Introduction: Easy Paracord USB Flash Drive Case

Picture of Easy Paracord USB Flash Drive Case

The finalists for the Paracord Contest have been selected ! Congratulations to everyone who got picked, and thanks to all those who submitted an Instructable - there's some awesome creativity going on out there :)

 Welcome to this paracord Instructable !

I first discovered this awesome material through stormdrane's Instructables and quickly got hooked - lanyards, bracelets, handles, I even went so far as to knit it (great result by the way, you should try it) ! The paracord contest I'm entering with this Instructable has shown me how much people around the world are doing awesome, elaborate stuff with their paracord but I thought I'd go a different route and offer you guys something geeky, easy and that can be done on the side of a table :)

I use a lot of flash drives, if only to try out Linux live CDs thanks to Unetbootin or to move my pupils' data from one computer to the other and over time, the glue that holds the case together tends to give up on me. So I came up with what I thought would be a quick fix until I get to make a set of USB chess pieces for my father...And for the last 2 years, these paracord-adorned babies have never shown a sign of wear, so I kept them that way.

Interested ? Then...On to the next step !

Step 1: What You'll Need

Picture of What You'll Need

 For this project, we'll need :
- Paracord, obviously ! For 1 flash drive, 80 to 90 centimeters (about 3 feet) are necessary ;
- A pair of scissors (gnawing paracord with your teeth won't work) ;
- A USB flash drive, yup ;
- A lighter to melt the ends of the paracord and seal it.

All green ? Let's get started !

Step 2: Remove the Casing (or What's Left of It)

Picture of Remove the Casing (or What's Left of It)

Depending on how weak the glue that holds your flash drive has become, that might be more or less easy. Usually you can do that with your fingers and nails, but a Swiss army knife or a precision screwdriver can do the trick if need be. Just make sure you don't damage the actual drive !

Once this is done, on to the next step : measuring and cutting your cord !

Step 3: Measure Your Paracord and Cut

Picture of Measure Your Paracord and Cut

 As I said earlier, braiding paracord around a flash drive with the snake knot takes 80 to 90 centimeters (or about 3 feet) of cord. Measure that out, measure that again, and cut - you're done with this step ! Let's hop to the next step, which is equally easy.

Step 4: Make a Loop...

Picture of Make a Loop...

It's always convenient to have something to attach your flash drive to something like a key-ring or a , so let's give this little guy a loop. fold the cord in two equal parts, and set the flash drive on top of it. You can easily decide how big the loop will be at that stage but don't go too crazy ! You might end up a few inches short on paracord for your snake knot.

And now for the braiding...On to the next step !

Step 5: ...Then Start (and Keep) Braiding !

Picture of ...Then Start (and Keep) Braiding !

 The knot we're going to use is the easy, famous snake knot you can see in Stormdrane's paracord bracelet Instructable and in so many others.

- Take the flash drive on top of the folded paracord, and make a loop to the left with the right-side half of paracord. It should then come under the flash drive and to its right (see picture 1) ;
- Take the left-side thread of paracord, make it go in a loop to the right, under the thread that went out to the right, and then over the drive into the loop (see picture 2) ;
- Tighten it all up together (picture 3), then repeat the steps from picture 1 and 2 on the other side of the flash drive (picture 4) ;
- Keep going alternating left and right and left and right, until you reach the end of the flash drive (see picture 5) !

It might be difficult at first, and the first knots will look ugly - but don't worry, it'll look better as you train and as you keep braiding ! Once you're done, time to cut, trim and seal the cord - in the next step !

Step 6: Trim and Burn

Picture of Trim and Burn

No need to keep the excess paracord : we're just going to cut it close to the body of the drive, and burn and seal it with the lighter. The strands of cord inside, as well as the outer sheath, will melt : once it does, press it against the strands of paracord with the flat side of the scissors so that it all binds together as the paracord cools off. Repeat on the other side, and you're good to go !

Step 7: You're Done !

Picture of You're Done !

Congratulations, you've replaced your flash drive's case with a nifty paracord case ! It's cheap, it's pretty original and you can do a lot of variations thanks to the knots and patterns of paracord available. The desert camo paracord flash drive you can see below is one of my favourites, and I wish I has more of this cord. If only it hadn't looked so good as bracelets... ;)

That's about it for today - I hope this little Instructable will have given you a taste for continuing to explore all the things you can do with paracord. Good luck to everyone entering the contest and happy braiding !


