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royboy's picture

anyone have an idea for a low cost romex spooler - a device for holding one or more 250' rolls of romex so it can unroll out cleanly for wiring rough-in?

will a 250' coil unroll off a pipe clamp on studs?

thanks - Roy

(post #102916, reply #1 of 37)

in googling this I'm seeing that cable "dispensers" are generally designed for spooled wire rather than the boxed/wrapped 250' coils I usally get.

suppose I could go either way - convert to spools, or find a technique for the 250' coils ...

(post #102916, reply #2 of 37)

broomstick and two saw horses

(post #102916, reply #4 of 37)

You could try a large diameter tube such as a sonotube that you could jam a roll on before it fell apart in your hands.

Use circular plywood spacers that also fit snugly over the tube to hold the rolls in place.

Slip another tight fitting plywood circle into each end of the tube and hold it in place with PL Premium and some staples around the circumference.

Drill a hole in each circle to accept an axle and then mount the whole contraption on a portable stand.

(post #102916, reply #3 of 37)

Build yourself a spool out of circles of plywood, with maybe a piece of round cardboard concrete form for the center. Make it so it's easy to take apart to put a roll of wire on it. Then rig a stand with a pipe for an axle. Can be as simple as a couple of X pieces from 2x4s, with a cross-member to hold them upright.

If you just stick the bare roll on a shaft it will tend to knot up -- it needs a hub close to the inside diameter of the roll.

People never lie so much as before an election, during a war, or after a hunt. --Otto von Bismarck

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

(post #102916, reply #5 of 37)

Couple pieces of 1/2" ply about 20" square.

If you're feeling artsy knock the corners off.

Cut some short pieces of 2X4 to fit inside the roll of Romex.

Secure to one piece of ply so as to make the inside of your roll, put a couple close to your center hole too.

Put the romex on it, drywall the other piece of ply on and you're done. Needs a hole through the center too.

Piece of anything through it and clamped to wall studs works good, long piece through and you can hang it between the rafters.

Joe H

That would be "drywall screw the other side on"

Edited 12/22/2006 6:32 pm by JoeH

(post #102916, reply #6 of 37)

I believe I'm getting the picture.

thanks to all & happy holidays!


(post #102916, reply #30 of 37)

1/2 inch  waterpipe supported on a 2x4 rack for a big roll of wire.

There is a small one for the boxed wire. I believe it hangs on a vertical stud allowing you an easier pull. I Will have to look to find the brand. I think it was an independant mfgr.

There are bigger welded devices that commonly exist and are sold by Gardner Bender and Greenlee. Generally those are 200 to 300 bucks with the occasional bargain independent manufacturer at a lesser price. Let me know if that interests you and I'll chase down some part numbers & specs.

The big problem with a fancy one is you need a smooth floor to move it about. They are generally reserved for panel shops and construction firms that wire buildings. Plus a finished home won't like you bumping up the new maple stairs with 200 lbs of left over copper.

You know that 500 foot rolls are the best deal per foot and are better utilized than the 100's etc. But You make your choice.

If this is a one of a kind project for you... a cube of 2x4's with notches for 1/2 inch waterpipe will fill the bill quickly & easily.

Jack of all trades and master of none - you got a problem with that?

Jack of all trades and master of none - you got a problem with that?

(post #102916, reply #7 of 37)

@ pieces of ply bigger than the spool is around. 4 2x4s longer than the spool is thick. Center mark and 9/16" drill the plys. drop the spool on one and set the 2x4s next to and 4" dim parallel to the strands of the spool. 2 16" pieces of 3/4 EMT.

Get enough 1/2 Alltread to thru all this. From one end of the allthread to the other; permanent nut, machine washer, EMT, Fender washer, Ply with 2x4s, Spool, Next ply, Fender washer, EMT, Machine washer, 1/2" wingnut. If you or your crew have Popeye's wrists, drill out another 2x4 1/8" shorter than the outer ones and use it for a center bushing between the plies.

Get two straight bicycle hook lags, (good steel), strip the vinyl. Stick 'em in 2 studs and awaaaay yee go.


Now if I could just remember that I am a businessman with a hammer and not a craftsman with a business....."anonymous". . .segundo  

A Pragmatic Classical Liberal, aka Libertarian.

I'm always right!
Except when I'm not.

(post #102916, reply #8 of 37)

Our electrical contractor uses orange traffic cones hanging from the ceiling.

They hang the cones with a block of wood inside attached to a swivel that hangs from a wire cable. They just hang 2 or 3 cones if running 2 or 3 runs of romex at the same time.

