Wire twisting


Old 10-23-04, 12:09 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 29
Lightbulb Wire twisting

Anybody have tips or the "correct" way to successfully (neatly) twist 4 or more 12 guage wires together? I have no problem with 2 or 3, but with 4 it usually ends up a mess of gnarled wire (secure, but ugly) I'm referring to ground wires to grounded receptacles, 1 ground coming in the box, 1 going out, two pigtails, one for receptacle and one for the metal box. Twisting em together is a real pain, even with my linemans. Maybe I just need to start with lots more bare wire... Tips?
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Old 10-23-04, 08:44 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
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Yep, start with longer wires, twist them, then cut them off flush before applying the wire nut.
Old 10-24-04, 06:23 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Oregon
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Another approach to consider:
Wire nuts do not require that you pretwist the wires. You can simply place the wires neatly parallel to each other and then twist the wire-nut on. Instructions for the wire-nuts will often say that you should twist the wire-nut until a couple of twists appear in the insulated section. So even if you don't 'pretwist', once you have finished your splice, the wires should be twisted together.

I am personally of the opinion that pre-twisting the wires does not _in and of itself_ improve the quality of the splice. However, and this is a very important 'however', what pretwisting does do is it helps to insure that _all_ of the wires _remain_ next to each other when the wire-nut goes on. On several occasions I have seen a wire-nut where one wire got stuck on the edge of the spring and pushed out of the splice. Pre-twisting IMHO will prevent this sort of failure.

An approach that you might consider using when you have a bunch of wires is as follows: strip all of the wires to the proper length. Line the stripped ends up together. Wrap electrical tape around the bundle of wires a couple of inches down in the insulated section, to hold all of the wires parallel. Twist on the wire nut until the insulated section shows a couple of twists.

You also might consider using 'set screw wire nuts'. These are metal barrels with a screw in the side. You push the wires in and tighten the screw to make the splice. Then the metal barrel screws into a plastic cover. When using these you can visually inspect the entire splice before covering it up. The only thing to watch out for is to make sure that you don't 'stack' the wires up under the screw, but that the wires are laying down flat against the wall of the barrel. These are more expensive then regular twist on wire nuts, but useful in tight spots with a bunch of short wires.

Old 10-24-04, 07:22 AM
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Be sure you are using a wire nut that is rated to handle 4-#12's.
Old 10-24-04, 09:00 AM
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Why not leave one of the incoming grounds long. Wrap it around the ground screw in the back of the box and then out to the splice in an unbroken length.
Old 10-24-04, 10:09 AM
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We take the incoming wire and wrap it on the bonding screw before going into the pigtail... one less wire to twist in. I'm curious though... why a #12 bonding conductor instead of a #14?

For four wires I pair them up, and twist them as though I was only splicing two.

For 5 or more, I start with a very lazy twist - usually the last ~4" of wire - and arrange the wires nicely. Then I twist it up tight, and cut off the excess.

I always pre-twist. It ensures the wire-nut is doing its job. Also, should a wire-nut come off accidently, you haven't opened the circuit.
Old 10-24-04, 01:57 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 29
Thanks everyone for the info and opinions.

U2, good point with the wire size question...I suppose there really isnt much reason to use 12 guage for the ground, I just did it cause I was using 12 in that 20A circuit anyway, got carried away I suppose.

I like the idea of just leaving the one ground long, that sure saves some effort. I always twist the wires before capping, just so I feel I'm doing the best possible job... pretty much every electrical book I see says to twist them first, and I'm sure both are valid approaches, but the Home Depot electrical book (for beginners generally) had a sidebar saying that its too easy without twisting for one wire to come loose in a wirenut. Also, when I twist a lot of wires, I tape the wires together tightly just below the nut and run once around it as well, just so I know the wires arent going anywhere.

Just as a final thought, whenever I have more than 2 wires to twist, I line them up flat against each other and lock them together with my visegrip needlenose pliers, this way I dont have to hold them and make sure they stay aligned while twisting.

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