In this article, we’ll explain how to do the over under cable wrap. Ditch unruly knots and tangles, and help your cables last for years with this method. This method has saved countless time, money, and frustration in decades of audio and video production work. Not to mention, it’s a subtle indicator that you’re a pro, on set, in the studio, or at home.
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Over Under Cable Wrap
The over under cable wrap is a method of wrapping cables. It uses a cable’s natural coil to reduce stress on the cable, avoiding tangling and extending cable life. The “over” and “under” refer to the alternating hand movements used to wrap the cable, and how the cable itself coils.
How to over under cable wrap
Okay, let’s get to breaking down how to properly wrap your cables, step by step. Each step has a photo, and each section has a video breakdown that will make it easy to see how this method works.
Flatten out the cable
Make sure there are no kinks or nots in it.
Hold a length of cable
.Take the end of the cable in your off-hand. Measure out about 12 – 24″. Pinch it between your index finger and thumb.
Twist the cable overhand to create a coil
Roll your dominant hand and wrist forward, over the cable You should be able to feel the cable’s natural coil encourage it to wrap. This is the first “over.”
Lay this coil over the cable
Grab the coil with your off-hand and re-measure another length of cable.
In this video of the “over” portion, the alternating colors on the cable to make it easy to see exactly how the cable coils. Notice that both overhand rotation and how the cable coils over itself.
Twist the cable underhand to create a coil
Roll your dominant hand and wrist backward, underhand. Again, you should feel the cable’s natural coil take hold.
Place this coil under the cable
The coil will naturally wrap itself under the further length of cable. Once you create a coil, hold it in your off-hand.
In this video of the “under” portion, notice how the underhand rotation guides the cable to naturally coil under itself, between the two white sections.
Grab the coil in your off-hand. Measure a new length of cable, and repeat, alternating over then under.
Remember, your cable has a natural coil, meaning it wants to coil in one direction. Feel it out, and work with your cable’s natural coil.
In the end, you should be able to pull the cable from either side of your coil without the rest of the cable leaving your hand. And, your cables will lay nice and flat.
When it’s time to use them again you can unroll your cable with ease.
The Wrong Way to Wrap Cables
Most people who don’t know the over under method twist the cable around their hand or their elbow like in this picture:
When done diligently this method can avoid tangles, but there are other problems with it. Using these methods or “over over” wrapping (also called straight coiling) can cause damage to your cables.
Why does the over under cable wrap matter?
It helps to know a little bit about how a cable works. Most cables are made of several smaller cables housed inside the outer housing. There are can be up to 10 cables inside!
These methods work against the natural coil of your cable. This makes them twist every time you loop them. Each twist rubs these smaller cables together. Over time all this extra friction can cause your cable to wear out.
Improper wrapping technique can also make it harder to wrap cables in the future by causing kinks. Fortunately, there are a couple of methods to “retrain” your cables for proper wrapping.
Retraining Kinked Cables
If your cable has kinks, there are a couple of things you can try to correct them.
The first is rolling the cable. You may have to pinch the cable and roll it between your fingers. After enough rolling, you should be able to find the neutral position your cables need to coil naturally.
Alternatively, you can try setting your cables out in the sun. A couple of hours should be enough to help them reset.
The over under cable wrap is a foundational skill for any real audio / visual professional, with many benefits for you, like:
- Saving you money by making your cables last longer
- Saving you time by avoiding tangles
- Help with gaffing and future wrapping by making it easier for your cables to lay flat at an event.
It can feel strange at first, but after some practice, it will become second nature.
Now that you know how to protect your cables, don’t forget to wrap your headphone cables this way too. Especially if you’ve invested in some quality headphones from our best mixing and mastering headphones list.