Your cart
Close Alternative Icon
FREE SHIPPING ON ORDERS $90 AND UP FREE SHIPPING ON ORDERS $90 AND UP
Close Icon
Down Arrow Icon

How To Wire A Cord Switch

cord switches

PLEASE NOTE: this page is in progress.  We had it all set and a slip of the mouse erased the whole thing, permanently, and we haven't been able to face redoing it until recently, so please just be patient a bit longer and we'll get it fully fleshed out.

Why It’s Important to Connect Hot and Neutral Wires Correctly

You can attach wire to a plug, socket, or switch without paying attention to hot and neutral, and your light will operate without anything seeming wrong. However, if your electrical component, plug, socket, or switch, is wired correctly with regard to the polarity, the hot and neutral wires, you will get some protections from shock that you will not get if you don't pay attention to the polarity.

Electricity creates a circuit through a light bulb by running through the metal tab at the bottom of the socket, where the bulb sits, through the bulb, and through the metal threads where the bulb is screwed in.

When wired properly, the metal threads will never be “hot” or give you a shock, whether the switch is on or off. When wired incorrectly, the threads – and any metal touching the threads, including the outside of the socket, if it is conductive metal, or the threads of a light bulb – can give you a shock whether the switch is on or off. Therefore, it is important to follow the instructions for the hot and neutral wires carefully for both the plug and the socket and a switch if you decide to use one.

With a switch, the neutral (and ground if there is one) wire stays uncut and the hot wire is cut so that the circuit can be broken and unbroken as the switch is set to the off or on position.  Using the hot wire as the cut wire is important to maintain the correct polarity all the way from the plug or hard-wiring to the socket.

Installing the Switch

We recommend wiring the switch before wiring the socket and/or plug because if you make a mistake with the switch wiring and have to cut the wire shorter as a result, it will be less work (and aggravation) if you don't have to also rewire the plug or socket.

What You Will Need

    1. VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure any electrical device being worked on is not connected to electricity. Turn off the circuit breaker, remove the fuse, or unplug the device before starting. If you have any questions about the safety of what you are doing, please contact an electrician rather than doing the job yourself.

    2. A few simple tools are necessary to complete this process. Clockwise from left you will need:
      • a screwdriver (flat head or Phillips head depending on the screws in the switch you are working with),
      • a pair of scissors capable of cutting through soft plastic (for cutting strips of silicone tape),
      • a fine pair of fabric scissors (for snipping off the end of the cloth braid),
      • silicone tape (to bind the ends of cloth-covered wire to prevent fraying, available here),
      • a retractable knife like a box cutter (for cutting into the outer plastic of a jacketed cord),
      • and a wire stripper with a slot that accommodate the gauge of wire you are using. The second picture below shows the slots, labeled by gauge, in the wire stripper.
Tools Needed for Wiring a Plug and Wire Stripper Head with Gauge Slots

 

Rotary switch + twisted pair wire

closed rotary switch with twisted pair wire

open rotary switch with twisted pair wire

  1. Determine where on the cord you would like the switch to be assembled.
  2. Cut the hot leg of the twisted pair wire with wire cutters. For a twisted pair wire with a tracer on one leg, the hot wire is the solid color leg while the neutral wire is the leg with the tracer. For a twisted pair wire without a tracer, unravel a bit of fabric at one end of the wire. The underlying wire with a solid color insulation is the hot wire. The underlying wire with a stripe on the insulation is the neutral wire. Leave the neutral leg uncut.twisted pair with cut hot wire
  3. Trim back about 3/8” of the fabric on each side of the cut hot wire with fabric scissors and bind down the ends of the fabric with silicone tape to prevent fraying.cut hot wire with fabric cut back
  4. Cut about ¼” of wire off each end of the hot wire. Do not strip the ends of the wire.cut hot wire with fabric cut back and silicone tape with ends trimmed
  5. Open up the switch with a Phillips head or a small flat head screwdriver and press the neutral wire into the unbroken channel while pressing the hot wires into the spaces with the dividing segment.prepared twisted pair wire pressed into switch cover
  6. Keep the wires in place while joining the two halves of the switch together. Press the part with the rotary mechanism onto its other half with the screw and two small pegs entering the receptacles on the other side. As the two sides are pressed together there should be some resistance as the spikes from the mechanism side pierce the wires on the other side. When this is done properly the switch closes together flush and the screw can be attached to the nut on the other side using a screwdriver. Make sure the wire looks clean coming out of the switch.closed rotary switch attached to twisted pair wire

