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Old 10-02-2008, 08:20 AM   #1
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Dumb question, how do you twist your wires together?


An electrician pointed out to me, "That work was done by a homeowner, that was done by an electrician". When I asked how he knew, he said a couple ways. An electrician pushes the wires into boxes with the wire caps facing up that way if they somehow come loose they won't fall off the wires. Made sense.

Secondly, electricians (everyone he knows) twist the wires into the wire caps before attaching. That way if the cap does fall off the wires won't spring apart and create a short/spark. Made sense.

So, last night I go to "twist" three #12's together and COULD NOT do it. First, I tried vice grips, they severely scared & marred the copper. I also ended up getting 1 wire wrapping around the other 2. After trying for an hour, mutilating the ends and never succeeding I have to ask what tool, or technique works on wrapping the wires around themselves before putting on the cap?


Last edited by Piedmont; 10-02-2008 at 08:25 AM.
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Old 10-02-2008, 08:26 AM   #2
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Dumb question, how do you twist your wires together?


Im not an electrician, but I have done alot of splices. I strip the wires to the same length. Take a lineman's pliers while holding the bottom wires evenly, and twist the wires at the end, then twist at the ends near the insulation to twist all the wires togehter, and lightly twist in an upward motion to get them nice and tidy, and put the correct size nut on. It takes experience, ive been twisting wires together for a long time...


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Old 10-02-2008, 10:37 AM   #3
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Dumb question, how do you twist your wires together?


If you must twist, use linemans pliers. They are designed for this. The jaws grip but do not close all the way. Designed for twisting wires.
Note: When wirenuts are properly installed, no twisting is required.
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Old 10-02-2008, 11:14 AM   #4
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Dumb question, how do you twist your wires together?



I use them when there are more than 2 wires.

I find if it is 2 wires the wirenuts do the work for you, but more than that they don't do as well. Strip the wires a little long, line them up (from the insulation and not the tips) twist together and cut them to a reasonable length. Put the wirenut on and that splice should last forever.
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Old 10-02-2008, 11:24 AM   #5
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Dumb question, how do you twist your wires together?


It takes practice. I have no trouble with up to 3 #12, but when I have 4 #12, it gets tough. I try not to have more than 4 wires in any splice. Having the correct length of wire in the box to work with helps tremendously. If any of them are very short, it makes the job a bear.
I also use the linesman's pliers, and start with the wires all stripped to the same length (longer than necessary).
With one hand, I try to keep the wires together, while I twist with the pliers.
After completing the twist, I cut off the excess at the tip of the splice to make sure that all wires are even, and that the nut's apron will cover all of exposed wires. If one sticks out too far, the wirenut will not go on, or may tighten around some wires, leaving the rest with only twisted, but not in the nut.
I also wrap each splice with electrician's tape. I think this takes care of the issue of the nut falling off.

I don't usually have wires of different sizes, as it's against code to use any #14 on a 20A circuit, so it's all #12. #14 is much easier, as long as all of the wires are #14.

The wirenuts I use state "no twisting required", and I suppose that as long as you are using the correct size wirenut, you can simply shove all the wires into the nut and twist.
I prefer to twist prior to installing the nut. In any case, I always give each wire a strong tug after the nut is on, just to make sure they're all secure.

Surely someone has created a sleeve that you could push down over the wires to keep them together. If it hasn't already been invented, maybe I will<g>

I am not an electrician either, but I know that I am doing things correctly, but it sure takes me a lot longer than any electrician<g>
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Old 10-02-2008, 12:29 PM   #6
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Dumb question, how do you twist your wires together?


Not all electrician twist wires and not all elcetricians point wire nuts up. Must be a local thing.
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Old 10-02-2008, 12:39 PM   #7
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Dumb question, how do you twist your wires together?


All suggestions as to "what is right" in wire pigtailing are personal opinions. The wirenuts I use say no twisting required either. When you look inside the cap this makes sense too- a sharp-edged spring cuts into the wires and bind them together, holding tightly in a taper. This would allow the conductors to be lying parallel to each other which has a good strong contact to me!
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Old 10-02-2008, 01:21 PM   #8
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Dumb question, how do you twist your wires together?


