How Long Of A Power Cord?

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In about a month, I will be replacing a significant number of power cords on a variety of metal and wood working machines.
So how long of a cord should a person replace them with?
It's a harder question to answer than at first glance. It's like asking "How high should I build my workbench?"..it depends.
Of course one should replace the cord so the new one reaches the outlet but how much extra cord should one allow?
Over the years, machines have come with a variety of lengths in relation to their power cords so just replacing it with what it had may not be a good approach. When copper was expensive, the cords got shorter to save costs. And over the years, cords are replaced because of damage or old age.
As a matter of good practice I will be installing wire adequate for the currents needed, using grounded plugs, appropiate insulation types but the simple question of "How Long?" is one I would like to have your opinion on.
Thanks in advance for suggestions.
TMT
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Good that you are making sure you replace all cords with grounded ones. IMO, you should use "standard" length cords; maybe slightly longer ones on hand drills and other tools you may use on ladders. One of the handiest long cords I have is on a Weller dual heat soldering gun. It is better to keep a few extension cords on hand rather than dealing with the clutter of over-long cords everywhere.
Bob Swinney

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Yup. I hate clutter. I can't stand anything underfoot...'cept the rubber anti-fatigue mats. Most of my stuff runs along the ceiling with drop-downs here and there. I have two retractable ones for power and one for air.
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I replaced the cord on my TS with a foot long one. Makes it easy to move the tool and I can unplug it easily. Then I have a big 10GA extension cord so I can roll it out into the driveway to work.
May I suggest that if you are replacing them all that you go with a twist lock.
-j

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    O.K. I was scratching my head over the "TS" above, thinking "A powered Tailstock on his lathe?" -- and then I noticed that this is cross-posted to the woodworking newsgroup. (I'm reading it in rec.crafts.metalworking.)

    Particularly nice with a drop from the ceiling to power a given tool
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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I've replaced the factory leads on some of my portable gear (table saws, Chop saws and rolling bench gear) with auto rewind units. Bought the ones you mount on the wall and simply reversed the connections with new plug/sockets. Makes it easy to keep track of the cords and since they are 50 foot long you seldom need an extension. I also have a heavy duty one mounted on the portable welding table/MIG/TIG unit. Works great to just roll it out and pull out what you need for the cord instead of tripping over a long cord. We also use the same type on a couple of our fire engines for portable tools and lights. Makes it nice to use them that way. Just keep a rag handy and wipe the cord down as it retracts to keep a lot of crud from getting inside.
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Steve Williams

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I have thought of this approach...how has the long term reliability of the rewind units been?
TMT
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On a double insulated tool, what are you going to connect the ground wire to? The plastic case?

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Too_Many_Tools wrote:

It depends on whether the equipment is stationary or portable.
Sight unseen, 25 ft of 12-2 /w/ ground, SJO cord should do a great job.
Lew
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I've noticed that some tools come with rather short cords. Things like small hand-held circular saws etc.
The reasoning, I suspect, is that it's better for you to accidentally chop up an extension cord rather than the one hardwired to the saw!
There are other tools where an overly-long cord attached to the tool gets in the way of normal operation. Soldering irons especially. In cases like this it's better to have a short cord on the hand-held part and a longer cord on a stationary base.
Don't forget voltage drop etc too as a reason to keep cords only as long as necessary.
Tim.
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Though there are no absolutes in the world, voltage drop is really not an issue when talking about power cords as described by the OP. You've got to get out to some distance before voltage drop is an issue and for the average tool cord, it's just not going to be a factor. Having said that...
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    That depends on the tool, of course. There was a mention of a table saw being wheeled outdoors somewhere back in the thread (though I think from some other than the OP), and some of those can be a significant current draw. Most things which can be a serious draw in my shop tend to be rather stationary (lathes, mills, etc). But if he is using a serious sized welder on wheels, the current draw may call for significantly larger wire.
    From my own point of view, stationary tools want a cord just the right length to reach neatly to the wall outlet or the permanent wiring box. This might mean that it drops to the floor, runs flat, and then up to the outlet, or that it goes to a strain relief on the ceiling, across the ceiling, and down the wall to the outlet.
    Portable tools may want a longer cord -- especially if the weight of the cord and a plug in line can make manipulating the tool more difficult. Such things as die grinders, Dremel tools (Foredom will have a flex shaft, so that does not apply), soldering irons and similar. For fine circuit work, it is nice to have the soldering iron's cord supported by a pivoted overarm.
    However -- tools likely to cut their own cord are better with a short cord -- short enough so that the connector will be unable to get into the path of the blade. And for those, a twist lock (as suggested elsewhere by several) with a *good* strain relief for the cord are probably the best choice.
    As someone else mentioned -- what will you do with the ground wire on double-insulated hand tools?
    Something light enough to normally live in one place (say a bench drill press), but to be possible to move at need, might want a short cord with twist lock, joined to a longer cord to actually reach the wall outlet. That way, when you move it for a special job, you leave the existing power cord to the wall behind, and simply plug it into one of the prepared extension cords.
    If you go with the twist-lock -- make at least one short one with the twist-lock male, and a standard duplex quad outlet box on the other end for newly-acquired tools which have not yet been modified, or for ones which have been borrowed or rented, and for which the actual owner would not appreciate getting it back with a twist-lock connector. :-)
    Anyway -- next hamfest, I'll be looking out for more good twist-lock connectors. I'm slowly converting certain things to twist-lock, including the floor-standing drill press, which is now powered from a box screwed to the ceiling, with the other end plugged into a normal duplex on the wall for the moment.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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On Fri, 21 Oct 2005 09:16:20 -0700, Too_Many_Tools wrote:

