Tech Talk: How to hide all that spaghetti under your desk

An old office in-tray makes a free under-desk cable tidy
An old office in-tray makes a free under-desk cable tidy
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NO MATTER how neat your lounge or the desk in your study, it’s always going to be compromised by the tangle of cabling that now connects us to the 21st century. At best, it’s a loom of unsightly wires; at worst it’s two platefuls of spaghetti down the back of your furniture.

You would have thought that “cable management” the provision of clever solutions to eliminate or at least conceal the wiring, would be a lucrative business – but outside of industrial trunking, products are few and far between. The one most readily available, an empty plastic box into which a six-way socket can be placed, sells for a heavily marked-up 15 quid.

Yet with a little time and ingenuity you can come up with a custom solution for little or no outlay. I discovered, for instance, that an old wire in-tray rescued from the office skip makes an ideal cable holder. I screwed one to the underside of my desktop using a couple of simple cup hooks, which can be twisted around to facilitate a quick-release There was ample room for two mains adapters and all the associated cables, which I fed into a bit of leftover flexible trunking. A cheap dish-draining rack would also have done the trick.

On the desktop itself, a few Bulldog clips – the type which fold back on themselves – can yield surprisingly effective results at holding cables in place. Clip one to the side of the desk and thread your charger cable through the handle, and you’ll never again have to fish around for it.

You can accomplish something similar round the back of your TV unit, if as in my case the inbuilt cable management provision is barely big enough to hold a 13 amp fuse. But if your TV sits on the wall instead of a cabinet, you face a bigger challenge – because even after you’ve bolted the mounting bracket in place you’re going to have to deal with the wiring to the mains and your set-top boxes. The only way to do this invisibly is to hack into the plasterwork, install some cable trunking and make good the damage – but that’s clearly not an option every time.

If you can’t hide the cables you might choose to make a feature of them instead. DIY stores sell convex cable runs which look neater than the box-like variety.

If you’d still rather buy ready-made solutions, Ikea supplies flexible trunking and a £10 under-desk rack that does a similar job to my in-tray. It also sells a £9.50 box that sits on the floor and hides away your 4-way adapter.