I needed to neatly twist some small gauge electrical wire for a project to neaten the wiring. As I was sitting around waiting on some other stuff, I decided to make a wire twisting jig out of a paperclip and a coffee stirrer - two items that should be "free" to anyone who works in an office. The only tools needed are a small pair of pliers, knife or scissors, and some tape (and the wire, of course). I just used my trusty Swiss Army Knife.
It worked great!
I made two versions, one for twisting two wires and one for twisting three wires. The three wire one is documented here.
Step 1: Materials
Large paper clip (or other suitable stiff wire)
Coffee Stirrer (must be hollow)
Pliers, scissors, and/or knife (Swiss Army Knife, preferably)
Small gauge wire to twist (I was twisting solid insulated wire-wrap wire, 30 gauge)
Step 2: Straighten Wire
Unbend the paper clip into one long wire
Step 3: Make Wire Attachment Points
Grasp the wire at the very end with the pliers and bend the wire around the jaws of the pliers. Then move the pliers to the other end of the loop and straighten the tail end.
Move down about 7/8" (2.1cm) from the end of the hook and bend another hook using a similar technique. Then move down the same amount and make another hook.
If you are only bending two wires, just make two hooks about 1.5" apart.
Step 4: Form a Triangle
In order for the wires to twist evenly, they must rotate around the center at approximately the same rate and distance, so now you need to form an equilateral triangle with a hook at each corner.
When you get them approximately equal, bend the last end so that it crosses the midpoint of the opposite side, forming something that looks like a 4.
Step 5: Form the Shaft
Approximate the center of the triangle and then put a 90 degree angle in the center, going away from the hooks.
Step 6: Add the Holder
Cut off a small length of the stirrer and slide it over the shaft to give you something to hold as you twist.
Step 7: Form the Crank
Now, make two 90 degree bends in the shaft to form a crank you can twist and you are done.
Step 8: Twist Some Wires!
Take three equal lengths of wire and twist or tie the ends of each wire to one of the hooks on the twisting jig.
Take the free ends and tape them to the table tightly (keep them spread apart a bit).
Now, hold the jig by the stirrer, pull the wires slightly taut, and crank the handle with your other hand. Continue to twist until the desired tightness is reached. Be careful not to twist so tight that the wires break. When you are done and release the crank, it will unwind a turn or two due to tension, but the twisted wires will stay together.
Cut the wires from the hooks and slide the remaining loops off the hooks and discard. Carefully pull up the tape and dress the ends of the wires to the length you desire, strip them, etc.