Subscribe or Renew Membership Subscribe Renew

correct way to roll up extension cord...

Scott_Birnie's picture

Every time I take my time rolling my cords around my arm with special loving care. I end up either tying them with the ever popular knot in the middle, or I just leave it round tying it with a piece of wire. It doesn't matter how there wrapped I still have to fight a knot when I unravel the cords. I ask all you professional craftsmen what is the best technique for wrapping and storing cords. worked with a electrician for one day,when he brought out his cords they looked like a big rats nest,then by grabbing one end of a cord he threw the whole mess in the air,when it landed there wasn't a tangle,or a knot to be found. In amazement I pleaded for this great secret with no luck. Any ideas,suggestions,or comments thanks

(post #159497, reply #1 of 74)

Scott, many guys use that method. I don't like it because the cords never lay flat and I trip easy. I'm old.

You are experiencing serious knottage because the circumference of your loops are too tight. Stop that arm rolling method. That is good for women's extension cords, and vacumn sweeper cords.

Start making man loops and then hang them in the truck on a hook. In the morning, you will be able to throw the cord like a cowboy and it will sting itself out, lay flat and be ready to go instantly.


(post #159497, reply #2 of 74)

Use what was expained to me as a firemans loop, make loops by extending both arms out to the widest spread and continue til done . It makes large ,even loops.Plug ends together in one last smaller loop. Hang on truck or hook. Just showed my 8 yr. old helper/nephew this, he now proudly sports company shirt and money on Saturdays.

(post #159497, reply #3 of 74)

Thats how I do it George. I like the new name "fireman's loop".


(post #159497, reply #4 of 74)

I have always done the "around my arm" thing, but recently read that doing so stresses the plastic sheath on the cord. The article recommended doing the loosey goosey big loops. Seems unlikely to me that a little stress on the sheath during looping would cause problems (particularly given all the other abuse my cords get), but the guy claimed to be an expert on the subject - and if it's in an article, it's got to be right, right...

(post #159497, reply #5 of 74)

being a sailor.. lines are just like extension cords..

the arms length loops is right.. but to get the [MEAN JOBSITE WORD]s out..

flake the cord on the lawn... and stretch it out.. as you coil, give each coil a clockways twist.. if it grabs an [MEAN JOBSITE WORD].. flip it out and recoil it..

at the end.. take a bitter end, coil it around the coil, cinch it and pass the end thru the upper part of the can carry it by the end..

or tie it off with rubber strips cut from an inner tube or rubber roofing.. and plug one end into the other ala george above... hang 'em up fi they won't be used for a while... or if you got a van...

got one of the flat one's ? with a lot of twists and [MEAN JOBSITE WORD]s ?

tie a weight on one end and drop it over a bridge rail or high place to let it untwist... then coil it up as above

your electric cords should be just like a sailor's heaving line....

b but hey, whadda i no...

(post #159497, reply #6 of 74)

Mike you have a very eloquent way of expressing yourself at times.

(post #159497, reply #7 of 74)

Right on Mike. You gotta keep the stuff stretched out to get them rolled up properly and give the half twist.


Ps. strectch them out in the morn and get all the twists out and it will lay nicely all day.

pss I am picky about my cords. I will usually have to re coil anything that the boys bring me...

(post #159497, reply #8 of 74)

george.... the eloquent part..?..

is that the a**h*les ?.... hah, hah, hah

(post #159497, reply #9 of 74)

At the orange box they sell a plastic reel that you hold in one hand with a crank on the side. You hold the underside (fixed) and crank in the cord onto the reel. For $6 it works better than almost anything else.

(post #159497, reply #10 of 74)

If you have one of those flat cords - better idea.

Tie a weight on one end and drop it over a bridge rail - and let go.


(post #159497, reply #11 of 74)

tle.... i did.....

(post #159497, reply #12 of 74)

I've spent a bit of time on the water myself and I have strong opinions about the right way to coil my hoses and cords and ropes. Here are some of them: Coiling around the arm doesn't work. A coil has to be made in the hand with turn after turn laying down civil without too much persuasion or it will kink. Hoses should be laid down on the floor in figure-8's with each half of the 8 tied separately and then the whole thing folded together. If you lay a hose or rope down in a figure 8, you're putting in a half turn to the right, a half turn to the left and the net result is no kinks in the hose.

