I’ve seen a lot of cable clips over the past few years, and even regularly use a few kinds myself, but it seems like they’re all either somewhat light-duty (they accommodate just one cord) and are mounted via adhesive backing, or they’re built to handle heavier cable bundles and require surface-damaging hardware (like screws or anchors) for installation. Not to mention that they’re almost entirely intended to mount flush onto flat surfaces like walls and furniture. What happens if you want to run a bundle of cables along the edge of a sheet metal fixture?
You get HellermannTyton’s Edge Clips, that’s what. Available in two styles, they basically combine the features of basic cord clips or cable tie anchors with built-in clamps that grip onto the edges of sheet metal or plastic sheeting without the need for adhesives or hardware. They can be installed wherever you need them, and relied upon to keep a death grip on whatever that object may be until you decide that you want to remove them.
Here’s how they work. Edge Clips are made up of an integral metal clamp, which has a considerable amount of bite to keep the clips firmly in place, combined with your choice of either a cable clip or cable tie anchor. The cord clip flips open and snaps shut to fully encircle wires, and the cable tie anchors give you tie-down points for cable tie-fastened cord bundles. But whichever style you choose, you can be sure that it has staying power. Once pushed onto an edge, the clamps aggressively resist backward pull, so you don’t need to worry about them slipping off.
As a matter of fact, you know that a clamp really works when the manufacturer includes a note that it may leave very slight scratches behind post-removal. That may sound like a negative to some, but it actually makes me all the more confident in the product. If these things have such strong grip that they leave a little evidence of themselves behind, then that says that they really work. And besides, what are a few tiny scratches on a utilitarian sheet metal fixture when you know you can reliably mount cables wherever you need them? Pish posh.
I can’t imagine life without the convenience of plain old hairbrushes, but there’s just one thing about them that’s driven me kind of crazy: all the hair that gets trapped in the bristles. I guess it’s kind of good that all of the shed hair gets stuck (otherwise it would be all over your clothes and floor), but it’s pretty annoying when you have to pull it all free to clean out your brush.
Now here’s a brush scenario that’s a lot like the one I just mentioned, but a lot less obnoxious. It’s helpful, actually. Did you know that brush bristles can actually help you organize cables? Crazy but true. Add them to a grommet, and not only will the grommet help protect cables as they pass through cutouts in desk tops, conference tables, counters and computer cabinets, but it will also hold cables in place, even if they’re disconnected, so they won’t slip away. Genius.
As far as brush grommets go, this isn’t my first rodeo. But I have to say that the most recent ones I’ve seen also happen to be the most versatile and attractive. In the past, the majority of the brush grommets I’ve dealt with have been super boring looking, and were most commonly used in data center floors and enclosures. That’s why I really like these new metal brush grommets so much: they have some really beautiful designer metal finishes that give them a stylish edge, and they’re not just for super-techy applications – there are actually versions of them that are perfect for popping right into your desktop.
Just think about it: a sleek, modern grommet that keeps your cables organized, and then hangs onto them when they’re unplugged. No more crawling around under your desk for the missing end of that USB – it just stays where it’s supposed to, ready and waiting when you need it. How refreshing.
Holy swiveling cable ties.
When you’ve seen and used as many kinds of cable ties as I have, you can start to feel a little smug in your knowledge of zip tie-dom. Pathetic, but true. Whenever a purportedly “new” cable tie model rolls along, it somehow still seems all too familiar, in a “been there, done that” kind of way. Releasable? Check. Polymer-coated stainless? Yawn. UV-resistant? Are you actually showing me this?
Okay, maybe that least reaction was a little bit of an exaggeration, but you get where I’m going with this: there’s rarely anything truly “new” under the Sun. Well, “rarely” just happened.
HellermannTyton has come out with some extremely cool Swivel Clip cable ties. Up to now, we’ve had ties that can be nailed or screwed into drywall, ties with mounting brackets attached, and even ones with built-in flags that you can use to label cables. But never cable ties with swiveling clips. The other ones are good, but these are awesome.
If you’re wondering why on Earth someone would need clipping, swiveling cable ties, consider the fact that sometimes you just need to attach more cable to an existing wire harness, or maybe you want to run a hose or some wiring along a moving component. Swivel Clip cable ties make that easy because once you have your add-on cables bundled up within the tie, you just snap the clip onto another cable bundle, a support rod or narrow hose, and you’re in business.
