Sunday, March 17, 2013

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Tips for Using Zip Ties as Creative Solutions at Home, Work, and More


I love zip ties. I really love them, and you should too. I can't even imagine what my life would be like right now if I didn't have zip ties. I keep zip ties everywhere, in my backpack, my toolbox, my desk at home and at work, and even in the car. Zip ties can be a life changer and even a life saver under the right circumstances.

Why am I so enamored with zip ties? Well, they can be used to fix just about any problem with some creativity. Zip ties are the new duct-tape if you ask me! Zip ties can secure anything you can wrap them around in seconds and with tremendous strength. They come in dozens of different sizes, materials, and even in many colors. The basic nylon zip tie is the most common and my personal favorite.

I work in IT and cable management is an ongoing challenge. I use zip ties to solve nearly every cable management job that comes my way. You can match the color of the zip ties to the cables or the hardware you are working on. I often will use different colored zip ties to “label” or color code same color cables for easy identification. Zip ties are also great for securing unused cables and wires before you store them away.

However, zip ties aren't just for cables and electronics, they can be used all throughout your home, car, and office. Here is a small list of other uses for zip ties:
  • Key rings
  • Light switch pulls
  • Spacers and stops (they make excellent stops for drill bits)
  • Fixing toys
  • Looped together to make zip tie chains
  • Attaching chain links to fence posts
  • Hanging pictures and decorations
The list literally goes on and on.

Zip ties are indispensable for your car. A zip tie is perfect for securing loose hoses and parts in an emergency. Keep a handful of steel and nylon ties in your car emergency bag or glove box. It could mean the difference between being stranded for hours or making it to a service station right away.

As easy as zip ties are to use, there are a few tips I can share to save you some time and aggravation. The first thing you need to know about zip ties, is that once you zip them that's it. They are a single use tool. This leads me to my second tip: Never zip your tie super tight right away, leave some slack until you are done with the entire project. I always organize my project and visualize how I will use the zips before I even put them on. This way I can plan out what colors, sizes, and locations I will need.

Probably the most important zip tie tip I can give involves safety. Zip ties are EXTREMELY strong, and once on they will not come loose unless cut with snips. Kids should never be allowed to use zip ties, its just too easy (and tempting) to zip tie a finger, wrist, or worse yet a neck while horsing around. Zip ties are one of the greatest multipurpose gadgets available, but they aren't toys. I suggest handling your zip ties like you would any other tool that can cause injury in regards to children.

You can get your zip ties just about anywhere, but there are different qualities. I have bought some really bad ties. Some are brittle and cannot be cinched too tightly and some don't ratchet securely. Its okay to buy and use cheap ties for the unimportant stuff or for temporary uses, but nothing beats a high quality zip tie for important or critical work.

I found an online resource that not only sells a GIGANTIC assortment of zip ties, they sell everything else needed for securing, covering, and organizing your projects. You can get all your zip ties, organizers, and cord covers from cabletiesandmore.com.

Go get some zip ties and see what kinds of solutions you can find for them . . . they truly are the new duct tape!