How To: Join Wires Without Soldering

A nice quick but handy one today – ever been in a situation where you can’t or don’t want to use solder but still need to form a decent, strong and permanent wire join?

It’s pretty common when working on cars and motorbikes in garages that don’t have power, or even out on the road after a breakdown etc.

This type of repair is low-profile, neat, strong and unlikely to need replacing and can sometimes be preferred  to a soldered joint.
Side note: Soldered joints are not used in motorsport as the solder makes the wires brittle and more likely to snap due to vibrations.

Alternative to this method you can substitute the heat shrink for electrical tape, although this is much less preferred, less neat and far less strong but can be used as a last resort if need be.

You will need: 

  • Wires to join
  • Heat shrink, I am currently using a set like this
  • Something to shrink the heat shrink (I normally use either a lighter or soldering iron depending on whether I have power or not)

Process:

  1. Firstly get the two wire ends you need to join and strip them back. In this case I stripped them back around 15mm, thicker wire may require you to strip back further and vice versa.
    1 wire.JPG
    2 stripped.JPG
  2. This is the step that always catches me out: Put the heat shrink onto one side of wire and push it out the way, alternatively you can do this before you strip the wires.
    I often forget about this until I have already made the joint and then can’t add the heat shrink and have to take it apart again! The heat shrink is what gives this type of joint it’s strength so it’s worth using it whenever possible!
    3 heat shrink.JPG
  3. Initially join the wires by folding them over each other and back on them selves
    4 inital join.JPG
  4. Wrap the excess wire around itself as shown.
    5 joined.JPG

    wire
    Apologies for the terrible MS paint image! But it does get the point across!
  5. Put the heat shrink over the join, as centrally as possible
    6 heat shrink.JPG
  6. Shrink the heat shrink
    7 heat shrunk.JPG
  7. Finished! And to show how strong these joints can be here is a picture of the one I completed holding around 7kg, a fair amount of weight for such thin wire!
    8 weights.JPG

 

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