Introduction: Make a Wide Sturdy Handle With the Portuguese Sinnet

Picture of Make a Wide Sturdy Handle With the Portuguese Sinnet

Messenger bags are great but sometimes the long shoulder strap gets tangled when you're trying to make a quick exit or easy entrance. Since they all seem to have a couple of 'D' rings on the back, I decided to make a quick short strap that won't get hung up on stuff as I drag it out of the car to avoid the coming zombie apocalypse.  But the problem is that if it's too narrow, it's too uncomfortable to use zombies or no. So, enter the Portuguese Sinnet (also known as Solomon Bar and referenced as knot #2496 in Ashley's Book of Knots).

Step 1: The Setup:

Picture of The Setup:

Here's the front and back of my messenger bag. The distance between the middle of the 'D' rings is about 6.5 inches (16.5cm for those metricly inclined). I started with a length of #550 paracord 82 inches long (2.08m). I also had the following:

x. lighter
x. scissors
x. 2 12.5 inch (35cm) pieces of thin (2 mm) cord

Step 2: Begin:

Picture of Begin:

Start by folding the cord in half and running it through one of the 'D' rings.

Next take a strand and run it through the opposite 'D' ring (I went 'over' the ring as you can see). Now do the same with the other.

Step 3: The First Knot:

Picture of The First Knot:

Note: I've rotated the image to make it a little easier to reference.
Take the length on the right and bring it over the two main strands.
Now take the left strand and pass in over the strand that was just brought over and then pass it under the two main strands and through the loop that was made by the first strand.

Step 4: The Second Knot and Beyond:

Picture of The Second Knot and Beyond:

Now that I have my first knot made, I'll refer to the strands as they are in their "current" position not as they started out.

Tighten up the first knot and take the strand on the right and place it underneath the two main strands. Now take the left strand and pass it under the strand that was just moved over now put it over the two main strands and into the loop that was just created by the right strand.

The key to making a flat (non-spiral) Portuguese Sinnet is to keep the strand that is on the bottom on the bottom during the next knot. If you keep the same strand on the top-bottom-top-bottom order you get a real nice double-helix.

Step 5: Prepare to Finnish Off:

Picture of Prepare to Finnish Off:

Now that I've made about 5 inches (13cm) of the bar, I need to get set to pull the remaining strand ends back into the sinnet body.

Middle the two 12.5 inch pieces and place them inside the next knot. Now the trick to finishing up is to tie the sinnet snug enough to keep it looking good but not so tight that you won't be able to pull the remains through.

In the second pic, you can see how it looks once it's all knotted up and ready to finish off.

Step 6: Finishing Off:

Picture of Finishing Off:

Now that we've got it all knotted up, it's time to finish up by pulling the remains into the body which will hold them inside just by friction alone. In this image, I've arranged it in a more top to bottom to make more sense.

Take the "top" strand and place it "behind" the 'D' ring and through one of the 'finishing loops'. Be sure to leave enough slack in it so that it's easier to pull it into the body (pic 3). Now pull it through.

In the forth pic you'll see how it looks just before pulling it completely through.

Now take the bottom strand and pass it "over" the 'D' ring and through the loop and pull through the body.

Step 7: Dressing Up:

Picture of Dressing Up:

Now that everything is pulled through, it looks like this. To dress it up, just cut them off but not too close to the body because you'll want to but a flame to the ends to seal them. After they are sealed, push them into the body and cover over (see 3rd pic).

Step 8: All Done:

Picture of All Done:

Now it's all set and you can bug-out "fast"!!!  Cuz let's face it....even though zombies move slow, they've ate the brains of everyone that thought they have plenty of time.....


BrennenI (author)2014-12-28

your idea of weaving in those black strands to pull excess cord is ingenious. It took me the same amount of time to pull the excess cord through as weaving the whole thing. Thanks!

keng (author)BrennenI2014-12-30

Thanks! that's why I came up with a took me a disasterously long time and I didn't like how loose it was when I finished using tools.

Souban Tahir (author)2011-08-10

nice Its too Easy. . .

