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Paracord Lanyards: A Comprehensive DIY Crafting Guide

Written by:
Aleks Nemtcev
Updated:
March 14, 2024
beaded knife lanyards

Welcome to the dynamic world of paracord lanyards, a key accessory in the knife enthusiast’s arsenal. These lanyards, originally derived from military-grade parachute cords, offer a unique combination of strength, flexibility, and functionality. They are not just decorative elements but serve practical purposes, enhancing grip security and providing additional length for easy retrieval of knives. 

Paracord’s versatility allows for various weaving patterns, creating a personalized touch and a potential survival tool. In this post, we’ll explore how paracord lanyards have symbolizelience and utility in the knife community, transcending their origins to become an essential component of everyday carry.

History and Origin of Paracord

The history of paracord is rooted deeply in military use, particularly tracing back to World War II. Originally used as suspension lines in parachutes, paracord was prized for its remarkable strength and lightweight nature, qualities that were essential in the rigors of warfare. This durable cord, typically made from nylon, could support substantial weight and withstand harsh conditions, making it an indispensable tool for soldiers. 

After the war, surplus paracord found its way into the hands of civilians, who quickly recognized its potential beyond military applications. It wasn’t long before this robust material was repurposed into various forms, including knife lanyards. The transition of paracord from a military-specific item to a civilian commodity marked a significant evolution. 

Knife enthusiasts and outdoorsmen began incorporating paracord into their gear, valuing its durability and versatility. The adaptation of paracord into knife lanyards reflects a blend of practicality and tradition, transforming a piece of military history into a modern-day essential in the knife community. This evolution symbolizes how tools of survival can seamlessly integrate into everyday life, providing utility and a connection to a rich historical past.

paracord lanyard

Importance of Paracord in Knife Handling

Attaching a paracord lanyard to a knife elevates its functionality and safety in several ways. Firstly, a paracord lanyard provides an enhanced grip, especially in extreme conditions where hands might be wet or gloved, reducing the risk of accidental slips or drops. This feature is particularly beneficial in outdoor environments where maintaining a secure grip on your knife is crucial. Additionally, the lanyard serves as an extension of the knife handle, making it easier to retrieve from a pocket, sheath, or backpack, thus ensuring quick and efficient access in urgent situations. 

paracord knife lanyard

In survival scenarios, a paracord lanyard can be a lifesaver. For instance, if a hiker gets lost or injured, the paracord can be unraveled to create a makeshift tourniquet, build shelter, or even assist in making traps for food. Furthermore, in rescue operations, the visibility of a brightly colored paracord lanyard can help in quickly locating the knife amidst wilderness or debris. The incorporation of a paracord lanyard into knife handling is more than an aesthetic choice; it’s a practical enhancement that adds an extra layer of safety and utility to the knife.

Types of Paracord for Lanyards

Paracord, short for parachute cord, comes in various types, each with unique properties and strengths, making the selection process crucial for lanyard making. The most commonly used type in knife lanyards is the Type III 550 cord, renowned for its optimal balance of strength and flexibility. The “550” denotes its minimum breaking strength of 550 pounds, making it exceptionally durable for its lightweight and thin profile. This cord features a kernmantle construction, with a high number of interwoven strands in its core, providing both elasticity and resistance to wear and tear.

For those seeking a thinner option, the Type II paracord offers a breaking strength of around 400 pounds. It’s less bulky than the 550 cord, suitable for smaller knives or users preferring a more subtle lanyard. Conversely, for heavy-duty applications, Type IV paracord, with a breaking strength of 750 pounds, offers the highest durability, ideal for larger knives or situations demanding extreme resilience.

When selecting a paracord for a lanyard, consider the knife’s size and the intended use. For everyday carry knives, the Type III 550 cord is often the best choice, providing a good mix of strength and flexibility without adding excessive bulk. For more compact or decorative lanyards, Type II may be more appropriate, whereas Type IV is preferable for larger survival or tactical knives that might be subjected to more rigorous use.

paracord types and sizes

Apart from strength, the texture and color options of paracord are also important. Some paracords offer a smoother finish, while others are more rugged. The vast array of colors and patterns available allows for personalization and matching with the knife or gear.