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I also wrap each splice with electrician's tape. I think this takes care of the issue of the nut falling off.<g>
This to me would just scream DIY. If you do the wiring correctly, there should NEVER be an issue of the wire nut falling off. I've done plenty of wiring work and have not had this issue, and I refuse to use electrical tape on the connections. The only time I tend to use electrical tape is when I am running multiple circuits through conduit, I wrap a piece of tape around the bundle of conductors for that circuit to indicate they belong together. Other reasons are for marking a black wire red or some other color when there are multiple circuits and the only wire I have is black.
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Old 10-02-2008, 02:12 PM   #9
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Dumb question, how do you twist your wires together?


A lot of electricians are using these nowadays. They're awesome for DIYers as well.

Wire nuts falling off? Only if they're somehow loosely installed or oversized for the number of wires.

Orientation of the wire nuts in a certain direction is not a requirement, and short of being neat, I don't see the point.

As for twisting, I like to twist because that's just how I learned to do it. Twisting alone isn't adequate, you must have a mechanical connection. I always twist the wires, trim the end a little, and crank down the wire nut. Pretty hard to twist anything without linesmans pliers.
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Old 10-02-2008, 04:08 PM   #10
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Dumb question, how do you twist your wires together?


Pig tailing wires..oh! I love this subject. I once had a team of 11 Americain electricians working for me and they all twisted their wires. THAT'S NUTS! (no pun intended)

I have gone to clinics by Ideal and 3M and both agree that the wires do not need to be twisted. In fact, if properly installed the wirenut/scothloc will actually do all the twisting for you! I've given hundreds of demonstrations to apprentices and journeymen alike and it's never the same, it's a personal choice.

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Old 10-02-2008, 06:00 PM   #11
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Dumb question, how do you twist your wires together?


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I have gone to clinics by Ideal and 3M and both agree that the wires do not need to be twisted. In fact, if properly installed the wirenut/scothloc will actually do all the twisting for you!
Oh man I really wanted to stay out of this thread.

I just want to comment. The above quote is absolutely true, but (the bold part) is almost NEVER the case!

Too many morons just lining up the wires and spinning on the wire nut until it is snug. Sorry, that's NOT enough!
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Old 10-02-2008, 06:52 PM   #12
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Dumb question, how do you twist your wires together?


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Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
Oh man I really wanted to stay out of this thread.

I just want to comment. The above quote is absolutely true, but (the bold part) is almost NEVER the case!

Too many morons just lining up the wires and spinning on the wire nut until it is snug. Sorry, that's NOT enough!
I was just going to 'lurk' also, but 20 years ago, Marret's came with instructions for their usage. (maybe they still do! I'm retired)
Manufacturers instruction were to hold the stripped conductors parallel to each other and to firmly twist the nut on to secure the connection.
I followed this regimen and never had reason to go back to twisting.
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Old 10-02-2008, 09:16 PM   #13
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Dumb question, how do you twist your wires together?


I didn't always twist the wires unless there were more than 3. Then I found twisting helped to keep one wire from somehow escaping the grasp of the nut. I have always did the "tug" test on the connection after installing the nuts, whether I twist or not. I have never had a splice come loose on me, but I have had "hits" on my tug test, and had to redo the splice.

After reading Rex Cauldwell's "Wiring a House", I decided to twist all splices. He is one who prefers to twist.

I'm thinking of getting a few of those screw terminal blocks pictured in the post by thekctermite. I have a box with 4 sets of wires coming in that I need to work on in the near future, and some of the wires may be a bit short (old work). I have to take a look, but there are times I wished I had the TB's.

In the end, we're all a bit TWISTED
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Old 10-02-2008, 09:19 PM   #14
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Dumb question, how do you twist your wires together?


Those are not screw terminal blocks. They are quick wire connections. Ideal and Wago are the two big suppliers.

The concept of them has had a VERY bad reputation over the years in the form of quickwire, or backstab, receptacles. These little things seem to have a much better reputation though. I may have to get a bunch of them to try.
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Old 10-02-2008, 09:27 PM   #15
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Dumb question, how do you twist your wires together?


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Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
Those are not screw terminal blocks. They are quick wire connections. Ideal and Wago are the two big suppliers.

The concept of them has had a VERY bad reputation over the years in the form of quickwire, or backstab, receptacles. These little things seem to have a much better reputation though. I may have to get a bunch of them to try.
Try some Petey. I think you will like them. They are great in those applications where wires are too short, or you want to connect 6-8 wires together without using a big blue wirenut.

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