Despite the fact that extension cords are a great way of extending the reach of a power tool, using extension cords can  have a negative effect in the workshop. An extension cord laying on the floor can and often times does, create a tripping hazard.                                             



 (The Problem: extension cord tripping hazard)



 (The Solution: cable reel from Lee Valley Tools)

 Although I can’t eliminate the use of extension cords in my workshop, I can eliminate the tripping hazard caused by extension cords laying on the floor. The solution for me was to install a cable reel on the ceiling of my workshop above my workbench where I perform most of my sanding, routing and other duties requiring the use of 120 volt tools. My plan was to plug the cable reel into an existing receptacle that was mounted on the ceiling and on its own electrical circuit. When I need to use a sander or router, etc. at my workbench, I’d simply reach up and pull out as much cord as I need and then retract the cord back into the cable reel when I finished using it. And since the cord was coming from an overhead location and not laying on the floor, it wouldn’t present a tripping hazard.

My quest for a cable reel lead me toLee Valley Tools where they have two cable reels to choose from.   Lee Valley Tools stock a 40′ model ( item #03K51.05) that uses 12 gauge wire that is rated for 15amps and a 30′ model (item # 03K51.03) that uses 14 gauge wire that’s rated for 13amps, I chose the 30′, 13amp model to meet my needs.

The housing of the cable reel I chose is made from steel and is epoxy coated, it weighs 9lbs, 3″ wide and only 9″ in diameter. It can be mounted to the ceiling or mounted to the wall with the included hardware and requires a mounting location within 20″ of an electrical receptacle. I mounted my cable reel to one of the ceiling joists with the included cable reel hanger, above my workbench and with 30′ of flexible electrical  cord at my disposal, I’ll have enough cord to reach anywhere in my workshop. 



(the included hardware for ceiling or wall mounting)



     (cable reel installed on my workshop ceiling) 

 At the business end of the cord are three grounded outlets with plenty of room between each outlet to accommodate various size electrical plugs and a conveniently placed (black) integral circuit breaker. In the event that the circuit breaker is tripped, it is easily reset by depressing the circuit breaker button. The spring loaded cable reel dispenses its 30′ of flexible electrical cord smoothly and when it’s time to retract the cord, a quick tug on the cord engages the retracting mechanism in the reel and returns the cord into the cord reel’s case. An infinite positional stop on the cord allows me to position the cord to hang within reach.



(three grounded outlets & integral circuit breaker)


       (large enough to accommodate various sized plugs)

Now when I need the use of an extension cord  I simply reach up above my workbench and pull out the required amount of cord.  When I’m  finished using it, it conveniently retracts into its case, always within reach, waiting for the next time it’ll be called into duty. This cable reel has completely eliminated the tripping hazards I once experienced with extension cords laying on my workshop floor and has made using an extension cord in my workshop, safe and efficient.


         (tripping hazard)                                                                                                     (tripping hazard eliminated)


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