In summary, the right type of paracord for a lanyard depends on the balance between the knife’s size, the lanyard’s intended use, and personal preference in terms of strength, flexibility, and aesthetics. Understanding these factors ensures that the chosen paracord not only enhances the knife’s functionality but also aligns with the user’s style and needs.

Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Paracord Lanyard

Creating a basic paracord lanyard is a simple yet rewarding process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to crafting one, along with tips to ensure it’s both robust and functional:

Materials Needed: You’ll need about 4-6 feet of paracord, a lighter, and scissors. Optionally, you can include a lanyard bead or small charm for personalization.

Measuring and Cutting the Cord: Measure and cut the paracord to the desired length. For a standard lanyard, 4 feet is usually sufficient. Remember, it’s better to have a bit extra than not enough.

Melting the Ends: Use the lighter to slightly melt the ends of the cord. This prevents fraying and makes threading easier.

Creating the Loop: Fold the paracord in half to find the midpoint. This midpoint will form the loop of your lanyard. The loop size can vary, but a 2-3 inch loop works well for most purposes.

Starting the Weave: The simplest weave for beginners is the cobra weave. To start, cross the right strand over the loop, then place the left strand over this right strand, under the loop, and up through the hole formed by the right strand. Pull tight.

Continuing the Weave: Now repeat the process, alternating the starting side each time. The strand that was on the left now goes over the loop, and the right strand goes over it, under the loop, and up through the hole. Keep the tension consistent.

Finishing the Lanyard: Once you reach the desired length, cut the remaining paracord and melt the ends with the lighter. Press the melted ends against the lanyard with a metal object (like the side of the lighter) to secure them.

Adding a Bead or Charm: If you wish to add a  bead  or charm, thread it onto one of the strands before finishing the lanyard. Secure it in place as you melt the ends.

paracord beads

Tips for Beginners:

Practice the cobra weave with a spare cord before starting on the actual lanyard.

Keep the tension consistent throughout the weave to ensure a neat and uniform look.

For a more secure lanyard, consider using a two-color weave, which can also enhance the lanyard’s visual appeal.

If you find the paracord too rigid for weaving, it is generally advisable to choose a different type of cord that naturally has the desired level of flexibility.

As you become more comfortable with the basic weave, experiment with different patterns and knots for more intricate designs.

By following these steps and tips, you can create a basic yet functional paracord lanyard that not only adds a personal touch to your knife but also serves as a reliable tool in various situations.

Advanced Paracord Lanyard Techniques

For those looking to elevate their paracord lanyard skills, delving into more complex weaving patterns is an exciting step. These advanced techniques not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of your lanyards but also offer increased strength and functionality. Let’s explore some intricate patterns like the Cobra, King Cobra, and Snake Knot, and how they can be adapted for knife lanyards.

Cobra Weave

The Cobra weave, also known as the Solomon Bar or Portuguese Sinnet, is a foundational pattern in paracord crafting. It’s characterized by its flat, wide, and sturdy design, making it ideal for a robust knife lanyard. Start by mastering the basic Cobra weave, ensuring even tension and consistent knotting for a professional finish.

cobra weave lanyard

King Cobra Weave

The King Cobra is essentially a double layer of the Cobra weave. After completing a standard Cobra weave, you go back over it with another layer of weaving. This results in a thicker and more textured lanyard, offering enhanced grip and durability. The King Cobra weave is particularly suited for larger knives or those requiring a more substantial lanyard.

King Cobra Weave lanyard

Snake Knot

The Snake Knot is a more intricate pattern, forming a round and tightly knotted lanyard. It’s excellent for creating a sleek, continuous loop of paracord. The Snake Knot is less bulky compared to the Cobra weaves, making it a good choice for smaller knives or those preferring a more subtle lanyard.

Snake Knot paracord

Adapting These Patterns for Knife Lanyards

Customization: While adapting these patterns, consider the length and thickness of the lanyard about the knife’s size and handle. Customization allows for a perfect balance between the lanyard’s functionality and the knife’s ergonomics.

