Picture of Broken Plastic Buckle on a Nylon Strap
I use a backpack when I commute to meetings on my bicycle. A few days ago I stooped down to pick up something and the extra stress on the backpack straps caused the plastic ladder lock buckle to snap. The rest of the backpack is in good condition. Backpacks are only one item that uses nylon straps with adjustable buckles.

This Instructable will provide two solutions to a broken ladder lock buckle. One is for those who can weld and one for those who cannot. The welded version will show how to make your own ladder lock buckles. The non-welded version will show you how to use "D" rings, either those you purchase or those you fashion yourself.

If you make the "D" ring version, you will need "D" rings you purchase and a hacksaw or a Dremel tool with a cutting wheel. 

If you make the ladder lock buckle version, you will need a hacksaw, a grinder, a vise, a hammer, and a wire feed welder.

Step 1: Stitching

Picture of Stitching
I wanted to fix my backpack without cutting the stitching on any of the nylon straps. My wife says it is not difficult to make new stitches. But, I am trying to avoid that and leave the original stitching undisturbed. That means I will make a ladder lock buckle that begins by feeding part of it through the nylon strap loop sewn to the backpack. Shown is the beginning of the welded version. The next steps will describe using "D" rings for the non-welded version. Then I will explain how to make the welded ladder lock buckle. The ladder lock buckle will be easy to release with one finger. The "D" ring, non-welded version will be easier for most people to manufacture at home, even if a little more difficult to release.
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I like your workaround for not cutting and resewing by simply welding the buckle in place. It seems impractical, but then there must be some people who are willing to weld and not sew so this is a useful guide, and a good intro to ladder lock design as well.
Phil B (author)  JoshuaTerrell3 years ago
People with welders look for every excuse to use them. What can I say?
finton Phil B2 years ago
And sometimes they're just the thing you need! I was mowing the lawn yesterday and the blade mount broke - it was only held together with four tack welds. A new unit costs NZ$25 + labour. Blow that! Out with the old Young's arc welder...
Mower won't start 'cos I filled the cylinder with engine oil while tipping it sideways, but that's another story.
The pics show the repaired mount in place on the blade and the whole thing fitted back on the mower. If it ever stops raining again, I'll let you know how it goes.
Mower blade mount weld 130507 (3).JPGMower blade mount weld 130507 (4).JPG
Phil B (author)  finton2 years ago
Congratulations on your repair. We do not currently have a lawnmower, but I think all of us have learned the hard way about oil running into the engine cylinder when tipped the wrong way. If you weld should break, you can analyse the situation and do it again so it is stronger than the first time. Thank you for looking and for commenting.
I too am guilty of this.
I sew, but you really can't beat that factory stitching with a home machine and I've broken many needles trying to get through tough material.
Phil B (author)  nartyteek3 years ago
I agree. My wife volunteered to sew the nylon strap for me. But, I would want a nylon strap sewn on one of those industrial strength machines like they use in places that do shoe repair and more. I grew up in a farming area and the man who did shoe repair sometimes sewed bridles and harnesses for horses. Those machines are beyond the machine my wife has and uses.
Avatar_I_Am3 years ago
I kave a BIG box of backpaks, straps, loops, buckles, clips, etc., because I fully intend[ed] on repairing or mutating them into something useable.

Worst case: While in Georgia [U.S.A.] I had an occurance of one or both of my own Dogs being upset with me and chewing through 3 of the 4 seat belts. Coat hanger, rivits, hammer, pliers, screwdriver, and a propane torch got us back on the road safely, in just a few hours.

Nice job with the welding!
Phil B (author)  Avatar_I_Am3 years ago
Thank you for your comment. My welds are not always pretty, but so far, they have held.
brocks4113 years ago
A great solution to a very annoying problem! I had the exact same thing happen to me, but I used a carabiner as an impromptu fix.
Phil B (author)  brocks4113 years ago
The carabiner would give you a metal loop. Did you tie the strap to the carabiner with a knot?
I don't think I would use a carabiner. I think a shackle would be a better piece of hardware for this. Something like one of these:

Thanks for that, nice idea. The problem was the lack of equipment I had with me (I was abroad) which meant I had to improvise.
Phil B (author)  brocks4113 years ago
We had a hair dryer quit on us when we were staying overnight in Amsterdam. I did what I could with a screwdriver on a utility knife, but the circuit breaker plug was a goner. We were flying back home to the USA the next day, so we toughed it out for the next couple of days.
I suppose a towel would've helped too :)

Bodging things is definitely an important life skill!
Well due to the way the buckle broke (the middle rung snapped out) I was able to loop the strap around it and back through the buckle- the carabiner being too big to be pulled through with it. It worked given the fact I was abroad in Moldova and needed an instant fix, although a longer term solution like yours would be better!
Nice work on making the buckle.

For those of you who do not have a welder, metal buckles are available from various suppliers. Here is one here:

metric.nz3 years ago
Well that's as irritating as all get out.
I threw out a backpack I'd had for years after I trod on the buckle while overseas and broke it. If I'd thought of the 2 D-ring approach I could have been up and running again quickly.
It wasn't an expensive backpack and I have others so it wasn't a great loss. Still irritating though.

