If you work with nylon zip ties regularly, for bundling together or organizing wires, cables, or other materials, you should definitely look into getting a tensioning tool.
I have posted about Klein’s tie tensioning tool before, which can tighten cable ties up to 15/32″ wide with up to 65 lbs of tension.
At the time of this posting, you can buy this tool for $27, which is a couple of dollars less than when I posted about it a few years ago.
I was talking to Dan from Tools in Action, and he LOVES this tool. Here’s their video, which concisely shows why you need one:
Sure, you could use diagonal cutters, flush cutters, utility knives, or other methods to trim zip ties after you tighten them. But, the cut edges will usually be sharp. Raise your hand if a trimmed zip tie has ever drawn your blood before.
Plus, you have to tension zip ties before you trim them. Have you ever trimmed a zip tie after you through your tensioned it, forcing you to do it all over again.
The Klein tool tightens and then trims zip ties in a quick and fluid manner.
I have other brands and styles of cable tie tensioning tools, and they work in a similar manner. But, this Klein looks to work with larger and stronger zip ties than the tools I usually work with.
If or when I start working with larger zip ties regularly, I’ll definitely add one of these to my toolbox.
Over at Amazon, the Klein 86570 has more than 1000 reviews, with 84% 5-star and 10% 4star ratings.
The Best Way to Quickly and Easily Cut Cable Ties Without Special Tools
For More Delicate Tasks:
Something like the Panduit GTS-E is better suited for when you need repeatability and adjustability, but it carries a hefty pricetag
Those work but real zip-tie guns work much better. Tension controlled cut off is amazing. Takes all of the guess work out of how much to tighten.
I have lots of time with Panduit GTS, tens of thousands of zip-ties.
Quite expensive new but much more reasonable on the used market. usually lots on E-bay for $50 or less.
If you’re only using a few (quality) ties, a careful cut with decent flush cuts will be adequate. Just really make sure the cut’s not going to gash an arm.
Using more ties, repetitively, will justify a Panduit tool. Companies buy them new, individuals use eBay.
Panduit GTS-E is the way to go. I have one, and love it.
Once you get used to using real tools its hard to go back to the toys.
I put a quick video together to show the Panduit in action. I’ve got a comparison planned for 2021.
I also added this at the end of the post.
As much as I really like the Panduit, the Klein is going to be better suited for general binding and trimming tasks such as in the ToolsinAction video. I wouldn’t want to put wear the Panduit for that type of task.
I work for an industrial control shop and am in charge of tooling. I have never seen a Panduit zip-tie gun wear out. Break from abuse and being dropped on concrete yes. Wear out, not yet in 16 years and hundreds of thousands of zip-ties. I would not consider wear to be a reasonable concern, based on my experience.
If you are using enough zip-ties to warrant better tooling than a flush cutting pliers. You should really look at tension controlled cut off zipetie guns Panduit or other. Anything in-between is likely a waste of money. The GTS and the older GS2B guns are easy enough to find used and reliable enough to not be much of a risk that the high new price is not much of a issue.
The only use case that the Klein or Malco style zip-tie tools make any sense is if you are using large heavy cross section zip-ties. Tension controlled zip-tie guns for heavy cross section and less common used and much more expensive new.
Perhaps not, but the zip ties they’re trimming with the Klein tool are much larger than the recommended capacity of my Panduit. If they still fit in the jaws, it couldn’t possibly be good for the tool.
I couldn’t think of the right word at the time, but that would likely constitute abuse and not wear.
The really cool ones are the pneumatic ones like the Panduit PPTS. However not really worth it unless you are using them all day every day. I have several, not practical for most needs but really cool.
The other slightly less common but equally cool manual ones are the T&B ERG50. They have a rotating nose and can get into tight and awkward places really well. Just more expensive both new and used.
Any idea how the Avery Dennison 12001-0 compares? That’s what we’ve got, and I’ve seen a lot of very experienced electronics techs swoon over it and want one of their own, but I’ve no idea how it compares to the much more available Panduits.
I think we demoed one of there tools years back, not sure if it was the same one. If I remember it was very comparable to the Panduit.
We ultimately did not pursue it as Panduit has a aggressive tool program where you get “free” tools based on the volume you purchase from them.
Boy, I feel ancient. I’m still using my GS2B!
These things never quit.
