Cable ties vs copper wire

I am battling to source 18gge copper wire for stitching (local supplier has only 14gge).  Cable ties will do the job BUT, how does one slacken off the tension, should this be necessary, when doing the final adjustments prior to the epoxy work ?

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RE: Cable ties vs copper wire

With diagonal wire cutters. Once the tension is set on a zip tie, all you can do is cut it. So if you're going to go with them, buy the really big bag.

If you go to Radio Shack, you can pick up insulated solid 18 gage wire and a pair of wire strippers. It takes almost no time at all to unroll a bit of wire, strip it and clip it. I know they have 100-ft rolls, possibly even 200 ft.



RE: Cable ties vs copper wire

Got me excited for a moment.

In the basement of the building where I work is a telephone switch used to manage the 4000+ phone lines on campus. Next to that is a pile of discarded telcom wire. I had visions of a free source for my copper wire needs. But our tech says it is 24 gauge.

 hhhmmm, my nine year old daughter knows how to braid...

RE: Cable ties vs copper wire

You should keep looking. My little neighborhood hardware store here on Cape Cod sells 18g copper wire. So does the Aubuchon up the road. You can also get it from CLC. Zip ties need larger holes, which are hard to cover up later. -Wes

RE: Cable ties vs copper wire

I had problems finding 18 ga wire too. In a pinch you can get what you need from one of the home improvement type stores. They usually sell wire in bulk and can cut off from a spool any length you want. The catch is, you may have to buy a larger gauge stranded wire, strip the insulation off and untwist the strands to get to the individual solid wires. I ended up buying 6 ga stranded wire. The 6 ga stranded wire is made up of both an 18 ga solid wire and a smaller gauge wire, maybe 20?, I didn't measure it. You can discard the smaller gauge wire, it's not really strong enough for stitching, in my opinion. Anyway, the 6 ga wire I bought was about 62 cents a foot. I can't remember exactly how many 18 ga wires you get out of each section but conservatively, at least 6. So that would bring the price per foot down by a factor of 6 or better. Just another option if you can't find it somewhere else.

RE: Cable ties vs copper wire

I noticed some 18 ga copper wire in Tractor Supply Co the other day.  Looks exactly like what comes in the CLC kit, no stripping required.  If you have TSC in your area, check it out.

RE: Cable ties vs copper wire

Interesting reading.  Laslo :  I thought it may be tricky using cable-ties. I checked some in local stores today. 2mm were the smallest I could find. Too big.

Twofootartist: I'll keep looking. May have found a source about 500 kms away. Cape Cod is, regrettably, about 12 thousand kilometres from my home.

Czdan:  Your idea could well be the answer if I can't find exactly what I'm looking for. An electrical hardware store that I was in today DID have sheathed wire. It may solve the problem.

Hi Skooter: I live at the bottom end of the African continent. No TSC here.

I should have mentioned this in my original post ~ apologies. 

My thanks to you all, your comments are appreciated.

RE: Cable ties vs copper wire

Dave R,

This will be of no help to you, but for others, you can buy wire from for $0.31/ft or $76.27 for a 500ft roll.  I used to build audiophile grade speakers and have used this company many times for parts.  They are very reputable.  Below is what they call zip cord and will need to be stripped.



RE: Cable ties vs copper wire

Also, there's nothing magic about the size of the wire.  The smaller the wire, the weaker, obviously, but by exercising care in tightening it you will do fine. 

Remember, all the wire is doing is holding the panels together until the epoxy cures; the wire is not of any structural importance (which is why it can safely be removed -- see some of the many forum discussions on the topic, if you're interested).

I found it best to loosely attach all of the wire, and then incrementally tighten them serially until the hull was fair.  I used pliers to grip the wire, and never twisted a wire more than a quarter of a turn at a time once the panels started to come up into position.  I never had to crank down on any wire, and I tried to do the job slowly enough that I didn't have to tighten and loosen and retighten -- and thus fatigue -- the wires. 


RE: Cable ties vs copper wire

I am in the midwest, found my wire at the local Menards Hardware.  I went back and forth between ties and wire, but as Jim said found it much easier to work with the wire.  Still debating wether to pull the wire out after I am done with epoxy or leave wire in and cut/sand it down smooth?  ANy final thoughts or suggestions.  Seems there is a point for both ways, just my preference?

RE: Cable ties vs copper wire

I am no expert, but have gotten two kayaks and a rowboat past the stitch and fillet stage. 

The first two projects, I completed all of the inside fillet and fiberglass work and then removed the wires by heating them with a plumber's torch and then pulling them out with a pair of pliers.  This works well, but you need to be mindful of the direction of the flame and not scorch your bare wood. 

I smartened up on the third project.  This is not my original idea - I'm sure I read it somewhere.  Once I got the boat faired and had tightened the stitches, rather than putting in a solid fillet, I used what I call "snippet" fillets between the stitches.  These were between all stitches and were about two inches long and smaller than the final solid fillet that I put in later.  Once the snippet fillets cured, I cut all the wires and removed them.  The snippet fillets were more than strong enough to hold the shape of the boat while the final fillet and fiberglass was put on. 

I'd attach a picture ifI could figure out how to.

RE: Cable ties vs copper wire

Here in San Antonio I found 18 g at a true value hardware.  And it was cheeper than ordering it form CLC buy the time you pay shipping.  This particular store is the  one where you can still buy one washer if one is all you need.  Quite a concept. 

RE: Cable ties vs copper wire

I've found both 18 and 20 gauge copper wire at Hobby Lobby, so try your local hobby shop if you have one.

RE: Cable ties vs copper wire

Note to Kiz: Whether the wire stays in or comes out depends solely on your sense of the aesthetics, and the work involved.  If you're curious to see how a varnished hull looks with the wire left in, look carefully at some of the yak photos in the photo collections supplementing the various boats in the CLC online catalog.

RE: Cable ties vs copper wire

Some interesting comments.  We learn all the time.

I have finally managed to find the 18gge I was looking for.  At a large electrical cable supply firm in Cape Town. Sold by the kilogramme, not length, but at least they have it.

Thanks for the stitching tips Jim C  & Stilljustseven


RE: Cable ties vs copper wire

I used CLC wire, (first build) and in my ignorance really cranked down on those wires, thus widening the holes and breaking the wires at times.  Next time I will be gentler but will look at True Value, too, for the wire.  And a good pair of pliers. 

RE: Cable ties vs copper wire

? why not just buy it from CLC it is only $ .16 a foot in a 25 foot roll and they are quick to ship anything you want

RE: Cable ties vs copper wire

I am on my second kayak and tried cable ties but the diameter of the hole was too small for the ties (1/16").  I ended up by chance finding copper wire in Joanne Fabrics in the jewelry craft section of the store.  It was very inexpensive, on some of the higher force areas I use a heavier gauge wire.



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