5/31/12

DIY Coiled Retention Lanyards


I was browsing EDC Forums a few days back and read a thread about making your own coiled lanyards.

Figuring I didn't have anything to lose I snagged some trimmer line and went to work.

Below I've recreated the tutorial with my tweaks and observations...

Materials and Tools
  • 550 Paracord;
  • Weed trimmer line (I've used .095" and under);
  • A dowel or other rod that is heat-safe;
  • Zip ties;
  • Heat-shrink tubing (I'm using 1/4 tubing with a 2:1 shrink ratio);
  • A heat source (I'm using a small butane torch);
  • A stove;
  • A large, deep pot;
  • Water.
Step-by-Step (Relatively)

First, cut a piece of paracord that's suitable.  Keeping in mind that the stretched length of the final product is going to be slightly shorter the length of the cord that you're using.  Make sure that you leave at least 6 extra inches of cord than you think you need (for the terminus loops).

While you're at it, cut a piece of trimmer line that's a bit longer than the paracord.


"Gut" the paracord, meaning removing the seven inner strands, and feed in the trimmer line.  I've found that melting the end of the trimmer line for a second or two will blunt the corners enough to mitigate snagging on the paracord.


Next, secure one end of the line to some sort of cylinder using a zip tie or two - wooden dowels work well but here I've used a screwdriver.  Whatever you're using should be strongly heat-resistant.  Be sure to pick a cylinder that's ever so slightly smaller than the desired diameter of the coil.  There is some "expansion" of the wind between the dowel and the final product.

Make sure to leave space for a loop at the end of the soon-to-be coiled portion.

As coiled around a screw driver
Now comes the tricky part: coiling the line around the cylinder.

Begin to tightly coil the line around while maintaining as much tension as possible.  It's imperative that the coil be tight and consistently wound.  The most difficult part, I've found, is maintaining the tight coil on the line while winding the coil onto the dowel.

When the desired length is achieved, secure the end with another zip tie or two.

As coiled around a wooden dowel

Once the coil is wound, bring a pot of water (deep enough to accommodate the whole coil) to a rapid boil.  At the same time, prepare a pot or pitcher of cold water (ice could be helpful, too).  Then, submerge the coil in the boiling water for approximately 10 minutes.  After the time has elapsed remove the coil from the boiling water and plunge it into the cold water.  Leave it there for a couple minutes until it's completely cool.


After it has cooled down pull it out and clip the zip-ties to release the coil from the dowel.


Next we need to form the loops on the ends of the coil.  This is accomplished by folding the line over itself and sliding on a piece of heat-shrink tubing.


Clip the end of the line so it's slightly shorter than than the tubing.  The preshrunk tubing should look something like this:


Heat the tubing to shrink it around the line.  I've been using a small butane torch but a lighter and some patience should also work.  Be sure not to melt the paracord while shrinking the tubing.


The tubing should seal well around the single line and tighten considerably around the folded line.


When the coil is complete and the ends are looped the coil must be twisted upon itself to create a tighter, more resilient coil.  It's easier done than described, I think.

Finally, some sort of fastening hardware should be affixed to the loops.  I've used both split rings and some parts salvaged from fishing tackle.  Gate clips or the like would also be quite useful.


TL;DR?
  1. Cut both a piece of paracord and a piece of weed trimmer line to a desired length;
  2. Gut the paracord;
  3. Feed the trimmer line into the paracord;
  4. Secure one end of the line to a dowel;
  5. Wrap the line around the dowel;
  6. Secure the other end to the dowel;
  7. Submerge the whole coil into boiling water for approximately 10 minutes;
  8. Remove the coil and plunge it into cold water;
  9. Remove the coil from the dowel;
  10. Add loops to the ends by folding them over on themselves and securing with heat-shrink tubing;
  11. Twist the coil over upon itself; and
  12. Add attachment hardware.

Conclusions

I would have to say that my foray into coiled lanyards has been a success.

The few that I've made are pretty resilient and were incredibly cheap to produce.  Ultimately, the biggest investment is (generally) time.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have no idea how these compare to commercially produced lanyards.  I believe I can safely assume that they don't compare to pistol leashes or other such "tactical" products.  However, I do believe, from my limited in-store experience, that they're better than traditional "coiled keychains" and the like.

I've used one (the international orange one I made) to secure a two-cell flashlight to my Lightspeed (it's attached about 4 inches below the top of the bag).  When the flashlight is dropped it doesn't hang much further than an inch or two below my waist.  I imagine with the same size coil and a slightly thicker trimmer line it would be much stiffer.  I'm going to give it a try when I get the chance.

In the grand scheme of things these lanyards are a great way to spend an hour or two.

3 comments:

  1. Nice job... I can't wait to try it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Just what I was looking for, thanks for taking the time to write this up.

    ReplyDelete