(post #159497, reply #13 of 74)

I do something I refer to as a "daisy chain."

Wish I could figure out how to describe it...essentially I start with a loop about 12" in diameter, then reach through the loop, grab the cord, pull it through the loop so it makes another loop, reach through that loop, grab the cord, pull it through the second loop so it makes a third loop, and so on...until I get to the end.

Never a tangle...and when working it unravels like sweater yarn coming unknit. It may actually be similar to a crochet stitch, 'cept with an extention cord.

Never binds, never tangles or knots, works like a champ for me.

(post #159497, reply #14 of 74)

Homeowners and such, when trying to help out, think they're saving themselves money, cuz they're saving you time, go right to the cords and worse yet the hoses. They shiver when I stop 'em dead in their tracks with a cold stare and the admonition to just leave it, I'll get that. When will they ever learn?

Take a foot pc of both the male and the female (?) velcro and sweet talk your wife into sewing them together, back to back. Tightly wrap one end of the bisexual velcro to the plug end of the cord. The rest wraps and secures the rolled cord. Helps keep the plug in a socket by tieing off to conduit or whatever else is near. Holds two cords joined together.

(post #159497, reply #15 of 74)

For cords 50' &longer, Istart rolling as perscribed above starting @ the female end so next use I plug in & throw/go

(post #159497, reply #16 of 74)

I use the method that mike described. My ex-partner liked daisy chains, I save that for the nylon webbing in my climbing bag.

Any one out there use twist lock plugs on their cords? I think its a west coast thing. I always knot the cords when I plug in.


(post #159497, reply #17 of 74)

Yep, I sail and rock climb (well, I used to rock climb, getting too old now) and you've described the ONLY way to handle a line or a cord.
BUT, has anyone else noticed that cheap cords always tangle and good-quality ones rarely do ?

(post #159497, reply #18 of 74)

I'm with the blue-eyed -devil, if you don't do it my way don't touch it. I'm real picky about them too.

(post #159497, reply #19 of 74)

So back to the original post! Does anyone know how to do like the electrician did? I've seen it too....always amazed. Kinda like the daisy-chain, except the chains would be tighter and smaller. Everytime I've seen it, I think the cord is doubled, then twisted. This shoulda been a PeteFest competition! There is an add for van bins...Adrian Steel I think, that had a some cords wrapped like this hanging in the van. I need a how to! Jeff

(post #159497, reply #20 of 74)

Scott, I use blue's method. I worked with a fire fighter once and he also called them firemans' loops.

He also gave me some sage advice about cords and hoses, " If you ever fall out of an airplane, grab hold of an extention cord or garden hose. It will hang on something befor you hit the ground!"

I use old boot strings with the ends tied together to make a loop. Loop the sting around the coiled cord and back through itself. It cinches the cord and leaves you a hanging loop. Boot stings are cheaper tha velcro.

(post #159497, reply #21 of 74)

Jeff, the problem with daisy chaining is the chain ends up about 6 or 8 ft long with a 100 or 150 ft. worth of hose/rope. Where do you store it in your van/truck where it's not in the way?? Never even considered learning for this reason. Space is such a premium in my rig I need all I can get.

(post #159497, reply #22 of 74)

What it sounds like he's doing (i.e. guessing mode on) is what I've heard called a barrel flake or a fisherman's flake: a series of figure 8's layed one on top of the other with about 10' offset each time. In theory, so long as you don't cross the ends, it will flake out with a toss.

If you want to try something else that looks awful, but works: in the 80's there was a new trend towards stuff-bags for rope handling. When you're rock climbing, rope management is more than half the battle; rather than trying to coil and uncoil ropes all the time, it was discovered that a rope 'stuffed' into a bag almost never tangled so long doesn't move around much while in the bag - a log hard look at this some time bag convinced me that this is a version of the the barrel flake

(post #159497, reply #23 of 74)

Along the lines of "stuffing", if you water ski you know it doesn't matter what you do with the rope when you pull it in, as long as the end doesn't "cross" anything -- usually the handle is just left hanging over the side. "Daisy chains" work well, but seem a little time consuming and put a lot of strain on the cord.

