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Beyond the commercial cord reels: What if we made a shop-built version?

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Forum topic by Sodabowski posted 630 days ago 1922 views 1 time favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Sodabowski

1968 posts in 1333 days


630 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: shop-made cord reel ceiling mount overhead pre-project question

In response of Al's blog post, I posted a quick-made video of what could be a possible way to implement a shop-made ceiling cord reel.

Several questions arise before attempting any plan development, and if some of you guys are actually interested in building one, let’s try to sum up the needs:

- what wire/air tubing gauge would you use?
- what length would be required, more precisely: once the thing is at workbench level, by how far would you want to be able to pull it around the bench?
- remote control or wire pull control? (as in the ceiling fans with lights, you pull on a rope to turn the fan or the lights on)

An appreciable feature would be to have it also serve as a supplemental overhead light fixture, any interest in that?

I’ll appreciate any feedback on this topic.

-- Holy scrap Barkman!


27 replies so far

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oldnovice

3255 posts in 1868 days


#1 posted 629 days ago

I think the issue is the non rotating connection portion.

How do maintain connection from the rotating part to the stationary input connection remembering that sparks in a possibly dusty shop should be avoided?

Obviously sparks would only happen if power was being consumed.
So, is disconnect a requirement a reasonable requirement?

Wouldn’t be better to have a stationary opening instead of the cord whipping around? Just rotate the reel.

Just some early thoughts!

I am going to disassemble my manual cord reel to see the connection method.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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Sodabowski

1968 posts in 1333 days


#2 posted 629 days ago

If you rotate the reel then you also need an electrical junction that can rotate! That’s why we avoid it with the rotating outer part ;)

-- Holy scrap Barkman!

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oldnovice

3255 posts in 1868 days


#3 posted 629 days ago

Makes sense.

A 6 volt RC car motor geared properly could turn the winder!

Adding a “funnel” like cone to the underside could hide the whipping part of the cord!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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Sodabowski

1968 posts in 1333 days


#4 posted 629 days ago

You got it mate :) though there are way cheaper alternatives to RC car motors, the geated motors found on ebay are tough and cheap. I bought several for my bandsaw mill, an when I tested them they held a lot of abuse with no trouble at all.

-- Holy scrap Barkman!

View Zinderin's profile

Zinderin

94 posts in 633 days


#5 posted 628 days ago

My gut reaction is, we’re playing in a deadly dangerous area here …. one large spark in a workshop full of dust (how often do you guys climb up in your ceiling and dust stuff off?) could result in not just a fire, but a big BOOM!

Maybe just approach the design such that, the cord has to be unplugged before its reeled in or let out. Not only safer, but makes your design far-far easier.

View Greg The Cajun Box Sculptor's profile

Greg The Cajun Box Sculptor

4736 posts in 1809 days


#6 posted 628 days ago

Do not need one…that is why I have 42 outlets in my shop. I Always have an outlet nearby in a convenient location.

-- Every step of each project is considered my masterpiece because I want the finished product to reflect the quality of my work. http://www.FineArtBoxes.com

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Sodabowski

1968 posts in 1333 days


#7 posted 628 days ago

@ Zin: why sparks? I’m talking about making it in such a way that there is a permanent connection between the cord and the mains, without any form of rotary electric junction. No sparking risk there (as far as I know, nobody ever had their shop blast out because their ceiling dust filtration sparked).

-- Holy scrap Barkman!

View Tedstor's profile

Tedstor

1369 posts in 1133 days


#8 posted 628 days ago

I don’t get it. We’re talking about a cord reel here- right?
I’m all for shop-made gear…...when it makes sense. I made a crosscut sled for my TS because it was a cheap/easy build with no moving parts. I didn’t want to pay $100 for a prefab that would likely need to be replaced within the next 2-3 years.
However, I did pony-up $30 or $40 for my 30’ ceiling-mounted cord reel. Building my own never crossed my mind. The price of the parts /time to build it would likely rival a prefab.And I doubt a shop-made reel would last as long as a prefab.
I just don’t see how the benefits will justify the actual/potential hassles. But my mind is open and I’m willing to learn.
Oh and about the supplemental lighting. I use a trouble light with my cord reel. The hook on the fixture makes it easy to hang just about anywhere.

