We’ve all heard of paracord and how it can help us when we’re out on a trek. Whether you use paracord to hang your food from a tree or as a tie-down for your tent, there are hundreds of different ways you can use paracord to help you when you’re out in the wild.
In this article, you’ll learn how to make paracord. Before we get into that, I’ll give you a rundown as to what materials you need. I’ll then teach you how to create even sturdier paracord patterns using the paracord you just made. Let’s start by outlining the materials you need before starting.
What Materials Do I Need to Make a Paracord?
Making a paracord at home doesn’t require an extensive amount of materials. To learn how to make paracord at home, you need:
- Nylon yarn, preferably three colors, but not required
- Wax or a lighter
You may be asking yourself why you need cardboard to make a paracord. We’re going to use the cardboard to create a jig that will help us weave the yarn into the correct paracord patterns.
The Kumihimo Wheel
Kumihimo is a braiding technique that originates from Japan. The people there have used similar techniques for hundreds of years to produce beautiful weavings. We’re going to use cardboard to create the kumihimo wheel and jigs we need to fabricate the paracord.
First, use a product with a six-or seven-inch diameter to trace a circle on a piece of cardboard. Alternatively, you could use a compass if you have one. After you trace the circle, cut it out. Now that you have a disc, cut a small circle in the center with a diameter of one to two inches.
Nw, you should have a donut-shaped piece of cardboard. Going around the circle, make 16 marks with an indelible marker. These marks should be equal distance from each other. If you’re using a protractor, each mark should be 22.5º apart.
Now that you have your donut-shaped cardboard marked, you can make half-inch cuts on each of the 16 marks. Your kumihimo wheel is complete, so now all you need to create are the jigs.
To create the jigs, cut out eight hourglass-shaped pieces of cardboard. These should be around four inches long and two inches wide. Make a half-inch cut into both the top and bottom of each of the jigs. Once you’ve cut these out, you’re ready to start loading the kumihimo wheel.
How to Load Your Kumihimo Wheel With Nylon Yarn
Since this is your first time making a paracord, we’ll go slow. Once you get more comfortable making paracord, you can make longer cords. To start, cut eight pieces of yarn to three feet in length. Using two colors here can help you discern which is which during weaving. If you do use two colors, alternate them when threading them through your wheel.
You also need some yarn that will act as the core of your paracord. Cut out three pieces of nylon string about 2.5 feet in length. It’s best if this yarn is a different color than the other two you used. We’ll get back to these in a second.
So, as you can tell, we cut the wheel 16 times, but we’re only using eight threads. You can use your wheel for tons of different projects, not just for paracord. With 16 cuts, you’ll be able to make any weave you like.
To start, take one of your jigs and thread one yarn through one of the slits. Wrap the thread around the jig, which we made easier because it has an hourglass shape. When you’re left with about 10 inches of yarn, thread it through the slot on the other end of the jig. Repeat this process for all eight jigs.
Once you’ve threaded your nylon yarn through the jigs, the hard part begins. Get the yarn you put aside for the core. Keeping all your yarn straight, tie the three pieces you put aside for the core with the eight pieces you threaded onto the jigs. Make sure not to tangle any of the yarn.
Once you’ve tied the yarn together, place the knot in the central circle you cut out of the cardboard. Thread the eight pieces of nylon yarn through eight of the cuts you made on the wheel, leaving an empty slot between each piece of yarn. If you used two different colors for yarn, this is when you alternate their colors. I chose green and red with white nylon yarn as my core material.
How to Make Paracord
Now that we’ve completed all of the preliminary steps, we can start making a paracord. Ensure you keep track of your colors and only braid using your colored yarn, not the inner core yarn.
Step 1: Orient Yourself
People often make braiding mistakes when they haven’t been paying attention to what they’re doing. It’s always better to start slow and orient yourself so that you don’t make any mistakes.
Since you have two different colors of yarn, always keep the direction they weave separate. For example, if my green yarn moves clockwise, my red yarn will move counter-clockwise. My central white yarn will remain stationary. If you choose a direction for a piece of yarn, you cannot change it because you’ll create a worthless braid.
Step 2: Begin Weaving
To begin weaving, choose a yarn you’d like to start with. Since you already selected which direction the yarn will move, you can lift it out of the slit in the cardboard. I began with one of my green yarns, so I moved it clockwise over the first red yarn and around the white core yarn until I reached the next unoccupied slit. Put the green yarn into that unoccupied cut.
After you complete one of the green yarns, you can move on to the red string. The red yarn should be the closest to the original green string, moving clockwise. With the red yarn, you need to move counter-clockwise. Release the yarn from the slit in the cardboard, move it counter-clockwise around the green yarn, putting it into the closest unoccupied cut.
