Network Cable Coil Basket
By Mike on Sunday, October 20, 2013, 22:15 - Permalink
I made this colourful coil basket completely out of scrap network cables.
I started with an assortment of colourful network patch cables (each colour being a different length).
You may at this point be wondering why I would just waste brand new, bagged cables, but there's a good reason - see below ('But Why?').
I wired three different colours together at one end (using one of the original twist ties with which the cables were packaged).
Then I plaited (braided) the cables together into a long rope.
Being all different lengths, I occasionally had to stop and tie in a new cable, making sure I used each colour in strict rotation (which later brought about a very pleasing blended effect in the finished basket).
Tying in the new cables was a simple matter of wrapping a temprary wire tie around the braid, to stop it from unravelling, then just twist tying the new cable to the end of the one that was running out.
Again, the wire ties were the originals saved from the original packaging of the cables.
I needed something to tie up the spiral coils of the basket, so I ripped open an ordinary grey patch cable and pulled out the twisted pairs.
Although these were stranded copper wires, they were stiff enough to be able to be pushed through holes to stitch things together, without using a needle.
Starting off was a little tricky, but just consists of wiring a folded end together, then carefully wrapping the braid, edge-on, around the centre.
I carefully stitched the edge of the braid to the previous coil, but only ever looping through the outermost loops of the edge of the strip.
Here's a closer look at the stitching method - I kept the braid flat all the way around and only looped the wire through the edge of the new strip, then back through the edge loops of the existing coil.
As the coil builds, it quite naturally begins to take on a dished shape - not really sure how or why - and it would probably be possible to constrain it not to form a bowl - but that would be a lot of effort - and anyway, I did actually want a bowl shaped basket.
I left the UTP plugs on the ends of the cables - if I had been making this for use as a fruit bowl at home, I'd have cut them off and joined the cables more carefully - maybe butted together with tape or heatshrink tube - but instead, I just tucked them in so that they were all on the inside of the basket - again, there's a good reason for this - explained below and in the side column.
Because the individual cables were all different lengths, the three strands of my braid ran out one at a time - I kept on looping around and stitching it to the rim of the basket until it was nearly all used up.
The last loop of single cable went all the way around the outside to thicken and reinforce the rim.
The finished basket used up about a dozen cables and measures about 25 cm in diameter at the rim.
I'm quite pleased with this basket - making it was fairly easy (although a little tough on the hands). I think it looks quite beautiful - even with all the cable ends deliberately left on for IT geek appeal.
I left a tail of unwoven cable trailing at the end, as an attachment for a label. The label is made - appropriately - from a PCI network card.
This basket was made for a specific purpose.
I work for the IT department of a local government organisation - and I was commissioned to make the trophy for our Christmas quiz party.
I wanted something that was zero-budget and nice-looking, but slightly weird and super-geeky - so something made from recycled redundant tech seemed like a great idea.
Waste Of Cables?
This might seem like a waste of cables, but they were destined for scrap recycling anyway - they're Cat5 cables, substandard for use in our Data Centre, and various bits of procurement/disposal red tape meant they can't be sold off.
The trophy itself will include a tag consisting of an old network card, labelled 'Winner' and plugged onto the trailing end of the last cable.
Ancient And Modern
This fusion of ancient crafts and modern materials makes me really happy. Coil basket making is a really old technique that works with almost any material - including those sorts of things that cannot otherwise be woven, for example; pine needles.
But old scrap cables are actually nearly an ideal material for making baskets; flexible, uniform, strong and slightly stiff. This might not be my last recycled cable basket...