Author Topic: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide  (Read 15324 times)

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Offline Lohup

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DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« on: Wed, 18 May 2016, 08:07:59 »
My hobby is making custom cables. I started out making straight cables and eventually tried my hand at coiled cables. I've been really pleased with how they've turned out:





I wanted to share a quick tutorial on how to get a nice coil for anyone interested. You don't need any fancy equipment to get a good result.

Equipment:

* You need something like a long wooden dowel with a diameter of about 1cm - 1.5cm. I use a really crappy fake plastic one I bought from Daiso, but it does the trick.

* Hairdryer or heat gun.

* Electrical tape or other very strong tape.

* An ample amount of cable. A good rule of thumb is about 7ft of cable per 1ft of coil.

Method:

1. Sleeve the cable first. You won't be able to sleeve the cable after it is coiled. I learned this the hard way.

2. Once the cable is sleeved, use the electrical tape to attach the cable to the wooden dowel. The cable should be slanting diagonally across the dowel at the fixture point. Make sure to wrap the cable with the tape VERY TIGHTLY and wrap it around a number of times (I usually do it at least 5 times, as tightly as possible). If there is any give in the tape, it will get looser when exposed to the heat of the hairdryer and you will have looser coils at the end, which looks bad. The quality of your taping is going to be what ensures you get a tight, even coil from start to finish.



3. Start coiling the cable around the dowel, pushing it up toward the taped part of the cable, and keeping each coil tight using your thumb. You want to make sure that each coil is the same size as the last, and that there are no gaps between the coil. Make sure every loop is tight around the dowel. The easiest way I've found is to use your off-hand to loop the coil around the dowel and pull it tight, and your right hand to hold the coil and push it up against the previous coil.

4. Once you have your desired length of coil, you need to tape off the end in the same fashion as you did at the beginning of the coil. This is the hardest part IMO, as it's hard to both tape the end of the coil while keeping the whole thing tight. You may need a second pair of hands to help, or a vice or something to hold the dowel firm while you tie off the cable.

5. Once you've tied off the cable, check the coil at both ends to make sure there is no looseness there. If there is, don't be afraid to remove the tape and try again.

6. Grab a standard household hairdryer (or heat gun if you have one). At full heat and full power, holding the blower close to the coil, move it evenly up and down the entire coil. Allow about 2 mins per half foot of coil. When you're done the entire coil should be very hot to the touch.

7. Leave the coil on the dowel to cool when you're done. As it cools, the coil will set firmly in its current position.



8. When the coil is totally cool, you can remove the tape. If you've heated it enough, it will stay in place perfectly, even without the tape.



9. You can now slide the coil off the dowel. It's all done! To care for your coil, avoid stretching it out and handle it with care just to be safe (though I've found coils produced with this method are pretty tough and stay tightly coiled over time).

The finished result. This was a custom cable order for an Etsy customer - I'm pretty sad I didn't get to keep it:





Please let me know if you have any feedback or questions. If you decide to have a go at making a coiled cable, I'd love to see the results!

This might have been obvious to some - but hoping it'll be useful to somebody. Thanks for reading :thumb:
« Last Edit: Wed, 18 May 2016, 18:20:28 by Lohup »

Offline jabronni

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 18 May 2016, 08:20:04 »
Nice tutorial. Actually seems fairly easy.

I also checked out your store and I really like your cables. Do you ever do paracord sleeving?

Offline Lohup

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 18 May 2016, 08:30:10 »
Nice tutorial. Actually seems fairly easy.

I also checked out your store and I really like your cables. Do you ever do paracord sleeving?

Yeah, I was pleased to discover it's not hard at all to get good results. Just a little fiddly. But worth it. I love the look of coiled cables.

Thanks for the kind words about my cables! It's a hobby I really enjoy. And yep, I do paracord as well. Feel free to PM me if you have something in mind.

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 18 May 2016, 08:33:25 »
Cool! I don't like coiled cables, personally, but I have used a variant of this technique to re-coil old cables that had been stretched out.

It never occurred to me that you could coil a straight cable that way.
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Offline fknraiden

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 18 May 2016, 08:46:11 »
Cool! I don't like coiled cables, personally, but I have used a variant of this technique to re-coil old cables that had been stretched out.

It never occurred to me that you could coil a straight cable that way.


iirc, this is how pexon and zeal make theirs.

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Offline SKD

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 18 May 2016, 08:50:40 »
Once you have it coiled, you can reverse the coil the opposite way for an even tighter coil.

Offline Lohup

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 18 May 2016, 18:18:24 »
iirc, this is how pexon and zeal make theirs.

Very interesting - I was wondering how pexon did it. I'd like to learn more about his process, particularly how he handles heatshrink so well. I can't seem to figure out how to avoid a tiny bit of curl at the outer ends, though maybe that is just a trait of MDPC-X heatshrink. I'd like to try Techflex as well.