Move around clockwise, alternating between the red and green pieces of yarn. When braiding, you should be pulling tight. By tugging on each of the pieces of yarn tight, you can create a well-built woven paracord.
Repeat the weaving steps until you run out of your two nylon yarn colors. When weaving, release yarn as needed from the jigs. Once you reach the end of your strings, move on to step three.
Step 3: Sealing Your Paracord
Now that you’ve made yourself some paracord, all that’s left to do is seal the cord. At this point, you should have a cord with one knotted end and one end with loose yarn. If you’re using wax, make sure it’s warm and liquid before starting. If you’re using a light, make sure it’s ready.
Carefully using your scissors, cut the loose yarn ends until they’re even, leaving no pieces of yarn longer than each other. When you’re performing this cut, make sure you firmly hold onto the cord. If you don’t hold on properly, the whole weave could come loose.
If you’re using wax, you need it now. Dip about a quarter of an inch of the end of the yarn you just cut. By dipping the end into wax, you can create a seal. If you don’t have any wax, you can use a lighter to melt the nylon yarn. Be careful you don’t melt too much of the cord if you use the lighter.
For the end with the knot, just repeat the same process. Once you seal both ends, you’ve created some brand new paracord!
How to Make Paracord Stronger
Your homemade paracord is strong, but if you want to make it stronger, you’ll weave it into paracord patterns. These patterns help bolster the cord’s strength by weaving it together, producing a much higher degree of tensile strength. Here’s how I make my favorite paracord pattern.
Step 1: Gather Materials
On average, paracord patterns need around one foot of paracord to create one inch of woven paracord. If you want to make six inches of braided paracord, you would need six feet of paracord. Adjust accordingly for whatever task you need this paracord for.
Aside from that, you will need either a carabiner or a small shackle. You need to ensure that this carabiner or shackle can open and close when you need to put the cord through it and when you need to remove the cord at the end.
Step 2: Put the Cord Through the Loop
Fold the cord in half evenly, producing an arc at the top. Put the arc through the carabiner. After that, thread the two ends of the paracord through the loop. You have now created a girth hitch, the first step in creating a woven paracord.
Step 3: Measure Your Preferred Length and Fold
I’m making a quick paracord pattern, so I only want to make six inches, although you can make yours as long as you’d like. On the two cords hanging down from the girth hitch, I measured six inches. I then folded them back towards the carabiner. Make sure to keep these cords separate and never mix them up.
Step 4: First Knot
The first knot helps keep your weave in place, so it’s essential to creating a robust paracord pattern. Take the cord on the right and wrap it around all the other cords. Doing this should produce a loop, which you should put the end of the cord through. Pull the cord tight.
Repeat this process for the cord on the left side. After you do the second cord, pull tight from the bottom while pushing the knot towards the carabiner.
Step 5: Knotting the Cord
After you’ve completed the first knot, you can get to work on repeating the knotting process. Take the cord on the right and put it over the other cords. Then, wrap the cord behind all the other cords, pushing it through the loop you made from behind. Again, pull tight from the bottom while forcing the knot towards the carabiner.
After you do the right-hand side, repeat the same process on the left. Alternate from side to side and repeat until you have about half an inch of the middle cords remaining.
Step 6: Final Knot
To create the final knot, you have to create two slip knots with the right and left cords. Start with the right and create a slip knot by folding it in front of itself. Put the remaining cord through the small loop you just made. Repeat on the left side.
Take a half-inch of the middle cord and thread the slip knot through both loops. Pull tight. After, repeat on the left side, tightening once again. Push up towards the carabiner one last time to tighten the cords.
With scissors, remove any excess cord and use a lighter to melt the ends, ensuring there’s no fraying. Unhook the carabiner from the end. Congratulations, you’ve made a woven paracord pattern that is even stronger than your homemade paracord!
Now that you know how to make a paracord, you need to find some ways to use it! I use my paracord most when I go on camping trips. I use my homemade paracord to string up food from wildlife, lash items to the outside of my backpack, build makeshift shelters, and so much more.
When I bring my strengthened paracord with me, I usually use it for tasks that need that increased strength. One of my main uses for this type of paracord is when I hammer in tent stakes. I’ve had too many of my tents rip during high winds. Now, I attach the braided paracord with a carabiner to an eyelet. From there, I just put the stake into the ground as I would normally.
As you can see, there are countless ways for you to utilize your homemade paracord. Now that you know how to make paracord at home, you can start today!
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