(post #102916, reply #9 of 37)

cool :)


Now if I could just remember that I am a businessman with a hammer and not a craftsman with a business....."anonymous". . .segundo  

A Pragmatic Classical Liberal, aka Libertarian.

I'm always right!
Except when I'm not.

(post #102916, reply #10 of 37)

two pcs steel strapping bout 4' each 2 chunks firring 2x whatever like 18" nail both into x patterns the ends of strapping on the ends of wood looks like a pyramid sorta....nailbent into hook in middle of strapping...staple on door romex on crude cradle..hook on like something you would pay for...
Merry Christmas

(post #102916, reply #11 of 37)

Electricians around here all use a cone like device welded up out of maybe 3/16" steel rod. Circle for the base, three or four rods meet in the center (about 2' above the base circle) where a swivel eye is welded. Hang it with a either a chain or scrap of romex nailed to a joist .

Life is Good

(post #102916, reply #17 of 37)

Another vote for orange plastic traffic cones hung from the ceiling.  That's what my electricians use.  One or more for white (#14) one for yellow ($12) etc.  A lot of time road work guys will leave a few on site after the work is done, not bothering to retrieve them...


(post #102916, reply #12 of 37)

All you need is 5 boards and 12 nails.

Build a wood version of the metal pyramid uncoilers that are hung from the ceiling with a swivel.

The center board can be as small as a 2x2 about 1' long.  Put a 16d nail in one end, penetrating about an inch or so into the end grain. Bend it around so it will hook over a vertically driven nail head and provide a crude swivel.

The other 4 boards probably work best as 2x3's about 14" long, but 2x4's will work fine.  Put a 30-45 degree cut on one end which is attached to the center 2x2.  Mess with the angle and length of the center post a little and you'll see what dimensions work best.

I've seen one that is simply two pieces of ply, notched so they fit together and make a pyramid shape of sorts, but the 5 pieces of solid wood are probably just as quick.

That's it.  I've seen electricans build these many times.  Other electricans have never heard of it and simply unroll the wire out flat before it's pulled.

My personal unroller is put together with screws and glue and uses a large (200#) fishing swivel.

Another version is essentially a lazy suzan with an attached 1 gal paint can in the middle, or any one of 10 different ways to approximate the same.  This setup lays flat on the floor.

Another more complicated version is the lazy suzan model turned on it's side with an additional ply cap to keep the wire in place.  This, or at least a fancy plastic version, is probably the most common commercially available type used by electricans for small rolls of romex.

It's much easier to use those 1000' rolls.  :-)

Happy Holidays


Beer was created so carpenters wouldn't rule the world.

If I could edit my location it would say I'm now in Reno :-)

(post #102916, reply #13 of 37)

I got a $10 lazy susan bearing from Home de Pot. Mount a ~2' octagon of plywood on top of that. Then add a can or whatever to fill up the middle of your coil. This is very important. I use mainly MC cable but the principle is the same. At first it will uncoil OK but then the lead that you are pulling will pass through the coil and make a mess.


(post #102916, reply #14 of 37)

While you are at Home Depot, buy the plastic tool displayed with the romex. About $10. I haven't used one though.

Still using my 2 x 12 x 15" block of wood with 3" drywall screws to form a crude center and an eye hook screwed in the center, hanging from a chain with a swivel in it. Built it several years ago from a description by 4LORN I think.

Frank DuVal

You can never make something foolproof because fools are so ingenious.

Frank DuVal

(post #102916, reply #15 of 37)

Well, here's mine:

There was a writup in the 25 years of good tips issue, and I based it on this with a few improvements.  The EMT can be positioned horizontally - those clamps are in 4 square holes - so that spools of THHN can be mounted.  There is a lazy suzan bearing between the two white disks.  Underneith are four rubber feet to keep it from slidding when you spool out the wire.

The 3/16 rod is strong enough to suspend it overhead - those are BC40's on the top and bottom of that 4x4 post.

Rebuilding my home in Cypress, CA

Also a CRX fanatic!

YAY!  I love WYSISYG editing!  And Spellcheck!


romexspool.JPG36.73 KB

(post #102916, reply #16 of 37)


Really low cost?  They do sell purpose built ones.  Nice.  But, using simple household ingredients...

Built a 2x4 T, the base being wider than the spool of romex.  If you are picky, put a pair of gussets at the T junction for strength. Wrap the T around with scrap romex so it looks like a slack triangle in profile.  This centers the coil.  Staple romex down.

