Image by jhritz You may think cable ties are pretty boring – and you may be right. But like many of life’s little essentials, these things aren’t boring when things go wrong; then they’re suddenly the most important thing in your universe! So when your computer, TV, games console, satellite receiver, DVD player and/or hard drive suddenly don’t want to function as you were kind of hoping they would, it’s urgent and you’re faced with more cable coils than a pile of writhing snakes, cable ties suddenly aren’t boring at all. So maybe it’s time to get serious with your cabling? But first, make sure you know which ties are appropriate for which job: Basic, standard, cable ties are usually made from nylon grade 6.6. These are the ones we see all the time and are used to bundle items, usually wires. These come in a range of sizes and are suitable for holding small loads – though some are longer with higher tensile strength, so they’re suitable for much larger items or bundles etc. Each cable tie includes serrated teeth on one end. These work by locking inside the head (called a “pawl”) which is found at the other end of the strap. There are various designs of cable tie that come in numerous different colours and dimensions, depending on the exact requirements of the application. They’re also made in different UV-protected variants. All this is worth knowing depending on your exact requirements. If the cabling is likely to be in place for years, for example and you really don’t want to have to look at it – then you need to know it’s going to be strong enough, durable enough and, if there’s a lot of it, the colour-coding may be essential. The biggest, most reputable online suppliers such as RS Components and Premier will usually have a comprehensive guide as to what’s available and will help to explain which are the best ties for specific jobs. If you opt to purchase cable ties online, for example, you have access to a full specification guide and many different choices depending on the exact application you have in mind. Cable ties are used in all kinds of specific application areas such as transport, telecomms, speaker wires, and home theatre/equipment – as well as the kinds for everyday use most of us are familiar with. They’re also used both indoors and outdoors which is why they vary so much in composition. The 6.6 nylon grade types are generally appropriate for everyday applications and they’re resistant to chemicals, grease and oil-based products. Also, all cable ties must meet flammability resistance requirements and this is indicated by the manufacturer. Most ties can be manually adjusted, but for bigger jobs, there are pneumatic tools available which help reduce the installation time. Higher temperature requirements generally call for nylon grade 4.6. Meanwhile, UV Protected cable ties (or simply “black” cable ties) are designed for outdoor use. They’re also oil and grease-resistant but they also need to be resistant to environmental contaminants. They’re also generally stronger and usually made using nylon 12 grade material. Stainless Steel ties, meanwhile, are usually used for applications that need a high-level of protection against rust corrosion and other environmental conditions that could cause nylon cables to disintegrate (often, these are underground applications). So there you have it – make sure you pick the right cable tie for the job and it should be happily boring for ever more.