Morpheus (author)2011-05-04

Is there a formula for determining how much cord to use for a specific span between the anchors when making a Portuguese Sinnet?

kona334me (author)Morpheus2011-05-17

For every inch to be stitched figure about a foot of cord. So for a 8inch handle 8 feet would be needed. Hope this helps.

buellboy492 (author)2010-11-10

Great instructable. You have inspired a project for me. Maybe I will take pics and make another 'able!

keng (author)buellboy4922010-11-10

please post the pic here if no where else!! love to see em

jimmiek (author)2010-09-03

Hmmmmm, I have been wondering for several years how I'm going to fix the broken handle on my Autoharp case ..... this looks like the answer! THX

keng (author)jimmiek2010-09-03

Glad to help!

bennelson (author)2010-08-30

Here's my shot at it. I have been wanting a strap for my coffee mug for a while with nothing metal touching the cup. I already had a carbiner and the paracord around anyways. Still need to tidy the ends of the cord though.

keng (author)bennelson2010-08-30

very nice! you can use some very small tubing with a point at one end to push them back inside the sinnet.

RaNDoMLeiGH (author)2010-08-29

I have had an Israeli paratrooper bag for uh.. oh god, 25 years. (feels old..) I got it in high school, carried through 10 years of grad school, and used it to drag my laptop all over the world. Then the frickin' *strap* wore out, dag-nabbit! But I didn't want to throw out my bag. It went too many places with me to just be trashed. So it's in the bottom of my "tote bag tote" in the hall closet. I was going to fix the strap with some webbing like they use for belts, but that stuff is hard to sew and tends to unravel. WTF is WRONG with me, I make macrame and chinese knotted jewellery, and I have a ton of paracord in my studio. Duh duh duh... I love you, man. I really do. That was my favorite bag evAr. Now I can use it again. *SMOOCH*

awilliamsid (author)2010-08-26

Hemostats are a nice alternative to this method!

keng (author)awilliamsid2010-08-26

Indeed, I use them alot. In this sort of sinnet, I've found them to open up the weave a little more than I like.

awilliamsid (author)keng2010-08-26

Ahh. Well I weave the 'stats into the knot much like you do your pieces you pull through. Then I tighten with a pair of rounded pliers:

mysss (author)2010-08-03

nice! Is your method of finishing holding up well? It looks great.

keng (author)mysss2010-08-03

Yes, it's still picture perfect. I've done this with the PS for some years now and never had a problem. Especially since the 'covering' doesn't get stressed.

dent244 (author)2010-06-25

Its also called a cobra weave.

Calliopeya (author)2010-06-23

Portuguese? i'm from portugal and see nothing portuguese about this, just for the info, this is an art called macramé, meaning "the art to make nots" and it was invented by arabian people not by us portuguese ppl, we learnt it from them, ok it's used a lot by us, by the navy and the airbourne forces, and portuguese women to make wristbands and stuff like that. i just wanted to add the info. BTW i love the airbourne pouch, if it would be green it would be perfect

keng (author)Calliopeya2010-06-23

I don't name them just tie them. I'm afraid you beef with the name will have to taken up with folks dead some hundreds of years. Good thing you're not a Turk ;o) (google: turk's head) As far as the bag, green would probably get them all killed as it's mostly desert in Israel 80)

Calliopeya (author)keng2010-06-23

So, still i guess i've instructed you in some way, at least now you know how it is called. Thank God i'm not turkish cause i haven't met any good turk and i've spoke to some (not that the other humane races are any better). And it would be perfect if it would be green for me because my country is mainly green, at least I wouldn't die here with a green pouch.

keng (author)Calliopeya2010-06-23

Sorry, but it is "Portuguese"; I don't have any control over the name. That is its name; nothing I can do about it.

GrumpyOldGoat (author)2010-02-12


Maybe if you laid the 'pull back' lines with the first knot as suggested below, then measured and cut the lines and burned the ends prior to pulling them back through it would give you a neat end without doing the cutting and burning after pulling the ends through?
I really like the design and plan on a longer strand for a specific purpose.

keng (author)GrumpyOldGoat2010-06-22

That is a good idea.

