Tuesday, July 03, 2018

A few bowline knots...

Just a few bowline (pronounced 'boh-linn') knots, a knot with a fixed loop at the end of a strand of cord/rope.  Here I've shown some loosely tied with paracord, and then tightened/applied.

There are a number of other variations (something like 55 different ones going by 120 different names) of the bowline that can be tied.  These few examples I tied here are diagrammed in 'The Directory of Knots' book by John Shaw.

Each bowline can be further secured with a couple of half hitches or a double overhand knot tied around one side of the loop, as shown in one of my photos...

And pictured is an example of how I might use a bowline knot/variation with paracord for edc (everyday carry) with a knife, flashlight, keychain, multitool or whatnot.  I made a simple single strand paracord lanyard with a water bowline at one end and at the other end tied a fisherman's bend onto a small carabiner.

Alternatively you could make the bowline loop larger and run your belt through it or ring hitch it around a belt loop, or add a gate clip, carabiner, snap hook, switching up attachment options....

As an Amazon affiliate I earn a small percentage of sales when folks go to amazon through my links and shop, and that helps pay the bills, so, 'Thanks!'

Sunday, July 01, 2018

A more secure sheepshank knot...

The sheepshank knot is used to shorten a length of cord that is too long for your needs, where you don't want to cut the cord to size, so you can still retain the longer section for later use.  The basic sheepshank needs to be kept under tension otherwise it comes apart.

This paracord example is a more secure modification that has the working strands tucked through the loop ends of the sheepshank, then the knots are tightened, as you make sure the three cords between the knots are equal in length to share the load you'll be putting on them.

Good diagrams for the sheepshank knot can be found in 'The Directory of Knots' by John Shaw, and ABoK (The Ashley Book of Knots) also has a few variations.
An example use would be to shorten up a tent guyline or tarp tie down, so that any excess cord wouldn't be hanging down on the ground or in the mud, or otherwise in the way.  A fisherman's bend (also called an anchor hitch) is used where the paracord is attached to the tarp grommet.

This sheepshank was a knot I learned in the Boy Scouts (the basic version), but not one often used.  The above demonstration link to the Animated Knots by Grog website mentions alternative possibly more secure knots to use.  I have used the modified sheepshank knot to shorten a long extension headphone cable for my desktop computer, but just coiling it and adding a rubber band would have been easier and faster, lol...

As an Amazon affiliate I earn a small percentage of sales when folks go to amazon through my links and shop, and that helps pay the bills, so, 'Thanks!'

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Finishing Paracord Ends...

I'm often asked how I sometimes finish paracord lanyard/fob ends on various projects, especially the ones with the crimped ends, and I've replied over the years to many emails, messages, forum threads and comments with a brief explanation, but until now had not shown the process in a video tutorial or demonstration.

It comes down to pulling out the paracord's inner strands a little bit, trimming them off with scissors or a knife, pulling the outer sheath back down over the inner strands, using a lighter to slightly melt the cord end, flatten it out, carefully if done with your fingers so as to not get burned by the hot melted cord, alternatively laying it on a flat surface and flatten with the side of the lighter.

Then melt the end again and crimp with needle nose pliers or hemostats, so the toothy grip leaves a neat finish to your project.  If the paracord end flattens and spreads out too much when you crimp it, you can trim/shape it with your scissors and re-crimp if necessary.
I try to use only enough heat from the lighter so that the paracord is barely melting, because too much and the cord will blacken as it burns, which isn't so noticeable when finished on dark colors of paracord, but will show with lighter colors.

Link for knot example shown in video thumbnail photo.

For something like short hanks/bundles/lengths of paracord used as guylines for a tent, I would not crimp the ends like this, but melt and flatten both the outer sheath and inner strands as shown in the video.  This is because with repeated use and stretching of the paracord guylines, over time the inner strands could move/migrate away from the crimped ends, bunching up along the length of the cord, leaving the cord only as strong as the outer sheath section.  Whereas with the inner strands anchored to the outer sheath where they are melted together, the inner strands stay put and the cord retains its strength.

The knot work just above the end strands will keep the inner strands in place, so I've not found inner strand movement to be an issue with lanyards and fobs, and if you've gutted the paracord before hand, then it doesn't matter at all...

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Fresh paracord for Pa's EDC lanyard...

