This is a how-to guide on making durable handles out of unshielded copper cable. I used cat-5 because of its price and colors.
You will need:
From the center, then going up and clockwise; lock picks, electric drill, cable, knife/wire cutter/bottle opener, safety gear
(the gloves are optional, the glasses are not), dremel, sandpaper, and Guinness Draught.
You will also want:
Scissors, 1/4" heat-shrink tubing, WD-40, and a mat to keep your area clean if you're working on a finished surface.
First, start off by sanding your picks with 80 or 100 grit sand paper to remove grit and burring.
Before and after
Do that to all your picks. I had some drain snake strips I was was going to reinforce other handles so I went ahead and
sanded those too.
Now we want to cut our cable. I cut approximately nine feet of cable for this project.
Now we need to strip the sheath to expose the individual wires. As I'm sure you've heard, there is more than
one way to skin a cat-5. Personally, I scored the sheath about every 12" and then worked off each section
one at a time. The section shown in the picture is about half of the normal section I cut.
Once you remove the sheath you will be left with your wires. If you use ethernet cable like me, you will have
four sets of twisted-pair wires. If you have a couple of free hours, start to untwist your 36' of pairs now.
If not, tie one end of a set to a solid fixture such as a banister post (called a newel). Chuck the other end of
the twisted-pair in your drill and set it to reverse. Run your drill until the wires have no more twists. This should
cut the labor down to about 10 seconds.
Each set should yield one solid colored wire and one white-banded wire.
Repeat this until you have a full set of colored wires.
To make sure the cables don't slide around once we wrap them, we're going to notch the end of the
handles where we start and stop wrapping. Notice the offset notches on the rear of the pick and
single front notch I cut.
This is a great time time to sand the business end of all your picks up to a 1000 or 2000 grit shine
before we get the handles on. Ready to move on? Good! Start by laying the wire about one inch
into the handle and wrapping over the start of the wire so it doesn't come loose.
Continue wrapping tightly around the pick handle until you get to the front notch. Snip the wire
about 1/4" past the last notch. I didn't care for the pale purple wire in my first cable so I split
a second cable and found this royal blue, much better.
Continue wrapping until all your picks are covered. The oils from your hands are still under the
wire and will eventually let rust eat away at the metal. To prevent this we need to hit our picks
with a light coating of WD-40 which will have no trouble penetrating between the crevices in the
handles and driving the oils off the metal. Set your picks on a paper towel at an angle and let
them "drain" for a bit before continuing. Now would be a great time to go make a sandwich
while you wait.
The copper wire will hold its form very well but to eliminate the chance of the wire eventually
unwrapping we're going to hold the ends with heat-shrink tubing. Begin by cutting two 1/2"
tubes of heat-shrink for each pick.
Place each tube so that it covers the end of the wire and use a hair dryer or heat gun to
shrink the tubing onto the handles.
Your picks are now completed! Enjoy your new set of handles. Mine look amazing and
have great feedback and texture.
One last thing...
I hope you enjoyed this how-to and feel free to post comments or questions.