Free Wire Twisting Jig

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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.

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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)
Tape
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.

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.

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42 Discussions

how to make a twister for longer wires like 50 feet or more of 2 twisted wires?

You know, the easy way of doing this is to tie the ends of one side of the wire to a key chain or carabiner, and hook that to something, and stand on the other side of the wire with a cordless drill. close the chuck of the drill so the three prongs grab the end of the wire. stand back so the wire is taught, and then start drilling. end of instructable. Why does everyone want to do it the hard way?

2 replies

There is more than one way to skin a cat. What if you have no drill handy? What if you're teaching a kid how to make something cool and useful? It was a well-written instructable that creates a useful tool.

Cut a 4 inch diameter disc of 6mm plywood with an  100mm M6 bolt secured in the centre with a nut and a washer. Slot the disc radially from the cirumference at  30 degree intervals with a tenon saw to a radial depth of 10mm. Drill a hole of about 5mm diameter at the bottom of each slot. stick an eyebolt in a vice, then thread a continuous strand of wire back and forth between the slots in the disc and the eye up to as many times as the number of slots will allow, secure the two ends of the wire at the eye bolt, stick the end of the bolt in a drill chuck. wind it up, and cut it off. You can have from 2 up to 12 strands. Obviously, subdividing the disc further will allow more strands.

This is sooo cool!  I'm well impressed.  Now that I've read how to use it, I would suggest one improvement (don't know offhand how you'd do it, you'd need a more complex twister) - if the individual wires were able to rotate freely (eg by hooks that could turn) - you'd get a self supporting twist (this is how rope is made) - ie less inclined to come undone.

I like using a hand-held mixer (the kind you use in the kitchen) for this. Wrap your wires to a door knob or whatever. Attach the other end of the wires to the mixer paddles. Then turn it on slow speed and let it do the work. Works quickly and twists the wire uniformly.

pretty smart, it came out of nowhere lol.. i was like.. whats going on.. huh?... then OH YEAH there it is! thats smart O_o very nice

awesome idea! and i guess youve got a victorinox champ ive got a climber which has less than half the amount of functions but still one of the most useful things i have. i just can't imagine myself walking around with something that big.

cordless screwdriver and an add on chuck works pretty good instead of a drill. It's a lot easier to stop in time. Think the chucks sell for 15 at home depot. You can pick up a cordless screwdriver for 19.99 at most hardware stores.

This is the way how genous think, I was always excited and real admirer of people that can invent some jig that there is no any preknowlege needed, just pure inteligence. If you ever tested you IQ, I bet it is high. Maximus

Very nice, can also be used for jewelry work. Thanks for the tip!

Great idea. I admit though, I just tend to use my cordless drill. I measure the length of wire needed (plus a guess at the extra length lost by twisting), clamp the wire in my vice, put the other ends of the wires into the drill's chuck, and let the drill do the work. Makes great twisted wire. However, since your method can be done just about anywhere - I like it!

If you want to be really fancy, you can twist the strands together around each other without twisting each wire itself. This is how twisted rope is made.

Doing so might have benefits for this application using metal wire, since too much twisting or other mechanical stress weakens metal, especially ductile metals like copper and aluminum. Of course that is negligible for short lengths, but might be significant if the twists were tight or the length a half foot or more.

Easy enough to implement a rope-twisting machine https://www.instructables.com/id/Reuse-old-printer-ribbons-and-video-tape-to-make-r/ your way-- just use paperclips and bits of wood or cardboard.

Holy MacGyver! A paper clip and a straw. LOL If this problem ever arises for me, I'm coming straight back here. Ingenious!