Monday, December 30, 2013

Mama's Christmas Present: Monkey Fist Doorstop

Just a half of a red brick from Home Depot and about 20 feet of 3/4" manila rope, which ran about $.67/ft.

Mom had admired a similar decorative piece I did for my wife with smaller stuff wrapped around a block of wood. So I thought something like this would go over well, and it did. My parent's house has wood floors and white walls, and several rooms have palettes that favor this piece. I like this one, but I'm also finding that I am enjoying the look of thick, natural ropes. I've taken the leftover pieces, whipped the ends, and created a couple of decorative knot pieces with which I plan to decorate my office walls. There are 3 pieces: A square knot, a true love knot, and a stopper knot. They're large enough that it makes more sense to mount them directly on the wall, like a picture, rather than on a knot board. Eventually, the wall itself will become the knot board. It will be unique for the companies I normally work for, and provide a nice way to ease into conversation with new people. I'll photograph and update as I go along.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Back to knotting

Took a break from knotting during June while working with a couple of companies that wanted to hire me. I am very fortunate to have choices; many people are not so lucky. I made my decision and have now moved on, so a new company with new company colors demands a new lanyard, right?
This was my first time working with 325 paracord. Felt the same as the utility cord I buy at Walmart - sorry, that's how I see it. Did a 4-strand round braid, brought both ends together into an 8-strand braid, and buttoned up the bottom with a Turk's Head collar.
Company colors are black and tan; I used desert camo as my tan.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Crappy decorative ropework at Gaylord Palms in Orlando

My wife (aka "Knotty Old Lady"?) won a weekend trip to Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, so we made the short trek over from Melbourne on Memorial Day weekend because we're gluttons for crowds and punishment.

If you've never been, the interior is a huge lobby atrium with shopws and restaurants, and indoor streams and plantings. In some areas, it is patterned to be like St. Augustine; in others, I think it's supposed to be like the Everglades.

Anyway, I saw many cases where it appeared there was once an attempt to have decorative ropework. I don't know if it was originally tied in a "real" knot, but today it's just a mass of coils that in some cases is nailed or bolted in place.

It was driving the OCD knot tie-r in me crazy. How freaking hard is it to tie a hitch? And don't even get me started on what I think were attempts at coxcombing some vertical  deck rails...

Anyway, the pictures are below. How much better would these look with some simple hitches, or maybe a Turk's Head if you wanted to get fancy? What about adding some coxcombing to some of the rails, like in the WIP photos I have below?

Did it used to be a clove hitch?

Tighten up those lines, guys!

What about hosting a Boy Scout troop for a day at the pool in exchange for cleaning up these knots?

Coxcomb Work-in-Progress (WIP)

All coxcombs are being tied on 1" dowels, 12" in length, with Turk's Heads at either end. Plan to frame in a shadow box for display. I've been using the Coxcomb tutorials at Frayed Knot Arts to learn.

Simple coxcomb on the right, French coxcomb on the left

Another angle for both. I am not satisfied with the French. uneven number of wraps between each half-hitch when you count them vertically. 

Turk's head on the French coxcomb

Turk's head on the simple coxcomb

Just laying them together in a carefully staged "Oh so casual" manner ;-)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Handmade Dog Leash in Use

As an update to the post regarding the dog leash I made with utility cord, my coworker sent the following email & photos:
As a thank you for the gift this morning, I decided to provide you with some photos which could be used for ads,  guaranteed to sell ice to the coldest Eskimo. One is a clearer shot but one is unarguably more adorable. As always, I'll leave the tough decisions up to you...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dog leash for a larger dog

One of the guys I work with adopted a dog a few months ago, and I've been meaning to make a leash and finally got around to it this weekend. It was underfed when he adopted it, but he's gotten the dog's weight up over 50 lbs finally.

I didn't use paracord or nice nylon dock line for this one. I picked up some cheap-ass 1/4" utility cord at Tractor Supply a few months ago for $5 for 100 feet, and I bought 300' in red, black, and blue. It's nothing special, and in fact is very difficult to work with, but I figured a dog leash for a large dog would be the perfect application.

I kept it simple: a 4-strand round braid with an eye splice. Aboout 6 feet long. Used a Turk's Head as a decorative cover where the ends of the strands were, but honestly, this is the first time I felt like I did a good enough job of finishing that I could have done without the "dressing". I finally figured out that the trick to splicing with these synthetic-type cords is to remove the inner core - go "gutted" for the strands at the point you start splicing. Lays much neater that way.

