How to: No tangle extension cord storage

[Video Link] Thanks for reminding me how to store my 100-foot extension cord, Muskrat and Rat Man!


  1. this works if you’re an electric lineman and you plan on storing the cord in the back of your bucket truck. where would you store that fruity looking thing in your basement?

  2. I’ve always used over under, the industry standard in television news. Cords don’t tangle that way and last longer. Also it’s quicker than what ever that guy was doing. When you’re done looping up your cord gaffer tape it and you are done.

  3. Or how bondage folk keep rope handy for one handed use.

    I’d be wary about damage from pulling in too tight a radius on any coppers (like knots). And for heavy loads you should always unroll a cord to avoid inductive heating.

  4. Makes me wish we lived in a society where men of all types—not just Rosie Greer—can enjoy crochet publicly without fear of being shunned.

    1. I knit on the trolley down where I live. Maybe I do get shunned by the guys… but ladies love it and it’s a guaranteed conversation starter.

      What’s more manly: looking ‘cool’ in the front of the guys, or constantly getting chatted up by beautiful women? ;)

    2. Starts with men (like me) not giving a damn what anybody else thinks about what they do.  

      I carry a purse.  I carry useful things in it.  Anybody who’s got a problem with that can go screw.  And I freakin’ LOVE quiche.  Same goes for this technique, I use it all the time.

  5. This is the type of ‘so obvious once you start doing it you wish you’d known it since you were a kid’ knowledge that I love about BB.

    I learned to do this with just about any sort of cord when I was in the Army. (As far as I know, it’s the only use of the term ‘daisy-chain’ in the Army that doesn’t involve high explosives.) Not only does it prevent tangling, it also allows you to unravel one-handed and store compactly.

    As before, the only concern is that if you’re daisy-chaining electrical cords or tubing, take care to do it relatively loosely to prevent damaging kinks.

    Protip: if you’re working with extremely long or fine line, once you’ve chained up the whole length, you can tie another knot in the chained plait, and daisy-chain the daisy-chain. Iterate until you have a manageable storage size.

  6. Chain Sinnet     a very nice knot to know.   good for storing all sorts of things.   Called chain stitch if you are working with thread in an artistic manner.

    these are also very fun for kids to play with.   You can show them how to chain up a length of medium size rope,  then let them pull it all out while giggling madly.   (a fave of my 5 yr old.)

  7. Yup, chain sinnet. Also called a monkey chain, monkey braid, single trumpet cord, single bugle cord and chain braid. Regards, Clifford Ashley.

  8. Something is very wrong with BoingBoing.  For the past week or two, every page load freezes my browser.  Happens both on Firefox, Chrome 11, and Chrome 16 dev.  

    I’ve seen other comments reference the same thing, but they seem to disappear.  

    1. The 9/11 did it! Dude, nothing’s wrong on my end.. FF or Chrome 14. One thing that is different about BB now is the vernacular. Back in the day this post would’ve been titled “Cord hack”.

      PS re video: Thank you internet! I like how once it’s done you can “pay out” what length you need and no more.

  9. I use this knot for stowing of recovery tow rope, loading straps and spare winch rope in the back of my offroader, it works well and stops the whole lot tangling up with each other. Long ropes/straps get doubled up before looping, so cuts down on over all size. Now and again I somehow  get it wrong in such a way the loops won’t pull open easy and so have to undo each one separately… not so great then. I noticed that the parachute cord at my local military surplus is stowed in this manner. I have always know it as the electricians knot/loop.

  10. seems useful for a rope but i’d personally never use it for an extension cable… especially with that initial knot, the risk of damage seems too great. particularly if the cable should expect a lot of abuse both in use and in storage/transport, like on a film set.

  11. Holy shit this is usefull. I have some things that roll up the cord, but the damn cord seems to twist when I do that.

  12. Oh no! That method is slow, tough on the cable, and leads to bends that snarl and tangle in the long run.  The “over-under”, as noted by pushmonk and Sean, is the best method I’ve ever found for coiling cables.  It’s fast, easy, doesn’t damage cables, and you can uncoil cleanly with no kinks or twists faster than any other coil I know.  It’s the preferred method of many roadies and rigging companies.  Here’s one good vid on the method:

    I use a slightly different technique that I find a little faster and easier with heavy cables, holding the coil low and pushing each loop into place while half-twisting to the left and right alternately.  I’ve never known anyone who’s learned the over-under correctly to switch to any other coil for cables.  

    Rope is a different story.  It’s more flexible and less delicate and can tolerate a lot of different coiling techniques, though the over-under is still among the best.  If you want to learn one coil you can use for everything, the over-under is a great way to go.

  13. I first started using this method years ago. At some point the technique morphed into something that requires tediously undoing a series of knots one by one.

