Wooden Reel Dimensions for Wire and Cable Orders

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) is North America’s leading authority on standardizing cable and wire reels. The group published a specification guide called the Binational Wire and Cable Packaging Standard in 2008, and it remains a top source for cable packaging manufacturers in the United States and Canada. In addition to providing specifications for plastic and steel cable reels (which we discuss in a previous blog), the NEMA standard covers wooden reel dimensions for these markets.

Wooden Reel Dimensions for Wire and Cable Orders

While NEMA requires users to purchase the standard for access to these specifications, manufacturing practices among leading providers of wooden cable reels can help electrical wholesalers evaluate their stock and keep warehouses equipped with the appropriate packaging for the most common orders. Here’s what you need to know about wooden reel dimensions before consulting the NEMA standard.

Industry Standards for Measuring Wooden Wire and Cable Reels

Wooden reels are classified as either returnable, reusable, or non-returnable. Non-returnable cable reels are often made of plywood and engineered for a single use. Reusable wooden reels often feature nailed lumber materials, while returnable models generally feature extra heavy duty construction to withstand multiple shipments and high-capacity usage.

Regardless of the durability of a wooden cable reel, manufacturers measure dimensions across multiple components:

Reel Dimensions Graphic

  1. The arbor hole is at the center of the reel, and provides access for Reel Stand axles. Commercial wooden reels typically feature arbor holes with diameters between 2 and 5 inches (about 5 to 13 centimeters), with most around 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) in diameter.
  2. The drum core is the circular center of the cable reel. Larger drums provide a wider safe bending radius, necessary for some types of conductors. Drums on wooden reels for bulk cable and wire orders vary widely, and may range from just a few inches in diameter to 3 feet (91.4 centimeters) or more.
  3. Flanges are the narrow circular guards that cap either end of the drum core’s flat edges. Flange diameter is a popular shorthand for the overall size of a wooden cable reel; if a dealer offers a “30-inch plywood reel,” they probably mean a unit with flange diameters of 30 inches (76.2 centimeters). Like the drum core, flanges come in many sizes, with most manufacturers ranging between around a foot in diameter for the smallest bulk delivery reels to over 100 inches (254 centimeters) for heavy-duty, returnable reels made of multi-ply lumber.
  4. The transverse, or width, measures the distance between the inner edges of the flanges. This measurement describes the base winding area available for cable storage. It’s a straight line, measured in inches; this length may range from under a foot (30.48 centimeters) to around 40 inches (101.6 centimeters), or more.

For minimum and maximum wooden reel dimensions, consult the NEMA Binational Wire and Cable Packaging Standard. For answers to all your questions about Reels, Reel Stands, or Wire and Cable Handling Equipment more broadly, contact the BHS sales team at 1.800.BHS.9500.