Finished dog leash using red and black 1/4" utility cord. About 6 feet long, using a 4-strand round braid finished with an eye splice.

Started the braid by hanging it from a hurricane post on the patio so I could get good leverage  for tight starting knots.

Spot the mistake: I was 3 feet into the braid when I looked back and saw it. In every project, I call this the "Motherfuncker!" point.

Eye splice with a Turk's Head to cover the finished ends of rope.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Alabama Crimson Tide Monkey Fist

A guy I've worked with at two companies over the past 5 years decided to take a new job back in Huntsville, AL. As a parting gift, I fashioned a Monkey Fist in red, white, and gray paracord. I thought I could whip it out in a single night, but it turned into a multi-night marathon of false starts and blind alleys.

Probably because Nick Saban is the devil.

Anyway, I probably gave myself scabies or herpes or something, just from handling this thing. Certainly, I've earned another football season in purgatory after I die, before I make it to heaven.

Two color monkey fist
Two-color Monkey Fist, with a multi-color diamond knot (I think?). Core is a rubber ball.

Top view. Two-color Monkey Fist, diamond knot, 4-strand round  braid, snake knot, turk's head, another 4-strand round braid, another turk's head, ending in a cobra knot finger loop.

Made in America
"Made by the rum-soaked fingers of a middle-aged American man, not the tear-stained fingers of a third-world 9 yr old."

Nick Saban is the devil himself
Four-strand round braid, transitioned to a red/gray Snake knot. Snake knot used in honor of Nick Saban, the serpent

Nick Saban is the devil
Turk's head used as transition to a small Cobra knot finger loop. Cobra knot used in honor of Nick Saban, the serpent

Monkey Fist given at Meg O'Malley's
Good man, despite his rooting for a football team coached by the devil himself. Parting gift given at Meg O'Malley's in Melbourne, which I noticed has Trefoil knot decorations all around the bar (See upper right of photo)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Another dog leash

Here's some photos from another early project I did, a dog leash. This one is about 6 feet long with a standard 4-strand round braid that transitions into a large loop handle made with cobra stitching. I wasn't happy with the transition, so I went back later and added a nice fat turk's head at the transition point, but that photo has gone MIA for now. The TH makes a nice hold point, not that I need it for my wife's little lap dog.

Cobra stitch handle for the loop

6' dog leash using 4-strand round braid and cobra stitch handle

Celtic Knot Crucifix

I posted a couple of weeks ago about the present I was working on for Mother's Day. I was struggling with the decision to use polyurethane or go "au nateural". I decided to go with the polyurethane after it was pointed out to me that the cord would be a great dust-catcher without a finish. So, I bought a small can of minwax polyurethane clear gloss and brushed it on.

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. It discolored the nice white cord, making it look a bit "yellowed". I would appreciate it if anyone has suggestions for polyurethane that won't discolor rope?

celtic knot crucifix
Celtic Knot Crucifix

Sunday, May 5, 2013

New Coxcombing Project

L-to-R: French coxcomb, Turk's Head, Ringbolt hitch
I found a 45" x 1/2" dowel around the house, so I pulled out some 1/8" diamondbraid utility cord, reviewed the coxcombing instructions over at, and got to work.

I started with the French (Bannister) Coxcomb and wrapped two revolutions around the dowel - about 4" of length. I slid a turk's head on to transition to the Ringbolt Hitch Coxcomb. This transition was necessary because the French coxcomb is single-strand fancywork, while the Ringbolt Hitch is three-strand fancywork. So, the additional two strands are added and laid under at the turk's head.

I will probably do 10"-12" of the Ringbolt Hitch, do another transition knot, and do the middle section of the dowel in a Full Moku coxcomb, then transition back to Ringbolt Hitches, and finally end it it with another section of French coxcomb for symmetry.

The plan is to hang this on a wall at work as a conversation piece. It looks really cool, much better than the photo. I also have plans for a couple more coxcombing projects, but I may keep those under wraps for the time being.

Friday, May 3, 2013

A little bling for the walking stick

Having trouble with my Achilles tendon this week, so I had to break out the old cane. It's kind of a metallic electric blue color, so I pulled out the orange utility cord and wrapped a Turk's Head. I can't possibly go out without my knotty bling these days.

