Shop Cord ReWinder




Introduction: Shop Cord ReWinder

About: Retired Tool Maker ( 1980 ) Retired Mechanical Engineer ( 2009 ) Full time Tinkerer

Back in 1958 Mom and Dad bought a new Electro-Lux Vacuum. I thought it was really cool since the cord had its own rewinder. The older models didn't have one, and the rewinder on ours was obviously an add-on. So one day I thought wouldn't it be neat to have an extension cord at my work bench that retracted like the vacuum cord. So this is how you can take a vacuum cord rewinder and convert it to be a bench extension cord.

Step 1: Raw Materials

The easiest rewinders to convert are like the one on the intro page. Usually three steps:

1) Cut the Plug off and substitute a two prong socket.

2) Add a cord where the line went to the vacuum motor.

3) Find a way to mount it to your work bench.

Here I have four rewinders ready for conversion. Three have plastic cases that have been cut free from a vacuum and the fourth is metal without a case. The plastic cases are OK with a two prong plug. If any metal is exposed I would use a grounded three prong plug for safety. Firmly connect the green ground wire to the exposed metal. If it is as exposed as #4 I would also add a case of some sort.

Step 2: Gather the Materials

Here are the three items you will need:

1) The Rewinder from a Vacuum.

2) A new two slot socket for the end of an extension cord.

3) A new cord with a two prong cord. ( Or three prong grounding for a metal case )

Step 3: Cut Off the Origanal Plug

Simple step, cut off the plug. One thing you might wish to do is put a clamp on the cord, so it doesn't rewind and disappear into the case! I used a paper clamp you will see in a later photo.

Step 4: Strip the Wires and Install the Socket

Depending on the socket you've found, strip the insulation from the wires. Here is a tip an electrician from St Louis taught me: Twist the stranded wires Counter Clock Wise.Then when you tighten the wire under the screw heads they will not twist out. The white wire should go to the larger slot in the socket. There is a safety reason for this.

Step 5: Socket All Finished

Here is the socket finished. You can also see the paper clamp keeping the cord from slipping back into the case.

Step 6: New Plug and Supply Cord

The method may vary with the ReWinder you find, but here is what worked on this one. I used crimp on butt splices to connect the wires. And heat shrink tubing to cover everything. Make sure the tubing is large enough to slip over the wire and the butt splice. Now is the time to slide the tubing on the cord, not after you have crimped the butt splices.

Step 7: Splicing the Cord

Cut the wires so the splices will stagger, this makes a neater appearance under the heat shrink tubing. Also notice the white tracing on the black cord. This should be connected to the white wire on the rewinder. Strip the wires about 8mm and stick them in the butt splices. Use the crimping pliers to lock them. Check to make sure you can't pull the wires out.

Step 8: Heat Shrink Tubing

Now slide the heat shrink tubing over the butt splices up to the rewinder. Some folks use matches to shrink the tubing, but I keep a heat gun on hand. Once the tubing cools the wiring is done and all that is left if finding a way to mount it to your work bench.

Step 9: All Finished

So here are photos of four of my rewinders. The first three are under work benches. I used various screws and chunks of plywood to mount them. The rewinders will all vary so use your imagination on the mounting.

The fourth photo is of a rewinder mounted inside a cabinet. The ratchet wouldn't work so I keep a clothes pin handy to keep the cord out when I use it.

I hope these steps allow you to build and mount your own rewinder to make your work easier.

Good luck, Carl.

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    4 Discussions


    4 years ago

    darn, I just threw my old vacuum away.......


    4 years ago


    Now to find a vacuum with a retractable cord!!!


    Reply 4 years ago

    Mostly I find them on the side of the road. Some times I find them in the Magic Woods! ( Illegal dump sites ) I would buy a vacuum at Goodwill if it had the early rewinder from the 50's or 60's.


    4 years ago

    You scored some nice retractors, the one I got is a simple plastic open frame, but still it will serve I think- nice submittal too!