Arrange a swivel hool at the top.  I use dog snaps.  Find a nail to match.

Toss coil of romex onto the xmas tress.  Hang the rig from a nail in a doorway.  You can use simpson straps to adjust the height.

Unreel romex to suit.  We often have 2 of these blocking the doorway.  Crude, yet servicable.  Cost - using scrap... almost free.

The ToolBear

"Never met a man who couldn't teach me something." Anon.

The ToolBear

"You can't save the Earth unless you are willing to make other people sacrifice." Dogbert

(post #102916, reply #18 of 37)

We do almost exactly what toolbear suggests. 2 scraps of 2x4, nailed together with 2 16D's in the shape of an upside down T, the bottom about 2' long with about a 3' piece coming up from the center. The romex wraps around the T to look like a triangle. At the top of the T is a 16D nail bent into a hook held down by the romex. The cable roll is thrown over the top and sets somewhere along the triangle. Take a piece of 12/2 from the center of the bottom up and over to the top of the T, at the top drive a 16D nail with a fender washer under the head of the nail through the center of the romex and run the romex back down to the other side of the bottom and staple it off with a couple of more staples. The romex holds the nail in the center of the top of the T, the fender washer lets the whole assembly spin on the nail head. The nail should be pointed upwards, bend the end of the nail into a U for the last inch or so. This is the hook that hangs over another nail that is nailed into a ceiling joinst. Staple off the romex with a couple of staples on each side of the bottom so it stays put, put a staple on the romex on each side of the top of the T to hold the nail in the center of the top of the T. You can build the whole thing in 5 minutes with 2 scraps of 2x4, 7' of scrap romex, 3 16D nails and a couple of staples.

(post #102916, reply #19 of 37)

I think I your "free" romex spool just cost me about $25 of billable time trying to visualize your description of how to build this simple solution. :)

A picture would certainly be better than 200 words.


(post #102916, reply #20 of 37)

Recently bought a commercially made spooler on clearance from Lowes for about $10 (regularly $50-60). Carlon brand. Would be worth checking your local store to see if they have any more. Also picked up a Carlon wire cart for $7 marked down for $70.

(post #102916, reply #21 of 37)

I am a bit distressed at all the suggestions to use traffic cones for this job. Doing so seems to be stealing.

The cones aren't cheap; depending on the model, they can cost as much as $50 each. When they "disappear" from a job, the guy who rented them gets to buy them.

The cost of a purpose-build spool isn't much more than that. In addition, the "factory made" ones can be had with brackets that let them hang from the framing, or sit on the floor.

(post #102916, reply #22 of 37)

Several folks mentioned that you can buy the cones (I've seen them for sale on several occasions), plus folks often have one or two laying around that got "collected" over time, left by utility men, etc. I don't think anyone was suggesting stealing them off the streets.

People never lie so much as before an election, during a war, or after a hunt. --Otto von Bismarck

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

(post #102916, reply #23 of 37)

You can buy cones at box stores, equipment rental places, and of course there are even stores that sell traffic safety items. I've got several that were left for months after a utility crew cleared out. At that point it's more like picking up trash left by the side of the road.

(post #102916, reply #24 of 37)

There are at least 2 or 3 cones laying around my building site right now.  You want them?  Come and get them.  The site work guys finished about 4 months ago.  I'm guessing they don't want them.

Here is a pic of the cone spools.  I didn't think to take a pic of the few cones laying over there in the mud behind the errosion control fence. 


Cone_spools_003.jpg88.01 KB

(post #102916, reply #25 of 37)

look on ebay under MC WIRE   guy on there sells one like i've built... we use it for MC but same thing... we hang em  but you could make it sit on the floor... hang'n seems to work for us last 2 i built i used  swivels from HD that are for cable... think they  were $2 each   only thing i used that wasn't scrap


(post #102916, reply #26 of 37)

   I've been too lazy to go out to my garage and look at mine to see what brand it is. Finaly here it is.

  They also make these real nice reel caddies too.

  They make a pretty good product. I don't like hanging wire. It's just one more thing that can cause a problem.




Binky Boodle is the man!





(post #102916, reply #27 of 37)

I like this one, as long as there's a 2x4 around...

(post #102916, reply #28 of 37)

  Yea those are pretty nice setups  I'm just partial to the floor models.





Binky Boodle is the man!





(post #102916, reply #29 of 37)

I'm partial to whatever someone will loan me. I can't imagine dropping $170 for one of those, but I like using them.