What I really like is that the clip in question rotates a full 360 degress, so even after it’s snapped into place, you can keep turning/adjusting things until they’re aligned in the exact direction you need them to go in. No unsnapping the clip and trying again – just grab the whole bundle and turn. It’s almost too easy – but when is that ever a bad thing?
Cord clips: they’re practical, effective, even downright utilitarian. Being all function and no form, they aren’t there to stand around and look pretty – they’re there to get the job done, and they always do, which is why I’m a fan. As far as I can remember, I’ve never met a cord clip that I didn’t like, but at the same time, I’ve never exactly been drawn to them for their looks… until now.
Just yesterday, I laid eyes on BlueLounge® CableDrops™ cord clips for the very first time, and the weirdest thing happened. I had this instant, goofy, kid-in-a-candy-story reaction, the kind that I never thought would be inspired by a cable management product. You may have heard me go on about BlueLounge’s amazing design savvy before, when I’ve blogged about their many incredible charging stations and gadget docks. But these little cord clips absolutely took the cake, and I can’t quite figure out why.
Maybe it’s because CableDrops lean toward sophisticated and even sculptural on the design end, but somehow still remind you of cute, colorful little candies (hence the aforementioned “kid-in-a-candy-store” knee-jerk reaction). I’m not someone who’s into the general acquisition of stuff, but these are the kind of things that make you say, “ooooh, I need those” before you really even have time to process what they actually do. They’re impossibly cute.
Anyway, you get the idea. On to how they work. CableDrops™ hang onto one cord at a time, and are specifically designed to hold cable connectors and prevent them from slipping to the floor when they’re disconnected. So that USB cord that you’re always crawling on the floor behind your desk to retrieve stays conveniently at arm’s length, instead – which is where it should be. And then there’s the easy “installation” part – they’re conveniently backed with adhesive, so all you do is figure out where you want them, peel the backing off, and stick them to any flat surface.
One of my favorite things is that they come in beautiful complementary color assortments, and are sold in 6-packs, so you have the freedom to use just one, or group them together for even more impact and cable management power. Because of their looks, you can get pretty artistic with the arrangements, so these are perfect for creative and design-oriented people… like me.
I’m wracking my brain, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t think of a single context in which sagging is a good thing. Think about it: sagging skin… sagging roofs… sagging exhaust systems… sagging pants – you get the idea. When stuff starts to drag, it’s, well… a drag. Especially when it comes to cables. Whoever thought that a little bit of gravity-weighted cable slack would be enough to knock out, or at least slow down and mess up, an entire data signal?
It’s true: when cables are left without enough support, they start to sag under the influence of gravity, and this downward pull (called cable strain) is often enough to distort the conductor (the inner wire that carries signals) to the point that it just doesn’t work right. And when a cable doesn’t work right, that means that your Internet connection or cable TV signal is a lot weaker/far more sporadic than it should be, or not there at all. Cable strain also usually means that you have to shell out for a new cable that’s fit for the job. In a nutshell, no good can come of it.
That’s why I’m such a fan of these strain relief clamps from Richco. Designed to shore up cable in situations where it would otherwise be slumping, strain relief clamps are used every so often along a cable run to secure wires to a sturdy surface, and prevent evil gravity from taking its toll.
Design and installation-wise, they’re very simple. The strain relief clamps are basically an elongated oval shape, with a wire channel running crosswise along the underside (that’s the part that holds the cable), and a small hole at each end, through which you can drive screws to hold the clamp in place on a wall or another flat surface. This particular mounting method makes them sturdier than less-permanent adhesive-backed cord clips, and also means that they can do double duty, not only supporting cables as they travel from Point A to Point B, but also helping to route and guide them, as well.
And we can all use a little extra guidance…
Filed under: Cable Ties, Clips and Grommets, Raceway, Duct and Conduit
Every time I use a tiny picture hanger to mount 30 pounds of frame, matting and glass on the wall, I can’t seem to believe that a nail/bracket combo that’s barely the size of a quarter can possibly keep heavy wall art suspended for any length of time. Every time I’m in the framing section of the craft store to pick up more picture hanging supplies (which is surprisingly often), I find myself looking at the weight ratings on the packs of hangers, and thinking “Yeah, right.” But somehow, without fail, I always end up putting my trust in these miniscule pieces of metal, and you know what? I haven’t been let down yet.
