Saturday, February 17, 2007

Making a paracord bracelet with a side release buckle

I occasionally get asked how to attach a buckle when making a paracord bracelet. There are a few tutorials on making the bracelets online to learn from, but they don't show how to make one using a side-release buckle.

I think the photos I've taken will be self explanatory. There are various sources for the buckles, like your local hobby/craft stores or online like ebay. There come in various shapes, sizes, and materials. I get my side release buckles from multiple sources including ebay and amazon, and used the 1/2" curved ones for this tutorial, but you can use the other sizes if you prefer, like the 3/8" or 5/8". The 1/2" just match up with the braided width of the cobra stitch knot(also called Solomon bar and Portuguese sinnet), but the 5/8" work well too if you double up the cord when looping onto the buckle ends.

*Note: You can also make dog or cat collars by using a buckle and making a larger version of the bracelet. Paracord comes in a variety of types/colors/quality and can be found at various online sources, like Amazon, ebay, and lots of other vendors/distributors have opened up shop, but be thorough in researching what you're buying and be an informed consumer. ;)

The amount of paracord to use will vary with the size wrist it's being made for as well as other methods of increasing the amount of cord used by running more cord between the buckle ends which will be covered by the knots and making a thicker bracelet using the king cobra stitch. For this tutorial, I've stuck with what I think is the simplest method. I would start with a cord length of about 10 feet, so you'll have plenty to work with. You can figure to use about 1 foot of paracord for every inch of wrist size. The other methods can easily double the amount of cord used.

To measure wrist size, take the end of your paracord and wrap it around your wrist and take note of where it meets. Lay that out against a ruler and you have your wrist size. To make a comfortably sized bracelet, the measured length between the end of the female part of the bracelet and the flat end of the male part of the bracelet(male part is the end with the prongs, not used in measuring since they're inside the other part when buckle is connected) when you 've attached the cord, the length should be at least 1 inch longer than your wrist size when you start knotting. Find the middle of the length of cord and attach it to one end of the buckle, either end will do. My wrist size is about 8 and 1/2 inches, so I will start knotting after measuring out the starting length of about 9 and 1/2 inches.

When you've finished knotting, trim and melt the ends, press the melted ends so it attaches to the surrounding cord(careful not to burn yourself), and you're done. Enjoy.

After you've filled up the space between the buckles with knots, trim the leftover cord ends off with your scissors, melt the ends and press them onto the surrounding cord so it attaches as it hardens and won't come loose.

*Be careful that you don't burn yourself. You may use the flat side of your scissors on the hot melted cord.

An alternative to melting the ends, is to use hemostats/forceps and tuck/pull the cord ends under a few of the knots, down the center of the bracelet, then trim and tuck the ends to finish.

I've also put this tutorial up on the Instructables website.

On my main blog page, Stormdrane's Blog, you can see various other paracord lanyards, fobs, keychains, bracelets, collars, belt, and a guitar strap that I've made, as well as links for more knot related books and online links for knot related information.

*Further tips for paracord bracelets: If the side release buckle is large enough, you can loop the paracord around them again before you start knotting, to fill in the extra room on the buckle.

The 1/2" side release buckles are a tight fit for this, but will work, and the 5/8" size are just right.

This leaves a two strand core for the bracelet when you start knotting.

Now, you could also have a four strand core by starting with a lark's head on the first buckle end, double wrap on second buckle end(at your wrist size), run cord back to and over the first buckle end, then start knotting over the four strand core.

Or, for a six strand core, lark's head first buckle, run the two strands around second buckle(at your wrist size), back to and around first buckle(now has four strands around), then back to and around second buckle, and start knotting around the six core strands.

This gives extra cord in case you need it for whatever, but it also makes the paracord bracelets thicker and more rounded, which I personally didn't care for and that's why I stick with the two strand core. YMMV