There are many different ways you could install and tighten nylon cable ties.
You could of course use your hands, but it can be hard to get proper tension by hand, increasing the risk that a connection or bundle will be loose.
Then there are pliers. I have had good experiences using pliers to install cable ties and then flush cutters to trim excess materials. But even this method isn’t ideal.
There are tools specially designed for one purpose and one purpose only – to properly tighten and tension nylon cable ties, and they work extremely well.
The Klein tool shown above ($29 via Amazon) is a mid-level tool that’s designed for day-to-day use. It can be used on ties up to 15/32″ wide and can tension them to up to 65 lbs. It features easy-grip handles and automatically trims the ends of tensioned cable ties.
This Gardner Bender cable tie tool ($10 via Amazon) is a lighter-duty tensioner that works in a similar manner. It can tension ties to up to 75 lbs, but you would probably only want to use it on smaller ties. Like the Klein tool, this one – and others like it – can also trim the ends of cable ties.
Economic plastic-bodied versions are useful for occasional use, and metal tools like the Klein are better suited for installers and other more frequent users. Premium models are available for installers and techs that need adjustable tensioning and other such features.
Buy Now(via Amazon)
I could do with one of them, got a thousand ties to do Monday.
http://www.amazon.com/Park-Tool-Brake-Locking-Ratchet/dp/B000OZBIDO/ is what I’ve always used. It’s more expensive, but makes working on bicycle brakes a breeze.
That Park tool has been on my wishlist for the longest time, but can never justify it. This isn’t really used for the same applications though. The Park is more for use on steel wire and bike cables, the others mentioned here are used on nylon zip ties.
Generally called “fourth hands” – there are other options beyond Park Tools – like this one from Pedro’s:
I believe that Ice Toolz , Hozan (Japan) and VAR (France) also make similar tools.
More on the original topic, I’m familiar with cable tie tools from Panduit, ACT Fastening Solutions, Malco, Catamount (Thomas and Betts), Morris Products and Band-It Industries. Some are meant for nylon ties – others for steel or stainless steel. Some tools get pretty pricey if they offer features that provide repetitive (automatic) calibrated tensioning. I know that some of the Panduit tie guns sell for $800 or more at Zoro.
I know it’s not designed for zip ties, but it does work reasonably well on them.
Interesting information Stuart. Honesty never knew this tool existed, let alone the fact Klein offers one.
Albeit, something tells me the Klein version might not be of US origin though. Not sure if that is true or not, but the color scheme is much different than on some of their other items.
So much in the way of cross-pollination in these tools. I have a Wiss WT1 which looks very much like the Klein which I use for the bigger ties. I have a pair of Panduit-branded plastic tie tools which look like the GB tool pictured. It gets into tighter spots and comes in handy for electronic chassis wiring as well as under dash work in vehicles and the like. The “cutting” feature of the small tools is not much, it amounts to a blade at the end which cuts the tie when the tool is twisted at least 90 degrees. It doesn’t do a good job cutting, and the short ties (< 3") mostly just get nicked. I use a flush cutter to nip the tails off.
This is my current gun. It’s might be my most expensive single hand tool but it’s also one of the most used. People are amazed at the price but after you slice your arms up a few million times on zip ties cut with dykes, you will happily buy one. The cheaper ones don’t have much or any control of the tension. Anyone that uses more then 10 ties a year should own at least an entry level version even.
The metal zip tie tensioners/cutters are worth every penny if you’re doing more than a couple of ties. And if you’re tired of cutting yourself on badly-cut zip ties, get some low-profile versions, like the Thomas & Betts Safe-Ty models. Other companies have the same kind of zip ties, too.
I have a Midwest version of that Klein. It’s such a time saver.
I have the Paladin Tools 1828.1 Cable Gun (I paid $43 for it in 2011, it’s gone up in price quite a bit since then). Solid metal construction. The adjustable tension feature is great (but not all that precise), and it cuts automatically when the tension is reached. The cut is not completely flush, protruding about 1-2mm or so, a flush cutter like a Xuron or Knipex is still required for maximum tidiness.