    I don’t know what happened. Now I just toss the things in a corner.

  14. Thank you Sean.  If i catch anyone treating my cables like the guy in the vid, there will be trouble.  Wire is not as flexible as line, as has been pointed out.  I deal with both.   For any wire based cable, co-axe, or power, over under. 

    For very long line, randomly piling it in a bag, unless it’s very very stiff.  No one screws up long lengths of line quicker than a sailor(they know everything)because they want to coil it.  Long line coils poorly, no matter what method you use.

    For very thin line, like kite bridles(single line stuff, not traction kites)we will braid the line as shown. There are about 4 different ways you can do it.


  15. I once watched a newbie electrician on a film set wrap a whole crate of 100-ft. stingers using the method shown in this video.  On that particular shoot, I wasn’t working electrics, I’d hired on as the armorer’s assistant.  And I’d already seen the Best Boy come unglued at a grip for telling one of his juicers where to string a cable.   “Goddammit, if you aren’t on my crew, don’t tell my crew what to do!”

    So I didn’t.

    The Gaffer didn’t *quite* rip the new kid’s head off.  

    But the air was thick with expletives.

    Over and under is the way to go with lighter cords like stingers and sound cords.  (Heavy stage cables, probably plain ol’ flat coil; but ask your Gaffer if local convention is unclear.) 

    Make ties out of waxed round braided shoelace (cut ends never fray).  Fasten ties to one end of the cord with a lark’s head, tie the tie around the coiled cable with a reef knot (square knot).  To unfasten, spill the reef knot and slide it apart.  No huhu.

    But do *not* use the method shown here if you want to get hired on the next shoot.

  16. Second Glenn’s comments.

    “Over and under” — which I know as flip-coiling, which can be searched for if you aren’t sure how to do it — is definitely the technique which puts least strain on the cable, and if the cable starts flat then it will be flat when it uncoils — which means, among other things, that it can reliably be tossed and uncoil nicely. Emphatically the way to go for any electrical cable you intend to coil and uncoil repeatedly. And for any rope that you intend to bet your safety on (climbing lines, for instance, or lines being used to hoist something heavy.)

    If you’re coiling line for a boat, there are different practices and different conventions, to meet the specific needs of that environment and the material being coiled. Even there, I tend to flipcoil and then do the wrap-around-the-middle-and-loop-over thing to secure it if it needs to be secured in a traditional-looking manner..

    The exception is line or cable that lives on a reel. In that case, letting the reel wind it in is indeed the right answer — but make sure you take the twists out of it.

  17. Love the idea of starting from a knot in the middle.  I’d been starting from an end, but this is much more compact.

  18. I did electrical work as a kid in Texas, and I was yelled at for coiling our extension cords in any way other than over/under.  And we used big loose coils, too.  Once you know how to do it right, you won’t have any snags, your cords will last longer, and in cold weather you won’t have kinks that make it impossible to drag the cord through a construction site.

    I never saw this method until I came to North Carolina.  But the electricians I worked with here also insisted that this is not the proper way to do it.  It’s always plumbers or HVAC guys that treat their cord this way.

  19. I’ve found the “start from the middle” useful for extensions on reels, half the time to spools it up, and only unreel what you need.  I’ve not been concerned about heavy load induction, as it’s usually for intermittent backyard work like an electric weed trimmer.

  20. My dad taught me this as a child. When I was bored in college, I would do this to my headphone cord over and over to pass the time.

  21. I wouldn’t do this with an e-cord but the chain sinnet is a great method with many uses  – rescue lines at waterfronts, for example.

  22. Not to mention you wouldn’t want your cord stored like this in the middle of a Minnesota winter. To uncoil it would be impossible and still leave kinks in it. Unless you’re into kinks of course.

  23. Never tie an extension cord in a knot. You are violating the minimum safe bend radius and if you pull in it, it’ll get even worse.

    Additionally, never use an extension cord without fully paying it out. To leave it coiled up is to risk a fire.

    You can either over-under coil it or if it is small enough (or your arm big enough) you can figure eight wrap it. You can even butterfly coil it if you want. There are lots of ways to coil an extension cord that don’t twist it nor violate the bend radius and thus provide no-knot payout.

    This isn’t one of them.

  24. Speaking of tied cables, I recall a friend who had to re-do a companies’ network cables. It seems they did it “in house” and instead of using tape or otherwise labeling cables, he put KNOTS into the ends. So one knot on each end for one cable, two knots on each end for another. It was a small office, but I think he got up to 8 on each side. I am sure the guy thought it was clever, but it basically made it useless.

  25. that’s not how we wrap extension cables in the video production business…and i would never crochet anything that had electricity going through it. you’re asking for a shortened life span (pun intended).

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