In this article I will show you some common mistakes to avoid when working with paracord.
I remember when I started crafting with paracord. I was happy every time I made something that looked good. But I often discovered I made mistakes during the product creation. Naturally it takes time and experience to learn the trade.
In this post I will show you some common mistakes beginning paracord craftsmen make. I got some of the information from my own experience, as well as some from the helpful comments from the various Facebook groups (you can find a list here). So let’s see what common mistakes are when people start out crafting.
Finishing bracelets using the overhand knot
The overhand knot is a vital knot to know and most people are familiar with it before they even begin working with knots. As such many use it to finish bracelets. This not only makes bracelets look less professional, but also makes them slip off easily. I think this is a very common mistake beginners make. Learning the lanyard knot may seem like a hassle at the start, but it pays dividends to learn it as soon as possible. It is a beautiful knot that will find a use in many projects. I am very proud to have this knot in my repertoire.
Burning the paracord
When I started paracord crafts I used a lighter to melt the ends. It works and I still use the technique. But in my early days I heated the cord too much and it dripped around. Even worse were the times when I exposed the paracord to the direct flame from the lighter. My beautiful paracord colors turned black and my bracelet looked worse because of it.
I suggest being very careful when melting paracord or even better, get a butane torch lighter to control the flame better.
Underestimating the cord length needed
The most pointed out issue so far has been running out of paracord when doing a project. Why is that?
Paracord has a lot of perceived value. It looks great, it has a ton of uses and is our tool of the trade. We appreciate it for what it is. And we tend to try to save every single inch of it (even worse, I save every inner strand!).
But when you run out of cord at the very end of a bracelet or a long project like a belt, tears start pouring. I exaggerate a bit, but there is nothing more frustrating than having just a tiny bit of cord left and you are just about to finish a project!
My tip is that you start valuing your time and simply take a bit of extra cord just in case! It may cost you a few cents more, but hey, time is money, and spending even 10 minutes remaking something is simply not worth the few cents in taking some backup cordage. Extra paracord scraps can always be used in innovative ways (see the ideas on using paracord scraps we put together ).
Making necklaces using the ball and loop technique
I was really proud when I made my first braided paracord necklace. It looked great and I was really proud to achieve such great results that fast. I finished the necklace using the ball and loop technique. It worked and kept the necklace from falling off. About a year later I found out that finishing necklaces this way can be dangerous since anyone that would hook themselves onto something with their necklace would be in danger of choking. And paracord is impossible to tear open for anyone not a strongman.
That small chance scared me to the point that I am now using the breakaway buckles for my necklaces. That way I can sleep soundly knowing that in that moment, there is no one being killed by my beautiful paracord necklaces.
Combining cords with melting
When making multi-colored bracelets or other projects, it is quite common to join two cords by melting together the ends. But where you place the melted joint does matter. The joint should be placed somewhere under your knots to make the bond stronger and also ensuring the melted together part is not visible, since your creations should look as cleanly made as possible.
Naturally, I suggest you learn the Manny method of joining paracord. It is an innovative way you can use to make a strong bond that looks great.
Are you serious about working with paracord? Then you have already ordered some supplies. The most common way to lose money is by buying retail in small amounts. Why not just stock up in larger quantities and save yourself time and money. Not only will you save some postage but buying in bulk can seriously pay off in the long run (places like Amazon offer large spools of paracord at bulk prices).
And as leader of the World of cordcraft Facebook group pointed out:
Go ahead and buy the 1000′ roll of black 550, you’ll end up buying that much in the long run.
– Rick Vidrine
My 2 cents
The thing I found that I got wrong when starting my work with knots was learning knots. Or should I say not learning them. It is easy to find tutorials online for just about anything. But you can take those tutorials as a learning aid or as a guide. The difference being is that at the end of the day, if you learn something you are able to replicate it. By copying it, you do not learn how to make better knots, you learn how to better copy.
So my advice is: learn knots! Learn how to make them. Repeat making them. Set an alarm clock for 3.00 AM. Wake up and tie the knot. Then go back to sleep.
Learn, do not copy or expect you will be able to use those tutorials wherever you go. That separates a cook from a guy who knows how to read recipes and a paracordist from someone who can watch tutorials.
Regards, Mark. I would appreciate a comments from you guys!
Thanks for the warnings. One of the things I wish I had learned sooner was to keep a record of who I got which cord from.
I find that there is a difference in cord even when it is supposed to be ” 550 7 strand, etc,etc. ” Some brands are stiffer and harder to work with than other
I wonder how those who have made the jump to online stores found source for bulk cord at a price better than we can get. Same for beads and the like.
On another topic – does anyone know the strength left in the cord if you melt the ends together to join them? How abought if you lace them together (I can’t remember what they call that) with a fid?
Thanks for letting me in the group.
Thank you for a nice comment J.W. Gibson!
I do not think there is an efficient method to measure the strength of the joined cord, but for the Manny method (joining with fids), I would assume it to be close to the outer sheath strength.
Another safe way for closing necklaces is to slip a rubber/silicone o-ring over the loop and use it like a tanka to jam the other end in this loop. If the o-ring sits tight enough, this construction will hold both ends together, but on pulling it will release nearly immediately, with only low tension neccessary.
Member of IGKT for decades but since the death of Gary Sessions of Dallas, Texas I have lost contact with Texas knotters. I have a considerable amount of knotting materials to pass on to active knot tyers. In addition, I just inherited a substantial amount of cord from the estate of my brother-in-law, also an IGKT member. I live in Salado, TX and would prefer to deal with knotters in the general area who could come to my home and take a look.
Drop me a line if you are interested.