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If you are a Maker, you are one of two sorts of Makers: the kind who is obsessively orderly and has a shop where everything has a place and there is a place for everything, or you are like me and you have piles of things everywhere, not the least of which will be bags and boxes and whole attics full of piles of wires which make the Gordian Knot look like a hair braiding project. That said, no matter which type of Maker you are, you need to tame the cables and wires and power cords in your hoarder's paradise -- and the most common way to do that is with velcro wire straps.
The pre-cut velcro straps made for this come in packs of 20 for about $6 -- so about 30¢ a piece. You can buy 10m of 2cm-wide velcro tape (that's 35' of 0.75" wide strap for the Americans) for about $7 you can make the straps in custom lengths, and make a lot more than 20 straps. However, if you start down that road you are going to find out very quickly that most of the time you do not need a strap which is 2cm wide. 1cm wide is almost always plenty-wide, and 2cm wide feels like you're trying to hold up a pair of pants with towing strap.
What you need to make this clever find work is a jig for your hobby knife that will allow you to cut a strip of 2cm velcro down to 2 1cm-wide strips without cutting your fingers to ribbons. And you need that jig to cost less than $3.
Let's see how to do it.
Step 1: Materials - Less Than $3!
As we look at the materials for this project, my cost count is excluding the roll of Velcro because it's not part of the jig. But what I used is as follows:
- 2 squares of scrap corrugated cardboard, 10cmx10cm (cost = 0 because it is scrap from another project)(hence: reclaimed cardboard)
- 1 roll double-sided tape, 1 roll masking tape (cost = 0 because you already have these, but for the picky those together if you have to buy them new will cost you $2 if you shop wisely)
- 1 new skinny utility knife (mine cost 49¢ at Harbor Freight)
Step 2: Step 1: Make Jig Channel Guides
So the math here is simple: if the velcro strap is 2cm wide, and one of the squares is 10cm on edge, you need to cut the square into two equal parts 4cm wide, leaving a 3rd part which is 2cm wide. (4+4+2=10) Save the 2cm piece for later. You will get your best results if your cuts run parallel to the corrugated grain.
Now take the two 4cm pieces and use the masking tape to reinforce what will be the inner side if the jig -- the channel side for the velcro to slide in as it is cut by the blade. see the pictures above for reference.
Step 3: Step 2: Secure Guides to Base to Create Cutting Channel
Apply the double-sided tape to the back side of one of the channel guides and stick it to the base piece (the other 10cm piece) so that the edges are reasonably squared up, and so the taped-up edge is on the inside of the square. In a perfect world, you can do the same to the other guide, but I find that relying on the world to be perfect when we are cutting cardboard with a razor blade is going to yield an unreliable end-product. Since we are not using machine-shop precision to make our cuts to the cardboard, but we want a reasonably-tight fit in the cutting channel, I cut a 15cm (6") strip of velcro strap from my roll and laid it in next to the first piece I taped down. Then I applied the double-sided tape to the second piece, and I squared it against the velcro in a way that allows the velcro to slide smoothly in the channel.
Once the tape is stuck, I measured the channel and marked out the center line. My mark runs from the edge of the channel to about 3cm inside the channel.
Step 4: Step Three: Cut the Blade Slot
OK, so my photos show that I pushed my blade through the base, and then added the channel cover onto the point. That's a huge mistake, and I omitted the photos of my bandaged fingers to protect the squeamish. Rather, you should cut a 3cm length of the center channel scrap and mark the center line of the channel on the scrap. Insert your utility knife into the channel cover on the center line, and then insert the channel cover into the base.
Now the trick is learning how to insert the 2cm velcro into the channel so you cut it and not your fingers.
Step 5: Step 4: Insert Velcro and Cut
Once you have a stable slot, remove the blade and the channel cover. In my example, I put my 15cm strip into the channel for cutting, leaving about 3 cm out of the channel to pull it past the blade. I then inserted the knife and channel cover into the channel and made the starter cut into the velcro by pushing down hard. Then I pulled the velcro through the channel and past the blade, getting 2 equal strips cut. Once the long end of my strip was cut, I reversed it in the channel so I could cut the last 3cm, and got the 2 strips you see in the picture above.
After that, you can tame the piles and piles of wires and cables in your Maker space with your very-cheap Veclro cable ties.
There is also a 3D printable version of this RECLAIMED build. CLICK HERE to find it!