Paracord Skills Clinic
Below are some skills that you will definitely find helpful when using Paracord. They will also help you get the most out of your Paracord.
The “Kern” and the “Mantle”: Paracord is made up of multiple internal strands, called the “kern.” These internal strands generally make up the tensile strength of the paracord. These internal strands are contained inside a woven external sheath, called the “mantle,” and slide freely inside the “mantle.” This “free sliding” of the internal strands contributes to the flexibility and pliability of Paracord. This external sheath protects the internal strands from abrasion and damage.
The internal strands of Paracord can be removed from inside of the sheath and used as individual strands. For example, you could use the inside strands individually for fishing lines, sewing thread, or even dental floss.
The braided outside sheath can also be used by itself, with the internal strands removed, in situations where you might want the color of the sheath, but not the “bulk” or extra tensile strength of the inner strands. For example, you could use the Paracord sheath with the inner strands removed for shoe or boot laces. (remember to tie a “double-knot” in your boot laces or the knot will slip.)
Cutting Paracord: The best way to cut paracord is with a sharp knife or scissors. With so many smaller threads twisted and braided together, a “clean cut” will allow you to better secure the ends of your Paracord (see “Securing the Ends of Paracord” below) and prevent the internal strands from sliding out of your Paracord.
Securing the Ends of Paracord: Because Paracord has multiple, removable, strands inside of the woven sheath, if the Paracord is cut or broken, the internal strands will slide in and out of the sheath. If you do not want the internal strands to move inside of the sheath, you will want to secure the ends of your Paracord. You can easily do this in several different ways:
– Overhand or “S” knot: The easiest way to secure the end of a piece of Paracord is to simply tie a knot in the end. This will also help you to find the “bitter end” of your Paracord when you’re next ready to use it.
– Glue: You can also use a small dab of everyday household glue, like Elmer’s Glue to secure the ends of Paracord. Remember to let the glue dry completely before using your Paracord.
Burning the Ends of Paracord: Perhaps the most popular method of securing the cut ends of your Paracord would be to burn the ends with a match or lighter. This melts the many small internal and external threads of the Paracord together so that they don’t unravel. This is a key tip in our Paracord Skills Clinic!
Be extremely careful with matches and lighters. And DO NOT TOUCH the hot end of the Paracord just after you have melted it. The hot, molten Paracord will stick to your skin and cause a very nasty burn.
To burn the ends of your Paracord, first make a clean cut on the end. Then use a lighter or match to heat and melt the small internal and external threads of your Paracord together.
The tip of the flame is hotter and will melt the fibers together more quickly. But some people think that using the tip of the flame causes your Paracord to “blacken,” and they prefer to use the side of the flame.
Practice burning the ends of a few pieces of “scrap” Paracord for practice. Try using the tip of the flame, and the side of the flame, and see which works best for you. Seriously, DO NOT LET THE HOT, MOLTEN PARACORD TOUCH YOUR SKIN!
Also, burning Paracord creates an unpleasant odor and fumes, so be sure and burn the ends of your Paracord in an area that is safe for the use of open flames and also provides good ventilation.
An inexpensive wood burning tool or a commercial “hot knife” can also be used to melt the ends of Paracord together.
Melting 2 pieces of Paracord Together:
(BE CAREFUL when burning Paracord!
Read the cautions in the paragraphs above!)
There are a few times when you might want to melt two pieces of paracord together. For example, when making some particular types of multi-colored Paracord bracelets, like the very popular two-colored Cobra Style bracelet, you might want to melt two different colors of Paracord together.
To melt two pieces of Paracord together:
– make a clean cut on the ends of the pieces of Paracord that you want to melt together.
– Heat both ends of your Paracord until they start to melt
– Gently press the molten ends of the Paracord together, and hold them together for maybe 5 or 10 seconds.
Practice on a few pieces of scrap Paracord before you try this on a “real” bracelet project.
NOTE: Melting two pieces of Paracord together will NOT provide you with a “full-strength” splice and cannot be used to bear a load. But these two pieces of Paracord can be melted together securely enough to use them as “one” piece of differently-colored Paracord for may of your Paracord Projects.
Paracord Needles can be a very handy tool to use with your Paracord Projects. If you want to do much at all with Paracord, you’ll very probably want to get a Paracord Needle, and / or an inexpensive pair of hemostats (see “Hemostats” below).
Paracord Needles typically come in lengths of 3” or longer, and either straight or curved needles. One end of the Needle is bluntly rounded. The other end of the needle is hollowed out and threaded.
The easiest way to thread your Paracord into the back end of the Needle is to cut your Paracord at an angle, and burn your paracord lightly, creating a pointed end.
Thread this end into the back end of your Paracord Needle. You can pull the end of your Paracord under and through the stitches and braids in your Paracord Projects.
(HINT: You can also use this technique to make shoe or boot laces with a point that can be threaded through the eyelets of your shoes or boots.)
NOTE: Use caution when burning Paracord, and using Paracord Needles
Hemostats will also be a very handy addition to your Paracord Projects tools and equipment. As demonstrated in this picture, hemostats can be used to slip under or through the stitches and braids of your Paracord Projects, grip the end of your Paracord, and pull it through the stitches and braids.
Now that you have a few tools from our Paracord Skills Clinic under your belt, let’s move on to the FUN part, actually making some of these Paracord Projects!