reasons why the pros buy the most expensive durable tools they can you know? Mostly because the first dozen or so they owned didn't hold up quite as long as they'd have liked them to have.

Putting all of this together makes for some pretty good reasons to never treat tools like pros do! Not unless you have a pro budget to bankroll you that is.

Now to specifically address what I'm seeing here, if you bend a power cord in a tight radius like is pictured here, then leave it for some length of time, you're going to impart line memory to the cords fairly quickly. I'm not a big fan of wrinkled cords personally so I wrap my cords in loose natural loops, then tie them with little pieces of twisted wire, that I care much less about than my power tool cords. Any amount of bending a cord where it shows resistance is enough to stress the cord material.

ManifoldSky (author)pfred22012-03-05

Bending a power cord, unless that bend is so tight as to create and actual kink, almost NEVER results in cable damage. This is a myth. The same myth that led to Apple having to replace, free, tens of thousands, if not millions, of macbook chargers after their "this is how to wrap a cord to prevent strain damage" instructions failed to prevent actual strain damage.

Cords and cables mostly get strain damage as a result of end to end twisting, which happens as a consequence of coiling. Each coil introduces one half (180°) twist into a cable or cord) Using large loops helps minimize this, but NOT because it increases circumference (and radial angle) but rather because it minimizes end over end twisting. Coiling a cable or cord into 8 loops introduces 4 complete 360° twists along its length. Coiling the same cable or cord 20 times increases this to 10. Uncoiling the cable twists it back the other way. Coiling and uncoiling the cable or cord eventually leads to strain damage. On cables, this often takes the form or a break in the ground sheath at the cable, and on cords, it usually manifests itself as a break in the insulation at the strain relief end, which then progresses to actual damage to the cord itself.

Also, there is no such thing as "natural loops". Loops appear in cords as a result of them being stored in that configuration. Often this starts at manufacture, where the cord is shipped to the manufacturer on spools.

The only way to prevent this is to counter-wrap the cable or cord. Most well-trained sound techs learn this from early on, as audio cables are expensive, and they are trained from the beginning how to counter-wrap cords.

If there is not a counter wrap instructable, maybe someone should do one.

shtihl (author)2012-03-04

wow this turned into such a heated debate. my power tools that are corded are dremels and the like so i have these velcro ties that kinda attach near the base so it stays on the cable so when i am done using the tool, i loop my cable back up with the non-missing velcro

komancero (author)2012-03-04

you definetely love dewalt

pfred2 (author)komancero2012-03-04

I'm more of a Bosch fan myself. I only have one DeWalt tool myself, a thickness planer. I had to return it for an exchange already. I really baby my new one, expecting it to break again every time I use it.

fin saunders (author)2012-03-04

I'll second allinsay.

Most every time you find yourself using the overhand knot, ask yourself if you will ever want to untie that knot. If the answer is yes, the figure-8 is your knot.

Once you've put any kind of load on an overhand knot, it is nearly always there to stay. Even if you do get it untied, it is likely that you have severely weakened the cord/wire/cable/etc. by wrapping it a circle only slightly larger than it's diameter. An inside to outside radius ratio that guarantees high tension forces on the outside of the cord as well as high friction forces on the internal radius. Neither of those scenarios is good for the safety of something that transmits lethal forces.

That said, with careful handling of your power tools, I would consider using this idea in the absence of velcro ties. Certainly for power cords that don't have a weighted pendulum on the end.

Keep the ideas coming KaceyK!

Kozz (author)2012-03-01

Well done! I've been doing this with extension cords and lengths of rope for quite a while now. A simple concept!

pfred2 (author)Kozz2012-03-04

Rope is slightly different than cord lead in composition. While there is rope like material inside power cords, it is the rubber sheath, the plastic insulation, and the stranded copper wire itself that differ from rope. They can all be adversely affected by being bent too tightly.

Microbe (author)2012-03-04

I have been doing this for years and would like to add that it works with just about any short cable - USB cables, headphones, kettle plugs, etc. It is the best way to keep a drawer full of these sorts of cables

howgoodisit (author)2012-03-04

Nice work, you should do a "how to coil up a extension lead" next.
I am forever untangling leads when other people have no clue how to coil them up correctly!

David Catriel (author)2012-03-04

Very useful. Thx for sharing!

redspruce (author)2012-03-04

Great idea I always hate that tangle of cords. Also intrigued by the storage bins in your photos, are the dividers fixed or floating? Thanks.

doomsday55 (author)2012-03-04

I am/was an electricianand have been using this method for 25 years and have always passed it on to other people whom always use the wrap method ( my pet hate) which puts an awful strain on the cable where it meets the appliance.
I never thought of it as an instructable so it seem like you did .Well done.

allindsay (author)2012-03-04

I use the same method, except I tie a figure eight knot. I find that some people pull the overhand knot too tight and it becomes hard to untie and kinks the cable. However the figure eight doesn't cinch down as hard and with the additional loop, keeps it ties up longer.

rippa700 (author)2012-03-04

Thank you - I've been doing it the bad way

internethotspot (author)2012-03-04

This is about the strangest invention I've ever seen. Complicated, yet simplistic. Good photos to accompany the complexity.

option8 (author)2012-03-01

To go the extra step further, use a "figure eight" knot instead of just the overhand. It takes an extra half wrap, but is easier to untie and doesn't kink the cables as much as overhand. Climbers use them for ropes for that reason.

ChapDad (author)2012-02-29

I was shown this same trick by a hairdresser from Syria. She'd lost a couple of really good straighteners to strained cables.

I think that wins the Least Macho Comment award...

CaseyCase (author)2012-02-29

I have to comment on your name...

Tupulov (author)2012-02-29

This is one of those moments where I smack my head and say, "D'OH!"

Wrapping power cords has always been a pain in know. Such a simple solution.

Well done!

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