Rotary switch + parallel cordopen rotary switch with parallel cord

  1. Determine where on the cord you would like the switch to be assembled.
  2. Use a utility knife to carefully cut into the fabric but not the insulation and unravel about 1” of fabric and cut off with fabric scissors.open rotary switch and parallel cord with fabric cut back
  3. Trim the edges of the fabric neatly and bind down with silicone tape to prevent fraying.
  4. Separate the two legs of the parallel cord by carefully cutting into the middle of the insulation between the two wires with a utility knife. Take care not to pierce the wires themselves, just run the knife through the divot between the wires and pull them apart.open rotary switch and parallel cord with fabric cut back and wires separated
  5. Cut the hot leg of the parallel cord in the middle of the exposed section. The hot wire is the smooth side while the ribbed side is the neutral wire. Do not cut the neutral wire.open rotary switch with parallel cord with fabric cut back and cut hot wire
  6. Cut about 1/8” of wire off each end of the hot wire. Do not strip the ends of the wire.
  7. Open up the switch with a Phillips head or a small flat head screwdriver and press the neutral wire into the unbroken channel while pressing the hot wires into the spaces with the dividing segment.parallel cord with cut hot wire pressed into rotary switch cover
  8. Keep the wires in place while joining the two halves of the switch together. Press the part with the rotary mechanism onto its other half with the screw and two small pegs entering the receptacles on the other side. As the two sides are pressed together there should be some resistance as the spikes from the mechanism side pierce the wires on the other side. When this is done properly the switch closes together flush and the screw can be attached to the nut on the other side using a screwdriver. Make sure the wire looks clean coming out of the switch.parallel cord with rotary switch attached

    Slim switch + twisted pair wireclosed slim switch with twisted pairopen slim switch with twisted pair wire

    1. Determine where on the cord you would like the switch to be assembled.
    2. Cut the hot leg of the twisted pair wire with wire cutters. For a twisted pair wire with a tracer on one leg, the hot wire is the solid color leg while the neutral wire is the leg with the tracer. For a twisted pair wire without a tracer, unravel a bit of fabric at one end of the wire. The underlying wire with a solid color insulation is the hot wire. The underlying wire with a stripe on the insulation is the neutral wire. Leave the neutral leg uncut.slim switch and twisted pair with cut hot wire
    3. Trim back about 7/8” of the fabric on each side of the cut hot wire with fabric scissors and bind down the ends of the fabric with silicone tape to prevent fraying.
    4. Cut about 3/8” of wire off each end of the hot wire. Do not strip the ends of the wire.
    5. Open up the switch with a Phillips head or a small flat head screwdriver and press the neutral wire into the unbroken channel while pressing the hot wires into the spaces with the spikes. Be sure to press the hot wires down onto the spikes enough to let the spike pierce the insulation and contact the copper wire within.prepared twisted pair wire pressed into slim switch cover
    6. Fit the cover onto the side with the switch mechanism while being sure that the wires stay in place and fit in the wire way holes on each end of the switch. Fasten the two parts together again with the screws using a Phillips head or small flat head screwdriver. Make sure the wire looks clean coming out of the switch.slim switch attached to twisted pair wire