Turk's Head
Orange utility cord fashioned into Turk's Head knot

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Old Rugged Cross

Working on a Mother's Day present. She's the Irish Catholic mother of four grown men, so her place in heaven is already reserved, right?

Anyway, I did a crucifix in the Celtic Knot style, with a strict over-and-under pattern. I used white nylon rope, and whipped the ends and left them free as you can see in the photo. I've mounted it on a 5" x 7" wood plaque with corner cuts, that I stained with mahogany color.

I was planning to coat with polyurethane clear-coat to protect it, but my wife thinks this is unnecessary; I think she just doesn't want me to spend any money.

What do you think?

Celtic Knot Crucifix
The old rugged cross: Celtic knots from white nylon, with whipped ends

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Monkey Fist Paperweight

This monkey fist is one of the first I created, just a few short months ago. I used plain old cotton rope, then tied a series of half hitches hat spiraled naturally for a handle. This isn't for slinging, obviously. It's a paperweight on my desk, and a cool little conversation piece.

Monkey fist made from cotton rope
Monkey fist made from cotton rope
Monkey fist made from cotton rope with spiraling handle made from half-hitch knots
Monkey fist with a handle made from spiraling half hitches.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My first lanyard: Snake Knot in Black

So, I'm a little out of order here, I suppose: I posted about my latest lanyard before I posted about my first lanyard.

I loved the snake knot when I first saw it. I've since learned it looks awesome in two colors, but at the time I only had some black cord and I was eager to try. It came out really nice, a very subdued, understated piece. A few weeks later I learned to do Turk's Heads, so I fashioned one into a ball and slid it over the lanyard to the bottom as an embellishment. Looked pretty friggin' sharp, if I say so myself. Still had that understated feel, too.

So, now that I have a new lanyard in the company colors, I am looking to re-purpose this one. I put my keys on it, but I don't like the idea of having my keys on something that's dangling from my pocket. Just seems like an unnecessary risk as far as pickpockets go, or even just getting it snagged on something.

Plus, I'm not 19 yrs old anymore, so I look like an idiot with lanyards dangling from my pockets.

I've thought about maybe just cutting it down to key fob size, or using it for multiple lanyards for knives of flashlights or such. I suppose I could just offer to give it to someone, though...

Snake knot lanyard
Snake Knot lanyard

Turk's head
Turk's Head added after the fact

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Turk's Head Bracelet & Boat Drinks

Just a quick post to show a little Turk's Head Bracelet I did with some 3/8" dock line. I whipped the ends together to create a sorta "tail" you can see in about the the eleven o'clock position in the photo below.

Very beach-y look. The dock line looks a little too nice for everyday wear, but if you wanted a little arm candy for gathering at a beach bar or tropical-themed party, it would look pretty good.

Dock line, turk's head, whipping, sun, water, rum, & coke. Everything I need...
I think it looks great with that Cuba Libre` in my hand...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cobra Knot Lanyard

So, I have to be the world's worst photographer. But, here it is, in red, black, and gray:

Cobra knot lanyard in red, black, and gray
They don't make 'em much cuter than this one
Took the family to Walt Disney World over the weekend. My wife and kids are into pin trading, so everyone MUST WEAR A LANYARD. Even Dad, who could care less about pin trading, because I have to carry my entrance pass somewhere, right? Because a pocket would never do...


Anyway, I did not have a lanyard with me, but I had my backpack full of paracord supplies, so a quick couple hours in the hotel room the night before and I was good to go. It helped that I used a bit of Captain Morgan's finest anti-inflammatory tonic for my knuckles. Felt like I could just go and go and go...

I used the red and black for a cobra knot because I can eat up a lot of real estate real quick while still looking cool. The gray was the core, except at the bottom where I used it to create a little visual offset where the two strands come together. A stainless steel shackle finished it off in fine fashion.

The colors match the logo colors for the company where I do my day job, so this is now my everyday lanyard. I need to do a post of my old lanyard, my first real usable project, in the near future. Would appreciate any suggestions for re-purposing old lanyards.