NutandBolt (author)2010-04-15

Very nice addition to the bag. You can also make another layer of paracord  some call it "king cobra" . nice bag too I think I recognize the symbol on it from my old days in the army.

keng (author)NutandBolt2010-06-22

Thanks. BTW: it's an Israeli paratrooper insignia. 80)

Re-design (author)2009-09-11

Excellent instr.

keng (author)Re-design2009-09-11

Thank you.

snipir (author)2009-07-22

aha that's awesome! I have the same bag :P I'll give your sinnet a try. Thanks!

indikagamage (author)2009-07-21

great !!

axiesdad (author)2009-06-12

What if you were to lay in the two 12 1/2 pieces right after the first knot and then proceed to the finish, covering them as you go? This would let you pull the ends all the way through the handle, giving it more fullness, and no bulge where they stop.

keng (author)axiesdad2009-06-12

Yes it certainly would. Sometimes, i pull it all the way through and tie an interesting button knot on the end as well.

copiesofcopies (author)2009-06-08

This instructable is almost exactly what I'm looking for to replace the busted top-carry handle on my backpack. Unfortunately, I don't have pre-installed D-rings on mine (the erstwhile handle was sewn into seams, which is part of why it broke). Do you have any advice for adding D-rings to a D-ringless bag?

tw0nst3r (author)copiesofcopies2009-06-11

I wouldn't use D-rings...split rings, used for keys and sold cheaply at hardware stores, are stronger, longer-lasting, and multifunctional if needed for something else in a pinch.

Aud1073cH (author)tw0nst3r2009-06-11

The D-rings here came with the bag, and look plenty strong. If you are making your own anchors, there are D-rings available that are stronger. Although split rings work OK for keys and light loads, you'd never use a split ring for rigging. the spring steel will flex, and pull the ring apart. A D-ring rated for the weight of your load is better. You can also use stainless steel shackles -They look cool too.

tw0nst3r (author)Aud1073cH2009-06-11

I've used split rings for some camp/backpacking rigging, but now that I think of it, it's always been for lighter loads. Thanks for the clarification!

tw0nst3r (author)tw0nst3r2009-06-11

Sorry to reply to my own post, but I've also had D-rings fall apart. Replacing them with split rings worked for those applications (duffle bags, tent guy stays, etc). This is why I posted what I did earlier. Again, thanks for the info!

flio191 (author)tw0nst3r2009-06-11

Yeah, it just depends on the rating of those D-rings again, and what you're carrying, and directionally, which way the ring is being pulled because each one has their own specific usage, but for this case, i think D rings just look better because the flat side allows for that flatness of the straps to stay straight (and when straps stay straight like this, it usually lasts longer because there's equal tension on the straps across. I don't think it's that serious of a difference here though, just cause it really only matters when you're rigging large objects... like theater lamps and stuff. iunno, im talking too much.

Dr_Romulus (author)tw0nst3r2009-06-11

What about using a carbiner? I've seen a few smaller one with little snapdown "lock bars" to keep them from coming open...

keng (author)copiesofcopies2009-06-08

I would do it exactly as it is here. Grab some canvas; I like the "Duck Canvas" type (the think sturdy stuff). And grab some 'D' rings. Cut two strips of the canvas 2x as wide as the 'D' ring width (let's say it's 1 inch wide). So you'd cut it 2 inches wide. Make a fold from the long edge 0.5 inches in and then make another fold 0.5 inches in from the other side. That way you won't have any 'cut' sides exposed to fray. then put the 'D' ring in the middle and fold in half. Now just sew it on as it shows the the very last pic of the I'able.

srilyk (author)keng2009-06-11

One thing that you can't see terribly well is that the piece has an "X" sewn into it - that adds strength. If you're using a sewing machine, you can go slowly (and use the little reverse button when you start out to stitch back over itself) and even "regular" needles should work. Or just get a thimble and go to it! (a penny taped over the pad of your thumb also works in a pinch)

Dr-G (author)2009-06-11

Very nice and clean! I like it.

axiesdad (author)2009-06-11

Nice job. Excellent photos and clear instructions. Ashley would say, "Well done." (For those who don't know, "The Ashley Book of Knots" is the knot geeks bible.) I have a first edition. : )

keng (author)axiesdad2009-06-11

1ST!!!! WOW!!! that's like having an 8.5" floppy drive that still works!

hammer9876 (author)2009-06-11

I never learned how to finish off a project like this so this is great Instructable!

LawnBoy1991 (author)2009-06-08

where did you get that bag? I really like it.

keng (author)LawnBoy19912009-06-08

You can get it at But I just hopped into one of their storefronts to get it.

capricorn (author)2009-06-08

Nice and easy:) Thanks my friend, beautiful ible.

bruc33ef (author)2009-06-08

Great idea. This is a very useful application of this knot. I have an old suitcase with a broken handle I'm going to work on.

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More by keng:Messenger Bag or Rucksack?...YES!Second to Last Use for an Old Couch....The Carry SlingMake a Wide Sturdy Handle With The Portuguese Sinnet
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