      Slim switch + parallel cordopen slim switch with parallel cord

      1. Determine where on the cord you would like the switch to be assembled.
      2. Use a utility knife to carefully cut into the fabric but not the insulation and unravel about 2” of fabric and cut off with fabric scissors.slim switch with parallel cord with fabric cut back
      3. Trim the edges of the fabric neatly and bind down with silicone tape to prevent fraying.
      4. Separate the two legs of the parallel cord by carefully cutting into the middle of the insulation between the two wires with a utility knife. Take care not to pierce the wires themselves, just run the knife through the divot between the wires and pull them apart.slim switch and parallel cord with wires separated
      5. Cut the hot leg of the parallel cord in the middle of the exposed section. The hot wire is the smooth side while the ribbed side is the neutral wire. Do not cut the neutral wire.
      6. Cut about 3/8” of wire off each end of the hot wire. Do not strip the ends of the wire.
      7. Open up the switch with a Phillips head or a small flat head screwdriver and press the neutral wire into the unbroken channel while pressing the hot wires down onto the spikes enough to let the spike pierce the insulation and contact the copper wire within.prepared parallel cord pressed into slim switch cover
      8. Fit the cover onto the side with the switch mechanism while being sure that the wires stay in place and fit in the wire way holes on each end of the switch. Fasten the two parts together again with the screws using a Phillips head or small flat head screwdriver. Make sure the wire looks clean coming out of the switch.slim switch attached to parallel cord

        Vintage slim switch + twisted pair wireclosed vintage slim switch with twisted pair wire

        1. Determine where on the cord you would like the switch to be assembled.
        2. Cut the hot leg of the twisted pair wire with wire cutters. For a twisted pair wire with a tracer on one leg, the hot wire is the solid color leg while the neutral wire is the leg with the tracer. For a twisted pair wire without a tracer, unravel a bit of fabric at one end of the wire. The underlying wire with a solid color insulation is the hot wire. The underlying wire with a stripe on the insulation is the neutral wire. Leave the neutral leg uncut.open vintage slim switch and twisted pair wire with cut hot wire
        3. Trim back about 1” of the fabric on each side of the cut hot wire with fabric scissors and bind down the ends of the fabric with silicone tape to prevent fraying.open vintage slim switch and twisted pair wire with fabric cut back
        4. Strip about 1/2” of insulation off each end of the hot wire. Twist the stranded copper together.open vintage slim switch and twisted pair wire with insulation stripped
        5. Pop open the switch by sticking a flat head screwdriver into one of the wire way holes and wedging the two pieces apart.open vintage switch and twisted pair wire
        6. Remove the two small brass bits that are sitting on diagonal edges of the mechanism side and discard. They will go unused.open vintage slim switch with brass bits removed and twisted pair wire
        7. Unscrew the terminals in the middle of the mechanism side using a small flat head screwdriver.
        8. Unscrew one of the nickel screws on each side of the switch using a Phillips head or flat head screwdriver. Set aside. Loosen the opposing nickel screw on each end enough to be able to rotate the white plastic clamp away from the wire way hole then tighten the screw to hold the clamp in place.open vintage slim switch prepared for wiring with twisted pair wire
        9. Attach each end of the hot wire to the switch mechanism terminals by sliding each exposed copper end into the terminal entries on each side and fastening the screws using a small flat head screwdriver. Give each wire a bit of a pull to make sure the wire is pinned between the screw and the terminal.vintage slim switch with twisted pair wire attached to mechanismvintage slim switch with twisted pair wire attached ready to be closed
        10. Reassemble the white plastic wire clamps with the nickel screws on top of the wire passing through the wire way holes then snap the cover back onto the mechanism side of the switch. Make sure the wire looks clean coming out of the switch.closed vintage slim switch attached to twisted pair wire

