How to Coil an Extension Cord

How come this extension cord is always all tangled up? It’s like some sailor was practicing his knots with it! Well, there are several ways to coil an extension cord to avoid the Gourdian knot in the center, but they all involve making standardized loops. Here’s one way that works really well. This is used in sound and television production.

Stretch Out the Cord

Now, before you start to coil the cord, stretch it out. Wedge one end under a rock, or behind a bookshelf, and gently pull the other end away from it. Let it twirl and unkink itself. The combination of wire and plastic in the cord has a little bit of memory, so that it likes to hold its shape. Help it unwind, and forget its past. You only have to do this once, just to get the cord ready to properly coil. After this, it will remember.

Make the First Coil

One end of the cord has two or three metal prongs on it. That’s the male end. Let’s not make judgments. Leave that end alone, and pick up the female end with your right hand, if you’re right handed. This is your stationary hand.

Grasp the cord about three inches from the head.

Turn your other hand, the traveling hand, so that your thumb points away from you,  and pick up the cord.

Now slide your traveling hand down the cord as far as you can reach, grab onto the cord and pass it to your stationary hand. 

Pull your hands together. As you do so, roll the cord between the thumb and forefinger on your traveling hand to make it coil smoothly. Capture the coil with your stationary hand.

Repeat this process, swinging yours apart and together, apart and together, and twisting the cord each time your hands meet, until you’ve gathered up the whole cord. You’ll find there’s sort of a zen to it, as you swing your hands back and forth to collect the cable.

By reaching all that way, you make standardized loops in the cord, all facing the same way, as it coils in your stationary hand. 

Wrap the Cord with the Last Coil

When you have only a foot or so left of the cord, wrap it around the coil so that everything stays in place. 

Now, we started with the female end of the cord because the first thing you do with your extension cord to use it is plug in the male end, which is on the outside of our coil, and make sure it reaches. This just makes life a little simpler.

There you go! No more sailor’s knots! You did it!

Please Note: Do not use this procedure if you are not certain that you can complete it safely, or if it does not seem accurate. Skippity Whistles provides this information as advice, and cannot accept any liability from your usage of it.


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Published by John D Reinhart

Author, technical writer, videographer, actor, and naval historian John D Reinhart is a very busy guy. You can find his novels as

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