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I need to twist nicely a 6-foot pair of insulated solid electrical wire. It can be 14 gauge or slightly thinner. The insulation can be nylon or PVC. Two wires must be at 90 degrees to each other while being twisted. I’ve tried this by hand, but the result is inconsistent. Is there a tool or technique I could use?

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Try an electric drill. Put the two ends of the wire into the drill chuck; fasten the other ends of the wires to something; step back until the wires are taut, then turn on the drill. As the wires twist and the cable shortens, you'll have to walk forward to where the wires are anchored.

But I'm not sure if this would work with your "90 degrees to each other" requirement.

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    If you are worried about uniform twisting, start with extra length and cut off a few feet from each end after you twist. – Mattman944 Jan 28 at 13:55
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    @safesphere having twisted many wires of varying thickness together over the years with manual handrills and battery ones, even mains drills then an evenness of twist is possible with practice... You should give it a go. – Solar Mike Jan 28 at 14:02
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    What are you trying to accomplish with perfectly twisted wire? – clwhoops44 Jan 28 at 14:39
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    "specialized tool for audiophile voodoo" and "budget" are not compatible concepts! – Affe Jan 28 at 21:51
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    @safesphere ALL audio connections should cost peanuts. More robust cables and gold-plated connectors improve cable/connector lifespan, but do not affect the signal in any way whatsoever. This has been proven, over and over again, by engineers. The only people who dispute it are "audiophiles" who claim unquantifiable subjective "improvements" without carrying out proper testing. Properly-run blind testing has been carried out, with these same audiophiles, and the same individuals cannot tell the difference. TLDR: If you think there's a difference, you're the problem, not the cable. – Graham Jan 29 at 13:09
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Expanding on @ecnerwal 's answer

This sounds like a rope-making jig, that uses one winder per strand. Navies use to make their own mooring and rigging ropes using machines like this

From https://maritime.org/doc/luce/part1.htm

sometimes with a "pingpong bat" paddle to help set the tension in the layup.

From https://www.instructables.com/id/Reuse-old-printer-ribbons-and-video-tape-to-make-r/

I think you could achieve your goal using two lengths of wire, perhaps 50% longer than the final length you think you require. Onecordless drill per wire for twisting, a helper to press both triggers, and a clamp for the far end. You would use some form of paddle to keep the twists apart until sufficient tension is reached, where you slowly move the paddle towards the drills.

This twist will lessen the twist in the remaining sections of wire, so the drills have to add more twists.

Perhaps practice with anything you have around the home already - even long strips of plastic would work as test ropes.

  • Have you considered winding an earth wire into your "power-rope" ?
  • What about cooling? twisted wires will get hotter than the same wire untwisted.
  • Stranded vs Solid core wire - the solid will take the twist better but will be much harder to work with.
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    Also, solid wire may snap if "worked" for a prolonged period. That is, if it's in any unsupported situation where it can move or flex (even just by a small amount), then it may fail in the future. Almost all cables you use on a daily basis are multi-core to avoid this limitation. – Ralph Bolton Jan 29 at 11:55
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    I really like the idea of manufacturing 21st century audiophile juju using 19th century pre-electrical technology. +100 for the illustrations, if I could. – nigel222 Jan 29 at 12:16
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    TKOR had a series of semi-instructional videos on this topic: youtube.com/watch?v=ddenqErLL0Q – UuDdLrLrSs Jan 29 at 12:36
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    @UuDdLrLrSs Very helpful videos. Thanks so much! – safesphere Jan 29 at 14:59
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    @nigel222 “I really like the idea of manufacturing 21st century audiophile juju using 19th century pre-electrical technology.” - Not just using, but making a machine for making cables before making cables. The irony of this is just hilarious! Of course, you can always buy one instead ;) thecableco.com/cables/… – safesphere Jan 29 at 15:14
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The 90 degree requirement would be most easily achieved by cutting two slots in a board at 90 degrees that allow a slip-fit of the wire, with the intersection point being just off the edge of the board, then screwing another board to it to hold the wires in place.

Given your budget, you'd then be attaching a drill (or a brace/hand crank/speed wrench) and walking away from the board, maintaining tension while twisting.

For precision, you might mount it on a wire wrapping lathe carriage to ensure even feed, but not on your budget.

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  • I’ve tried this with some success +1. I drilled two holes at 90 degrees in a small piece of wooden board and twisted by hand. It worked well for thicker nylon wire like 12 or 10 gauge, but failed for thinner PVC wire. Perhaps I should try some slippery plastic instead of wood. Twisting at 90 degrees in place while moving along the wire seems a better approach than twisting the whole length at once with a drill hoping to get to 90 degrees and even twist everywhere. – safesphere Jan 28 at 21:58

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