Adding Functional Elements: You can incorporate paracord beads,  charms, or even small tools into these weaves for added utility and personalization.

Color Schemes: Experiment with different color combinations in your weaves to match or contrast with your knife, adding a personal touch to your gear.

Securing the Ends: Ensure that the ends of these complex weaves are properly secured. This often involves tightly knotting the final loops and singeing the ends to prevent unraveling.

knife with lanyard

By advancing to these more complex weaving patterns, you not only challenge your crafting skills but also create lanyards that are both visually striking and highly functional. These intricate designs can turn a simple paracord lanyard into a standout piece of craftsmanship, further enhancing the bond between the lanyard and the knife it adorns.

Maintenance and Care for Paracord Lanyards

Proper maintenance and care are crucial to preserving the durability and appearance of paracord lanyards. By following these best practices, you can ensure your lanyard remains functional and visually appealing for years.

Regular Cleaning: Paracord can accumulate dirt and grime from regular use. To clean, soak the lanyard in warm, soapy water for a few minutes. Gently scrub it with a soft brush or cloth to remove any dirt. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that can damage the nylon fibers.

Rinsing and Drying: After washing, thoroughly rinse the lanyard under clean water to remove any soap residue. To dry, gently squeeze out excess water and hang it in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. Avoid using high heat sources like hair dryers, as excessive heat can weaken the nylon fibers.

Regular Inspection: Periodically inspect your lanyard for signs of wear, such as fraying or loose knots. If you notice any damage, consider re-weaving or replacing the lanyard to ensure continued safety and functionality.

Avoiding Prolonged Sun Exposure: Extended exposure to sunlight can fade the colors of your paracord lanyard and degrade the nylon over time. When not in use, store your lanyard in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Storing Properly: Keep the lanyard in a dry area to prevent mildew and mold growth. If storing for an extended period, loosely coil the lanyard to avoid kinks or creases in the cord.

Handling with Care: While paracord is known for its strength and durability, avoid exposing it to sharp edges or surfaces that can cause cuts or abrasions. Also, refrain from subjecting the lanyard to unnecessary strain or heavy weights that it’s not designed to bear.

Refreshing the Appearance: If the lanyard starts to look worn or the colors dull, a quick wash as described can often rejuvenate its appearance. For lanyards with decorative beads or metal parts, use a mild jewelry cleaner to restore their shine, ensuring it’s safe for use on nylon.

By adhering to these maintenance and care tips, you can significantly prolong the life of your paracord lanyard while maintaining its aesthetic and functional qualities. Regular upkeep not only keeps the lanyard looking great but also ensures it remains a reliable accessory for your knife.

Conclusion

Throughout this exploration of paracord lanyards, we’ve seen how these versatile accessories enhance the functionality, safety, and aesthetics of knives. From their robust origins in the military to their diverse applications in the civilian world, paracord lanyards offer a unique blend of strength, practicality, and personal expression. Whether you’re using a simple cobra weave for your everyday carry knife or an intricate snake knot for a specialized tool, the right paracord lanyard can significantly elevate your knife experience.

We encourage you to experiment with different weaves, colors, and styles to create a paracord lanyard that not only meets your functional needs but also resonates with your style. The process of crafting your lanyard is not only rewarding but also allows you to imbue a piece of your personality into your knife.

Author: Aleks Nemtcev | Connect with me on LinkedIn

Sources:

For those seeking further information or looking to connect with like-minded individuals, here are some resources and communities dedicated to paracord crafting:

Paracord Planet: A comprehensive resource for Paracord supplies, tutorials, and project ideas.

Paracord Guild: An online community offering detailed guides, patterns, and inspiration for paracord projects.

Reddit’s r/paracord: A subreddit where paracord enthusiasts share their creations, ask for advice and engage in discussions.

Join these platforms to expand your knowledge, showcase your work, and connect with fellow paracord aficionados. Let’s continue to share, learn, and grow in the fascinating world of paracord lanyards!

 

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