          Vintage slim switch + parallel cordclosed vintage slim switch and parallel cord

          1. Determine where on the cord you would like the switch to be assembled.
          2. Use a utility knife to carefully cut into the fabric but not the insulation and unravel about 2” of fabric and cut off with fabric scissors.open vintage slim switch and parallel cord with fabric cut back
          3. Trim the edges of the fabric neatly and bind down with silicone tape to prevent fraying.
          4. Separate the two legs of the parallel cord by carefully cutting into the middle of the insulation between the two wires with a utility knife. Take care not to pierce the wires themselves, just run the knife through the divot between the wires and pull them apart.vintage slim switch and parallel cord with wires separated
          5. Cut the hot leg of the parallel cord in the middle of the exposed section. The hot wire is the smooth side while the ribbed side is the neutral wire. Do not cut the neutral wire.vintage slim switch and parallel cord with cut hot wire
          6. Strip about 1/2” of insulation off each end of the hot wire. Twist the stranded copper together.vintage slim switch and parallel cord with hot wire stripped
          7. Pop open the switch by sticking a flat head screwdriver into one of the wire way holes and wedging the two pieces apart.open vintage slim switch and parallel cord
          8. Remove the two small brass bits that are sitting on diagonal edges of the mechanism side and discard. They will go unused.open vintage slim switch with brass bits removed and parallel cord
          9. Unscrew the terminals in the middle of the mechanism side using a small flat head screwdriver.
          10. Unscrew one of the nickel screws on each side of the switch using a Phillips head or flat head screwdriver. Set aside. Loosen the opposing nickel screw on each end enough to be able to rotate the white plastic clamp away from the wire way hole then tighten the screw to hold the clamp in place.
          11. Attach each end of the hot wire to the switch mechanism terminals by sliding each exposed copper end into the terminal entries on each side and fastening the screws using a small flat head screwdriver. Give each wire a bit of a pull to make sure the wire is pinned between the screw and the terminal.vintage slim switch with parallel cord partially connectedvintage slim switch with parallel cord connected
          12. Reassemble the white plastic wire clamps with the nickel screws on top of the wire passing through the wire way holes then snap the cover back onto the mechanism side of the switch. Make sure the wire looks clean coming out of the switch.vintage slim switch attached to parallel cord with one clamp downvintage slim switch with parallel cord attached and both clamps downclosed vintage slim switch attached to parallel cord

            Vintage slim switch + pulley cordclosed vintage slim switch with pulley cord

            1. Determine where on the cord you would like the switch to be assembled.
            2. Use a utility knife to carefully cut into the fabric but not the insulation and unravel about 2” of fabric and cut off with fabric scissors.open vintage slim switch and pulley cord with cut into fabricopen vintage slim switch and pulley cord with section of fabric removed
            3. Trim the edges of the fabric neatly and bind down with silicone tape to prevent fraying.open vintage slim switch and pulley cord with fabric removed and ends taped
            4. Cut into the insulating jacket but take care not to cut into the interior insulated wires. Remove the jacket down to the silicone tape by cutting with scissors or a utility knife. Remove the plastic padding as well, then use some more silicone tape to bind over the rough edges of the cut insulation and clean up the ends.open vintage slim switch and pulley cord with cut into jacketopen vintage slim switch and pulley cord with section of jacket removedopen vintage slim switch and pulley cord with jacket and padding removedopen vintage slim switch and pulley cord with exterior removed and ends taped
            5. Cut the hot wire in the middle of the exposed interior wires. The hot wire is the black wire while the neutral wire is the white wire and, if there is a third conductor, the ground wire is the green wire. Do not cut the neutral wire or the ground wire.open vintage slim switch and pulley cord with cut hot wire
            6. Strip ½” of insulation off each end of the hot wire. Twist the stranded copper together.open vintage slim switch and pulley cord with hot wire stripped
            7. Pop open the switch by sticking a flat head screwdriver into one of the wire way holes and wedging the two pieces apart.
            8. Remove the two small brass bits that are sitting on diagonal edges of the mechanism side and discard. They will go unused.open vintage slim switch and pulley cord
            9. Unscrew the terminals in the middle of the mechanism side using a small flat head screwdriver.
            10. Unscrew one of the nickel screws on each side of the switch using a Phillips head or flat head screwdriver. Set aside. Loosen the opposing nickel screw on each end enough to be able to rotate the white plastic clamp away from the wire way hole then tighten the screw to hold the clamp in place.
            11. Attach each end of the hot wire to the switch mechanism terminals by sliding each exposed copper end into the terminal entries on each side and fastening the screws using a small flat head screwdriver. Give each wire a bit of a pull to make sure the wire is pinned between the screw and the terminal.vintage slim switch and pulley cord with one hot wire attachedvintage slim switch and pulley cord with both hot wires attached
            12. Reassemble the white plastic wire clamps with the nickel screws on top of the wire passing through the wire way holes then snap the cover back onto the mechanism side of the switch. Make sure the wire looks clean coming out of the switch.vintage slim switch and pulley cord attached with one clamp downvintage slim switch and pulley cord attached with both clamps downvintage slim switch attached to pulley cord

Top
@DreamSpace-Inc