Paracord crafts! Lt. Stewart, report to the supply tent. Calling Lt. Martha Stewart...
April 28, 2008 10:03 AM   Subscribe

Paracord is a perennial survival kit favorite, but why carry a boring ol' hank of it when you can get crafty? Parachute cord lanyards, bracelets, watchbands, belts, and other braided items are surprisingly easy and fun to make by following some simple instructions. But they're just the beginning! From water bottle carriers and camera tripods to knife handles, Khukri conversions, flashlight & stick wraps, pace beads, magazine pulls, rifle wraps and rifle slings, there are tons of useful things you can make out of paracord!

What can you do with all that paracord, you ask? First of all, it's tough and lightweight rope that's great for use as tiedowns, bootlaces, and rigging. It's also useful for all sorts of survival tasks, including making a tarp shelter, catching fish, snaring animals, fire-starting, building a field tripod, and making a sling. The inner strands are useful, too, as they can be removed and used as fishing line or sewing thread. Hurrah for paracord!
posted by vorfeed (21 comments total) 72 users marked this as a favorite
Most of these craft projects are really easy -- few of them take more than a couple of hours. Just about anyone should be able to learn to weave paracord with very little practice.

If you'd like to try any of these crafts, there are several places to get paracord online (I'm not affiliated with any of them, I just shop there). Supply Captain, County Comm, and TAD Gear all sell mil-spec 550-test paracord in many different colors. One Stop Knife Shop even has some with high-visibility reflective tracers built into the weave.
posted by vorfeed at 10:07 AM on April 28, 2008 [3 favorites]

This is why I love MeFi. Thanks!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:11 AM on April 28, 2008

Can't jubilantly favorite this without saying why - several years of entirely superficial misery trying to find replacement cords for a scrumptious pair of old British WW2 "landgirl" jodhpurs.

Best fitting pants I ever had - they're laced right up the sides from ankle to waist in two sections and the original cord - probably the real deal stuff - had finally given up the ghost. I've tried leather lanyards (too stiff), ribbon (looked silly), bootlaces (never long enough...).

So thanks also for the suppliers, vorfeed.
Looks like the first link has exactly the perfect shade too!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:52 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Parachute cord is awesome. I almost always have a length of it in my bag. I've used it for all kinds of stuff, and I'm sure it'd be just the ticket for a splint or a tourniqet, too.

Never thought about using the core strands for fishing line. That'd make good sewing thread, too, but that's what the dental floss and sewing kit is for, anyway.
posted by loquacious at 11:00 AM on April 28, 2008

Growing up in a US Air Force family, we always had a bunch of this stuff laying around. (I presume it came in every survival kit and, of course, in chutes.)

I got into so very much awesome mischief thanks to this stuff's hard-to-break, easy to tie, fun-to-melt-together coolness.
posted by abulafa at 11:21 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

gun tape (aka duct tape), para cord, glow sticks and ration packs: how to have a good time as an army brat.
posted by furtive at 11:48 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Some folks call it P-cord.
posted by Flashman at 11:57 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

ha. i was just about to comment with several of those where-to-buy links.
i *heart* paracord.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:39 PM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite] sells glow in the dark paracord, too.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:43 PM on April 28, 2008

I really love countycomm's products - in fact, last weekend I made a orange paracord handle (pic) for one of their EOD Breacher Bars. I'm working on a multilayered (orange/black) handle for the other bar now.
posted by mrbill at 1:03 PM on April 28, 2008

I forgot a link:
This knot site has instructions on how to tie loops in cord, which you'll need to know if you want to tackle Stormdrane's neat lanyard project. I found the Alpine Butterfly to be a lot easier to tie than the lanyard knot, so try the former if you get stuck on the latter.
posted by vorfeed at 1:03 PM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

I suppose it's a little strange that my first thought when I saw this thread was "I love paracord! It's great for tying up manly bits!" But it is, really.
posted by desjardins at 1:09 PM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

My buddy turned me onto the stormdrane blog a couple of months ago, and I've been suitably hooked for a while. I've always liked knots, and all my knives and flashlights have lovely paracord lanyards (using a noose-type knot for tightening to the wrist and providing a handle/ sheath lockdown).