I’d have to agree on the Panduit. I have both the older and the newer. I like the newer one because the rubber hasn’t worn off of it yet.
I found a very similar style tool on Amazon for $12. This is nice to have for occasional use. Maybe I’m just not using zip ties enough, but I can’t imagine spending much on a tool like this.
I use one similar for work made by Malco in the USA. A coworker has this Klein and it seems like a cheap knock off with a wimpy spring in comparison.
On a side note, Malco is dragging their feet on the roll out of the Eagle Grips.
I prefer the Ty-rap gun. It’s ungodly expensive but you can find them on eBay for under $100. Regardless of the tool you choose, you must avoid the diagonal cutters method. You will almost certainly get a nasty cut.
The TyRap is amazing. Ergonomic, easy to use, and so adjustable. The rotating nose piece is a gift from above. Incredible list price but the eBay route is the way to go (how I got mine).
Picture at https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/shopping?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ4Nd6AQA9s3OnuQiYCLvCN6Smff1R8a9eieXeJQHKzERxF-pA
Yup even though we primarily use the Panduit GTS we have a few of the T&B ERG50 guns specifically for the rotating nose. When you need it you need in.
The current orange and black version is very durable and comfortable to use. The older blue and black version not so much. While perfectly usable the Panduit guns are much better made than the old version.
The Klein tool looka a lot like the one made by Midwest Cutlery (MW-T1 – UPC 727226131553)
You may know that there are also tools for stainless steel ties:
and for tensioning steel bands
The Panduit guns are awesome. While I normally have a very positive feeling about Klein tools, in this case I am totally sticking with Panduit.
Another alternative are the guns made by Hellermann Tyton – that work with their rolls of ties and separate grips (clamps). The advantage of this style is that you use as much or as little of the tie band (off the roll) as you need to secure a small or large bundle. Here is one of their guns on Amazon:
Do these tools need a specific brand of zip ties to work, or could I use cheap, readily available ones like Gardner Bender from a home center?
They are not brand specific. however there is a big difference in quality of zip-ties.
Cheap ones tend to be brittle or have substandard locking pawls. Fine if you are bundling cable behind your TV or computer, not such a good idea if failure will cause damage.
GB ones are probably the cheapest I would ever consider. T&B, Panduit, Avery Dennison Ect… are much better.
Agree completely. The diff between cheap & quality is stark in ties.
Many zip ties are not very UV light resistant despite claiming to be so – and become brittle and fail in outdoor use when constantly exposed to sunlight. Sometimes the only solution is to use SS ties – but they have some other issue and are electrically conductive.
On the side I do a bit of antenna tower work both TV and for local hams. One of the old timers in our radio club was a TV repairman for 40+ years. They always used 4 to 5 wraps of good quality 3M 33+ or super 88 electrical tape to secure the cables to the legs to the tower.
If you use zip-ties thee will be brittle and loose within 5 years. Even the name brand black ones that are supposed to be UV resistant.
I have seen and removed plenty of 20 to 30 year old electrical tape that was still holding and doing its job. The outer layer of tape takes most of the abuse protecting the layer underneath is.
It took me quite a while to come around to the idea. however seeing is believing. At lease here in the upper Midwest, not sure if it would work as well in a hotter climate.
I saw the Cable guy do this after zip tying for the exact reason you mentioned to keep the zip ties from becoming brittle.
I got a pair of the NWS metal ones from KC Tool (NWS 983-1). I do not use them often but I am so glad I have them when I need to get a lot of zip ties tight (and optionally flush cut) fast.
Haha. In my opinion, the flush cut part is the most important part. I have the scars that explain that position.
Gonna grab a set of these. As much as I’d love to have a panduit, $165+ is tough to swallow right now. I know I’ll end up with one eventually though…
I bought one last year October for $10.85. It’s gone up a bit since then. I haven’t used it yet so was going to sell but not sure now. We mainly use cable ties to bunch together network cabling in trunking and then use hook & loop in the cabinets.
Haven’t opened it since purchasing it so maybe I don’t need it?
If you put it to use you might end up kicking yourself for waiting.
After you snip off the excess zip tie just melt what’s left with a lighter. No more sharp edges
There’s a challenge in getting a Panduit tool, and that’s not getting yourself mixed up in all the choices. Here’s a list, and it’s not ideally helpful in picking what you’ll use:
But the GTS-E or GS2B-E (or the older GS2B) are, I think, what most of us would use for typical ties. But there are a slew of tie types/sizes, and tools for each.
