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New Knot, New Plug

Tie a New Knot, Replace an Old Plug

Directions for simple home repairs of the electrical variety such as replacing the plug on an cord or rewiring a lamp will usually specify using an “underwriters’ knot.”

This order is always tossed off by the writer as though we were all born knowing how to tie our shoes and had mastered the bowline by our fourth birthday. Come on! I know for a fact that even most Boy Scouts have no clue how to tie an underwriters’ knot – or even why they should. But don’t be intimidated. An underwriters’ knot is just a simple way of connecting wires. So simple it probably doesn’t qualify for even a minor merit badge.

Here is how to tie an underwriters’ knot and replace a worn out lamp plug.

  • Use a sharp knife to cut off the old plug and any of the cord near the plug that appears frayed or worn. Pull the prong assembly and the housing of the new plug apart and slip the housing over the cord, sliding it down a few inches to allow room to work.
  • The cord is actually two parallel sets of wires running through a rubber conduit with a channel in the middle. With a sharp knife cut down the channel, separating the two halves for two inches or so. Strip the insulation off of the first ½ inch of each wire set and twist the ends into a point like a shoelace tip.
  • Bend the left wire to the left into a loop, passing the end behind the body of the cord. Make a loop to the right with the other wire, passing the end in front of the body of the cord. Pass the end of each wire through the opposite loop and pull tight. Ta-da; an underwriters’ knot.
  • Bend the end of each wire into a hook and place it over one of the screws on the side of the plug prongs; tighten the screws. Pull the housing up over your new knot covering it completely. Push the pronged end into the top of the housing until it is firmly seated.

New knot, new plug; maybe two merit badges are in order!

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