How To Sleeve Your Case

Author: Curt Riedy

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Intro | What You'll Need | Plan of Attack | Sizing | Singeing |The Install | Final Notes

When it comes to building or modding your home computer, we can’t stress enough just how important proper cable management is when rigging up your case. Although it may used by modding primarily for aesthetic reasons, cable management and sleeving will often improve a computer's existing air flow around it’s critical components by a significant amount. In addition, it will also seriously decrease high system temperatures in poorly cooled systems.

For many practical PC owners, wire looms and sleeving kits may not be on the top of their list of things to buy. However, if you’re a tried and true modder, wire loom can make a serious impact on both the safety and visual appeal of any windowed case.

If you’re currently building a new rig, wire sleeving is the perfect for rounding up stray cables in your case and making that excess of wires inside your system infinitely more manageable. For best results, braided expandable sleeving is the ideal solution for neatly and economically bundling and protecting your computer case wires. This light and surprisingly flexible sleeving will install easily, and has the ability to expand up to 150%, allowing it to fit snugly over all kinds of plugs, inline connectors and splices.

Sleeving kits, which come in a variety of sizes, helps to take a lot of the guesswork out of modding your case. In this article, we’ll take you through a few recommended steps to use when sleeving your case.

Things You’ll Most Likely Need:

  • Cable Sleeving (Sold Separately or with Kit)
  • Nylon Tie Wraps (Sold Separately or with Kit)
  • Two Pieces of Heat Shrink Tubing (Appox. 1/4" to 1")
  • Garbage Bag wire twists or Plastic Zip-Ties (Also Recommended)
  • Wire stripping and cutting tool (Small Knife, Scissors, or Razor Blade)
  • A hair dryer or heat gun
  • Molex Pin Remover or Small Screwdriver
  • Locking pliers to Hold Sleeving in Place (Recommended)
  • Needle-nose pliers have many uses here (Handy in Many Situations)

Note: Wire Sleeving can be a very meticulous process. Remember to use extreme caution when handling sharp objects such as a knife, scissors, or razor blade.

Determining Your Plan of Attack:

So how do you want to approach this project? Do you want to keep the connectors intact and simply sleeve over top, or do you want to remove the pins and connectors and sleeve each wire individually? If a connector is small enough, you may be able to get away with pulling the sleeving over the connectors. In most cases, removing the pins (using a Molex Pin Remover) from the connectors might take a bit more time, but makes for a much cleaner-looking mod.

Helpful Hint: Before you begin sleeving, make sure to grab a pen and paper and jot down which wires go where. Trust us, you wouldn't want to spend hours meticulously wiring your case and then forget how to reconnect the cables. Not fun.

Choosing the Correct Size:

When determining what sleeving size you’d prefer to use, there’s a few factors you may want to take into consideration. For instance, you should put considerable thought into the size of your wire, and the size of the sleeving you want to put over it.

You also keep to keep in mind the length of the sleeving you are purchasing. One simple thing people tend to forget is that, the thicker your wire, the more your sleeving will expand around it and shorten its length. Be sure to match the length of the sleeving while on the cable itself. In addition, leave approximately 1/4" to 1" (3 to 12mm) of cable exposed at each end.

A Note on Singeing:

While most sleeves bought from a manufacturer will already be singed on both ends, there are times when you’ll need the cut the sleeving in order to have an ideal fit. To avoid fraying and un-weaving, use a heat source, such as a hair dryer (which tends to have the most consistency), to singe both ends whenever you make a cut into your sleeving. Be careful not to use too much heat, as it can cause severe discoloration to occur.

If you start to get discouraged by the amount of frayed wires, please keep in mind that they will be covered by the heat shrink and completely out of sight.

The Install:

This is the part that’s most important (and generally the most tricky). By following the steps below, the sleeving process should go relatively smooth.

1. Place your cut sleeving on the cable, pushing it up the cable inch by inch, in a slow, careful movements.

2. Squeeze down on one side of the sleeving, keeping it in place with one hand.

3. Use your other free hand to push the sleeving together, then release the grip of your first hand.

Note: Continue to repeat this process until the sleeving has been completely installed on each cable. Remember, the larger the sleeving is in diameter, the easier it will be to push together into a wider diameter. The same thing also applies to its flexibility.

4. Cut heat-shrink tubing to cover both ends of the sleeving. The tubing should be large enough in diameter to completely clear your sleeving. One at a time, slip both pieces of tubing over the cable / sleeving. Push the pieces of heat shrink all the way to the end of the cable that doesn't have any pins.

5. Give yourself room to work by pulling back sleeving. If you have long sleeving (or one side of your cable is attached), use wire tie twisties or a pair of pliers to lock the sleeving in place.

To secure and insulate your connections, move both pieces of heat-shrink tubing to cover the wire. Make sure there is enough tubing to cover any and all exposed wire, and overlap them at each end. You can also make it shorter by unding the wire connection and re-twisting. Using a heat source, shrink the tubing until it fits firmly over the connections.

Finally, hold one end of the sleeving and pull on the other to expand your sleeving as far as possible. If the sleeving is appropriately sized, it should be a perfect fit around the cable. If the cable is a big larger, simply attach a wire tie wrap over both ends of the sleeving, which will ensure zero movement unless forced. Good luck!