Introduction: PVC Zip Tie Organization System

So I got really tired of having to dig thru the big old tub of zip ties I get from Harbor Freight to get to the size, color, etc I needed. The bins stink as the bundles come apart and they end up a giant mess as you can see in the second picture showing my inspiration for the finished product.  I thought there had to be a better way. So after seeing a few ideas on the net I came up with what I wanted to do. You can make this bigger, smaller, use different size PVC tube, etc. But here is what I did.

Supplies Used:
Again this is what I used, modify as you like.
All supplies purchased at Home Depot.

1 ea 10' piece of 1" PVC (thin Walled)
18 ea 1" PVC Caps
1 .75"x5.5" Piece of Poplar Pre Cut (in the pre cut hardwoods section)
18 Ea 1/4" x 1.5" Flush Mount Machine Screws
18 Ea 1/4" Washers
18 Ea 1/4" Lock Washers
18 Ea 1/4" Nuts
PVC Cement

I had on hand:
1/4" Drill Bit
Stain For the wood
PVC/tube cutting tool

I used my drill press and a circular saw as well as a PVC/Tube cutting tool. You could do this with hand tools if you had to. I knocked the whole project out in an hour or so.

Step 1: Drilling the Caps

The first thing I did was to drill a 1/4" hole in each of the 18 PVC caps. There is a small casting mark that is pretty much dead center on these to use as your guide. It looks like a little bump. found between the letters on the caps. To make sure the bit didn't walk on me I used a spring loaded center punch prior to drilling the holes to dimple the plastic in. I also started with a smaller bit before jumping up to the 1/4" bit, though this wasn't really necessary as it is only PVC. But I wanted to make sure my holes were dead center.

Step 2: Cutting the Board Down to Size

For my first attempt I decided I didn't want or need one to be the full length of the board I bought. I originally went to the scrap wood bin but didn't see anything that would work for what I wanted. The pre cut Hardwood section had a good variety to choose from. But all too long.

Once I had the caps drilled, I laid them out on the board to see where I needed to cut it down to size. A quick pass with the circular saw got it down to size in seconds. You could use a hand saw if you had to.

I used a bit less than half the board, so I have enough wood to make another one of these if I want to. You could use some scrap you have laying around. It just needs to be wide enough to fit the number of tubes and the size you want.

Step 3: Marking and Drilling the Holes in the Board

Once I had my wood cut to size, I again laid the caps out on it, this time upside down as they will be in the finished product. After A little tweaking to get them mostly straight, I used a pen to mark the holes on the board. A Sharpie wouldn't quite fit thru the holes all the way but a ball point pen marked the wood just fine.

Once I had the holes marked I removed the caps and again used my spring loaded center punch to pre ding the holes to prevent my drill bit from walking.

Once I had the 1/4" holes drilled, I flipped the board over and used a counter sink bit to widen the bottoms of the holes a little bit to allow the screws to be totally flush in the board when I do the final installation. I want this to sit nice and flat.

Step 4: Staining (Optional)

I didn't really have to do this, but I had some wood stain laying around so I decided to go ahead and apply a coat of stain to it.

Also, you could use some Krylon Fusion or similar plastic paint to paint the PVC and the caps if you wanted to. I decided to just leave my tubes white.

Step 5: PVC Cutting and Prep

While the stain was drying, I cut my 10' PVC pipe down to the sizes I wanted. 

To figure the lengths I wanted, I pulled out one of each size of zip tie I had on hand. Subtracted 1.5"s from the length and cut my pipe to these lengths.

I.E. for a 12" Zip tie measured tip to head, I cut my PVC to 10.5"s.

With 18 pockets, I did
3 @ 10.5"s
3 @ 8.5"s
6 @ 6.5"s
6 @ 2.5"s

Step 6: Assembly Part 1

With the stain dry, It was time to begin the assembly.

I started by putting my bolts thru all the holes. The sharp eyes out there will no doubt notice 2 bolts of a different length and head type. I guess I goofed on my math when buying my hardware packets and was 2 short. I had some Stainless Allen head 5/16" bolts left over from another project. They were bigger but they worked to let me finish the project. Lesson, Always buy an extra packet of hardware!

Then I put the caps on the bolts one by one. I made sure to turn each cap so that the barcodes on them were inside and will not show on the finished product. Again painting the caps would have made this unnecessary.

With the caps in place I added a washer, lock washer, and nut to each.

Then I just tightened them all down, sucking the bases into the bottom of the board for a nice flat bottom surface. Note here, I held a socket on the nuts and tightened the screws from the bottom of the board so they pulled themselves into the wood.

Step 7: Final Assembly

With the caps snugged down nice and tight, I did a quick dry fit of the PVC tubes into the caps to make sure I was happy with the lengths and heights. Once you apply the cement there is no going back so a dry fit is a good idea.

When i was satisfied I pulled the pipes back out, applied PVC cement to the inner sides of each cap one by one and seated the pipe sections down firmly. 

Again I made sure to turn all the print on the pipes to the insides where they will not be too visible. Painting would have negated the need to do this.

Step 8: Finished Product

When it was all said and done I just had the semi daunting task of going thru my messy buckets o ties and getting them nicely organized by size and color.

With three rows I will use the left row for white, middle for black, and right for other colored zip ties. Overall I am very happy with how it came out, except its painfully obvious I am running low of stock and need to go buy more to fill this bad boy up!

Comments

author
scoochmaroo (author)2012-06-13

SOOOOO clever!

author
Yonatan24 (author)scoochmaroo2015-12-18

Add 7000 more O's to SO, And replace clever with GENIUS!

author
rsmaudsley (author)2016-09-21

Cool but you took my idea...just because you posted it 4 years before I thought of it.... :-)

I was driving home today and was thinking about the 1,000's of zip ties I have and needing a way to organize them. I have some PVC pipe and started thinking about it. Of course, I don't want to duplicate another person's project as if it were new so I searched for "zip tie organizer" and here we are.

If I change anything when I make mine, I'll share, but I like this one pretty well so I may just do it exactly the same.

author
izzyspeaks123 made it! (author)2015-05-09

I did one very similar to this after I saw this. Working with handfuls of zip ties can be such a messy matter. I made 45 degree ends on mine with the tips flattened out. After the final touches I finished it with black Fusion paint for plastics. Makes a very durable finish. Might I also add that this makes it easy to know when you need to restock so there are no surprises mid project.

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author
chobbs1957 (author)2012-06-16

Thumbs UP!

author
lime3D (author)2012-06-15

I like it!

What do you think about using a Fostner Bit on the board, and eliminating the caps. You could secure the pipes to the board with construction adhesive.

One tip: Acetone (nail polish remover) will instantly remove the ink printing on the sides of the pipe.

author
92greenyj (author)lime3D2012-06-15

I actually was toying with several ideas about how best to do the base. I had considered using a hole saw and embedding a the PVC with epoxy as you suggested at first, but I was worried about how well that would hold up long term. So I went the cap and bolt route instead.

author
92greenyj (author)2012-06-13

Thanks for the Kudos. I entered it. This project was cheap, easy, and effective. Overall I am very happy with how it came out

author
scoochmaroo (author)2012-06-13

You should enter this in the Father's Day Challenge!

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