Common power cord for shop tools

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Forum topic by qroberts posted 11-12-2014 03:03 PM 1524 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1561 days

11-12-2014 03:03 PM

Topic tags/keywords: wiring power tools

Does anyone know if the following is possible / safe.

I have six shop tools (bandsaw, table saw, router table, miter saw, belt sander, drill press). I only ever use one of them at any time (in that there’s only one of me) and have very limited outlet space and no room for expansion in the electrical panel (I’ve had an electrician in and he won’t put more tandem circuits in, and subpanel is 1000$!).

Would it be possible to splice each machine’s power cable to a single wire of appropriate gauge (romex 12 or 10 gauge), such that they could all share a single plug / outlet?

I can’t see any reason why this would be different from a power strip except that overcurrent protection would be coming from the main 20A breaker rather than a 15A power strip.

That said I’m not an electrician.

If this is a stupid idea I’d like to know why.

I’d especially like to know if anyone has already done this.



16 replies so far

View hotbyte's profile


993 posts in 3245 days

#1 posted 11-12-2014 03:46 PM

I’ve seen 20amp power strips advertised…never used one though…

View MrRon's profile


5364 posts in 3513 days

#2 posted 11-12-2014 06:30 PM

Get some 10 gauge cable; put a plug on one end and wire up three “handy” boxes.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2639 days

#3 posted 11-12-2014 06:36 PM

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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Fred Hargis

5305 posts in 2763 days

#4 posted 11-12-2014 07:15 PM

  1. 12 would be plenty for a 20 amp circuit, unless you really intend to make a long cord. I’m guessing you just want an extension that all the tools could plug into? If true, I would do the handy box thing mentioned. Doing it that way would allow you to separate the outlets, so if you needed 2 outlets 10” away from the wall, then another 2 6’ downstream, and the last 2 another 6’ downstream you could do that.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View JayT's profile


6068 posts in 2480 days

#5 posted 11-12-2014 07:22 PM

I’d do Mr Ron’s idea for many reasons—more flexibility, not having to modify factory cords, safer, ability to mount plugs where you need them, not have one cord that can’d be relocated. Standard 12/2 romex would be fine for a 20A circuit.

-- In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View CharlesA's profile


3380 posts in 2067 days

#6 posted 11-12-2014 07:55 PM

I intentionally use one heavy duty extension cord that hangs from near the middle of my shop, and I have all tools unplugged unless I’m using, and I plug into that one plug. It was a safety practice I picked up early on, and I have stuck with it. It is a pain sometimes, but I stick with it.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View HerbC's profile


1798 posts in 3129 days

#7 posted 11-12-2014 08:01 PM

Romex wire would NOT be the correct material for this application. It is solid conductor wire which is designed to be installed permanently within the structure such as in walls and the ceiling. The cable would not be flexible and easy to handle. It would also be prone to damage when used in this manner.

The correct wire/cable for this application would be SJOOW which is designed for this use. You can buy it by the foot at many suppliers. 12/3 SWOOJ be adequate for this unless you want to make am much longer cable, in which case you should use 10/3 to minimize the voltage drop.

Good Luck and …

Be Careful!

-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View Tennessee's profile


2895 posts in 2784 days

#8 posted 11-12-2014 08:34 PM

Not a fan of this idea at all. Sooner or later, you’ll find a way to run more than one machine at a time. Maybe a vacuum and a saw, or maybe you’ll run a bandsaw and then need to turn on a sander so you can take the work back and forth.
If you cannot put in at least a fused power strip to protect you and your tools, I would not do it.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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1095 posts in 1830 days

#9 posted 11-12-2014 09:02 PM

View JayT's profile


6068 posts in 2480 days

#10 posted 11-12-2014 09:39 PM

Romex wire would NOT be the correct material for this application.

I was reading Mr Ron’s response as mounting the handy boxes to the wall where needed and then plug into the existing outlet in order to avoid running power through the wall structure. Re-reading the OP, that is probably not the goal. If you are making a cord to be rolled up and laid across the floor as needed, then definitely use SJ cord.

Sorry for any confusion caused and thank you Herb for pointing it out.

-- In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2276 days

#11 posted 11-12-2014 09:55 PM

When I worked at the big orange box we sold a nice heavy cord that had multiple outlets spaced about 3 feet apart. Check with your Home Depot store. (Lowes might have it too)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View qroberts's profile


2 posts in 1561 days

#12 posted 11-12-2014 09:56 PM

Thanks for all the replies so far.

If I turned on too many machines at once wouldn’t it just trip the breaker?

I’ll mull over how to handle this.

I was also thinking of installing a master switch for shop tool outlet on the ceiling to keep my son from being able to flip it.

Anyone know what kind of switch would be appropriate for this (e.g inserted between the outlet and the breaker box)? Could I just use a 20A light switch style one?



View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2276 days

#13 posted 11-12-2014 09:56 PM

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View brtech's profile


1056 posts in 3192 days

#14 posted 11-12-2014 11:57 PM

You can have lots of outlets on one circuit breaker. So install outlets for each tool, run them all in parallel to one branch circuit. No issues.

You can pull 15 amps from one duplex outlet, and you can have, oh, 10 duplex outlets on a 20 or 30A breaker.

You can’t pull 15 amps from EACH of those outlets, the circuit breaker will trip.

In your case, you can have each tool in a separate outlet on one branch, and as long as you don’t run more than one at a time, you will be safe and the breaker won’t trip. If you run more than one, even accidentally, the breaker might trip on you. You are still safe.

If you plug in 10 toasters on 5 outlets in a typical outlet string in a house, you will have an analogous situation. It’s fine, it’s safe, and it works.

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5413 posts in 1990 days

#15 posted 11-13-2014 12:47 AM

I certainly wouldn’t be to code, but if you’re the only one in your shop and you know not to turn on more than the circuit can handle, then why not. If you were to burn down your house, your insurance company might be inclined to not pay if they suspected wiring like you described was present.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

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