Wire Thing #1 - Double-twist Brush




About: I love to design and make things; and am currently developing a variety of small consumer products.

In spite of my dubious claim on geekiness, I'm one of the network guys who work with the cable installers. Sometimes, well, most of the time, they leave scraps laying around after the job is done. Tiny snips of copper phone (solid) wire with striped insulation, half of a plastic data jack, and the odd toner. Once in awhile, they leave larger scraps. In this case, really large.

Naturally, I had to have this thick, heavy coil of colors and stripes of phone wire, as big around as my index finger, and about thirty feet (10+ metres) long.

"I really like that! I could make something with it.", the Packrat Litany echoed in my head as I considered hauling home the colorful mess. Eric W. has described the pattern exactly in his intro to the "Use It Again contest.

Yes. it's been in my shed for at least a year, patiently awaiting a mission. Thanks to Instructables, the time has come, to Make Wire Things. As with most of my instructables, the photo notes contain extra information that's not necessarily in the written instructions.

(See Wire Thing #2 here)

This is indeed a functional brush, intended to be fun, "functional art." In my house, it's more art than function.

Step 1: Gathering


- The aforementioned wire, all 100 pairs of it. For this brush you'll need at least 17 inches of wire. 18 inches or so will give you enough for what I think are good proportions, and some room to trim the ends if you want.

- 12" or so of wire for binding. Here I'll use a few strands of the same wire.


- Dikes (Diagonal Cutters), tin snips, or something else to cut the wire.
- A measuring tape.

That's it, unless you want to get fancy with twisting the wire, but that's another Instructable.

Step 2: Cut the Wire

Technically, it's cable, since it's made up of a bundle of wires.

Clean up any wild ends like those below, and save for Wire Thing #2, coming soon.
Then cut an 18" piece.

I used (abused?) my trusty combo tin snips, and snipped 5 or 6 times to get through the bundle.
If someone knows how to make a clean cut through the whole thing with common tools, please let us know. This is one place where hacking probably isn't desirable.

Step 3: It's All in the Twist

Strip off the grey insulation. I used a razor knife, holding one end, and cutting away from myself.
Be careful, it's very tough, as it's made to withstand being pulled by brute force through long, dark tunnels, and still be able to carry your phone calls clearly.

Then grip one end firmly, and with your other hand, begin twisting. Gently but firmly, starting at next to your gripping hand, twist the entire bundle, about 1/4 turn at a time, moving down the length of the bundle as you feel the resisitance of the wire increase.

Twist the full length of the bundle, smoothing in any wandering wire.

This photo is of the raw material. Watch the moviefor the intermediate steps. I decided that there are too many small movements to document effectively with still shots.

Step 4: Around the Bend

Either eyeball or measure the center of the wire.

Grab each end and slowly bend them toward each other.

If you twist the bundle while you are bending, it will start to make the loop on it's own.

Again, see the video for specifics. This photo is of the untrimmed brush. Leave it this way if you like the way it looks. Depending on what you intend to brush, this may do the trick. Maybe you're not concerned about brushing anything, and will call it Art .

I trimmed mine for even lengths. It works for brushing smooth surfaces, and on small sections of carpet. See the photo note for more info about the tie-off. It's a little different than the video.



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    9 Discussions


    12 years ago

    Back when I did telecom work we always went 2 per to a job and as most telecom jobs (installing new rj45 jacks, repunching a 66 block, etc) usually just required 1 person the one not working would usually be working on intricate sculptures with stripped cat5 wire. The guy I usually worked with would make sexually explicit kama sutra like figures while I would make strangely intricate and detailed animals and plants/flowers. The best part was leaving these in hard-to-access areas that only other telecom's would get into. Once while doing a job at an art institute I turned a 66 block into a rose bouquet complete with finger pricking thorns. This was right above the main offices copy machine. It was my way of thumbing my nose at their elitest view of the art world.

    1 reply

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Do you have msn? If you're experianced with networking and telephone whatnot, could I ask you a couple questions I wanted to ask about some wiring I want to run in my house. And do telecom's actually use cables that big for networking backbones?


    12 years ago on Step 2

    When dealing with multi core-cables, up to 48 shielded pairs I tend to go for the hacksaw with a fine blade.


    12 years ago

    The reason it works best that way is because you've just made the end of a doubled rope. See the instructables on rope machines for details :) For #2, may I mention the lovely baskets that ladies in africa weave from precisely the same sorts of wire?

    2 replies

    Reply 12 years ago

    Yes, that's it, the twist of the two ends followed the twist of the bundle itself.

    Funny you should mention baskets ;-)

    If you have the info, I'd be interested in seeing the African versions. Do you know where they get the wire?

    Marcosbunnie benton

    Reply 12 years ago

    Er, brushing? ;-) In the olden days, most people had a whisk broom in their cars, especially if they were station wagons. This could be interpreted as a smaller, prettier version of that. It could also be used as a workbench brush, though this version is a little small for that. It's stout and firm, good for getting into little corners, like on the carpet where the vacuum can't go. I had not specific purpose for this one in mind, other than the love of making things, and a vague memory of a traditional Japanese brush. Search as I might, on web and book, I have not been able to find a photo of one. If anyone else knows where to find a photo of a similar brush from Japan, it's brown IIRC, please post it here.