Whether your quarters are tiny or expansive, chances are you're living with more extension cords than you'd like—and the holiday season is about to add to the tangle. I've complained about the cord problem in my apartment in the past (see 5 Favorites: Alternative Extension Cords). Recently, I decided to be proactive and make my own alternative extension cords. The plan? Bead them.
First, I took a trip to The Home Depot to gather the hard materials and glean a little electrical advice. Then I hit my local bead store for the soft goods, the wooden beads. Read on for step-by-step instructions on how to make an extension cord worth looking at.
Above: The beaded extension cord is perfect for powering holiday window lights and extending out out from underneath the Christmas tree. Original photography shot with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III digital SLR. The filmmaker's camera.
- 4 feet of Southwire 18-2 Lamp Wire in Black, $0.37 per foot, or Southwire SOOW Multi-Use Electrical Cord, $3.61 per foot, both at The Home Depot
- 1 Pass & Seymour 15 Amp 125-Volt Connector; $4.98 at The Home Depot
- 1 Pass & Seymour 15 Amp 125-Volt Dead Front Straight-Blade Plug; $2.97 at The Home Depot
- Oversized wooden beads, such as the 1-1/4" Round Wooden Beads with a 1/2 Inch Hole, $0.20 each, from Craft Parts. For one cord measuring 4 feet in length, I used 140 oval beads, each about a 1/2 inch in diameter.
- Wire Cutters or sturdy scissors—I used both: a pair of Ikebana scissors along with a pair of Klein Wire Stripper/Cutters; $10.48 at The Home Depot
- Small screwdriver like one from the HDX Screwdriver Set, $9.88 from The Home Depot. (Mine is a 49-piece set, but on Black Friday The Home Depot is offering a 71-piece set for the same price.)
Step One: Unscrew the connector to open it up; inside you'll find three screws. Word of caution: If you are using lamp wire, as we did, keep in mind that it should never be used on anything exceeding 300 Volts.
Step Two: Separate your lamp wires into two and strip off about a 1/4 inch of the wrapping to reveal copper wires. Taking the bunch of copper wires, place each one in between the connector's small metal plate and the screw; tighten each screw until it's clamped onto the copper cord between the screw and the metal plate. Now you are ready to put the plug back together and start beading. Note that if you are using a robust Multi-Use Electrical Cord, attach like color with like; if you are using Lamp Wire, just attach the two and leave the green screw empty.
Step Three: As you would with a necklace, string the beads to your liking but keep in mind how much room you want for the beads to move around; the less slack at the end, the more rigid the cord; conversely, the more slack, the more cord you're going to see.
Step Four: Just as you did in Step One, divide the lamp wires, expose the copper wires, and attach inside the second plug connector.
Above: Once you've finished the extension cord, it's time to test it on a small appliance or electric clock.
Above: The end result is something I don't mind snaking across my dining room table.