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Fold-Over Fix

Large 10- to 12-gauge butt connectors? Much finer wire? Try this trick and keep right on chuggin’.

Ever come to the end of a project, almost but not quite? Say, on a Sunday afternoon? When all or most of the stores and chandleries are either closed or too far away? And you’re just one small component away from triumphantly concluding the installation of that new spin-on filter system, gas detector or electric ventilator?

Here’s a nifty little trick if the hang-up has something to do with compatibility issues arising between electrical wire size and the size of the butt, spade, disconnect or snap-plug-type electrical connectors you have in your toolbox. You know, where the wire you’re working with is, let’s say, 16 gauge and the only connector sizes you have in stock are considerably larger and strictly applicable to wire sizes between 12 and 10 gauges only. What to do?

Simply strip about double the normal amount of insulation off the 16-gauge wire and fold it back upon itself as tightly as possible (see photos). Then roll the fold-over between your thumb and forefinger like a pencil in order to produce as much uniformity of diameter as possible. What happens is that you effectively double the thickness of the 16-gauge wire, which you are then going to insert into the business end of the much larger 10- or 12-gauge connector.

Once you’ve squeezed the fold-over into the connector in the more-or-less normal manner, go ahead and crimp the connector using the size-appropriate portion of the crimping tool. It doesn’t hurt to bear down a little harder than you normally would to make sure you’ve got a tight fit. The use of heat-shrink connectors adds to the thoroughness of the fit, of course.

While this strategy works on a range of wire sizes, attempting to use it on wires and connectors that evince truly significant differences in diameter is not advisable. As with most other things, let common sense prevail here.