View Dan Lyke's profile (online now)

Dan Lyke

1455 posts in 2625 days


#9 posted 628 days ago

I’ve been thinking about building this, and am realizing that I really have enough sockets that I don’t need it, but…

Tedstor asked why? My biggie is that the cord reels I’ve seen ready-made are like 16ga wire and pretty flimsy. My main drop from the ceiling sockets right now is to my Festool saw and dust collector, and in heavy hardwood those can trip a 15A circuit, which is not a load I feel comfortable putting on a 16ga extension cord.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke

View Sodabowski's profile

Sodabowski

1968 posts in 1333 days


#10 posted 628 days ago

I’ll tell you guys, the main advantage I see for my use of such a ceiling-mount reel is for powering handheld powertools at the bench, in the middle of the room, without having cords running on the floor. Neat, and mobile. 15A seems huge, I wouldn’t use that solution for big hungry tools, but for palm sanders, jigsaw, and the such, why the heck not? :)

-- Holy scrap Barkman!

View intheshop's profile

intheshop

47 posts in 1339 days


#11 posted 628 days ago

I recently bought one at, of all places, Harbor Freight. I’m quite happy with it, and it’s a 12Ga, 25’ with a triple tap. But I was also thinking of making one myself, just to see if I could do it. I was considering using one of those mechanisms that reels in the rope when you start the lawn mower. I never did any research or design on this thing, but the more I thought about it the more complex it became. I’m fairly certain it would have paled in comparison the one I bought.

By the way, the one I bought was $69.99. However, as I was checking out the cashier offered an opportunity to purchase a Harbor Freight loyalty memership for $29.99, and if I bought it, the cord reel would be $39.99. So I saved $30.00 by spending $29.99 – a net savings of $0.01. Now that’s thrifty!! Every once in a while I’ll get something there that’s worth it, so ultimately, I’m happy with this transaction.

-- Cole - Rydal, GA

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Tedstor

1369 posts in 1133 days


#12 posted 628 days ago

Hmm. I havent had any trouble with my cord reel popping breakers, but I only run one tool at a time and none of my tools are industrial sized.
I wonder how much it’d cost to have a 20a circuit installed in typical garage?

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Sodabowski

1968 posts in 1333 days


#13 posted 627 days ago

Ah yeah, some numbers! Thanks Cole.

Sooo… Google Teh Almight sez: 25’ equals 7 meters, waw, that’s quite a length. Cole, do you find yourself extending its full length at times?
My estimation was not far from that, 3 meters from ceiling to ground, meaning around 2 meters from ceiling to workbench top, plus two or three more for good measure, so around 5-7 meters.

12 gauge sounds quite enough, to me it’s ~ 2 mm bare wire, times three for phase, neutral and ground, plus insulation. I guess the cord itself must be in the 0-4 Ga range.

Anyway, it seems, after looking at several manufacturers’ datasheets, that a minimum radius of 10xØ would be okay. We can round that to 20xØ to be on the safe side, so for a cord with an outer diameter of 1 cm (big, hefty wire, 3/8”) a central reel of 20 cm Ø would be good to go. In the 3D simulation, I had made it 60 cm wide, way more than needed actually.

My asking for such data was motivated by the need to keep the whole thing as compact and lightweight as possible, while having to take into account the minimal radius of the cord to avoid any stress on it.

-- Holy scrap Barkman!

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Sodabowski

1968 posts in 1333 days


#14 posted 627 days ago

Hmm in fact the previous post had not been sent in time (two hours ago), and I just posted it now.
I’ve been working on a little software to calculate precisely the reel with several variable parameters: cable diameter, minimum diameter of the reel, reel height.

Actually, for a 25’ / 7m cable of 3/4” / 1cm Ø (000 AWG), the numbers are really impressive: a reel of 8” / 20 cm inner diameter, with a height of 4” / 10 cm, and an outer barrel of 8”1/2 / 21 cm is high enough! So far so good. It seems that the unit can be built really small actually. The inner reel (fixed part) of 4” / 20 cm Ø is big enough for the geared motor assembly and power supply. I will definately be building a prototype this week once at the parents’ house. I already have a pair of 20 cm Ø plywood disks from my homemade bandsaw project (to be finished this week too!) so expect a new blog post on the matter rather soon.

Thanks for the discussion guys, all in all it looks like the project can be built really easily, fast and cheap.

-- Holy scrap Barkman!

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Moron

4666 posts in 2394 days


#15 posted 627 days ago

if it aint broke don’t fix it

if it u can buy it cheaper then you can make it

buy it

if u can make it cheaper then you can buy it

make it

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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