Making Cloth-Covered Wires for Restoring Antique Telephones


I do not propose replacing wires in any antique telephone or radio with reproduction wires, but sometimes there is a need. I have a 1928 Chicago Telephone Supply telephone that had all of its wiring stripped out and replaced with teflon covered, brightly colored wire. Yuk! I could not find 24-gauge, cloth-covered wire that had a diameter as small as is is in my other telephones of that era. As a matter of fact, I could not find 24-gauge at all, only 22-gauge wire. So, this was my solution.

The Core Wire

A very cheap Christmas light set yielded a few lengths of wire with very little insulation thickness. It had nine strands of wire twisted inside, and was very flexible making it good for the door-to-case wires. Another wire source was internal wires from a scrapped projection TV; only 7 strands, but good enough for the less flexed battery-connection wires.

The Cloth Covering

Cord used for window blinds is made by weaving threads around a string. Remove the string, feed the wire down where the string was and you have cloth-covered wire.


Use Sharpie markers to color the wires whatever you need and allow to dry a couple of hours. Then, use Minwax Red Oak Stain to make the brightly colored cloth into dull, aged, wire. Dip a cloth into the stain and rub the stain into the cloth covering. Wipe the stained wire to remove excess stain and let the covering dry for about 6 hours.


Cut the wire to desied length then use very sharp diagonal cutters to nip off the cloth where you want to strip the insulation back to. Next, strip the inner wire. I suggest tinning the wire at this point. Finally, use a very small amount of clear fingernail polish at the end of the cloth covering to stop it from coming undone.