The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

DIY - Make a simple yet decorative zipper pull with paracord

Here's a simple yet decorative zipper pull you can make with paracord. It might also be used as a key or watch fob, even as a knife lanyard.

It begins as a bend (a bend joins two ropes together) called the Japanese Bend in The Ashley Book of Knots (ABOK 1423) but easily becomes a zipper pull by modifying it to use only one working end.

This is how the Japanese Bend appears in the ABOK:

But before you see how to tie it as a zipper pull, first try it as a bend so you get the hang of it. Start with two strands of cord or use the two ends of one piece. Click the picture below and start your knot, working the cord till you get it to look like the completed bend.

(By the way, don't bother to add the Japanese Bend to your arsenal of real-world, working bends - it's only worthwhile as a decoration.)

After you've got the bend figured out, try the modification for a zipper pull.

Start with the end of one long strand - you'll want to work with at least 2 feet - but it could be any length because you're not going to cut the cord until you're all done and have worked it down to the size you want.

My modification is to create the zipper pull loop by making the working end of the bottom strand (in Ashley's diagram) longer and bringing it around to use it as the other strand in the bend. See the picture below.

So that's it but it's not really necessary that you understand it. Just use the picture below to start your zipper pull and work your cord till it's the size you want. Then cut and melt the end.

I attached one to my carhartt winter coat.

Some final words:

Once you make a few of these, you'll see how simple they really are. Last night I had a 20 foot length of paracord and I made one, cut it off, then made another, cut it off... until I made the 4 pictured at the top. So there's no waste. And if you were to pull one of those apart, you'd see it was only about 11 1/2" long. So it doesn't use much cord.

Sometimes I'll make up a handful of these while I'm watching TV, carry them around and hand them out to people I meet. If you carry a piece of paracord with you, you can make one on-the-spot then give it away - it's like performing a magic trick.

I also have zipper pulls on my website HERE.

I hope you like this. Have some fun.

Friday, December 26, 2008

My knife lanyard - the one I wear most everyday

This is the belt-loop, knife lanyard I wear most everyday. It's tied with 2 colors of paracord, Kelly Green and OD Green, and it's just a series of square knots making a solomon bar with a diamond knot then a 5" long loop. It has a heavy duty clasp on one end and a wood pony bead on the other to snug down the hitch that attaches the knife.

The knife I usually carry is the hawkbill I bought a few years ago to replace the hawkbill I had when I was in the Navy Seabees back in the mid-70's. Back then I carried it in this sheath.

Then about 10 or so years ago I'm out one night riding the bike around southwest Detroit but when I got back home the knife was gone - lotsa potholes and train tracks down there - and it musta just popped out. I felt bad for weeks because I had that knife for more than 20 years.

I still carried a knife after that but it wasn't a hawkbill - they're damn near impossible to find. Then a few years ago I'm out and about and I see one and grabbed it - it's got a wood handle and locking blade.

This was around the time I had started working with paracord. I bought a cheap clasp and went home to create a belt-loop lanyard so I would never lose my hawkbill again while riding the bike or working outside.

Over time I modified the design till I came up with the one I use now. I clip it above my right back pocket.

And since it's been sold to enough bikers, outdoorsmen, workmen, and tree climbers, it's been tested and I know it holds up.

The two modifications I made were using this heavy-duty clasp (that ain't comin' undone!) and increasing the loop to 5".

The longer loop lets the knife sit deep in your pocket so it won't work its way out while you're motoring down the highway (but to be extra safe, put the knife in your front pocket while on the bike).

And you can cut something about waist high without having to unclip it. I've even made the loop a bit longer for some who use it as a hand loop - they attach the clasp to a split ring that goes through their knife lanyard hole.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Figuring out the length of paracord for a Solomon Bar

Knowing how much paracord you'll need for a knotting project (like square knotting a solomon bar for a lanyard) can be a big help. Sometimes you'll get a clue like in The Ashley Book of Knots, for square knotting he says "The length of the cords required is generally about seven or eight times the length of the finished product."

But it turns out that's not too helpful because it's too general.

So the goal is to figure out how much paracord it takes to tie a solomon bar but also to work out some method and formula so we'll know how much cord we'll need for any project in the future.

This is a Solomon Bar which is just a series of square knots.

The formula is

Finished-length-of-solomon-bar = Starting-length-of-paracord multiplied by X or

f = s (x), where f = Finished-length-of-solomon-bar, s = Starting-length of-paracord, x = the change made by tying knots

and to find out what x is, I'll tie some knots and measure the paracord before and after.

