Wrangling my computer power cables

DIY 3228 views

Today I finally did something about the nest of power cables under my computer desk. It's been bothering me for a while now. Not only was it an eye sore, it was also starting to encroach upon footspace. I had 14 power cables plugged into two power adapters.

power cables
Before – 2 power adapters, 14 outlets, and lots of cables…

The last time I went to IKEA, while looking at desks for my 8-year old son, I noticed how IKEA handles cable management on their desks. This inspired me to think about a solution for my desk at home.

My goals

I mulled it over, and came up with 3 goals I wanted to accomplish:

  1. I wanted to consolidate the two power adapters (14 outlets) into one power strip if possible
  2. I wanted to mount or attach the power strip (and corresponding power cables) to the desk, somewhat hidden and off the floor
  3. I wanted to shorten the power cables and wrap them up

Finding suitable items

After spending some time perusing Amazon, I came across this 16 outlet power strip that could work for me. It's the kind you would normally use is your garage workshop. One long strip for all of your power tools. I found other ones with smaller gaps between the outlets. But I chose this one because I need the gaps for power cables with big block type plugs.

16 outlet power strip
16 outlet power strip

Now that I picked out the power strip, I decided I didn't really want to screw this onto my desk underside. Instead, I decided to look for a wire cable tray that would be wide enough for the power strip and power cables to rest in it. I settled on this 36" one:

36" tray
36" tray

My desk is 60" long, and the power stip is 48", so the edges of the power strip will lie outside the tray. This is okay since both are still shorter than my 60" desk. I can stabilize the power strip to the tray using zip ties.

Mounting the tray to my desk

The tray doesn't come with screws. A quick trip to my nearby Ace Hardware took care of that. 3 ¾" #8 flat-head Phillips screws only cost 60¢.

Mounting the tray to my desk was pretty straightforward. The desktop is 60" long and the tray 36". The tray happens to have a mounting hole in the middle, so it's simply a matter of lining it up to the 30" center of the desktop.

I mounted the tray so that it extrudes outward from my desk.

With the tray persicely where I wanted it, I marked the holes with a grease pencil, drilled 3 pilot holes, and screwed it on.

I was slightly worried that the screws might not stay in since the desktop is most likely wood veners and a hollow core. However, the screws stayed! So maybe mounting it on the edge secured it to an internal frame, or the vener was thick enough? In any case, it feels solid and steady.

Securing the power strip and shortening the power cables

I secured the power strip to inside and middle of the tray with 3 zip ties.

The power strip's own power cable is 15' long, which is probably useful in your garage workshop, but excessive for my computer desk which is only 15" away from a power outlet. So, I shortened the power cable using zip ties and a spool of cuttable cable wrap. I also used the wrap on my MacBook Pro's long power cable, and any other ones too long.

The results

I'm happy with the results! It didn't take much effort, and the cost of supplies was only a little over $100 (I still have leftover cable wrap and zip ties).

After – No more nest of power cables and multiple adapters

The products and tools I used: