How to Twist and Braid Horsehair for Electrical Wiring


Twisting and braiding horsehair into cords and ropes to use as electrical wiring insulators has a long history. While newer synthetic materials have largely replaced horsehair today, understanding the traditional skill of processing and working this natural fiber can be rewarding. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll explain everything you need to know about twisting and braiding horsehair for electrical applications.

Obtaining Raw Horsehair

The first step is acquiring untreated horsehair fibers to work with. Here are some common sources to obtain raw horsehair:

For electrical wiring uses, collect long-strand mane and tail hairs around 12 inches or longer. Shorter hairs won't twist into a cohesive cord.

Cleaning and Preparing the Horsehair

Before twisting or braiding, the raw horsehair must be cleaned and prepared:

Proper cleaning and prepping results in smooth, untangled, oriented horsehair ready for twisting or braiding.

Twisting Horsehair Strands

A basic way to form prepared horsehair into a wiring cord is twisting together strands:

Twisting Process

Uses for Twisted Strands

Braiding Multiple Strands of Horsehair

A more complex technique is braiding multiple horsehair strands or cords together:

Braiding Process

Braided Cord Advantages

Properties of Horsehair Electrical Cords

What makes horsehair useful for electrical wiring? Here are some key properties:

These natural properties make properly processed horsehair an effective insulator for electrical wiring, historically and today.


I hope this guide has provided you a comprehensive overview of harvesting, preparing, and twisting or braiding horsehair into cords suitable for insulating electrical wires. While newer artificial fibers have displaced natural horsehair commercially, understanding and practicing these traditional fiber skills can still be highly rewarding. With practice and care, you can produce durable horsehair cords to safely insulate and protect your own wiring projects.