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If you want to carry weight using wire rope, you have to swage the terminal to give it a loop. There are many swaging tools in the market to help in this matter. But what if none of the tools are available at that moment? To tackle such situations, you need to know how to swage wire rope without tool efficiently.

What Is Swaging?

Swaging means giving a specific wire rope section a loop using a sleeve or other metal fitting to render the wire rope a secure coupling. The sleeve or fitting tool is essentially a ferrule.

Through the ferrule holes, both wire rope sections protrude. Then, a pressing instrument applies a high degree of force to shrink the diameter within the ferrule. The ferrule diameter also shrinks this way and sticks both wire rope sections in one place. The outcome is a loop that can now hold or pull loads attached to it. A swaged connection has a higher breaking strength than the original wire rope.

How to Swage Wire Rope Properly

A perfect swaging will need proper calculation or understanding of the wire rope diameter, break strength rating, intended load or application, etc. Before learning how to swage wire rope without tool, you need to know the tricks of swaging a cable correctly. Apply the following tips.

  • Use a correct swaging tool whenever available.
  • Select the right-sized sleeve according to the cable diameter.
  • The swaging tool has multiple cavities to harbor ferrules. Hence, use the right size cavity to compress the ferrule when making a wire cable swage loop.
  • Measure the compressed sleeve to calculate its diameter post swage.
how to swage wire rope without tool
You need to learn swaging correctly.

How to Swage Wire Rope without Tool

Sometimes you may not have the correct tool to swage a cable. But that does not mean the work will remain incomplete. Using some usual blacksmithing tools available around the house, you can accomplish the job. To swage a wire cable without the correct machine, use the following alternatives.

  • Pliers
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Vice Grip

First Approach: Using a Vice Grip

  1. Get a ferrule that suits the size of the wire rope you are going to swage.
  2. Insert the cable wire terminal through the first ferrule hole and then make a U-turn of the rope terminal. Now, insert the endpoint again from the other direction through the second ferrule hole to make an oval shape.
  3. Make adjustments to get the required loop diameter.
  4. At this point, vertically position the sleeve in the vice grip jaw.
  5. Hold the tool lightly and then fasten the vice grip setting.
  6. To finally fix the ferrule in loop cross-section, tighten the vice grip multiple times at separate sides.

Note: To create a perfect and secure swage of cables, application of high pressure is mandatory. Hence, be attentive to make a load test before putting the swage in the final action. You may break a few ferrules before perfecting the art of swaging.

Second Approach: Using a Hammer to Swage

  1. Make a loop out of the wire cable terminal side by following steps 1 and 2 of the first approach.
  2. The loop side needs adjustments according to your requirements.
  3. Place the metal ferrule on an anvil or similar hard platforms.
  4. Hit hard with a hammer to compress the ferrule at two or three sides.

Warning: When applying a hammer dent to a wire rope sleeve, be cautious not to hit extremely hard, or it will ruin the wire rope.

Third Approach: Using a Plier to Swage Cables

  1. Make a terminal section loop from the wire using a zinc-copper or metal ferrule.
  2. Make some size corrections as you feel necessary.
  3. Put the ferrule inside the plier’s cavity.
  4. Create a dent by smashing it.
  5. Repeat the above step twice or thrice to make multiple dents at various sides.
  6. Compress the plier using your hand till the ferrule sticks to the loop sleeve section.

Note: The above technique of plier swaging is only suitable for low diameter cables.

swage wire rope without tool
It’s possible to swage with tolls at home. (Credit: Assembly Specialty)

Fourth Approach: Using Hammer and Chisel to Swage Wire Rope

  1. Get a ferrule of compatible size for your cable wire.
  2. Construct a loop by passing the wire through the swage sleeve and then pushing it back through the other hole.
  3. Make adjustments to the sleeve as per need.
  4. Carefully place the chisel on the metal sleeve and hit it with a hammer. It should give a dent to the swage sleeve.
  5. Repeat the above step two to three times at different surfaces of the sleeve to make more dents. It should fix the sleeve in one place.

Warning: Do not use this method to swage electric cable as it may cause electrical shocks.


Getting an idea about how to swage wire rope without tool will come in handy when swaging tools are not available. Follow any of these methods to get the desired result.

About Chris Coleman

Chris Coleman is an interesting travel blogger and outdoor photographer with a great sense of humor. He owns an RV Accessories shop in New York City so he has the knowledge necessary to provide thorough reviews and give advice on how to choose the right products for RV travel. He puts all that RV knowledge and experience to good use in his sharing posts. Besides product buying guides/reviews, Chris also writes informative articles, how-to articles and RV camping guides in his own interesting viewpoint. Chris’s blog is one of the most reliable information sources for RV campers no matter if you're an expert or a determined beginner.

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