Anyway, those are what I’d look for on eBay.
We use these for securing Panduit straps on flexible ductwork in HVAC. When I first started in the industry I used a pair of needle nose pliers until I saw an older guy using these one day…..nearly life changing.
“Sure, you could use diagonal cutters, flush cutters, utility knives, or other methods to trim zip ties after you tighten them. But, the cut edges will usually be sharp.”
Flush cuts and leave sharp? Wha? Never if used as intended.
Talk about a tool that is a total convenience and completely unneeded. Nice
Aren’t most tools?
Id you can drive in nails with a rock, why use a hammer?
Most of us would admit that there are tools that are absolutely needed to accomplish certain tasks (you can’t torque down a fastener with a rock) . At the other end of the spectrum might be tools that are so specialized as to have little use for most of us.
When we’d look at a new (to us anyway) tool for our businesses we’d ask ourselves questions like:
Will this improve our productivity? How much and what’s the value?
Will this improve safety in the workplace versus other alternatives?
Will this new tool address a problem/need that we experienced or on that we anticipate arising based on some planned new work?
Will this help increase the quality of our workmanship?
Will this replace a tool that we have at a lower cost with the same or better performance?
Will this tool help reduce our environmental impact and/or help better utilize construction/production/maintenance materials and reduce waste?
How might transition to this new tool fit in with our ISO certifications?
On more expensive and capital tools – we’d tried to monetize the answer to these questions and factor that into our purchasing plans.
In some of the businesses – we might buy a new tool to pass around and try out – to help answer some of these questions – before we bought any more.
If you are the average home owner than I fully agree, a cheap set of flush cutters are plenty.
However If you are an installer, in a production environment, or work on wiring in very tight locations, they are more than a convenience.
Just because you do not have a need for them does not make a tool unneeded.
Klien 86570… Yeah, that looks perfect for me… I only use them occasionally anyways.
…Wait… With the Klien Comfort Curve wire Stripper/Crimper tool, and the Klien Electrical Inspection deals I’ve been getting excited about with ToolGuyd posting them… Are… You ToolGuyd Members making me into a Klien guy?
If so, just say the word. You don’t have to be ashamed of promoting a good brand that I’m coming to trust.
Klein makes at least 2 styles – one with auto-cut-off for $5 more
Or for $6 less you can buy a Wiss:
I saw them on Amazon! It’s just… ToolGuyd recommended this one, so I’ve got it wishlisted.
But, honestly fred… I’ve come to trust your opinion very highly over the time I’ve been on ToolGuyd… Honestly, are the recommendations swaying me toward Klein tools, or is it in my imagination here? Because I DO own a couple Wiss hand-seamer tools for bending flat sheets of metal… A 3″ and a 6″… I don’t use them for HVAC purposes like their packaging instructed, I’ve used them as a hand-held metal brake on a couple projects.
Am I being led down a path to high end tools in any uneven way? Every time I purchase one of these recommended tools from Klein or Wiss, it feels like I’m genuinely getting my money’s worth… I don’t feel like I’ve wasted any money here… but is the ToolGuyd community kinda swinging me toward higher end brands directly, or are these just reasonably priced, middle-of-the-road tools that happen to be of good quality?
I’ll state it again, there’s no need to feel ashamed if people ARE INTENTIONALLY promoting high end tool brands for these kinds of applications here… Because frankly, whatever the intention, I’m thankful for not leading me astray, to tools that DO seem to be a waste of funds. Some of these tools I’ve never heard of until either Tested (Adam Savage especially) or ToolGuyd (Stuart specifically, and sometimes the… Two?… Bens in their articles.) shows them off. Then it usually results in me ever trying to buy a cheaper version to test if I’m in need of the product, I just go DIRECT to these models.
Am I doing the right thing, fred? Stuart? What’s your take? Anybody else?
I prefer to point out options that represent offerings from well known brands rather than some of those seemingly made-up names that you sometimes see on Amazon. Some folks may say that tool X , tool Y and tool Z all look alike and probably come from the same factory in China or Taiwan. But at least when Klein, Wiss and others with reputations to uphold – put their name on it I have the expectation (perhaps sometimes misguided) that they will stand behind their product and that some modicum of thought has gone into its design, manufacture and QA/QC.
