AW Extra 10/3/13 – 9 Ways to Untangle Wires | Popular Woodworking Magazine
 In Projects, Questions And Answers, Techniques

9 Ways to Untangle Wires

By Brad Holden

Electric spaghetti. That’s
what most of us have lurking
behind our computer
desks and entertainment centers.
Every time you want to add or take
out a component, unsnarling that
mess can be a real nightmare.

There’s a term for the solution:
wire management. The best new
cabinets and desks have built-in
wire-management features, such as
raceways and concealing panels, to
route wires. Other much simpler
ways exist to manage wires, however;
they’re especially useful to
retrofit less-sophisticated furniture,
old or new. Here are
nine of our favorite methods.

1. Grommets

Cords draped over the back of a desk are an
unsightly mess and make cleaning a real
chore. It’s much neater to run them as bundle
through a grommet. Grommets come in many
sizes and generally snap into a standard-size
hole. The best tool for drilling these oversize
holes is a hole saw.


Note: Product availability and prices for all sources are subject to change.

Cable Inc.,, 547-4580, Grommet, #GR-2375.

Click any image to view a larger version.

2. Mouse Trap

One cord in particular always seems to tangle:
the tail of a computer’s mouse. Two wire
clips are the answer. Mount one at the back of
your keyboard tray, the other at the back of
the desk. The mouse won’t slide off the tray,
and the cord won’t wrap around your legs.


Wire clips are available at home centers
and hardware stores.

3. Wiremate

Here's a slick way to organize and conceal
extra wire. The WireMate has three sets of
cleats for separating and looping slack wire.
Each cleat is split in the middle, which makes
it even easier to wrap up just the right amount
of wire. A cover snaps on to hide the stuff inside.

Source, 212-867-6020, The WireMate, #WMG (gray), #WMB
(black), #WMW (white).

4. Spiral Wrap

This simple, inexpensive product binds
wires together. You can pull them in or let
them out anywhere along the length of the
bundle. Spiral Wrap is simply a tube cut in a
helical pattern. To install it, pull your wires in
a taut line and wind the wrap around them. It
only takes a few minutes. Spiral Wrap comes in
various diameters to accommodate as many
wires as you have.


M.M. Newman Corp.,, 800-777-6309, Spiral Wrap, #HT3/4C.

5. Vertebrae

No, it's not a set of bones; it’s a series of plastic clips in a plastic channel.
But it resembles a spine so much that it’s dubbed The Vertebrae.
You can run wires in and out as needed between each clip. That’s perfect
for a stacked set of components, but you can position it horizontally,
too. Run a couple of screws through the plastic channel to fasten it
in place wherever you need it. As you organize and loop your wires, just
snap each vertebra shut. There’s plenty of room inside for lots of slack.


Doug Mockett & Co. Inc.,, 800-523-1269, The Vertebrae, #WM15A, $13.

6. Homemade Cleats

This cord-wrapping device is just a set of wooden knobs bought at the
hardware store. Drill a screw hole through the center of each knob to
make mounting easier. Mount them as far apart as you want to minimize
the number of loops. Then use hook-and-loop wire wraps to secure the
wires. Coat hooks and clothesline cleats also work well. No
doubt there’s something in your junk drawer that’ll do the job, too.

7. Centralize the Power Source

Plug all your gear into a single power center and label
each component. Mount the power center on the back
of your desk or cabinet, out of sight. After you’ve taken
the slack out of your wires, direct all of them to this central

If you’re hooking up computer equipment, buy a
power center that has a surge protector with receptacles
for both the computer’s power cord and the telephone
line for its modem. This model even has coaxial cable
connections. When shopping for a surge protector, keep
a few basics in mind. It should have a UL rating and be
listed as a transient voltage surge suppressor. The voltage
at which it kicks in should be low, 330 volts or less. It
should have an indicator light to let you know that it is
not just functioning as an extension cord. It should have
high energy absorption, at least 200 to 400 joules, and a
response time of less than 1 nanosecond.

The labels we used have hook-and-loop fasteners, so
all you need to do is pinch them in place. They’re just as
easy to remove and reuse.

Sources Inc.,, 877-547-4580, Quick Pinch labels, QP001-4.

Power centers with surge suppressors are available at electronics
stores and home centers.

8. Wire Wraps

Hook-and-loop wire wraps are so easy
to use that you can tie up your slack in
seconds. Of course, they’re also very
inexpensive. Wraps are available in
many sizes to handle any situation.

Source Inc.,, 877-547-4580, Wire wraps, #VWOW-PK.

9. Cable Turtle

Who thinks of this clever stuff?
Here’s a split hollow ball with a
spool inside for wrapping small diameter
wire. Pop open the
Cable Turtle to turn both halves
inside out, wrap your wire
around the middle and snap the
halves shut. Easy! It’s ideal for
speaker and telephone wire and
it looks cool enough to sit on
your desktop.

Source Inc.,, 877-547-4580, Cable Turtle, #CT-LG.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker October 2005, issue #117.

October 2005, issue #117

Purchase this back issue.


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