I would also appreciate any suggestions for making lanyards with knots that are as flat as possible to permit pins to be attached. Cobra Knots (Solomon Bar) are too thick for pins that use the little metal or rubber backs. Flair buttons work fine with just about anything, but the pin on trading pins is usually too small to go through a knot with multiple layers.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Homemade Monkey Fist Jig

When I first started making Monkey Fists, I had a devil of a time handling the cord and the core. I knew I needed a jig, but I'm useless when it comes to woodworking or machining. I also knew I didn't want to pay a lot of money for one. Finally, I'm a bit of a proponent of the KISS philosophy: Keep It Simple, Stupid. So I found a couple of bamboo skewers in a junk drawer, broke off a couple pieces of styrofoam from some packing inserts I found in the garage and wrapped them in masking tape, and voila: an adjustable, portable, monkey fist jig was born!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Badass Monkey Fist

These things are really popular at work, now. My boss got this one. It's tri-colored, with three separate sections of fusion knots for the strap: The initial section coming out of the monkey fist is just a stack of wall knots made with three strands, each a different color. Next is a section made up of snake knots, in black and gray. Finally, a section of fishtail knots, also in black and gray. The transition knots are Turk's Heads, doubled.

This one is my favorite so far. Almost hated to give it away, but my boss was pretty pleased so maybe I'll get to keep my job for another day. ;-)

Tri-color Monkey Fist with badass fusion knots for the strap - BADASS!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

First Knot Board: Complete

Completed my first knot board, but it isn't this knot board. Just ran out of time. I needed to finish this one for my father's 70th birthday, which we celebrated Easter weekend.

Starting from the middle and moving out:
  • A photo of the 19-yr old Seaman Apprentice
  • Framed by 4-Strand Flat Braids, with Carrick Bends dressed into buttons.
  • Two coxcombed dowels capped by Turk's Heads
  • A string of 4 lanyard knots
  • A string of 4 binding knots
  • A flat Turk's Head
  • Four stopper knots
  • Four hitches
  • A prolong knot at twelve o'clock, with the excess wrapped in a coil.
  • Framed by 1/4" dock-line, done in 2 passes to create a beveled look.

19-yr old Seaman Apprentice graces the knot board
The biggest challenge turned out to be all the whipping that needed to be done. Very time-consuming for me. But, I had a lot of fun with this and I have a bunch of ideas to incorporate into my "other" first knot board.

But not right now. I need a break!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cotton rope bracelet

Cotton rope knotted with fishtail knots

I was very surprised with the way this turned out. It's just cotton clothesline, about the cheapest you can get at any store. It came out looking kinda "Beach-y". Living near the beach in Florida, we see a lot of kids who tend to favor natural fiber clothes for a beach bum sort of look. This goes along nicely with that look. I'd like to try it with a variety of knots and see if any others come out looking as good.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bracelet day

So, my wife is starting to tabulate how much this hobby is costing the family. I justify it by reminding her I don't play golf, poker, or go out drinking with my buddies anymore. The problem is that it's currently costing me about as much as any of those other things.


But, there is hope: A garage sale is scheduled in our community in a couple weeks, and promises a good deal of foot traffic. So, I figured it would be a good time to test market some items and see if there's any interest in things like bracelets, key fobs, lanyards, maybe a dog leash and collar... So, I spent a couple hours on Sunday knocking these out:

Variety of bracelets, plus one key fob made with leftover cord.

Double-pass turk's head bracelet made with 1/4" poly cord - black , with red/white trim.
Pair of double-pass turk's head bracelet made with 1/4" poly cord - blue, with black/white trim.

Double-pass turk's head bracelet made with 1/4" poly cord - Red, with black/white trim

Pile o' bracelets

"Survival" bracelet - Cobra knot around a double core with a side-release buckle using paracord - Yellow, with green/black trim

Fishtail bracelet made with 1/4" poly cord. I am not a fan, 1/4" was too bulky for this knot when formed into a bracelet.

Monkey Fist keyfob made with leftover yellow/green/black paracord. Core is a small wooden ball purchased at a craft store. Lead is a 4-strand round braid.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Took a stab at a simple coxcombing project over the weekend. Just a 12" dowel and some mason line. I wouldn't recommend mason line for something important. but this was practice. The key is tension - keep the tension on all the time.

I really like it, and liked doing it. Next time, I'll use a little better rope. Since this was just a little half-inch dowel, using anything thicker than the mason line would have come out looking disproportionate.

But I still liked the way it turned out. I capped the ends of the dowel with a couple of turk's head knots.

Simple Coxcombing - just a series of half-hitches, switching directions with each pass.

Another view: Simple Coxcombing