I am trying to get an industrial look to a desk unit that has threaded rods (M20) at the corners, using steel cables. I want to get an 'X' using the cables, but not sure how to attach the cable end to steel rod. The picture below is a mock setup of what I'm trying to do.

enter image description here

I'm wondering what I can use in place of the eye hook shown in the image. I've thought about pipe clamps, u-clamps etc, but they wont have an eyelet to thread the cable. The other option then is to drill the eye hook onto the wood itself, but I'm trying to avoid that, and use only the steel rods as originating points for the cable. The entire setup is for an aesthetic value.


closed as off-topic by Daniel Griscom, Tyson, isherwood, mmathis, Machavity Aug 20 '18 at 23:08

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  • Have you thought about welding the cable to the all thread? – Ed Beal Jul 29 '18 at 5:34
  • Are the cables just to get an industrial appearance, or do you want them to have structural value (resisting changes in geometry)? – fixer1234 Jul 29 '18 at 5:35
  • Mainly for industrial appearance. I have thought about welding, but is probably the last option. Thanks. – Dave Jul 29 '18 at 5:43
  • 1
    Also thought of replacing the round washer under the hex nut, with a square washer and then folding up a corner of the washer and then finally drilling a hole on the folded lip. I could then thread the steel wire through that hole. – Dave Jul 29 '18 at 5:47
  • Climbing hardware, maybe? eg: abaris.co.uk/cat/hangers-and-bolts (You'd have to drill out the 10mm hole to 20mm.) – Aloysius Defenestrate Jul 29 '18 at 13:44
  • Most of the attachment methods I can think of will require making a loop in the cable to go through or around something. There are crimp-on clamps that are basically a metal tube, but you need a heavy-duty crimping tool. There are clamping U bolts, that only need a wrench, but they are ugly honking things to leave visible.

    This type of clamp is pretty streamlined and doesn't need special tools (it comes in various sizes for the cable):

    enter image description here

    Since you need a loop, anyway, you could skip a separate cable clamp to pass it through for attachment to the rod. Just loop the cable around the rod, and use a nut on each side to keep it positioned where you want it.

  • Actually, you can clamp a steel cable loop together without a hardware clamp. Make the loop and bind it together by winding a piece of wire around the two a bunch of times. Then cover the "clamp" with heat shrink tubing, making sure you enclose the cut end of the cable. It won't be nearly as strong as a hardware clamp, but it will hold well enough for "decorative" purposes.

  • You mention an approach where you just pass the end of the cable through a hole. You would still need to deal with the end of the cable to secure it and keep it from unraveling (and protect yourself from stab wounds; the ends are sharp).

    If there won't be any stress on the cable, you might be able to use a really large crimp-on loop-type electrical terminal. Steel cable doesn't compress like copper wire, so you would need a heavy-duty crimper. The terminal would go on the end of the cable and the threaded rod would go through it. Again, you could position it on the rod with a nut on each side.

  • Another approach: this would be similar to the old binding posts used for speaker connections. If the threaded rod is a much bigger diameter than the cable (on the order of three or four times or more), drill a clearance hole through the rod at the cable locations. Pre-position nuts above and below the hole. Pass the cable through the hole and bind the end with something like heat shrink tubing. Then tighten the nuts against the cable to lock it in place. You might get away with a nut on just one side, but tightening it against the cable might sheer the cable.


You could put a loop on the end of the cable as fixer1234 suggested, make it just big enough so you can slip it over the threaded rod and then just add another nut so that you are sandwiching it down between the two nuts.

  • That's exactly what I wrote. Guess great minds think alike. :-) – fixer1234 Jul 29 '18 at 20:55
  • thought i read your answer thoroughly but i must have selective vision. :) – Alaska Man Jul 30 '18 at 1:00

In the world of homebuilt and ultralight aircraft, it is common to have tensioning cables running in the manner you seek.

The method used to accomplish this is to add a tang to the underside of the bolt. The tang will have a hole for the bolt and another for the cable to pass through. The cable is equipped with a thimble which prevents the cable from being subjected to the forces applied when the radius is too small.

cable tang

The above image is from Aircraft Spruce and Specialty.

cable thimble

This image is also from Aircraft Spruce and Specialty.

Cable sleeves are placed on the cable, one end of the cable passes through the tang which has the thimble inserted in the hole. The free end of the cable then passes through the sleeve which is crimped.

cable sleeves


The above image is from a composite aircraft web page.

Please also note that despite these images being all related to aircraft, non-aircraft parts are available at big-box hardware and small town hardware stores.


I'd get another set of nuts and some fender washers (or any washer that extends at least 1/4" beyond the nut). Drill three holes near the edge of each washer sized for the cable. Install a washer and nut on the rod. Slip cable into one hole and out another, then into the last. Snug down the nut to tension the cable.

Voila. Instant turnbuckle. No cable ends or loops necessary. Lay the cut cable end under the first loop to secure it against the washer for a clean appearance and less chance of pokes.

(I can't for the life of me find an image of this type of cable connection. Garage door spring cables were attached this way back in the day. The friction of the cable in the holes provides more than enough grab.)

       |    |    |    |
       |    |    |    |      <-- Upper nut
       |    |    |    |
         <         >
         <         >         <-- Threaded rod
         <         >
    __________________^_^_   <-- cable loops
   |______________________|  <-- washer
       |    |    |    |  \
       |    |    |    |   \  <-- cable
       |    |    |    |    \
         <         >
         <         >
         <         >
         <         >
         <         >
  • This isn't a bad idea; don't see why it was downvoted. The ASCII art, alone, is worth the price of admission (took me a minute to figure out what I was looking at, but clever). – fixer1234 Jul 29 '18 at 21:09
  • Wasn't it Socrates who said that anyone who posts crudely drawn sketches of hardware on the internet is bound to have enemies? – isherwood Jul 30 '18 at 2:07
  • Downvoter, care to comment? – isherwood Aug 1 '18 at 16:34

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