Now that you know about my admiration for miniature metal fasteners that are greater than the sum of their parts, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that I’m newly enamored of (what else?) a little steel connector with a lot of holding power, also known as the Wire Grabber™ by Arlington Industries.
Although the Wire Grabber is designed to grasp hanging wires and support impressive amounts of weight, it has nothing to do with mounting wall art – it’s actually used to suspend cable trays and other fixtures from beams and purlins. As a matter of fact, the Wire Grabber’s name really says it all. Its main function is to create strong hanging loops in the steel wire that suspends cables trays from the ceiling. Here’s how it works.
The Wire Grabber is made up of 3 components: a base, a clip, and a screw. You start out by running the loose end of a suspending wire through the Wire Grabber’s base. After that, you insert the wire end through the hanging ring or hook on your cable tray or light fixture, and then thread it back through the Wire Grabber’s base in the opposite direction. Once that’s done, you just fit the top clip into the base and tighten the set screw. That’s it – the Wire Grabber will hold the newly-formed hanging loop in place, even under a weight load of up to 100 pounds.
What’s really nice about the Wire Grabber is that even though it makes contact with the hanging wire in 6 places, it never actually bites into the wire or causes damage, so if you need to adjust hanging height or switch out a fixture, you can use the exact same piece of wire over again. The Wire Grabber’s holding power is also unaffected by oils and grease, so you can use it even in less-than-pristine environments without any worry.
Panduit Cable Bundle Organizing Tool: Straight, Organized Cable Bundles Without the Stress and Hand Strain
Filed under: Cable Ties, Clips and Grommets, Cable Wraps
“Cable bundle.” It sounds so benign, doesn’t it? And in a way, cable bundles are a good thing – after all, wouldn’t you rather have all of your cords in one cohesive group than running wild in every direction? Cable bundling is definitely the way to go. The only thing is, when you start dealing with handfuls of cables, they can get a little tricky to manage. Between Point A and Point B, they can switch places and wind around each other, and there are always at least a couple of renegades that try to make a break from the rest of the pack. It’s like the proverbial herding of cats – have fun with that.
I used to use wire loom to corral all of the computer and phone cables under my desk, and in order to get cables into wire loom, you have to do a little makeshift bundling first. Long story short, even a measly desk’s worth of cables can be a challenge. What on Earth do cabling installers do for heavy duty backbone cable runs? My guess is that they have to really put their backs… and arms… and both hands… into it. I don’t know about you, but I try not to put myself through frustration and physical duress at the same time, and that’s why I really like the idea of Panduit’s Cable Bundle Organizing Tool.
This cable organizer is so simple, yet so brilliant. Structured in a generally round shape, which is more or less the same form you’d want a cable bundle to take, the Panduit organizer actually creates order from the inside out. It’s full of individual spaces that you can slide cables into – each and every cable gets a designated space. Once all of your cables are inserted into the organizing tool, you snap an outer ring around the loaded frame, secure it with the included hook and loop wrap, and slide the configured organizer down the length of the bundle, installing additional cable ties along the way. It more or less combs the cables into the same positions the entire way, so you’re left with a cable bundle that’s smooth and well-ordered, without the stress and exhaustion of having to take care of every last detail yourself.
That’s working smart.
Two-Piece Desk Grommets: Endless Options for Cable Routing and Other Creative Workspace Modifications
Filed under: Cable Ties, Clips and Grommets, Desk Cable Organizers
Chances are, a few of you are asking yourselves, “She’s talking about grommets again? Really?” To all of you exasperated naysayers, I say, “Give me a chance.” I don’t blog just to hear the sound of my own voice, and I don’t like wasting peoples’ time with things they’ve already heard about. I’m enthusiastic about grommets – we’ve covered that. But the entire reason for this post is that my eyes were just opened to a new and exciting way to use desk grommets.