AbdouA1 (author)2017-10-01

I couldn't keep up :/ it would've been better with a video

Cristi-Luthor made it! (author)2015-08-28

Easy and fun project. Thanks for tutorial. :D

Here is mine :D

Deslivres (author)Cristi-Luthor2015-09-11

Thanks for sharing CristiL, much easier to look at than my black paracord drives! Do let us know how long the the drives last for you, others have mentioned they've had issues with that.

Cristi-Luthor (author)Deslivres2015-09-11

i had my drives out of shell for 2 years no problems. made them like this still no problems.

Deslivres (author)Cristi-Luthor2015-09-13

Sweet, thanks for the heads up CristiL :) I'm glad this ible served you well.

DavidL117 made it! (author)2015-08-29

Let's see how long it last! Not easy the tutorial with a black paracord...

Deslivres (author)DavidL1172015-09-11

Thanks for sharing DavidL117! Yeah, black paracord was not the easiest to work with but that's all I had at the time, not to mention poor lighting :p I might just revisit this tutorial sometime soon. Let us know how long it works for you!

LucasW (author)2014-08-16

its great, shame i lost USB.

LucasW (author)2014-08-16

its great, shame i lost USB.

LucasW (author)2014-08-16

its great, shame i lost USB.

C-R-E-8 (author)2014-05-24

Cool but just a suggestion to make it stronger :hold the usb in its casing if its nice and flat.
But still very cool

ababypenguin (author)2013-06-28

I can't recommend this. I tried it with an old flash drive, and after a couple of uses the head of the flash drive was wiggly (it was not wiggly before). Soon after that I had to hold the drive in a certain place for it to work. I will probably solder the head back onto the board and try again but I think that the cord is pulling too hard on the drive, causing the head to loosen.

bladewind_demon (author)2012-08-06

awesome instructable :D ive pretty much fallen in love with paracord (and thumbdrives) and this is the perfect thing to add to my collection. thanks alot

rana19 (author)2011-06-15

hi I would like to thank you about the nice and simple idea I like it
and i will tray it soon thanx

evil ernie (author)2011-03-01

I find a good way to not get burnt ends is to use a windproof lighter and not just a plain Bic lighter. I think the windproof creates more heat at a faster speed and if done carefuly leaves no black marks.

Deslivres (author)evil ernie2011-03-05

Good to know - I'll have to see about that and try myself. Could you post pictures or a video of your technique somewhere so we can see, ernie ? Or maybe an Instructables of your own ? Thanks for your comment !

evil ernie (author)Deslivres2011-03-05

I posted a Instructable. Take a look and see if it works for you.

Deslivres (author)evil ernie2011-03-05

Awesome, thanks ! I'll give it a shot as soon as I have a new batch of keys in the making.

DonB! (author)2011-01-25

Thanks for sharing such a simple, but good idea.

Deslivres (author)DonB!2011-01-26

Hi Don,

Thanks for your comment ! I'm glad if it helped.

krunal800 (author)2011-01-05

Tried this but without any knots. Basically just wound the paracord round the edges and burnt the tips to the flash drive. Great instructable!

Deslivres (author)krunal8002011-01-08

Looking good, too ! Good job krunal800 :)

brutalboy909 (author)2010-08-18

Well I tore apart my USB and now I cant figure out how to do the knot lol. Any more instruction, videos or photos on this USB wrap would be greatly appreciated..

Deslivres (author)brutalboy9092010-11-21

Sorry it took so long to get back to you ! Taking a look at other Instructables specifically about this type of knot could help : this woven paracord bracelet by Stormdrane might be a lot of help and got me started with paracord braiding in the first place.

Keep us updated !

emerett (author)2010-11-20

This guide should really be removed, seems easy, people tear apart their usb sticks, and then the pictures are directions are awful.

Deslivres (author)emerett2010-11-21

Hey Emerett,

Thanks for the reminder - I haven't had the time to sit down and take new pictures or revamp this Instructable as I thought I could. I'll try to take care of that over the course of the next few weeks, as the paracord USB flash drives is one of the projects my middle-school students are interested in :)

Cheers !

martinl538 (author)2010-10-27

can u make a video doing this please

Deslivres (author)martinl5382010-10-28

Hey, I'd love to - that would actually be a great addition to the Instructable ! - but I'm all out of paracord and all out of broken flash drives these days I'm afraid. Next time I'm making one though, I'll totally film it !

martinl538 (author)Deslivres2010-10-28

ok thanks i didnt unerstood the pictures that good

DrCarterM (author)2010-08-02

I had trouble at first and I found two things that help... 1- Tape your cord to the back of your USB then start the braiding 2- braid it TIGHT. I tried it with a regular size usb, that was rather thick, and it didn't work at all. So I switched to a stream line one and it worked great. I left the case on because I was worried about the drive over heating and melting the cord. Anyone else not do this and have good experiences?

