Reduce Clutter by Twisting Wires




Electronics projects can get messy in many ways, including having wires making it difficult to navigate the inside and/or outside of your project. This Instructable will show you how to quickly and easily reduce clutter in your projects with wires.

As pointed out by pfred2, if your project is very sensitive to wire crosstalk, use only twisted pairs (two strands) and not more, like I use to demonstrate in this instructable.

You will need:

Insulated wires (This will not work with bare wires!)
Wire cutters or scissors
Drill with adjustable chuck (ideally electric, but you could do this with one of the hand-crank ones too)
Stationary clamp

Step 1: Step 1: Cut

You will want to cut however many wires you want to use to the same length. Keep in mind that the twisting will make the wires shorter. The wires I twisted ended up being about 80% of their original length. This percentage can change depending on the tightness of the wrap, but will always be a bit shorter than the straight length of wire that you cut.

Note that the thicknesses of the wires don't matter, but the closer the diameters are to each other, the cleaner the wrap will come out.

Step 2: Step Two: Clamp

Align the ends of the wires and put them in the clamp fairly close to each other. Remember to only put one end of each wire in the clamp!

Both ends should still be even with each other. If they aren't even, check to see that the clamp hasn't allowed wires to slip out. You should be able to pull pretty hard on the wires and not have them slip out of the clamp. Also be sure that whatever the clamp is attached to will not move.

Step 3: Step Three: Drill

Loosen the chuck of the drill to allow wires to be put in. In my case, the three wires could be neatly arranged between the three teeth, but as long as you can tighten the chuck enough to hold the wires in place, the number of wires does not matter. I have done this with up to 8 wires without too much trouble. Make sure your drill chuck is tight and won't slip. Also make sure you have enough room to stand with the drill in your hand and make the wires taught.

Step 4: Step Four: Twist!

To begin actually twisting the wire, give the wires some tension and start the drill going in one direction fairly slowly. After you see a uniform spiral forming, you can speed up. The wires will start to become shorter because of the twisting and will pull you towards the clamped end. You should start to walk in with the drill but still provide enough tension to prevent the wire from flopping around while spinning.

Once you reach your desired length or twist density, keep twisting a little, and then put your drill in reverse until you get back to where you want. I have found that this helps with the flexibility of the cable.

Step 5: Finishing

Remove your cable from the clamp and the drill, straighten the ends a little, and take a moment to admire your work. If all went well, your wires should not untwist themselves and the cable should be easy to bend and coil. Trim to your desired length, strip the ends if you so choose, and you're done! 

If the wires in your cable need to reach different places, simply unwrap a portion of the cable with the specific wires. You should be able to twist them together by hand to make them stay. 

This trick has been very useful in making custom cables, used in everything from small circuits to tethers for controlling underwater vehicles.




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    7 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is an excellent tip. Not only is it neat, but, it reduces both the emmision of interference and its pickup. I was taught to do this as an apprentice over 50 years ago when wiring up the heating circuits of valves. It was very easy to demonstrate that the twisting of the ac supply to the heaters reduced mains hum in audio amplifiers by an immense amount.

    I also used it to make twisted pair analogue and digital signal transmission, when commercial cables were not easily available and they worked up to, and exceeded the performance of some commercial twisted pairs.

    If you put 3 or 4 twists per inch you get a cable impedance of about 600 ohm. ( At least I seem to recall that, but I may be wrong!)

    When you have twisted as much as you require, pull about 40 or 50 mm per 2 metres or so of the cable, on it, before you release the wire from the drill chuck. This will stabilise the twists and stop them unravelling a bit. It also gives you a lovely straight bit of cable, particularly if you are working with single stranded.

    It is good to see the tip here, because apprenticeships are becoming less common and less intensive nowadays, and a lot of practical knowledge is being lost. Rock on!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This looks really nice. The old rule about never mixing signal and power wires always is always right though. If you put them together, you could try to "pretwist" the signal wires. When you twist the wires all together in the same "braid" they are not twisted from each other, causing crosstalk. Crosstalk is when the current flowing through the power wires causes voltage spikes in the near signal wires, that can corrupt the signal. By twisting the signal wires you share the voltage spikes between the wires, effectively canceling the spikes out.
    In this twisting wire method, the wires are under tension to unwrap. By twisting each wire individually they'll wrap around each other and don't want to separate as much. This way is much simpler and very good for smaller projects but the other way is considered better. :)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I always thought you were only supposed to twist pairs of wires together. Either that or you can develop unwanted crosstalk between signals.

    4 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    The twisted pair does help cancel out crosstalk from other wires, but I've never had trouble with interference when sending low voltage signals to servos over long distances.

    You are correct though; if your application absolutely cannot work with any electrical interference, stick with multiple twisted pairs and just bundle them together to keep things neat.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I have a cabling job coming up and I might have to run some wires as twisted pairs to reduce interference. Noise has been an issue with my project.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    if its cable like CATV cable, yes interference can happen, but electrical wire is a whole other ball game. since its just x-mission of of electricity as a pose to electronic signals, its ok to twist together electrical wiring. but be careful...some electrical wiring can be dangerous to twist together...i myself will always stick with the classic wire zip-tie.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    In my case it is control signals and inductive motor feed lines. I've already had issues with the motor noise interfering with the control signals with this project. It is all electrical wiring, just some of it is a bit on the sensitive side.

    I like spiral wrap but it is a pain to put on, and even worse if you have to take it off. Wire loom is so so. It isn't quite as tough or neat as spiral wrap is, but it is a lot easier to deal with if you ever have to deal with it.