Thank-you for a great idea.
In my experience, it has not been the hardware that broke on my backpacks, but rather the stitching or fabric ripping loose -- usually up near the top when you carry it with just one strap over your shoulder. Sometimes, it's the zipper that breaks. Unfortunately, no companies make heavy duty metal zippered backpacks. I would like to see the same type of heavy duty brass zippers that used to be used in Levi jeans or maybe the even heavier ones that are used in the classic type motorcycle jackets.
Phil B (author)  metric.nz3 years ago
Perhaps you have heard the adage that we get old too soon and smart too late. I think we have all discarded something we later learned could have been brought back for another useful life.
JakeBlanton3 years ago
My high school daughter went through 3 backpacks within the first month of classes 2 years ago. I searched around and finally found a backpack that could survive all the stuff that she puts in there. Check out the ones from Maxpedtion. They are sewn very well and made of very thick nylon. They're a bit more expensive than your typical school backpack, but they last a long time.
Wow I never thought I'd say this but you are as nuts as I am. LOL. I have an industrial heavy duty singer for coats and bag etc. I also save all kinds of metal rings and D rings and buckles etc and have bought lots of them over the years for things I used to make and sell.
I am also someone who soldered my daughters cracked metal tip on her cowboy boots back together. And I LOVE those popular mechanics issues! esp vintage/antique articles. I've met my match in you! This is exactly like something I WOULD DO!! LOL! Good stuff Phil. I feel less alone! :D
Phil B (author)  glitteringsky3 years ago
Thanks. Take a look at some of the other stuff I have posted on this site. You will feel even more like we may have been separated at birth. Over the years when my friends saw something I did, they just smiled, shook their heads, and walked away.
Yeah most of my friends in my life have said "Wow Karen, your something else!" I always take it as a compliment. Thanks for posting your fine work Phil. I'm inspired!
Phil B (author)  glitteringsky3 years ago
Thanks, Karen. Instructables like mine are what you get 50 years later from guys who did not care much for sports and were not interested in girls until well after high school.
a2e3 years ago
One step closer to unbreakable backpack.
It is a shame the amount of money we spend on cool backpacks that break at the least opportune moment.
Phil B (author)  a2e3 years ago
I get a certain pleasure from having something that is supposed to be cool, but includes a home fix that looks a little crude and yet is stronger and better than the original. My backpack shown in this Instructable was even a super cheap one, not one of the really cool ones with a good brand label and extra features. Its big appeal for me is that it includes a reflector on the back for extra safety when riding a bicycle after dark.
hjjusa3 years ago
Couldn't you just weld the buckle while off the backpack, cut an eith inch slot in it and slip it on the strap as per the D rings?
Phil B (author)  hjjusa3 years ago
Good idea. I did not think of that until a couple of days ago. The heavier the rod used to make the buckles, the less likely it would ever bend at the opening.
pfred23 years ago
That metal buckle looks hardcore. I hope no one picks you up for carrying a lethal weapon! Faced with a similar problem I'd have likely looked for a replacement buckle and sewed. I'll admit it I have one of these:


A manly sewing awl.
Phil B (author)  pfred23 years ago
I have seen those awls advertised in various magazines since forever. I always wondered how well they work.
Beemer10 Phil B3 years ago
If you follow the instructions, they work great! I've done quite a few harness and horse cover repairs with mine. Need to be careful not to put too much sidewards pressure on the needles: they are brittle and will snap. It is certainly slower than an industrial sewing machine, but ideal for work in a paddock when youdon't want to cart a cover back to the barn.
pfred2 Beemer103 years ago
Yeah I have to get into a rhythm with it and if the material is really tough I'll pre-drill the holes.
pfred2 Phil B3 years ago
I think the big trick is getting the tension just right with them too much it is hard to move the thing too little and threads come out sloppy. Like anything it takes some getting used to. Once you get going though it is pretty cut and dried. Sort of neat how it is made with the slot in the needle for the thread. It works a lot like a sewing machine except it is manual and there is no machine.
Phil B (author)  pfred23 years ago
I've had one for years and used it extensively at one point.
They're slow and it takes practise to make a neat job, as with any manual skill., but they definitely work.
Phil B (author)  metric.nz3 years ago
Thanks for the evaluation. I wondered about how difficult it is to get a neat job. Wood and metal stay where I put them, but anything that requires stitching seems to run away from my fingers.
I once broke what appears to be the same buckle on my pack. I am sure the manufacturer makes them that way, and sells new packs by doing so. I found a replacement buckle on a yard sale pack that was full of holes and otherwise not worth saving - cost $.50. I took it to a shoe repair store and he stitched it on for $2.00. His machine stitching looked better than the factory, and he used heavier thread.

I like the D-ring solution, too. Works great on helmets, you get used to them.

If I had a welder, I would always be on the lookout for reasons to use it! This is yet another clever solution (2, really) from Phil B.
Phil B (author)  emerson.john3 years ago
I hoped someone might be able to use this Instructable, but had no idea I would get responses from so many about broken plastic buckles on backpacks, etc. Helmets for bicycles and other things would be another very good application.

I went for many decades without a welder and am very grateful to have one now. If you have not seen it, check my Instructable on Learning to Weld, especially Step 19 on some ways to make your own stick welder with "junk" parts. By applying the method in this Instructable, it would be possible to use a stick welder and some 1/16 inch electrodes to make the ladder lock buckle shown here. 

It is sad to watch, but in recent months monetary inflation has done terrible things to the price of welders.

soul_eater4 years ago
Nice job, I usually put 2 D rings like some belts but some time they dont hold very tight the strap
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