I start with two lengths of navy blue paracord (leader lines) and two lengths of orange paracord (working lines). The starting length for each of the orange cords is 37".

I start tying my square knots.

I finished tying at 7" but it doesn't really matter. I just needed a decent sized finished-length to measure.

Since all I want is the length of the paracord used to tie the knots, I subtract the remaining orange paracord which is about 3" on each side (37" - 3" = 34").

So two strands of 34" each makes 7" of solomon bar.

With a starting length (34") and a finished length (7"), and using the formula f = s (x), we get x = f / s = 34" / 7" = 0.206 but 0.2 is good enough. We're figuring paracord not building rocket ships.
And that's it.

So let's use the formula on a real example -

Say you want a solomon bar length of 5" for a lanyard you're making...

starting-length = finished-length divided by 0.2
s = f / (0.2)
s = 5" / 0.2 = 25"

The fomula says you'll need each length of paracord to be at least 25" long.

(If you went by Ashley, you'd have set aside 35" - 40" of paracord for a 5" solomon bar instead of the 25" it actually requires.)

Try it on another real situation -

You want to know how long of a solomon bar you can tie with your 2 lengths of paracord 62" each.

finished-length = starting-length times 0.2
f = s (0.2) =
f = 62" ( 0.2) = 12.4"

The formula says you can tie about 12 1/2 inches.

But remember, we're just trying to come up with a close approximation. The x = 0.2 is a guide so always add a few inches on the end of each working line. And the 0.2 is only good for the solomon bar - each chain of knots will be different. Also, the number that comes out of the formula is for one strand so double it for total length of paracord. One more thing - your x for a solomon bar may be slightly different than mine but now you can determine your "x" for this and other knot chains. Experiment.

And since this formula is only concerned with ratios, and with all things being equal (like using the same diameter cord for all 4 strands - 2 leaders and 2 working), it should also work on any diameter cord.

Well, in theory, maybe... But will it?

Here's a solomon bar made with string -

The starting length for each working strand was 14.5" - 1" remaining on each so
f = s (0.2) = 13.5" (0.2) = 2.7" of finished solomon bar.

What does the tape measure show?

Please comment on this. Easy to understand? Too complicated? I can do more of these, if you're interested. Thanks.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Standard vs. turk's head monkey fists

Here are three monkey fists but two of them started as turk's heads. The brown one is tied using this standard method - 3 times around creates a 1" diameter fist. The red and orange are 3 lead 5 bight turk's heads which also become 1" diameter fists. I used the photos in The Complete Book of Knots and Ropework as a guide to tie these.

I tie the standard monkey fist using a jig (made from a coat hangar) then drop a 9/16" wood ball in the center.

The turk's head I first tie around a hammer handle, then I work the slack out and slide the knot off and tighten it around a 1/2" wood ball.

I get the wood balls from my local Michaels or you can go directly to Lara's Crafts.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Three bracelets

I got my side release buckles in the mail the other day and made some bracelets as experiments for a possible future watchband. The two on top are done with square knotting and for the bottom one I used the instruction from Stormdrane found here.

The small buckle is the 3/8" Curved Side Release, the larger one is the 5/8" Curved Side Release from Creative Designworks (I recommend - good prices and my buckles arrived a couple days sooner than I expected).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My new monkey fists

I recently got back into doing monkey fists. A guy emailed me about his project which was to use monkey fists as zipper pulls for his Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack. So I started doing monkey fists again. It had been a couple years or so since I worked through my last one so it took me a good length of paracord to get back in the groove.

They were fun to do but I had never sold them so I had never worked out some of the basics like - how much paracord do I start with, how much paracord makes up the finished monkey fist, what size wood ball to use in the center, should I melt the ends or use glue or both? Stuff like that.

So it took a few nights but I figured most of that out. And here's a few of the final monkey fists.

You can see more pics here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Paracord Wallet Chains

I had to do some repairs on my wallet recently so I created a few different paracord sustitutes for the chain. This one is an open snake style and is about 14" long - it has 2 strands of military-spec 550 paracord, accented with 2 beads and 2 split rings. (The chain I replaced was 13" long.) I used Black and Brown for the parachute cord and light brown beads. The split rings (key rings) I used are 20mm (3/4" diameter). You can find other pictures of this here.

This one is a closed snake style and is about 12" long - it has 2 strands of military-spec 550 paracord, accented with 2 beads and 2 split rings. The chain I replaced was 13" long but because of the tight knotting it's stiff so I made this shorter. I used Black and Tan for the parachute cord and Black beads. The split rings (key rings) I used are 20mm (3/4" diameter). You can find other pictures of this here.

