For many of us, having a tidy set of device charger cables is but a pipe dream from a distant technological utopia. A MOS magnetic cable organiser is great but at $40, it’s a little pricey for its purpose. So listen up friends, don’t suffer in silence any longer, for it needn’t be that way – some magnets, metal and glue is all you need to get your cabling life in order once and for all.
Not into gluing things? Tina has you covered with these 5 ways of tidying cable clutter under your desk.
Magnets – How Do They Work?
Good question, but completely irrelevant. All you need to know is that you’re going to need as many little magnets as you have cables – and I don’t just mean any old magnets. What we’re after are rare-earth Neodymium magnets, and luckily you can pick up a pack of 50 on eBay for about $10 or $5 from Amazon. I bought these which are 3 x 2 x 1 mm – upon reflection, they are up to the job but just ever so slightly too weak, so you might want to get something larger.
If your local dump has an abundance of discarded electronics, you’ll also find Neodymium magnets in a variety of electronics. Hard drives typically contain two ridiculously huge and very strong ones- they’re useless for this project as you’d never get the cables off again, but pick them up anyway if you’re going (and hey, they may even be some Bitcoins lying around on them too!)
Instead, look for an old PlayStation 3 – many are discarded after suffering the YLOD (yes, that was a thing too, not just the RLOD for Xboxes) or broken Blu-ray drives. Inside the Blu-ray drive, you should find two really strong but small magnets, which are perfect for large cabling, and a tiny one encased in plastic good for lightweight cables. You’ll get a lovely blue laser module from one of those too, obviously – just add a lens to focus and some servo motors for an awesome pew-pew laser turret.
Here’s the plan: we’re going to place one of these tiny magnets onto each of our charger cables, on the underside if they have an orientation. The magnetic field won’t interfere with the electrics, but when you’re positioning the magnet do make sure it has clearance from the case of the device – plug it in first, to see how far the charger cable goes in. In the case of older iPhone charging cables with dock connectors, having the magnet on the underside also make it obvious when plugging them in which way they should be oriented.
Cables are light enough to be taken care of with magnets, but for larger devices like routers that need concealing, check out some of the methods outlined here.
Attaching The Magnets
There are a couple of approaches you can take here:
- Hot glue from a glue gun: In testing, I found this option to be just too messy for tiny magnets, and too weak – the magnet was so strong it would stick the cable once, then just come away as it stuck to the metal instead. With bigger, flatter magnets that you can encase in the glue, this might be better. It’s also the least likely to cause long term marks on your cabling, being fairly easy to scrape off.
- Superglue: With a precision applicator, this was by far the neatest option – and also the strongest. That said, it’s more of a long term solution and removing the glue may mean scraping the cable with a knife. Be sure to wait a full day for either glues to dry before testing their strength.
- Taping the magnet: The ugliest option of all, but potentially better if you’d rather mount the magnet on the cabling itself rather than the solid cable head. Also a better option if you have larger magnets, but I actually found it quite hard to position the smaller ones with this method.
- Embed the magnet in some Sugru, then wrap that around a cable. This is the most similar to the original MOS Organizer. Unfortunately, Sugru is more expensive pound for pound than gold (alright, I made that up, but it’s still really expensive compared to super glue), so as a cheap scrounger, I didn’t even bother trying this.
In the end, I went with a small blob of superglue for all cables.
For the next part you need a large bit of metal for the charger cables to attach to. It’s really up to you where this is mounted, but here’s some ideas:
- On your table top is the easiest, with cable in reach at all times
- Behind the desk to keep things out of sight – small strips of metal might be better in this case
- On the wall, so you can pull down a cable when needed but not have to feel around the back.
Again, I’m using the metal case of that old Blu-ray drive:
A quick cut along the top and bottom with an angle grinder gives a nice large plate for the cabling to hang onto. Be sure to wear safety goggles, as there’ll be sparks flying everywhere.
After cutting any metal, be sure to deburr the sides and remove any sharp bits. Use a smaller hobby drill with grinder attachment for this.
Finally, I’m spraying it black so it fits in with my black bedside table.
If you don’t have an angle grinder or hobby drill, you’re clearly limited to what you can scrounge or buy. Hit up the bargain section at Ikea, as they often have random metal offcuts that might be suitable (bring a magnet with you to test); most hardware stores will also sell plain lengths of strip metal, though that may be a little pricey. The top of an old hard disk also looks like an ideal candidate, but unfortunately the magnets won’t stick to it.
The Finished Product
Having mounted the metal plate onto a bedside table with double sided tape, the cables now sit nicely, loose down the back, and can be pulled up when required. Success!
Have you tried this? Let us know the methods you went with and what you would have changed to improve the project.