Offline Wazazaby

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #7 on: Tue, 07 June 2016, 04:44:13 »
Thanks for the great tutorial!

Offline ninjadoc

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 10 August 2016, 20:09:14 »
Thanks for taking the time to write this up. Good to know.

Offline japanitrat

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #9 on: Thu, 11 August 2016, 16:45:48 »
Nice! I recently asked Davina if they could do me a cable where both ends are coiled but not the middle. They said they couldn't do it. But this looks like it's easily possible!

Offline Jokuhemmo

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 04 December 2017, 15:49:46 »
This post might be a bit necro but i still wanted to ask: Is there any residue left on the cable from the electric tape? And if so, how do you deal with it?

Offline vouisluitton

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 19 January 2018, 12:43:51 »
Once you have it coiled, you can reverse the coil the opposite way for an even tighter coil.

sorry to dig this up, but how do you reverse it? I've heard about this method but never found a guide or video.

Offline dubious

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #12 on: Fri, 19 January 2018, 12:57:10 »
These look really good!
Besides Pexon's, most custom cables have pretty janky looking coils IMHO. You've obviously perfected your system, keep up the good work!  :thumb:
« Last Edit: Fri, 19 January 2018, 13:34:02 by dubious »

Offline ineph

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 19 January 2018, 13:08:25 »
Nice tutorial :thumb:
I always wanted to know how to do this. I thought is a factory process.

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Offline DMacKB

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #14 on: Mon, 09 April 2018, 08:58:49 »
FYI I just did my first of these today and maybe goe easier with the heat if you have an outer sleeve of techflex. The paracord takes the heat well but i did manage to melt two small holes in the flexPET. Given the job I did on the soldering (first time for that too) the exterior is the least of its problems :P

Offline SectorOMEGA

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #15 on: Tue, 10 April 2018, 12:16:01 »
Well this worked better than I thought :) Than you very much for this. Pracord one took the heat nice

Offline DMacKB

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #16 on: Tue, 10 April 2018, 19:51:53 »
I found it's hard to get the ends tight because the electrical tape melts pretty easily under the heat gun. Anyone used a more heat resistant tape with success?

Offline Dreamre

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #17 on: Fri, 18 May 2018, 15:30:50 »
Thanks for sharing this, going to give it a try.

Offline gbchk

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #18 on: Mon, 28 May 2018, 16:25:02 »
Once you have it coiled, you can reverse the coil the opposite way for an even tighter coil.

sorry to dig this up, but how do you reverse it? I've heard about this method but never found a guide or video.

I had the same question myself but I think I figured it out. Let's say you wrap your coil around a dowel rod with one end (lets call it A) on the left side and the other end (B) on the right side. So you have A>>>(coil)>>>B. Once you coil it, heat it, and let it cool, undo the ends being held in place by tape or whatever you used. Now hold B in place and basically try to reverse the coil direction by twisting the curl in your hand so that it bends in the opposite direction of the first coil. Keep doing this coil by coil until you end up with B>>>(coil)>>>A. Obviously you can do this vice versa and re-coil it in the other direction as well. After that tape your ends in place, heat it again, let it cool again, and it should be good.  This video -
- briefly shows it around the 0:25 mark, however this guy just reverses it by hand and leaves it, you obviously want to repeat the heating/cooling process to make it stay put.

Also for whoever's wondering, zip ties to hold the ends down are WAY better than tape or clips/clamps.
« Last Edit: Mon, 28 May 2018, 16:27:45 by gbchk »

Offline _rubik

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #19 on: Mon, 28 May 2018, 17:31:02 »
sorry to dig this up


No, thanks for digging this up! This has to be one of the best tutorials I've seen. I feel like it should be pinned somewhere.

Offline gbchk

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #20 on: Thu, 31 May 2018, 00:23:24 »
So regarding my last post on coil reversal, probably don't take my advice. I'm actually not even sure if what I described is the correct way to do it. I'm practicing coils on some cheap USB cables and getting fairly good results with the first wrap but as soon as I reverse and re-heat/re-cool, the coil comes out worse than before. If someone could provide a video of the proper way to do it, that would be fantastic, because I really can't find much.

Offline 1Weeb

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #21 on: Thu, 31 May 2018, 15:45:03 »
Great guide, may try this one day to save some money instead of having it pre-coiled when I get a cable made. :)

Offline vouisluitton

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Re: DIY perfectly coiled cable guide
« Reply #22 on: Tue, 19 June 2018, 03:58:36 »
So regarding my last post on coil reversal, probably don't take my advice. I'm actually not even sure if what I described is the correct way to do it. I'm practicing coils on some cheap USB cables and getting fairly good results with the first wrap but as soon as I reverse and re-heat/re-cool, the coil comes out worse than before. If someone could provide a video of the proper way to do it, that would be fantastic, because I really can't find much.

I think I may know how to do it now, but i need an electric drill for the reverse process.