DIY Spiral Wire Wraps




Introduction: DIY Spiral Wire Wraps

It's the loose ends that will trouble you in electronics. One wire of hundreds is in the wrong spot... Or connected poorly... Or strained. Wire management is one of the most common things that I fight with during my projects. Staring at a huge pile of twisted, kinked, and tangled colorful wires is enough to give anyone a headache.

I had used some spiral wire wraps to organize connections on a 3D printer, and wanted some more. There were none to be found locally (rural Wyoming), so I set off to create my own. With a little bit of experimentation and a couple of references to this Instructable, I was able to make my own wire management wraps.

Step 1: Materials and Supplies

You don't need very much to create these handy organizers:

  • 1/2" diameter flexible plastic tubing (available at your local hardware store in the fountain section)
  • sharp knife (think X-Acto)
  • a big heap of tangled wires (easy to find in my workshop)

Step 2: Cut Down Your Tubing

Start by measuring the length of the wires you wish to control. My bunch of madness happened to be 4 inches. Use your knife to cut the tubing to size.

Step 3: Spiral Cutting!

Now for the fun part. Position your knife at a 30 degree angle to one end of your flexible tubing. Press the point down and began turning the tubing. Make sure to maintain the same 30 degree angle with your knife. Continue turning until you have reached the end. As you turn the tubing, it should feed itself through the knife.

Step 4: Wrap Your Wires!

And that's it. To use, take your spiral cut tubing and wrap it around a straightened bunch of wires. Continue wrapping until you have used all of the tubing. The nice thing about this management tool is that it will stretch to accommodate for a wide range of wire sizes.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.



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30 Discussions

I suppose spiral wrap does have the advantage of being able to accommodate different wire bundle sizes. That is where the positives end for me with the material though. As spiral wrap is awfully tedious to have to work with. If you like spiral wrap you should look into cable lacing. It is just as tedious, and you only need a piece of string for it. You can probably come across string even out in Wyoming.

I bet an old telephone cord could do the same

Great instructable. FYI- the technical term for what you've made is wire loom.

8 replies

Sorry to disagree here (not wanting to argue though :) ) but a wiring loom in the UK is the actual bundle of wires themselves not the wire tidy or wrap as has been made here. I would like to add that this is one of those simple Instructables that is just brilliant so well done to 'icecats'.

Understood. Not to be disagreeable with those in the Empire, but here in the Colonies, the item it is commonly refered to as Spiral Cable Loom, or Spiral Wire Loom. Examples can be found here:

So I guess we're both right. I'll be sure to add your definition to my list of "British-isms", though. (Flashlight=torch, Truck=Lorry, Elevator=Lift, Wrench=Spanner, etc) ;-)

-Cheers! (...and with all due respect, seriously)

Respectfully, s/b "here in the States" instead of "Colonies" I think since it's loosing popularity in the late 1700's.

Well, since I was talking to a Brit, I thought humour would be a good way to keep within the bounds of the "be nice" comment policy.

Don't worry guys, I did get and appreciate the humour :) I would also like to mention that historically a lot of automobile manufacturers used to wrap the bundle of wires snaking it's way through the vehicle in a braided cotton sheath that was unwaxed. Not so easy for the amateur to duplicate but certainly possible if you wish to do so.

Agreed, we are both right :) Add some more to your list with our car bonnet equalling your hood, our shock absorbers are your dampers (I actually call them dampers because that is what they do). There are others especially in the car/vehicle world and it can get interesting as I am on a couple of US Land Rover forums. Which means I have to think about what I am typing in :) Good talking to you.

The gentleman from the UK is correct, but you have to be old to know --just because you can pull up a mis-named product it doesn't make it so :). The term pre-dates the use of wire-wraps and refers to the loom of wires(bundle) which was originally done with waxed string...

I am aware of the technique you mentioned, as I've actually seen it in practice, though granted, not for a really long time, and mostly in PBX phone applications. (20+ years in tech consulting and datacenter support).

I was simply referring to a term that is in common parlance. Google was an expedient means of illustrating my point. The gentleman from the UK understood that, I think?. It was not as you say, "just because you can pull it up".

Still, the instructable was nice, as per-foot the cost is undoubted lower and is nearly identical to the ready-made article.

Excellent ! Now the idea comes into my mind: how about a small fixable jig to hold the knife at the correct height and anlge, to maintain precision (and to avoid loss of fingertips) ?

Perhaps a wooden base with a clamp for the knife, and a short section of hard plastic tube fixed down, with a diagonal saw cut to insert the blade ? Would someone like to invent that ?

1 reply

Rural places have lots of this stuff if you know where to look. Most tractor places carry hydraulic hose wrapping, basically the same idea but cheaper and more robust! Can be found in varying sizes and longer lengths. I use it all the time but its a bit tougher to work with but stronger in the end.

Simple and effective. Two nice traits to have on your projects!

As a lot of things in life, it depends on your situation. Maybe you have some leftover bits of tube from fixing something else. This will help you use them up. And it doesn't have to be the hard plastic tube either. You can use any tube, but the hard plastic tube will be much more constricting to the wires. But you might not want that all the time. Maybe you want to have clear tubing, so you can trace wires out easier when you are designing a large project. Maybe you want white tubing because you are incorporating it into the aesthetic of your build.

One of the best things about this site is that you can always do it cheaper some other way--but you don't HAVE to. Some people like using up the things they have around, and I for one had not even thought about this before I saw this Instructable. Of course now, looking back it is fairly obvious. But I still didn't come up with the idea. But now I am smarter for knowing this trick, and you are as well.

That rather depends on where you are I suspect, Alberto. As the author noted they couldn't find it in rural Wyoming, I doubt if I could find it out here in the Wop Wops and also a number of Instructables readers are in places where such things are an unheardof luxury. This is what makes this site a joy, using odd bits for odd things and creating wonderful stuff from waste.

My thoughts exactly.