Deslivres (author)DrCarterM2010-08-02

My drives have never had a case on (the reason I came up with this Instructable being that some of them were actually broken) and I never had any issues with the cord melting or the board overheating. I've been doing this for about 2 years now without problems :)

DrCarterM (author)Deslivres2010-08-03

Nice! i'll give that a shot! BTW, I was looking at the drive you made with the cammo cord. The loop and weave looks pretty flat, did you take the inner cord out before you wove it?

Deslivres (author)DrCarterM2010-09-05

I tried both empty and full cord, and full cord gave a better esthetic result in the end. On the pictures though, the cord is full. Maybe it's something about the cord I use !

Ikkalebob (author)2010-07-26

Can I make a suggestion and say its probably best to give your usb stick a small cover up somehow before you apply the paracord - just so the little electronic bits dont get dammaged. Apart from great instructable! Im gonna paracord some of my sticks :D

Deslivres (author)Ikkalebob2010-08-02

That's something I was concerned about when I first had that idea, so I tried it on a very cheap flash drive. And somehow it worked ! Still does with flash drives with electronics very close to the board, but a thin layer of epoxy could indeed do wonders. Glad you liked the Instructable, fatcatcog !

paracord junky (author)2010-07-02

anyone having trouble with thew braid: google "cobra stitch." that's what's being used here.

Oxyjin (author)2010-06-05

I'm having trouble with the initial 2 steps of the braiding =\

d3monhax0r (author)2010-05-07

can't do this =(

Deslivres (author)d3monhax0r2010-05-08

I'm sure you can do it :) Keep training ! I'll make sure to uploads better pictures soon for reference, that might help.

tevers94 (author)2010-04-05

You should trim a little more of the excess so that when you melting it, it won't leave a big burnt/melted spot.  I guess with black it doesn't matter but for colors the melted ends will be the same color as the rest if you dont burn it to much.  nice post by the way.

Deslivres (author)tevers942010-04-05

Thanks tevers94 ! Paracord is a harsh mistress when it comes to melting and trimming, I'll try to get better at that.

tevers94 (author)Deslivres2010-04-06

also i wanted to mention that i have started using nail clippers to get extra close

tevers94 (author)Deslivres2010-04-06

half of the paracord bracelets or key fobs or whatever end up having burnt ends, but they are getting better.

Jake22 (author)2010-04-05

Great Idea!  I have been wanted to pull apart some flash drives so that I could cover them with epoxy and make them waterprooof but always thought that I would have a big ugly glob of glue so I hadn't bothered.  With your technique I should be good to go.

Deslivres (author)Jake222010-04-05

 Glad that could help, Jake22. The epoxy approach is a very good idea and as some Instructables show, can give very good results. Give it a shot ! I've been very tempted to make a paracord case then give it an epoxy soak on top to get a nice, polished smooth look to the whole thing but haven't had the occasion yet. Let us know if you try, and post pictures !

BrianKT (author)2010-04-05

 I was totally thinking this idea! I was just to lazy to execute it... Anyway, what as was thinking was to first encase the flash drive in JB-Weld to waterproof it. Then, once it's dry, to do the paracord wrapping. The end product will be rugged and versatile. However, since I'm lazy, feel free to do this.

Deslivres (author)BrianKT2010-04-05

Or you could do it and post about it, or take pictures or share them with us in the comments section :)

Kryptonite (author)2010-04-05

Damn it I was about to post mine when I found this, which is a very similar idea to mine. *humph*

Deslivres (author)Kryptonite2010-04-05

Kryptonite, I'm sure you have plenty of other grand ideas with paracord that deserve posting as an Instructable. Go for it, there are a few days left for you to enter the contest !

aeromancy (author)2010-04-05

This is pretty darn cool. I too learned about this awesome material through stormdrane's Instructables. I have a bit left over and am tempted to try this. I just need to find the rest of the cord....

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