After receiving some input from readers that answered my “what do you want me to cover” emails, I’ve decided to show you how to make the paracord survival necklace that I use. I am not a gear junkie by any means, but I feel the need to have certain items with me whenever I’m out and about in the wilderness. Supplemented with an edged tool, it’s a nice piece of kit that is also easy to carry. I was happy to receive one of these made for me by a friend, and started to make some improvements.
The one I’ll make today for this demonstration will be the same, but made with purple paracord and a pink Swedish Firesteel. (We’re nearing Valentines day, and though paracord isn’t my wife’s preference for a necklace to be made out of, why not?) These necklaces are one continuous piece of paracord that is secured by a split ring. Most of the necklaces I’ve made contain about 30 feet of cord, which I think is quite amazing. You are welcome to switch components, colors, etc. Some of my readers wanted to know how I made my style specifically, so feel free to improve or improvise. Clicking any blue colored words in this post will take you to a recommended place for purchasing these items. Clicking any pictures will enlarge them for a better view. Enjoy.
- work surface (wife’s sewing table, etc.)
- flat head screwdriver or tool for prying open the cord lock
- lighter or matches for melting frayed ends of cut paracord
- tape measure
- possibly a pliers or something to squeeze the cord lock together
- some kind of tape (duct tape, masking tape, etc.)
- at least 35 feet of paracord 550 Type III (available in many colors and patterns) approx .07 cents per foot. I would buy quite a bit more.
- Swedish Firesteel Scout model (available in a few colors) approx. $9.00-$11.00
- 1 plastic cord end (zipper pull end). You’ll use one from the lanyard that comes with your Swedish Firesteel, and you’ll need one extra. They are available at CountyComm.com or elsewhere on the web.
- 2 cotton balls with Vaseline/petroleum jelly smeared on them ~ a few cents
- waterproof delrin storage capsule (available at CountyComm.com) $8.95
- Adventure Medical Kits Fox 40 Rescue Howler Whistle. You’ll only need 1 per necklace, but you should get a 2 pack for approx. $8.00
- 32 mm steel split ring available in the craft section at Wal-Mart or Jo-Ann Fabrics for a few cents. Probably available in the tackle section of Cabelas, Sportsman’s Warehouse, etc.
Cut your 35 foot length of paracord and burn both frayed ends, so the white threads don’t pull through when you work with the cord. Be careful, the melting cord is HOT and may drip. Be reasonable with it; just enough to sear the white ends so they don’t pull through.
Divide your cord in half (don’t cut it) so you end up with sides of equal lengths (17.5 feet each) and the halfway point pictured below.
This next few steps will determine the length of your necklace and prepare you to start tying. The necklaces I have for myself and the ones I have made for male friends are 33 inches long, from end of loop to end of loop. This purple one will actually be about 31 inches long because it will be for my wife. Adjust your measurements for the length you want. The length is really not adjustable past this next point. All pictures will be for a 33 inch necklace, so I don’t confuse you (or myself).
Wrap a piece of tape about 1 inch from the end of the half way point of your cord as pictured below. This piece of tape will mark the point at which you will end your knot tying adventure, and will leave you with an attachment loop that is 1 inch long.
With the loop end closest to you, measure 33 inches towards the loose cord ends that are hanging off your table to the left and right.. Grab a piece of tape that is about 3/4 of an inch “high”, and tape the cord down, side by side, so the top of the piece of tape is at 33 inches. The “height” of that piece of tape is what will give you some slack so you can form another loop when you’re finished. See pictures below.
You are now almost ready to tie your first knot. Before you do, I suggest bundling up each end of your cord and taping it loosely, so you’re not having to pull so much cord through your knot each time. I bundle mine so I have just a couple feet of working cord between each bundle and the knot.
1ST 1/2 of the Cobra Stitch
You’ll eventually just pass the cord under and over in one step because you’ll be used to it, and because this is an easy knot, but here it is in two different operations:
Take the “left side” cord, and pass it under the two cords in the middle, leaving enough that a loop is formed on the left side.
Continue with the “left side” cord and pass it over the “right side” cord.
Take the original “right side” cord (the bundle that is actually on the left in the picture above), and pass it over the other cord, on its way over the two middle cords, and down through the loop on the left hand side, as pictured below.
Take both ends, and start to tighten your half knot up to the tape, as in the first picture below, until it looks like the second picture below. Tighten lightly. Don’t tighten too much as to loosen the tape.
2ND 1/2 of the Cobra Stitch
You are 1/2 the way through your first knot. Don’t worry, it goes quickly and easily once you get going. You are now going to do the same thing as you did in the first few steps, but on the opposite side.
Take the original “left side” bundle (be careful, it is actually the one that is on the right side now, as shown in the first picture below), and pass it under the two middle cords and over the other cord, forming a loop on the right side this time. Picture #2, below, shows it going under the middle cords. Picture #3 shows it going over the other cord. Picture #4 shows what you end up with.
Take the bundle that is now on the right, and pass it over the other cord on its way over the middle cords, and down through the loop on the right side.
Tighten this as you did with the first “half knot”, but a little tighter to complete the knot.
Congratulations! That is all there is to it until you reach the tape that is one inch from the end of the end loop. I’ll show you how to finish it all below. Continue this process by repeating the first step of your knot, tying on the left side as when you first started, and alternating sides. Just go back up to the heading “1st 1/2 of the Cobra Stitch” and follow through. You’ll get the hang of it. Here’s what it starts to look like:
If you notice that it is starting to twist to one side or the other, you have probably made a loop twice on the same side. Just undo to that point and start from there. You may tie the knots as tight as you like, but it will effect how comfortable and flexible your necklace is. I like to tie mine just to the point that I start to feel it resist up to the next knot, and then a little tighter. Obviously, the tighter you tie, the more paracord will be in your necklace. The next step is to untangle your boxer dog from the paracord.
When you come to the tape at the end, make sure you finish a whole knot, not just 1/2 of the knot. Tie that knot tight. Cut off the extra paracord, leaving a little over an inch on each (enough to insert into the plastic cord end) or whatever you desire. Singe the ends, and use a cord end to mesh them together. You may want to use a pliers to make sure it’s clamped down tight and even.
The next step is optional, but I prefer to use paracord instead of the cord that comes with the Swedish Firesteel. Grab your Swedish Firesteel, and pry open the plastic cord end. Measure the cord that comes with it, and cut an equal length of your leftover paracord. String the firesteel and striker on to that paracord, singe those ends, and close it with the remaining cord lock/cord end.
The next item on my necklace is a waterproof delrin container that has two cotton balls mixed with Vaseline (petroleum jelly). I think this is a great way to guarantee that I’ll always have tinder with me for starting a fire. Just rub Vaseline into the cotton ball, and when it comes time to start a fire, fluff it up for more surface area to catch the sparks. I have included a video below to show how effective it is. It’s pretty amazing tinder.
It burned with a nice large flame for a few minutes after shutting off the video. It’s my favorite way to start a fire, and is quite reliable. As it shows in the picture, I like to leave quite a bit of cotton ball sticking out so there is enough to grab when your fine motor skills are deteriorating due to stress and/or cold.
One of the final steps is to reduce the two loops on the end of the necklace that you started tying from. Let’s make this into one loop by pulling on one of the “cross loops” as shown below.
Congratulations! If you have any questions, please contact me. As always, I welcome your comments below and please share this on Facebook, because it will help others just as it has helped you…..Dan