DIY Paracord Fids (Permalok-like Needles)

Picture of DIY Paracord Fids (Permalok-like Needles)

This tutorial will show how to make your own paracord fid for under a dollar and with minimal effort. I decided to try my hand at making my own paracord fid (Permalok “like” needles). I looked at two different methods, one by ch5 on the Instructables site: and another using copper tubing. I made a couple of needles using the tube method, but decided I would try to find an easier method.

I got side tracked on other projects until ch5 published an instructable this month, so I decided to “re-visit” this project to see what I could re-purpose for this project. I decided to use a 2” screw post with screw. The screw post and screw are made of aluminum and are commonly used to bind papers together in folders/binders. I got mine from my local hardware store (Menards), but they can also be found at office supply stores.

I was able to make this paracord fid in about 15 minutes with little effort and for under 80 cents. In addition, these fids do not require you to cut the end of the paracord at a 45 degree angle before inserting the paracord - just lightly singe the end first.

The second photo above shows how the shape of the screw post is changed to a fid.

Tip: To get a really nice, smooooth surface in step 3, try using a scouring pad after the sand paper/emory cloth (with the drill or drill press). The scouring pad is also handy to remove any leftover aluminum on the files.

Update 8-26-11:
- I got my screw posts from my local hardware store in the nuts & bolts section - hence the higher price ($0.79 each). Hobby centers/stores usually carry the posts in the scrap booking section. Another source of screw posts is photo albums found at garage sales, thrift shops, dollar stores, etc.
- While some neighborhood office supply stores may have screw posts, I've found that larger office supply centers usually don't carry the screw posts.
- Screw posts can some times be made of steel and/or they can be hollow. Be sure to get the solid, aluminum type of screw posts.
- If you prefer a longer fid, you can usually find extension posts in the scrap booking centers.
- Be sure to use only the 3/16" diameter screw posts (not 1/4" etc.)

Update 8-28-11:
I've added a couple of photos
   1) shows the extension posts I use, 1/2" and 1"   
   2) a photo from the tension test I just completed. In the last step I mentioned "moderate" tugging. Under normal use I've only needed the tension to hold for about 1/2 pound. However, I decided to do a tension test to determine how much pull can be applied before the paracord comes out of the fid. For the test I screwed the singed paracord in about  3 turns until it stopped. The photo shows the tension at 12 1/2 pounds and still holding. I kept applying tension until it finally released at 23 pounds - I actually had to use pliers on the fid and secure the scale to a stationary object. The tension test shows that the holding power should be more than adequate.

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Rambo55618 days ago

I really need one, but is it reusable? I don't want to make or buy one of I can't use it again.

MacGyver9 (author)  Rambo55618 days ago

Yes, they are designed to be re-usable. To use simply "screw" the end of paracord, string, etc into the Fid. To remove, you reverse the direction and "un-screw" from the Fid. A unique feature of these Fids are that you can use post-extentions to increase the length of a Fid when needed and remove when you want a shorter Fid.

Thanks. I'll probably make one now.

CurtWG made it!1 month ago

Needed a fid and any excuse to fire up the lathe. Got a
Chicago screw from Lowes and in about 30 minutes had a fid. That included taking pictures for a maybe ible on doing these on the lathe. Then it occurred to me that anyone with a lathe probably has a pretty good idea of how to do one of these. On the other hand seeing it done might encourage someone to get a lathe and start metal working. Still haven't decided.

Crimson133 months ago

Just an fyi those type of binding posts are also called "Chicago screws"

Great instrucible!

WVSundown1 year ago
Dang, I just bought a pair of aluminum knitting needles that I have to tap! I wish I had seen this before . . ok, taking needles back to Wally World and stopping by Lowe's. Thanks again for a great 'ible!
tvetting1 year ago
Made one of these the other day. Super easy to make and works like a charm. Thanks for the instructable....
daffydhill1 year ago
Took me a while to find these screws, tried a few stores before I found the magic phrase "binding post" (which leads to a bunch of search hits as well).

I found the best selection locally at Lowes in the specialty screw drawers, and now have a 2" and a 1.25" and a 1" extender !
HoldOnTight2 years ago
I wish I had seen this a month earlier. I had a bathing suit where the tie string got pulled inside the suit a few inches. I couldn't pull it out. Later, after vacation was over, I tried a hanger with a hook on the end to feed through the waistband of the bathing suit. It was difficult to do, but this would have made the job super easier and I would have been done manufacturing the fid and restringing the waist of the bathing suit in less time than struggling with the hanger.

Great idea!
I've always used a safety pin at the end of the drawstring. It works quite well.
I always used a large paper-clip and fed it through the fabric channel, inching it along through the fabric.
sORTEx2 years ago
Hey guys, new here must say it's nice. I used a rod from a gun cleaning kit I bought. I don't own a 22 cal. and found that the size was spot on for 550. I cut the rod 4 inches from the end of the threads. Ground to the desired point. The lbs to pull loose depends on how far I thread it. Hope this helps some of you.
What a great thought.

I just got done cleaning my gun last night and had several different rods from different cleaning kits and actually thought "now what can I do with the extra rods?".

Those internally threaded bolts are known as "Sex Bolts" by many manufacturers, if you are having trouble locating them. No, seriously. The small screw that you though away is called the mating screw. Stop giggling... I'm not joking here.
jthaddeaus2 years ago
One handy tool is a long forceps purchased at some hobby shops. This can used to pull back those cords drawn back into clothing. Then you can put your fids on the ends.