Try this. Bring the two plug ends together, hold them, and then pitch the rest away from you. With the cord lying flat (no kinks or loops) and stretched out away from you, but doubled, let the ends hand "long" and start coiling the cable in long loops. The ends must hang a good 8-12" below the bottom of the loops. When you get about to the end, make a couple of short loops around the middle of the coils (toward the upper end actually), bringing the free end up through the middle. You now have a loop to hang the cord with, and the bundle is pulled tight when you hang it up. When you're ready to work, hold the plug ends, unwrap your holding loops (about the middle) and just pitch the cord away from you. You're left holding the two ends (which is what you want) and your cord is stretched out kink free.

(post #159497, reply #24 of 74)

Cool, Crusty--think i'll get rid of the 3' crochet hook i've been using...

(post #159497, reply #25 of 74)

The last time I flew, the stewardess giving the safety talk before the flight said that if we fell out of the plane to grab an extension cord or garden hose.

(post #159497, reply #26 of 74)

Nice tip Dave! I've always wondered what to do with the old boot strings.

OOPs, now that I'm wearing red wings, I never have any old boot strings....

Oh well...


(post #159497, reply #27 of 74)

Don't send Emails - the "10'" means ten degrees of retational offset, not ten feet; sorry if it was confusing !

(post #159497, reply #28 of 74)

in response to how to store daisy - chained cords just fold the daisy chain ( once or twice depending on the length of the cork ) then hang, or lay flat on a shelf.
as far as how to do it you take the plug and receptical ends and hold them together then pull the cord through your hands until you get to the end of the cord ( imagen folding the cord in half ) , then you tie a square knot in the cord about 8 inches fron the end, you will now have a loop at the end of the cord. put your hand through the loop and grab the cord and pull a loop through the end loop, now you have another loop, put your hand through the loop and grab the cord, pulling it through the loop, do this over and over until you reach the end of the cord. if you do this right you will have a daisy chain and not a bunch of square knots ( i have had new help do this and it is not pleasant). when you reach the end of the cord pull the reciptical and plug through the last loop to lock the chain.
the nice thing about this is now the cord is very manageable and you can throw it up to someone or vice versa without it coming unraveled, to string it out just undo the very end ( plug and reciptical end ) hold on to them and shake. the cord will unravel like a sweater, no need to undo the whole thing if you only need a few feet of cord and after doing this a few times the cord will get a " memory " so it will easily take the chain shape. I like to use loops about 6 - 8 inches across, works well and have not had any problems with cords becoming worn or such, however i recomend this only for heavy gauge cords as the bending repeadly of light gauge cords probably will cut their life substantially.

(post #159497, reply #29 of 74)

You don't need the knot. Just hold the receptacle and plug both, in one hand. Loop the cord over itself once. Reach through that loop, grab the cord, pull through until you have another loop about 10 inches in size. reach through that loop and grab the cord to make the next loop, etc.

Just fold the chained cord a couple times and hang it anywhere that you would hang the round rolled cord.

(post #159497, reply #30 of 74)

My experience tells me that flat cords get kinked easier than round cords. My air hoses get coiled in round loops and I carefully twist the end so that I don't get eights in the loops.

In the past few years more arborists are using rope bags for rope storage. Put one end of the rope in the bottom and then pile the rope in, hand over hand. Do not try to be careful or stack the rope. It will come out without snaggling. This is called faking, flaking or piddling the rope into a container. Most of my climbing ropes and some of my extension cords are put into square five gallon buckets that kitty litter comes in. IF space is critical, cut the bucket down to size or nest them together. If you want to keep some of the extension cord in the bucket, drill a hole in the side an inch or so up from the bottom. Thread the male end of the cord out of the hole. Place the cucket near the outlet and pull out enough cord to plug in. Pull the female end out of the top and go to work.

Tom the Tree Guy