Only as long as necessary (or in other words, as short as possible).
Are you talking about stationary equipment or portable?
The longer the cord, the higher the resistance/voltage drop/wasted energy.
For stationary equipment, you just want enough to safely route the cable to the outlet without straining it.
If it is portable equipment, it depends upon how far from an outlet you are expecting to work. If you almost always work a few feet from an outlet, the standard 6' cord may suit you fine, using a proper extension cord on the few occasions that you need it. It would be silly and wasteful to wire all of your portable equipment with 30' cords so that an extension cord is never needed when you usually work right next to an outlet.
And then the type of tool will also affect cord length requirements. Something like a circular saw, where you are likely to be making long strokes and want to keep the cord well out of the way, could benefit from a significantly longer cord, or you'll end up using an extension cord every time.
Then there's the issue of storing all of the cords on portable equipment, budget, etc, etc.
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me wrote:

When I said "longer rather than shorter" I should have added that most of my machines have 10' to 12' cords.
Chris
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Code says there should be a power receptacle about every six feet along wall. Therefore power cords are generally about 6 feet long. Maybe 8 foot max to provide a margin of adjustment.
Too_Many_Tools wrote:

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While I think 8 is a good starting point, the distance between outlets is not the only factor. Length of the stroke of the tool in use is a factor too. Example: using a jigsaw to cut an arc for the toe-space apron of a bookcase.
Better example: using your circular saw to rip a sheet of plywood. In theory, you can do it with a <8' cord, in practice, you want 12'. 3' from the wall to the sheet and then be able to rip away from the wall.
The 6' cord on my ROS is really inadequte; 8 would be OK; 10 would be better. You need that much to get all the way around a full-size piece of furniture.
My solution to this problem is a 10' HD extension cord. A 6' extension would probably be better, but a 10 is what I have.
Steve
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On 21 Oct 2005 09:16:20 -0700, "Too_Many_Tools"

in my shop that 6 foot long cords work the best. This allows me to move the buffers, etc. to a position that works best. BTW, all my receptacles are 4 feet up the wall too. Makes it much easier to plug things in. If buying cord in bulk and making up cords with plugs you install yourself it is often cheaper to but long extension cords and cut them to length. As an example 14/3 orange bulk extension cord is .39 per foot at the local hardware store. 100 foot long 14/3 orange extension cords already made up is $14.89 or .1489 per foot. ERS
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Eric R Snow wrote:

You bet, that is what I do, buy a 25 foot 12 gage cord and cut it up. For example, I rewired my table saw and needed only a 6 foot cord to make a 4 foot connection(used the end with the plug), then cut a 6 foot piece for an extension and used the remainder (about 13 feet) for another extension cord. The most expensive part was the two male and two female connectors. With the regular wire and a 6 foot and a 13 foot extension cord I can select what I need to get the minimum voltage drop.
As far as how long you make cords, your should make them whatever is convenient for what you have now or expect to have in less than 1 year. If you need to slightly extend them later, put on a new cord, or make short extension cords.
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On 21 Oct 2005 09:16:20 -0700, "Too_Many_Tools"

First, if any are stationary the answer is obvious, so I assume you mean portable tools. These I would envision as being in mostly two groups. First, those used mostly at your bench or otherwise in one limited location and the other tools that you take to the work. For the first group I would try to see how I am going to use the tool at the given location, determine the length that will allow that use and add a couple of feet. For tools that will usually be taken to the work, I would use a short (under 12") cord. This is based on the fact that you will almost always be using an extension cord anyway (unless you make your cords just excessively long) and short cords are easy when putting the tool away and are seldom cut accidently.
Dave Hall
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An interesting thing happened the other day. My wife was cleaning mold off of a few of our 2 by 2 ft concrete patio stones with the pressure washer. It was no different then any other time but she was using a 100" extension this time. The washer would run for a minute or two or three then switch itself off, after waiting a bit it would do the same again, and again.
I thought that it was simply shutting down as part of it's duty cycle but my wife (chief user) insisted that it had never done it before. After a little reading in the brochure I discovered that long extensions were not recommend as they were known to cause the motor to overheat.
Shortened the extension and it never did it again. Go figure!
Too_Many_Tools wrote:

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