A Fun Trick For Twisting Wire

A Fun Trick For Twisting Wire

This is going to be my first post in a category of “Things I’ve Learned From Mentors”.  It happens all the time:  I’m explaining something to a colleague, using a tip or trick at work, or just going about my day to day, and I flash back to the moment that a little piece of knowledge was passed down to me.  Throughout my life, there have been a number of people that I would collectively refer to as my “mentors”, who have helped me to master things that, in hind sight, would be very difficult to learn any other way.

This first post is about a really simple trick that I learned at one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.  I was just starting grad school, and I managed to land a part time gig working in a little electronics / machine shop at the University of Rochester Medical Center.  In our little corner of the hospital, we designed equipment for neurobiology research that wasn’t available “off the shelf” – for example, a machine to dispense juice for a monkey if he pressed the right sequence of buttons.  Definitely not a Prime Eligible item.  The shop was run by an amazing guy, Martin Gira, who was a master of all things electronic, and decent machinist to boot.  He was the first one to introduce me to the practical side of electronics, the side that requires things to work all the time, the side that needs to satisfy the requirements of the user, and the side that ultimately lead to my interest in consumer products.

One day, we were building a glycol pump to freeze frog brains, or maybe it was a full size motorized chair for spinning people in circles…. in any case, we had a bundle of wires that needed to be cut, stripped, organized, and installed.  Marty pulls out a drill, tells me to hold one end of the wires, and chucks up the other end.  In 10 seconds, all of the wires were PERFECTLY twisted.  I’ll never forget it, and I think about it every time I’m showing someone in my lab how to neatly arrange wire bundles.

So here’s how it goes:

1 – Cut the wires (2, 3, 4 or more) to the same length.  If you don’t have someone to help you, just secure them in a vice.


Secure one end of the wires in a vice

2 – Lock the other end of the entire wire bundle in a drill chuck.  Sometime it helps to first tie a knot in the wires so that you can grab the knot in the chuck.  Just depends on the wire gauge and how many you’re trying to twist.

Wires In Drill Chuck

Wires secured in a drill chuck.

3 – Start the drill.  At first, the wires will flop around and certain sections will be twisted more than others.  Just keep going.  Eventually, they will all even out the the wires will be twisted to perfection.  Here’s a quick video where I had someone to help hold the other end.

Here is the final product up close.  I used white and black here just to make it more clear.

Twisted pair of wires

Perfectly twisted pair.

Simple as that.  Thanks Marty!