Too many clip leads? Make your own organizer

-June 21, 2017


Wires and cables can be a nightmare. We all have too many of them, whether they're computer cables, AC mains power cords, USB cables, extension cords, and so on. Keeping them organized is always a problem.

Keeping clip leads organized is another issue. Former EDN editorial director Jon Titus made two such organizers from household materials. He wrote, "I finally got annoyed with the tangle of clip leads on my lab bench. I tried to keep them coiled by size, then I hung them from the arm of an adjustable light. No matter what I tried, they either got tangled or took up too much space."

Here's his bill of materials for both holders:

  • A piece of plywood
  • Cardboard tubes, such as those from paper towels or wrapping paper
  • Plastic dividers (3)
  • A piece of scrap 2x4 wood
  • White glue

Figure 1 shows an organizer made using the plywood and two tubes. Titus used a band saw to cut the tubes at an angle and a router to cut the grooves. If you don’t have such tools, you can perhaps use a scissor or saw to cut the tubes, depending on the wall thickness, and a chisel to gouge out the notches. Your finished product might not be a aesthetically pleasing as Titus', but it would still be functional. Titus uses a clamp to hold the 2x4 to his bench and he can move it as needed.

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Figure 1. This cable organizer keeps dangling leads in place.

Figure 2 shows a benchtop clip-lead organizer. You could easily make something like this with cardboard paper towel tubes and cut them with a scissor, then glue them to the plywood.


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Figure 2. Keep short leads in place with this set of tubes.

"Now I keep mini leads separate from larger leads, and power leads with banana plugs have their own slot," noted Titus. "These larger leads don't go into the tube. I might have used separate tubes for the various-size leads, but didn't have any on hand."

As always, there are unintended consequences. "At first, our cats thought I put the larger power leads outside the tubes for their entertainment, but they no longer bother them."

Sometimes, it just takes a little ingenuity and some tools to solve a simple but annoying problem. Best of all, these organizers need neither connectivity nor software.

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