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Chances are pretty good you don’t have a hanging ceiling anywhere in your house. Yet you should still have a roll of 12-gauge hanging wire out in the shop. It’s handy as hell for all sorts of tasks, from fishing wire through walls to holding things in place while you’re welding.

One day back in college, as I rolled into my crappy office job on campus (I was a freshman at the time, so it beat flipping burgers) I saw one of the directors standing over by her Corvette (an ’86 — the one with the crappy 4+3 overdrive tranny), looking confused. “What’s up?” I asked. Turns out she’d locked her keys in the car. “If you can get ’em out, you can take the car for a spin.”


I headed over to the nearby maintenance shop to see if I could find a coat hanger, but one of the grizzled old workers there gave me something a lot better: hanging wire — you know, the stuff they use to suspend the frames for hanging ceilings. It’s a little larger than a coat hanger in diameter, and it’s way more pliable. Yet when you stop twisting it around, it’s still stiff enough to hold its shape. So when you’re trying to, say, push a power door lock switch with a wire jammed through a tiny gap you opened in a Corvette door by prying the window back with a pocket knife (and a door stop), you can bend the wire into all sorts of shapes to get it where you need it.

It took me about two minutes to crack the door — and maybe another five to demonstrate to her that if you just keep the throttle fully planted all the time you can avoid the crappy 1st-gear-to-4th-gear forced shift. I’ve kept a supply of hanging wire in my tool box ever since. My most recent use? Wrapping it around two pieces of square tube to hold ’em in place while I tacked ’em together with the MIG welder.

Look for it in the building supplies section of your local big-box or hardware store, and don’t pay much for it.


8 Responses to S#!& You Should Have: Hanging Wire

  1. DaveS says:

    My fix-it bag has accumulated a lot of little spools of wire. I don’t have hanging wire, but I have lots of its cranky uncle: bailing wire. (I just checked, and the fancy name – “soft annealed iron wire” is the same stuff.)

    I also keep a wad of grounding wire – the solid copper with the green insulation. The iron wire rusts if you sneeze in the same room, and sometimes you want something a bit more environmentally resistant. I like the green insulation for the times when I don’t strip it so it’s clear that it doesn’t normally carry current.

  2. Toolaremia says:

    College student. Lady with a Corvette and a problem. Did any body else instantly think this sounded like the setup for a Van Halen song?

    Never thought of picking up hanging wire. I do keep some lengths of 12 gauge solid copper around for hanging stuff and the like.

  3. paganwonder says:

    As I evolve, more and more each day, into the “grizzled old worker” I am really thankful for my early years on the farm- the apprenticeship in ‘baling wire and duct tape’, now able to fix a lot of stuff.

  4. Fritz Gorbach says:

    Agree 100% with hanging wire, but the stuff I usually score around jobsites comes in 2 or 3 foot straight lengths, not on a roll.

  5. Michael says:

    My garage had 4 columns and a beam. I replaced the collars to remove the beam and columns. The 12 gauge wire was ideal for holding the garage door tracks and openers in place while I made the transition.

  6. Cameron Watt says:

    I use TIG filler rods….and I have the choice of steel, stainless and aluminum!

  7. Chuck Cage says:

    @paganwonder: Heh. That “grizzled old worker” was probably the age I am now. 🙂

    @Cameron Watt: That’s a great idea! Now I just need a TIG welder… (Seriously.)

    @Fritz Gorbach: I kept a few pieces I scored from around jobsites, but eventually I ran out and had to buy a short roll. Turned out to be handy, though, as sometimes you’ll want more for jobs like @Michael’s.

  8. Daniel says:

    Yeah this wires can come in handy at any time. It has a lot of uses and sometimes those big jobs can be fixed by these little things. I agree that you should have at least a roll of these wires so that you can have an easy and drable fix. Do not use the rusted wires though, or your doomed. Haha!

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