Lately I've taken to keeping some nylon cord in my desk drawers which I offer to people who claim to be bored on the phones.

I tell them to make me a chain knot (taught to me by my great grandmother almost 20 years ago!) but I don't give them any instruction other than "by five o'clock".

It's a wonderful intellectual and dexterity exercise.

Fantastic post vorfeed.
posted by quin at 1:16 PM on April 28, 2008

And when you are about to throw away the rest of the parachute, ask your girlfriend first. She may want to make a wedding dress out of it. A friend of mine did. (Hint: it wasn't white.)
posted by Nick Verstayne at 1:18 PM on April 28, 2008

quin: One of my climber friends showed me the chain sinnet; he said they used it all the time in Switzerland. They used it to make a rope shorter and easier to carry, and then just un-did the chain when it was time to use the rope. It's also a good way to make quick neck lanyards. I haven't tried this yet, but it looks like an even better method involves a knitting spool. Stormdrane's paracord info & videos are so great!

I first learned to make simple lanyards (square sinnet, circle sinnet, and cobra knot) from a hippie Girl Scout camp counselor named Peace. It's been a long time since then; getting back into it is sort of nostalgic. :)
posted by vorfeed at 1:53 PM on April 28, 2008

These look like some neat craft projects, but a lot of the links mention that "you can use the cord to build a shelter or hunting snare". Following a link from the Gurkha one, the guy outlines a "survival kit" and talks about how he used a needle and string from it to stitch up a wound on his hand. Okay. My question is, where are these people going that this kind of stuff is necessary? And why? Whose idea of fun is this? Are people actually building makeshift shelters and snaring small mammals in order to survive, or is it just part of some weird Rambo fantasy?
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:20 PM on April 28, 2008

Good question, DecemberBoy. It's an odd Rambo fantasy that involves braiding.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:33 PM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Following a link from the Gurkha one, the guy outlines a "survival kit" and talks about how he used a needle and string from it to stitch up a wound on his hand. My question is, where are these people going that this kind of stuff is necessary? And why? Whose idea of fun is this? Are people actually building makeshift shelters and snaring small mammals in order to survive, or is it just part of some weird Rambo fantasy?

Lots of people do primitive or backwoods camping/hiking and the like for fun. For most of these people, the idea isn't so much that they're snaring animals and the like on a daily basis, it's that they should have emergency supplies and the knowledge to use them, just in case the worst happened and they got lost or stuck in the woods. Ask any Search and Rescue guy -- even day hikers sometimes get themselves lost or hurt, and knowing how to build a simple shelter and get some food is (at the very least) the difference between two or three nights in the woods and two or three really, really uncomfortable nights in the woods.

To me, this is a matter of preparedness and general self-sufficiency. I think a person ought to able to feed him or herself, if necessary, and find or make some shelter if none is available. Calling basic survival skills like these a "Rambo fantasy"... well, if you ask me, that says a lot more about our society than it does about Rambo, and not in a good way. Maybe we should all go outside and play more often.
posted by vorfeed at 6:01 PM on April 28, 2008 [4 favorites]

This stuff is amazing. Thanks for all these neato ideas. I use it to make equipment (jesses and leashes etc.) for birds of prey. It is lighter and stronger than leather and it doesn't dry out and crack like leather. Now instead of making extra leashes on rainy days I can make a nifty water bottle holder. HURRAH!
posted by fogonlittlecatfeet at 6:12 PM on April 28, 2008

Great post! I was aware of Stormdrane's blog, and a couple suppliers, but wanted more on the subject (especially how-to's), and here it is! Thanks!!
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:39 AM on April 29, 2008

In the Army, we call it 550-cord. I've used it for many things up to and including a replacement for a lost button for my shorts, and braided into a temporary belt while in the field for my ACU's. Wonderful stuff.

Sometime it's a bit difficult to cut, especially when using anything but a very sharp knife. I find the easiest way is to use a lighter and then just seal the ends off. Keeps it from fraying!
posted by SeanMac at 9:42 PM on April 29, 2008

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