Introduction: Easy Wire Management
As I was building a desk for my son, one of the key objectives was incorporating a way to manage all those loose cords and cables. The desk itself utilizes a vented corner cabinet to hide the power strips and transformers, but in this article, I want to focus on the raceways which can be adapted to any desk, table or wall. The raceways themselves are very easy and inexpensive to construct. They are highly versatile in size and are not limited to a straight line. Then I added to “cool factor” by routing LED strips through it.
So, let’s get started. The raceways are simply made up of vinyl tubing available at any hardware store or home improvement center. (Fig. 1) I focused on 2 basic styles, clear tubing and reinforced braided clear tubing. There are multiple sizes and you will want to select the size that is appropriate for your application. (Fig. 2) The prices run from $1.00 to $3.00 per linear foot. Since I wanted to accommodate a 14 gauge extension cord, LED strip, and several other smaller cords, I chose a fairly large 1” inside diameter clear vinyl tube for my project which cost $1.59 per linear foot.
Having purchased several lengths of tube to experiment with, I encountered a minor issue with some of them. A few wanted to curl up from being packaged on a spool. This was easily overcome and a quick internet search revealed a multitude of ways to straighten them out. Methods included putting them in boiling water, putting them in the oven at a low temperature, setting them in the sun and so on. I picked up a heat gun and blew it into one end of the tubing making sure I could feel the heat coming out of the other end. Within just 3-4 minutes, I watched the tube magically uncurl itself into a near perfect straight line. I was a bit surprised at how easy and effective it was. I imagine you could achieve the same result with a hair dryer, though it may take a few minutes longer.
Cut the tubing to the desired length. (Fig. 3) Then, using a utility knife, heavy duty scissors or tin snips, slit the length of the tubing. (Fig. 4)
I chose to use ½” pan head sheet metal screws, to attach the tube to the bottom of the desk, (Fig. 5 & 6) but you can also use double sided tape. (Fig. 7) The key is to keep the attachment point near the lengthwise slit in the tube. Therefore, the tube is forming a hook to hold the cords up. (Fig. 8) If you are mounting the tubes under a desk, I suggest keeping the slit toward the back so that if you want a cord to exit the tube anywhere along the run, it will remain hidden.
The cords will slip into the tubing through the slit. The cords can run end to end or, as mentioned before, they can exit the tubing anywhere along the run. (Fig. 9 & 10) Notice in Fig. 10, with the flexible vinyl tubing, you are not limited to straight segments.
Now for the optional, but more fun part. With the clear tubes, it is easy to add LED strip lights. I ordered the “peel and stick” type. Just cut the strips to the desired length on one of the designated cut lines. (Fig. 11) Then, just peel the backing off the tape and adhere them inside the tubes making sure to account for where you want to plug in your connectors to the control unit. (Fig. 12 & 13). You may need to use splitters or additional connectors due to your layout. The kits usually come with instructions and there are plenty of tutorials online with regards to customizing LED light strips, so, I’ll leave those details out of this article.
It really is that simple. Just get some vinyl tubing, slit it, attach it in the desired location, put some lights in it if you want and run your cords through it. I hope you find this solution helpful and fun. Here are some finished pictures.
Rod Gunter is General Manager at Gunter Building Solutions and has over 20 years of experience in the homebuilding and cabinetry industries. Rod has been responsible for building over 200 homes above the $500,000 price point. Rod has trained large groups including all the major home centers on selling skills, construction techniques and sustainable natural wood products. Rod resides with his family in Holly Springs, North Carolina. Gunter Building Solutions owns WoodAirGrille.com, a leading manufacturer of wood return air filter grilles and wood return air vents.