How to tighten baling wire

Baling wire is used to bale materials in recycling applications. It binds cardboard, plastic, and other recyclable materials.

If your bales are too loose, you’ll want to tighten up the wire to keep them snug. Of course, it’s best to get the proper tightness at the time of baling, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. Also, bales can settle after baling, leaving the bale ties or wire looser than they originally were. 

Safety precautions

Before tightening baling wire, follow proper safety measures, including the following: 

  • Wear personal protective equipment. Put on eye protection and cut-resistant gloves to guard your eyes and hands from possible lacerations. Baling wire edges can be sharp.
  • Use the proper tools, such as pliers and hooks.

Essential tools

Before tightening the baling wire, get the right tools. Some essential tools for tightening baling wire include:

  • Wire cutters. You'll need a quality wire cutter tool to snip and grab wire sections for tying. The cutter's handles twist to bind the wires together.
  • Pliers. Aside from wire cutters, this versatile tool is another go-to for tensioning. Their flat jaws firmly grip and apply pressure to the wire.
  • Hand hooks. While optional, hand hooks improve the ease of twisting the wire while tightening it.
  • Tie tools. These help you get a tight twist on bales of recycled paper, aluminum, and other recyclables.

Tightening techniques

The tools on hand will decide which technique is best for tightening a bale.

Using a hook

If the baling wire has come apart and needs to be refastened, try using hooks.

  1. Take a hook and wrap the wire around it.
  2. Spin the handle to twist the wire into a loop.
  3. Pull the free end through the loop and pull out the excess slack.
  4. Bend the wire back on itself and wrap it to tighten the hold.

Using pliers

If excessive slack has built up in the wire due to elongation or improper tying, you can use pliers. 

  1. Grab the wire with the pliers.
  2. Twist the pliers to form a loop in the wire.
  3. While holding the loop with the pliers, rotate them to add more twists to the wire until it has reached the desired tightness.
  4. Bend the loop back against the wire to avoid hazardous protrusions.

Using a baling wire twister tool

A special twister tool can speed up the tightening process.

  1. If the wire is still connected, cut it where you would like to perform the tightening.
  2. Feed the two wires into the twister tool.
  3. Use the twister tool to twist the wires together.
  4. Remove the twister tool.

When a bale is initially tied, it is important to leave some slack in the wire to account for material expansion (such as with foam and plastic). If, however, you are tightening or resecuring an older bale, you can tie a tight knot since expansion has already occurred.

Loosening and breaking issues are more common with low-quality bale wire. Baling Wire Direct uses 100% American steel with complete metallurgical documentation, ensuring our high-quality wires always perform. Consider our 11 gauge galvanized single loop bale ties for the toughest baling jobs.

Tensile strength and load strength chart

By choosing wire with the right tensile strength and load strength, elongation and breakage can be minimized. Here is a chart of the tensile strength and load strength ranges for the product categories we offer.


Regular galvanized wire

Hi-tensile galvanized wire

Black annealed wire

Single loop black annealed bale ties

Single loop galvanized bale ties

Double loop bright bale ties

Double loop galvanized bale ties

Tensile strength

75,000–95,000 psi (517.10–655 MPa)

145,000–175,000 psi (999.74–1206.58 MPa)

65,000–78,000 psi (448.21–537.79 MPa)

80,000–95,000 psi (551.58–655 MPa)

80,000–95,000 psi (551.58–655 MPa)

220,000 psi (1516.85 MPa)

220,000 psi (1516.85 MPa)

Load strength

402–1,832 lbs

1,256–1,832 lbs

932–1,118 lbs

402–1,074 lbs

402–1,074 lbs 

1,060–2,150 lbs

1,015–2,040 lbs

Baling wire products we offer

Baling Wire Direct sells the following high-quality baling wire products.

Baling Wire FAQ

Didn't find your answer?

Our team is just an email away and ready to answer your questions