When I grew up – if you wanted a tool you went to a hardware store or commercial/industrial supplier and bought from a limited selection – or thumbed through a catalog and ordered something at list price or close to it. Then home centers appeared to challenge this for the DIY crowd. Once Home Depot arrived – they soon became so much better that most of the lesser home centers and hardware stores were pushed out. But some hardware stores like Acme were able to survive – first through catalog sales then through the Internet. Today the megatherine Amazon so dominates the buying arena flooding the market with both the good and not-so-good – but offering us a minefield of choices. That’s good because not everyone needs or wants every tool that they buy to be the best in class.
I really don’t understand what you’re asking, could you please rephrase it?
This Klein tool came up in conversation and seemed interesting for a fresh post. That led me to briefly post about my Panduit and how it differs from the Klein.
Should you buy either? No – you seem to be on the fence as to whether it’s something you could use. In that case, get a cheap $10 tool and determine over time whether you should upgrade.
It’s not my intent for everyone to buy tools that are posted about where. What I hope is for users who could use it to learn more about a tool they might not have been exposed to, and for current users to chime in about their experiences with it or similar tools.
Don’t look at others to tell you what to buy, unless you specifically ask for recommendations. Instead, look at the information that is shared and determine product worthiness for yourself against your own needs and budget.
And this would be why I trust You and fred so much. I often notice that, the purchases I make, and truly feel relief that I got them, tend to be informed by you two. You’re not salesmen, you’re… for lack of a better word for it… Educators.
In THIS case… I think I’m starting to be TAUGHT that… I’m Kinda a Klein guy… Like DeWALT… I see them and I trust them immediately, because of the recommendations you two have given me, accompanied by… LITERALLY hours of reading and researching just… Handed to me by the both of you.
And, no… I’m not on the fence about these Zip-Tie tools… I need one, and I never knew this kind of handheld tool even existed until you mentioned it. I often invent things, and I use Zip Ties JUST often enough that these are something I genuinely need. I don’t feel the need to get a “budget edition” because…. For the few times I’m going to use it, just like the Klein Comfort Curve wire stripper pliers you recommended, I know they’re going to be ready for me, and work. And on the upside? Here in Canada they’re in the $40 range. For a QUALITY tool, that very well get passed down to another generation, if I ever generate one, that is not a big price tag. I’ve spent more on Graphic Novels at times. Something that can keep me going and enable me to build and experiment with things? I don’t know how to thank you both for your efforts all these years. It has been amazing how much you’ve both TAUGHT me.
I have an IQ of 187… Do you know how REFRESHING and AMAZING it feels, to encounter someone who can actually TEACH you something, instead of the other way around? Yet here you both are… TEACHING ME. It means the world to me.
The ultimate question is… Have I been a Klein guy all along, and you’re just bringing it out of me now? Or is this just in my head?
JoeM, your ultimate answer might be a message in a Klein bottle.
After 30 years in the low volt trade, and using all makes of cable tie guns, I love the Ty Rap ERG50, and the Hellermann Tyton EVO 7. I own both, and both work fabulously, but for reasons I can’t put my finger on, I prefer the EVO 7.
I could see using the Klien tool underhood or on wing. looks less intricate to get dirty and gum up.
As an audio-video tech, this is not the “best way” to use nylon ties but it is convenient. If you are using them on a bundle of wire, this is almost the worst way to tighten and cut. First of all, when bundling wires, you really don’t want to squeeze them.. at all. You want them snug and that’s about it. The cheap box store brand nylon ties are the worst because of the click mechanisms, where one click could mean too tight. The better type to use are the metal barb ties. These can be tightened to anywhere along the tie.
These cable tie tools also don’t cut flush with the barb. Some claim to but they never do. Those edges are the cause of many scars on my forearms and hands. Same goes for using standard pliers to cut. The best way to cut them that I’ve found are micro-shears like the Xuron 2275 Maxi-Shear Flush Cutter, which are made for ties. Cut flush and there’s no sharp edge slack.
If you’re caught with no flush cuts, use a pair of linemans, grab flush with the barb and twist off. There’s a warning here though as twisting also can slightly tightened.
Thank you for sharing your insights!
What’s your take on tools such as the Panduit?
I’ve seen the metal ties before, but didn’t think they were used in AV or networking applications.