Home   |   The Boat   |   First Mate   |   Admiral   |   Guestbook 

Date: 2 December 2015. Waterproof 8 Gauge Butt Connectors (make your own)


This is the way I make 8-gauge butt connectors. Should you follow in my wake realize it is your choice. I am not responsible for any errors, omissions, overt or unintentional mistakes, etc. If you want to be 100% safe get a house. Or buy the "real deal" waterproof butt connectors sold in retail stores. Thank you.

Do you remember when you got knocked down and broke a rib it was an accident and nobody sued anybody? I grew up in those years and resent mightily the implication that every occurrence that is not 100% positive is someone else's fault. ARGH!

End mini-rant.

During a recent project I was using 8-gauge wire. I did not have a long enough piece so needed to join two shorter pieces of wire together. Aboard Seaweed there were no *butt connectors of that size. Rather than buy the expensive heat-shrink variety sold online I opted to make my own. These are inexpensive, easy to make and work well. Here is how I make these onboard my Seaweed.

*Butt connectors join two pieces of wire together. They "butt up against" each other and a covering connects and seals them together. For a boat, buy the more expensive waterproof ones or make them waterproof yourself by the addition of heat shrink tubing.

I can make 8-gauge butt connectors for lots less than retail!

8 Gauge Butt Connectors with Waterproof Heat Shrink 25 pack

←Affiliate link

On Amazon I can buy a package of 10 8 gauge heat shrink butt connectors for $20.
Instead I opted to save money and make my own.

Update June 2023: A 25 pack now is $35.

First I went to a local hardware store and purchased some 1/4" copper pipe. I bought a foot (12 inches) for a dollar. Also needed was a small pipe cutter. I had heat shrink tubing large enough to go around the copper pipe so all components were at hand.



Ridgid mini-pipe cutter works for copper and PVC pipes


Ridgid 32975 1/8-Inch to 5/8-Inch Close Quarters Tubing Cutter

←Affiliate link (and recommended product)

This or one similar that will cut 1/4" copper pipe is needed for the do-it-yourself 8-gauge butt connectors. Mine's an off brand however my usage will be such that a "Best Quality" product is unneeded. Good Enough is actually quite good enough.

Mine was $10 at a small-town hardware store. Just make sure whatever one you chose will cut 1/4" copper pipe.


Side Note: Some of the expensive pipe cutters will cut stainless pipes. This one will not do that. Then again, I'm not cutting any stainless rails so that caveat is not important to me.


These little pipe cutters are important to have if you use 8-gauge wire aboard your boat. It's a handy-to-have item though I would not rush out and get any in advance of need. When you buy your 1/4" copper pipe, then purchase the gizmo.

Here is how to use the pipe cutter: Look on the side for the cutting blade. Line up the pipe at the blade where you need it cut. In the following picture the blade is on the bottom. The rolling wheels are on the top of the copper pipe holding it in place.

Turn the knob at the top until the pipe is secure in the slot. You are tightening the black knob about the way you would close a jar of pickles. This is not a test of strength. The tool will do the work for you.

You can see I've started the cut in this picture

Next, rotate the mini-pipe cutter around the pipe two times. Then retighten the knob on top. Repeat until your tool has completely cut through the pipe.

Once you have a bunch of little pieces cut you are ready for the next step. Mine are
approximately 1" long, give or take. I did not measure as precision was not required.


Slide a piece of heat shrink tubing on your 8 gauge
wire. Strip off the plastic cover at the end about 1/2".

If your wire looks like this, replace it!

Your stranded wire should be coppery and shiny, not dull and icky like the one above.

Yes, I replaced the full run of that dark green wire. But first I took a picture while the camera was in the bilge:


The heat shrink is ready to slide up and cover the copper pipe aka butt connector. Then a quick back and forth with a lighter and I am done. The wires are protected from moisture.

Sometimes I wish I owned a ratcheting wire crimper however a pair of Vise grips does suffice. A couple of squeezes and the copper pipe/butt connector is firmly attached. Vise grips are a wonderful tool. I use mine for a lot of things.
Affiliate links in blue.

Though I utilize Daddy's vise grips for loads of things... well, there is this ratcheting crimper tool that certainly caught my eye. These are Klein's and gosh, they are beautiful!

Klein Tools is well regarded and considered Professional Grade.

affiliate link

Klein Tools Ratcheting Wire Crimper - 10 to 22 AWG Wire

Slide the heat shrink up over where you have joined the wires. Using your lighter move the flame back and forth. You will see the heat shrink squeeze and enclose the copper pipe and wires like a second skin. Voila: you're done.

Except me. I had to buy more green wire and replace that awful dark green stuff on the right. That's done and now another job is out of the way. Whew.


Vise Grips are galley gear too!


If you are fortunate enough to live near pecan trees you will absolutely LOVE having vise grips in the galley. They make the perfect nut cracker. Adjust them to the proper point and you'll be cracking perfect pecans with precision.

Stuff to know about pecans: They start falling from the trees in Pensacola where my Kidlet lives in October. Pensacola is roughly at the Florida and Georgia line. The dark or oily pecan shells are bad. Light weight ones encase papery pecans that are not edible either. The rest are absolutely wonderful.

Most pecans are perfect. I would say less than one percent of ours were not edible. A half dozen bad ones in a grocery bag full of yummy nuts is the ratio we were seeing.

Using your vise grips to open pecan shells does have an unintended consequence: I always ate the broken ones and so few break when using vise grips I was forced to eat the perfect ones. It is a tough life, I tell you...


May your bilges be clean and your wires all in perfect condition.

Have you any pecan trees? Our old house did and I still miss those trees.
Did yours have pecans this year?  Ours only had nuts every other year.

Regarding the Comments Section, found at the end of every article:

  • Before you type in each block be sure to hit the backspace key. Coding inserts a space in every box. Your email address will come back as malformed unless you remove that space. (You don't have to include your email address.)

  • The capcha is case sensitive.


2015, 2023

Categories: Boat Talk, Galley, Gear, In the Bilges, Locations, Money, Vignettes

Tate's Hell (dwarf cypress trees) ~ Previous Post ...     
Next Post  ~ Christina O. (Aristotle Onassis' yacht)


The Archive holds a running list with synopsis of published articles, and links to same.

Aphorism Alert:  There is no such thing as a ten minute boat project. Trust me on this..! PeterB on TrawlerForum.

Contributions to my Cruising Kitty via
are always appreciated.

Every gift helps.

The Cruising Kitty is what boaters refer to as spending money. There's never enough aboard Seaweed!

I am also an Amazon Affiliate.

My Buddy, and his girlfriend...

Copyright Janice Marois  |  Home  |  Archive  |  Topics  |  Boat List  |  Site Map  |  Email Me  |