This one is done with square knotting and is about 9 1/2" long - it has 1 strand of military-spec 550 paracord, accented with a bead and 1 split ring. The chain I replaced was 13" long but because of the tight knotting it's stiff so I made this shorter. I used Black for the parachute cord and a Light Brown bead. The split ring (key ring) I used is 20mm (3/4" diameter).

You can find other pictures of this here. (Because this is black it's hard to see the detail of the square knotting so take a look at this pic.)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pink is not manly for a knife lanyard but good for a key fob

I was asked by a customer awhile back to get some pink 550 paracord (parachute cord). Yeah I know, pink is not a manly color and wouldn't be good for one of my knife lanyards but it's not so bad for a key fob. And I've sold a few of these pink, key fobs already. In the picture I have a pink and turquoise, a pink and navy blue, a pink and red, and a pink and kelly green. They are each about 5 1/2" long with a white, wood bead and a split ring. You can see more pictures and a description of each at my Etsy shop - devilchasnme.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Our Motorcycle Safety Demonstration Video

Some of my friends and I got together awhile back and put on this motorcycle safety demonstration. I hope you like the video we made - we sure had some fun that day!

Leave me a comment if you think we did good.

Why you need a lanyard for your knife

A knife is a tool and like any tool - when you need it, you need it. A lanyard attached to the end of your knife allows you to grab it without digging into your pant’s pocket - pull the lanyard and out she comes.
When I first started making lanyards, they were all custom made for the person or how the knife was to be used. One of my first was made for a friend who wore bib overalls while he worked and he carried his knife in that pocket on his leg that’s made for a folding, wood ruler. So he just needed something to grab onto (more like a handle extension) - about 4" off the end of the knife - so he didn’t have to dig down into that pocket with his fat fingers – not easy for him. So I made a lanyard for him that was tied tight to the handle of his pocket knife. And he was happy.

After many custom lanyards I began to work out a design that would suit most every workman or outdoorsman who carries a pocket knife around and uses it here and there throughout the day. That design has a 4 inch loop because it’s all about the way the knife sits in your pocket and the way the lanyard hangs out of your pocket.

With a short loop, for the lanyard to hang down out of the pocket, the knife will have to stand straight up inside your pocket. If the knife moves lower in your pocket, the lanyard is drawn in and then sticks out straight up.

With a long loop the knife can sit down inside the pocket and there is enough loop so the body of the lanyard will hang loosely down out of the pocket. And after experimenting with different lengths, a 4 inch loop seemed to be about right.

When I worked in a warehouse and had to cut open boxes all day long, I used one like this - my hawkbill was always easy to grab. And if you gotta have sumthin hangin out yer pocket anyway - it's gotta look wicked-sharp! I got lotsa compliments on mine. And so will you.

Click over to my site devilchasnme and get yourself a lanyard.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Hand-carved wood items from Baguio, Philippines

During 1973, I was in the Navy Seabees and stationed at the Subic Bay Naval Base in the Philippines. During some R & R, some of us guys rented a van and drove up to the mountain city of Baguio, their summer capital, and while there I bought some hand-carved wood statues and wall plaques. I have two of these for sale right now in my vintage, Etsy site - DevilishlyVintage.

The first is this filipino boy riding a water buffalo. You can go directly to the page for this item here.

The second is this growling, prowling jungle cat. You can go directly to the page for this item here.

These two pieces are as beautiful and perfect as the day I bought them back in 1973. If you'd like to make one of them yours, click on the links above.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Vintage Market Sale -- Aug 30 - Sep 1

Over at Etsy, some of us Vintage sellers are having a Vintage Market Sale from now through Monday, September 1. If you go to my shop DevilishlyVintage you will find a section where prices have been reduced, some up to 20%. And if you make a purchase during the sale, I will also send along a free gift from my other Etsy shop - Devilchasnme. Here are a few of the reduced-priced items --

Click over to my Etsy shop DevilishlyVintage and take a better look - you'll find more pictures and a description for each one.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Cowboy Sam and Shorty

Along with my 550 paracord devilchasnme sites, I also sell vintage stuff under the name DevilishlyVintage on Etsy. And today I sold a children's book - Cowboy Sam and Shorty by Edna Walker Chandler, copyright 1962 by Benefic Press. I originally bought it for the nice illustrations. Thought you might like to take a look -

since 12/17/08