I've been using cable ties for many many years for a whole variety of little jobs around the house and in the car, and it is often one of those really useful simple little devices that many people are simply unaware of, or indeed unaware of how useful they can really be with a little imagination.
For those unfamiliar with what they are, you may well have already seen them in DIY or supermarkets and not realised that they were cable ties, or more commonly referred to as tie wraps. This particular brand is manufactured by CMS which is one of many companies that make such cable ties, and is the brand that I happened to purchase from my local DIY store for £1.50 for 100 of the 290mm long versions when I was after a few for a job at home. They are basically a thin strip of nylon plastic, with various lengths available from 98mm (about 4 inches) up to about 550mm (about 18 inches), with various widths between 2.5mm up to 9mm. The CMS variety comes in either black or white, but you can also find other brands in a variety of colours (if you want to colour co-ordinate them).
How do they work? If you look at the strip, one side has a series of small moulded 'teeth' along the length of the one side of the strip, with the other side being smooth. At one end you had a moulded hole through which you pass the other end (the tongue) of the strip. As you pull the strip through the hole, it creates a loop in the strip, and as you continue to pull, you'll hear a series of clicks from the hole as the loop gets smaller. The clicking is the lock activating in the hole against the teeth on the strip, which is basically locking the strip in the hole in that position each time you pull. Of note, it is a one way lock, in that you can pull the strip harder, thus reducing the loop, the lock will lock the strip in that position preventing the strip pulling back through the hole, (which would increase the size of the loop. There is no way of opening the loop out again and the only way to remove a cable tie once it has been locked is to cut through the strip. Hence, these items are one use only and not reusable.
So now we know how they operate, what can you use them for? Well the clue is in the title - 'Cable Tie', where you can create that strip loop around a bunch on cables and then pull the strip tighter through the hole until it creates a nice snug fitting loop around the cables. The lock in the hole secures it in that position and that's it - simple to use and fit. Fully adjustable in a variety of sizes to accommodate a whole variety and number of cables and widths. If you want to be flash you can cut off the spare strip sticking out of the hole to give a neater finish.
So looking at the whole cable security thing, these things come into their own behind your TV, DVD, Sky box etc arrangement where you normally find a whole 'spaghetti heap' of cables. Here you can use these CMS Cable Ties to bundle the cables together to tidy everything up. But I've also taken it a stage further using other brands as well to colour code things with additional coloured tie wraps. So red is all the cables to the Sky box, blue to the TV, yellow to the kid's game console, black for the surround sound etc. Overall, it just makes it easier to trace things if I need to move things. I've also managed to do a similar thing behind my desk by colour coding the speaker cables, the printers, the webcam and microphone etc.
But use your imagination a little and you'll find that these aren't just restricted to securing cables. In a dishwasher, you often find those little flip up/fold down plate or cup holders and dividers which often come loose or fall out. With a bit of ingenuity, I've managed to secure these in position to the dishwasher trays using the smaller 98mm CMS cable ties. I've had 4 of these in various positions in my dishwasher for the past 18 months going through a whole variety of wash programs with no ill effects and they are still holding everything firm. In the garden, as well as securing plants to posts and fences, I've linked 2 or 3 of these 290mm CMS ties together (with the strip of one passing through the hole of another to create a larger loop) to repair cracked frost damaged plant pots to hold the pot together. Of note, I've done this before with other brands that have remained in position throughout the winter with no problems, and I have no reason to doubt that these CMS versions will last the same. Similarly, I've used them to hold a split shaft and casing together on a tool, and to repair key rings. My dogs were playing one day and managed to break one of their collars, where we did a temporary repair on it using a tie wrap to hold it together until we managed to get him a new one.
Negative points? As I said before, these are 'one use only', in that once they are done up, the only way to undo them is to cut through the strip. So perhaps a little wasteful, but they are relatively cheap to purchase in bulk.
In summary, these CMS versions are good quality, easy to fit and do up and hold whatever you want very securely, and as yet I have never had one ever come undone, despite being boiled and soaked in a dishwasher or frozen in the winter air. To be truthful in terms of quality, they are perhaps just as good as any other cable tie that you can commonly buy from a DIY or car parts store. But for their usefulness, simplicity and low cost, I would give them a 5 star recommendation.
Ah, the exciting world of cable ties - only those with a heart of stone wouldn't revel in the joyous anticipation of receiving a bag full of these little plastic beauties. Joking aside, cable ties *aren't* an especially glamorous product, nor do they make the pulse race with their aesthetic beauty - however, they do serve an important function and therefore deserve their time in the spotlight alongside dooyoo's more, let's say, 'interesting' items.
If you're not sure what a cable tie is, it's simply (and it's now time for the Wiki definition); "a type of fastener, especially for binding several electronic cables or wires together".
Why did I need cable ties?
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I have a huge bag full of cables at home - there's all sorts of leads in there (you never know when you're going to need one of those lengthy coaxial TV bad-boys, or yet another SCART lead) - and until recently it was in a complete mess. I decided that the cable bag needed sorting out, and went on a mission to buy some cable ties. I didn't set out specifically to buy CMS cable ties (as i'd never heard of the company), it's just that the CMS ones were being sold on eBay and they were the first I came across. I purchased a bag of 100 which cost me the not-so-earthshattering sum of £1.50.
Specifications & Performance
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Looking on the CMS website (www.cmsplc.com) I noticed that the cable ties are availble in a number of different thicknesses including 2.5mm, 4.8mm, and 9.0mm versions - I seem to have the smallest 2.5mm ones which are perfectly suited to the standard TV / AV (non-industrial) cables of this world. The ties are really easy to use - firstly arrange your cable into a neat ensemble, then wrap the tie around it and feed one end of the tie into the opening and pull tight. In my experience i've found that they grip the cable firmly without slipping, and won't move until you decide to cut the tie and release your cabley friend. The ties that I used last year are still supple and non-brittle, and show no sign of degradation.
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Overall I would recommend this particular brand of cable tie as a high performance product which does exactly what it's supposed to do - from the CMS website the ties can be bought in multiples of 100, and there's lots of different lengths to choose from - recommended.
The cable tie has been around for longer than I can remember and serves a very simple purpose, it ties cables together. But we as human beings have come up with so many more uses for this simple product that it seems it's potential is simply immeasurable.
This particular item sells in bags of 100 for around £2. They design is just a strip of nylon with 100's of teeth cut into it. At the end there is a plastic slot which the nylon strip threads through. Then as this is pulled the teeth are gripped and then the only way to undo it is to cut it. This is about as simple as design gets and yet it has not changed since it was first made because it is so effective, simply bunch some cables together and whack one of these round them and voila, your cables are all tied together.
These are also very strong, I even hung a big disco light from a bar once purely with 2 cable ties (but don't tell anyone because that breaks about 6 health and safety laws) and it held it fine. These can also be used to old together, well, pretty much anything, ranging from bags to guitar straps and even holding falling trees against support posts.
I work backstage at a theatre and there cable ties are pretty much the solution to every problem, those and gaffa tape. They are very reliable and are highly unlikely to snap. They are very cheap and easy to use and most importantly, they come in a huge array of colours, ranging from black all the way to bright yellow.
There is no problem too big that a cable tie cannot help with in some way and to that end I would recommend to this product to everybody. I have even used them to patch up my brothers teddy bear.