Well, not just any desk grommets… to be more specific, the new round two-piece grommets that we just started carrying. They’re simple, but extremely cool, because they come in (as you’ve gathered) two separate parts: the sleeve, which is the section that lines the actual hole cutout in your desk or countertop, and the snap-on top, which narrows the opening so that it fits snugly around the wire and cables traveling through it. Up to this point, most grommets have been a one-piece hybrid of the two parts, but someone had the outstanding idea to go deconstructionist on these, and I really think it works.
Why? Because you can use both components together, or take the more-laid back approach and just stick with the sleeve. The complete solution is perfect for routing cables (as usual), but what really intrigues me is the sleeve-only option, and the suggestion that, when you’re dealing with the large-diameter 4″ grommet, the sleeve can actually be fashioned into a sort of through-desk trash chute.
Ever noticed how in some restaurant bathrooms, there’s a cutout in the sink vanity, into which you toss your used paper towels? Well, now you can do the same thing to your desk! Just use a hole saw to cut out an opening, snap in a grommet sleeve for a finishing touch, line your wastepaper basket up below the hole, and start dropping your small paper trash right through your desktop. Bombs away!
What is it about hook and loop cable ties that we’re all so crazy about? Standard-size hook and loop wraps have been one of our hottest sellers for years, so it’s no surprise that you’ll find one lurking on the laptop cord of almost anyone you know. Then we got the mini version, which, considering the fact that it’s scaled down for use with iPod earbuds and iPhone charger cords, is even cooler. No matter what the size or brand, they’re just great in general: you can reuse them hundreds of times, they don’t crush cables, and they’re known to come in more than a few cool colors.
But what happens when your love for the rippy stuff grows so much that you want to start using hook and loop wraps for even bigger jobs? Maybe you want to circumvent an entire cable tray, or keep a coiled-up garden hose bundled? Maybe you have a rolled-up drop cloth or camping tarp that you’d like to neatly store or transport in proper Yodel-like formation. Good luck getting that done with an average-sized hook and loop wrap. At very best, you could link a few ties together, but that would be for extreme situations requiring MacGyver-like improvisation.
If I were you, I’d just buy some extra-long hook and loop cable ties to begin with.
As their name so strongly implies, Economical Long Hook and Loop Ties are cost-effective, longer than usual (to the tune of 12″-24″), and made of the beloved Velcro-like hook and loop material. Given their size and capabilities, they can really be classified more as bundling straps than garden-variety cable ties – as a matter of fact, they can hold up to 18 lbs during use. Not too shabby. In addition to the cable, hose and tarp-related uses I mentioned above, these would also be perfect for managing sports equipment, keeping beach umbrellas furled (or making carrying handles for them), and lashing things together in general.
So there you are, bundling wires with zip ties like there’s no tomorrow. You’re carefree, you’re getting things done – as a matter of fact, it’s pretty much all fun and games until… somebody gets snagged by a cable tie. That “somebody” might be your sweater cuff, a cable, one of the rails inside your server enclosure, you name it. But one thing’s for sure: that snaggage is annoying, and if it hasn’t caused outright damage, it’s at the very least slowing you down. As my old friends Winnie the Pooh and Alton Brown like to say, “Oh bother.”
ACT Fastening Solutions has heard our collective cable management lament, and responded with the creation of Cobra® Low Profile Cable Ties. Like the snake they’re named after, these “zero-clearance” cable ties have a flat head, which results in a smooth profile that won’t “bite” into skin or cable insulation, or get snagged on fabric, conduit, or nearby fixtures. Once wrapped and secured around a cable bundle, low profile Cobra® cable ties lay flat around the entire circumference, with just the tiniest bit of thickening where the head is. No sudden elevation jump with sharp corners – just a smooth band all the way around. That low profile head also hides the sharp, cut edge after you’ve trimmed away the excess – once you snip the end, the cut edge just slides back into the head for a perfectly snag-free finish.
Another nice thing about ACT Cobra® ties is that they’re safe and easy to remove. Whereas you generally have to jam a pair of scissors between tie and cables to remove a standard zip tie, you just snip the top crossbar to release the Cobra® tie. This prevents you from accidentally slicing into nearby cables, which is never a good thing.
And lastly, I can’t forget to mention that Cobra® ties have excellent tensile strength, and are even tamper-proof, thanks to a pawl that’s located on the underside of the cable tie’s head. Add up all their benefits, and these cable ties are a smart (and safe) addition to almost any environment: home, office, data center, marina, school, and even playground.