Father's Day is tomorrow, so I untied Pa's edc paracord keychain lanyard, which was a bit dirty from daily handling and built up staining of salt/sweat/grime since the last time I'd retied it a couple of years ago, and put on a fresh one.  I made this one with about 12 feet of cord instead of 10, as shown in my old tutorial

This time I used a black/green color combo pattern paracord, attached to the same old snap shackle.  I had added the small sailor's cross knot (1.4mm cord) to the spring pull a couple of years ago, and it's still in good shape, but was faded, so I went over it with a black Sharpie marker to make it look almost new again.

The slightly longer loop end (3") has multiple attachment options and is large enough to ring hitch the lanyard onto MOLLE webbing if desired or to run a belt through it, or ring/cow/girth hitch/lark's head onto a belt loop or directly to a lanyard attachment on a multitool/flashlight/knife/keychain or use the snap shackle end, however you want to configure your everyday carry loadout.

Back in 2009, I had bought a couple of the snap shackles from MIL-SPEC MONKEY, bronze painted/coated black with 1" sized attachment slots, and I think they had an 800lb load rating (fine for utility uses, not life supporting/climbing/suspension though), but most of the black finish has worn off over time, leaving a mostly polished look to it.

My sandpaper seems to be hiding from me since we moved house last year, so the remnants of black paint on the shackle can continue to wear off as it has been doing for almost a decade now.

I've given Pa a number of different lanyards over the years that I've been tying them, but this is the one he's kept on his keychain the longest, and the shackle spring is still in good working order, so I reckon there's years of service still left in it.

The current offerings on the MIL-SPEC MONKEY site for the same design snap shackles seem to be made of stainless steel now instead of bronze, still good enough for keychain and edc gear usage for those that want to use them for their own paracord projects.

There are a variety of snap shackles on eBay and Amazon, and I believe all of the painted/coated ones seem to have the same issue of the finish scratching and wearing off very easily, although that's just a cosmetic issue for some folks, and character marks for others.

If the item description information on the shackles doesn't say what they're made of, I'd just assume it's mystery/pot metal instead of something stronger, so be wary of that.

The lanyard could be untied and re-purposed if needed, but as you can see in the pic of the two year old strand that I removed, it's kinked up quite a bit after having been knotted in the doubled Solomon bar/Portuguese sinnet/king cobra stitch pattern, and it is dirtier than it looks in the photo.

When you consider the dirt and wear and tear, the cord's original strength would be compromised, but still usable in a pinch to replace a broken shoestring/bootlace, or as a temp fix for a broken backpack strap, to tie something up or down and so on, just like a common paracord bracelet would be.

This is not a quick release type of knotted lanyard (like a zipper sinnet and variations), so taking it apart could take five minutes or more, depending on how tight or loose you tie yours and whether you might need a marlinspike to help loosen it up, so imaginings of instantly dispensing the lanyard back into a single length of cord at a moments notice to save the day may not be realistic, but the potential of being useful beyond being a decorative lanyard is still there...

I'd started this lanyard with a 12.5 foot long length of paracord, and when it came time to tuck the end strands I still had more than a foot left over between what was left of both working ends.  So, I used a lacing needle and ran each working end down opposite sides of the lanyard, under the outer knot work, all the way down the center of the lanyard. It can be a tight fit, so having a marlinspike handy can help, and if the lacing needle isn't working, sometimes I'll use hemostats to pull the end strand under the knot work.

If you look at the photos, you may notice the slightly rounded bulge from the added thickness of those strands, as I just wanted to make sure there was at least twelve feet of paracord in the lanyard, and I ended up trimming about five or so inches worth of the cord when I finished the project.

As an Amazon affiliate I earn a small percentage of sales when folks go to amazon through my links and shop, and that helps pay the bills, so, 'Thanks!'


Sunday, June 03, 2018

A Paracord Shoelace Tie

I've been asked how I tie my shoestrings and
bootlaces, especially with paracord, since it can sometimes have a slippery texture and may not hold the common shoelace bow knot very well.

I made a short video demonstration, with my point and shoot camera that doesn't want to cooperate with focusing, but you can hopefully see it well enough to follow along.

If the laces are long enough, after tying them, the loops and ends can be tucked up under the crossings and over the shoe/boot tongue to further secure them, so they don't catch/snag on things that might pull them undone as you're trekking though the wilds off the beaten path, or browsing the aisles at your local wallyworld. ;)

Shoestring theory: Science shows why shoelaces come untied.

And an orange flavored EDC pocket dump pic for this Sunday afternoon.

As an Amazon affiliate I earn a small percentage of sales when folks go to amazon through my links and shop, and that helps pay the bills, so, 'Thanks!'