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

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tying the paracord star knot Part 1

I finished my first (6-point) star knot the other day.

The night before I had tried for the umpteenth time to figure out the star knot from The Ashley Book of Knots. This is the farthest I could get with a 5-point star using ABOK and some stiff, nylon clothesline.

So the next morning I went out looking and found this star knot tutorial from Dan at the Alaska Museum of Fancy Knots.

This is a fine step-by-step tutorial and is much easier to follow than any other I've seen. But there are a few things I will point out:

1. Dan's tutorial is to make a star knot as part of a tool-handle covering so if you just want to make the star knot (Diagrams 1 - 30) then you should start with paracord strands of only about 18" each - you'll probably want to make a few star knots anyway before you tackle that project. And the more knots you make, the more you can reduce your starting lengths.

2. Dan uses a self-threading needle to push his cord through the tight spots. And so did I. If you are going to be doing star knots, turk's heads and other fancy, multi-strand knots then you should get one because there is really no substitute. For now though, you could try reaching in with hemostats or some VERY thin, needle-nose pliers to pull your cord through. Or just make everything loose and push cord through as best you can - which is ok because your first couple are experiments anyway (your learning curve).

I used a Super Jumbo Perma-Lok Lacing Needle (1193-05) I got from my local Tandy Leather Factory store.

Go to the Tandy Leather Factory - and search on 1193-05 for the Super Jumbo (5" long). The 1193-02 Jumbo is described to be used for the same material but I've looked at the Jumbo and the hole is half the size of the Super Jumbo and appears much too small for paracord. If you have actual experience otherwise then please leave a comment or if you know of any other lacing needle that can be used with paracord and is shorter than 5" then please leave a comment.

And to use a lacing needle with paracord - cut the end of the paracord on an angle and use a lighter and your fingertips to make a point then twist the lacing needle around it.

I also use the tip of my lacing needle to help work knots into the right shape. The tip is blunt and won't tear the paracord's nylon covering like a scratch awl might.

3. To make a star knot, you'll be looking at Diagrams 1 - 30. Study the Diagrams. It took almost 3 hours to complete my first knot. I studied the pictures and worked the cord till it looked like the pictures - I looked ahead and also back-checked my work.

Slow down and take your time. You'll be rewarded with a nice knot and you'll reduce your overall learning curve. My second star knot took about 90 minutes to complete, my third took about 45 minutes.

4. All the stuff about leaving the loops (Diagrams 20-26) helped alot. I was able to check my work using the loops to predict cord pulls like - if I pull on this cord from below, I expect that cord above to move.

And towards the end I realized I had made an error that had continued for a few cords and by using the loops to check, I corrected that error. If I had pulled the strands tight at the start, I may have gotten to the end, saw that it didn't look quite right but wouldn't have known where the error was.

Here's my 2nd star knot - I alternate Black-White to see what it will look like.

And my for my 3rd star knot - I do 3 strands of Navy Blue then 3 strands of Red to see what pattern that will make.

I have some more stuff to say about star knots so stay tuned for a Part 2.

Well, that's it for now. Good luck and have some fun tying knots.

See ya.


Shamr0ck said...

Very nicely done ~ Dan's tutorials are top rate and he has always suffered through my ?s with great humor and patience.

Your red/blue star really helps illustrate the positioning of the third and final tuck across the face of the knot as I had pre-read when I tied my first several star knots and didn't move the tuck one position to the right and ended up with a void at the center of the star. Using two colors it is easy to see.

I spent most of yesterday morning working on snake knot zipper pulls, mini lanyards and knife fobs ~ had fun doing them. thanks for the inspiration.


Albert A Rasch said...


Nice work! My friend is really getting into this knot making stuff. He looks forward to your posts. I think I may have to give him my copy of ABOK!

Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit
Southeast Regional OBS Coordinator

since 12/17/08