Stainless Steel Locking Wire


Indispensable fastening wire

Over the years I have used pipe clamps, zip ties, Velcro straps, and all sorts of other fastening methods, and many have their rightful place for various uses. However, I have discovered a versatile and inexpensive material that, when combined with some other tools for specialized uses, fits the essence of a cool tool: durable, flexible, inexpensive and versatile. Stainless steel wire is sometimes known as safety wire or lock wire; it is used routinely in the aerospace and other industries and conforms to national standards for strength and performance.

Stainless steel wire is available in different sizes measured in nominal diameter for different purposes, and in various quantities depending upon one’s capacity needs. For general purpose fastening and use around the shop and home, I have found that 0.041″ nominal diameter wire in 1-lb dispenser canisters (approx. 220 ft) works really well. At about $6 per pound, that works out to less than 3 cents per foot.

This particular size can be bent easily by hand, is durable and strong, and can be manipulated easily with various hand tools. In use it’s sturdy yet reusable, and as a fastener it’s super inexpensive. It’s also corrosion-resistant, non-magnetic and unaffected by UV light.

There are some specialized hand tools that make stainless steel wire even more useful:

The previously reviewed Parallel Jaws Pliers put uniform twists in safety wire installations and are generally useful when using wire as a strapping material for multiple twists. The previously reviewed Clamptite hose clamp tool is the best hose clamp solution anywhere, hands-down. And finally the previously reviewed Fencing pliers, a great multi-tool when working with wire fences and general repairs using stainless steel wire.

Here are just a few uses I’ve found for stainless steel wire:

-Building a bamboo vine trellis
-Keeping posts from splitting when pounding them with a sledge hammer
-Repairing a leaky hose fitting
-Keeping my aging, rusting catalytic converter from rattling
-Repairing my temporary fence until I can get around to building a proper one

With a spool of stainless steel wire, some needle-nose pliers and a pair of wire cutters, there is very little I can’t fasten. With a Clamp-tite tool, some wire twisting pliers and and a pair of fencing pliers, the number of possibilities rises exponentially.

Simple, effective and versatile. Inexpensive and long-lasting. What more could you ask from a tool? Plus, it’s a tool that justifies the use of other cool tools. I’d call that a recipe for a Cool Tool, for sure.

-- Geoff Keochakian 09/24/10