As an air crew chief used to whip the ends of twisted lines. These line ends can be done to the desire of the worker, from 1 - 12 inches. Used a lighter to seal the ends of the lines before starting the work and forming loose ends that would stick out. Some of the lines lasted almost 10 years with proper care.
could i use a dremel for shaping in place of a drill press?
MacGyver9 (author)  That One Eegit2 years ago
I have an older Dremel and the only chuck I have for it is too small. If you have a chuck that will accept a 7/32" then it should work.

You don't need to have a drill press - a drill will work just fine.
ElectrokV2 years ago

Just as another idea:  I realize from your intended use, the tested tension of 23 lbs for something that is only going to be used for maybe up to 2 lbs is much more than adequate, but I was thinking one could also use heat judiciously to melt the nylon inside the aluminum to make a good bond inside the tube too.

Of course, it would be best to do a bit of experimentation to be confident of a heating point where you would be comfortable you didn't apply too much and effectively weaken the assembly by having melted and crusty material just inside the fid.  Also, you wouldn't want to use to little heat and prevent bonding.  The optimum heat would just melt the nylon enough to bond with the aluminum without weakening or thinning the cord.  But, if one could reach a point where they trusted their heating method, it should gain strength close to that of the cord itself.

This is somewhat similar to the super glue suggestion, except just use the melted nylon.  It might not be worth the time to find the sweet spot of temperature to find a repeatable bonding method unless you plan to do this a lot.

I suppose my decades of soldering wires made me think of this.  Plus, your suggestion of slightly melting the tip of the cord to keep it from fraying brought this to mind.  (And, using a soldering iron to fuse some kind of metal cap on the end of nylon / poly rope or even just cutting poly rope with a soldering iron are ways I’ve cut such rope, though it does make a lot of smoke and the tip of the iron needs a bit more cleaning.

Most hardware stores, sailing supply stores and other places I've seen that sell polymer rope (as opposed to the natural stuff - cotton, sisal, hemp, etc. - ) usually have a transformer rig with a somewhat thin/sharp bar between the electrodes of the secondary so the bar gets hot and the person cutting the rope just holds the rope several inches away from that hot bar (probably glowing red by then) and just pull the polymer rope across the hot cutter so it cuts and fuses both the end of their stock from their reel And, fuses what they are selling to you so neither frays.

Furthermore, if you're going to be in the field a lot and need to make a lot of cuts of poly rope, the best way I know of to cut it and keep the fraying to a minimum is to carry a butane lighter in your kit   You just use the flame of the lighter to do the cutting and fusing.  Just keep the molten poly from dripping on your skin because it kind of hurts and it tends to burn off at least the outer layer of skin and can produce a kind of weeping-type of wound.  It might be best to have 2 people to perform the process unless you're skilled in doing that.  Gloves and a long sleeved shirt are good too.

The lighter method does tend to make the ends charred up more and some of that will be kind of crusty, but it should provide a non-frayed cut.  Dealing with simply cutting poly rope with a knife or scissors will leave a hard to control frayed mess and keep you from making knots or special weaves like making strong end loops that should be as strong as the rope if made properly.  Of course, the way you cut the rope depends on how many strands there are and how fine they are, but I believe paracord has some fine threads. - - Good Luck!

MacGyver9 (author)  ElectrokV2 years ago
For clarification. In normal use, the pull on the fid is 1/2 pound (half a pound), so the 23 pounds attainable is more than adequate for normal use. The end of the paracord is singed for a couple of reasons: to stop fraying, cleanup the end after cutting, etc. In this case of fids, there is another important reason and that is to create a harder, less flexible surface area that can be screwed into the fid.

The singed area of the paracord is what results in the incredible holding ability of this fid. Most of the other fids require the paracord be cut at a 45 degree angle, thus the holding surface area is much smaller and the 'cone shape' is more likely to pull out or unscrew by itself.
acoleman32 years ago
so im guessing these are to assist in paracord knotwork/weaving projects?
MacGyver9 (author)  acoleman32 years ago
Correct. Here are some links to a few examples:

1. (recommend viewing with FireFox rather than Internet Explorer)

2. Woven watchbands.

3. Video of one in use:
MacGyver9 (author)  MacGyver92 years ago
Here are a couple more by stormdrane...

a video:
yep, just wht i thought. its akin to the leather lacing needles ive used. thank you for the links, ive found them very educational.
psuliin2 years ago
Is the idea here to power up the drill and then apply the file to the spinning post?
MacGyver9 (author)  psuliin2 years ago
Yes, apply power to the drill and move the file across the end of the screw post to start shaping the end. Remember to keep the file (and sandpaper/emory cloth) moving across the surface in order to remove the aluminum.

When shaping the end, the only material I didn't move across the aluminum was when I used the scouring pad to smooth the surface - I just held the pad steady until it was as smooth as the original.
Spokehedz2 years ago
A little drop of superglue or Goop would make the cord much more secure I think!
MacGyver9 (author)  Spokehedz2 years ago
I ran a tension test with the 550 paracord that I use and found that it took 23 pounds of force to pull the paracord out of the fid. I suspect most people will only need about a 1/2 pound of force in normal use, so you probably won't need to use any glue with the fid. (note: I added a couple of new photos to the instructable, one of which I took during a tension test - web site should be updating shortly).
drhulsey2 years ago
That's one beauty of Instructables- evolution of technique!
1inspirit2 years ago
Vermin2 years ago
Outstanding. Easiest method yet. Thanks.

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