Introduction: Multi Strand Finger Loop Braiding

Picture of Multi Strand Finger Loop Braiding
In this Instructable, I'm going to teach you how to make Finger Loop Braids. With this technique you can make braids with just your hands that have 10 or more strands each. They can be used for anything. Bracelets, chokers, belts, hat bands, as trim on clothing, or furniture... If you need a strong lacing, a finger loop braid will multiply the strength of your string/rope by 10. To make the videos easy to follow, I made the braids out of rope.

Finger Loop Braids were popular from the 15th to the 17th Centuries in Europe, There are still some forms of similar braids made in isolated areas of South America, Asia and the Middle East. In Europe they seem to have been forgotten after the 1600's. Fabric and fiber art does not survive centuries. So examples of the original braids are very rare. You can sometimes spot them in old master paintings. They look like they take days to make but I'll show you some complex braids that can be completed in 5 minutes.

This is the style of braiding that was done in Medieval Europe and all the patterns are translated from Medieval manuscripts by the great folks at I want to thank the producers of that website for showing me this ancient and almost forgotten art.

Supplies: some kind of rope, string, yarn,...
Tools: Hands
Time: Depends on the length and pattern of the braid but the ones I'm making only take a few minutes to complete an entire braid.

It is difficult to describe and annotate the patterns. The folks at have done a good job of documenting the patterns. I'm going to try to write up some instructions for the braids I'm showing you, but the best way to learn the braids is to just watch the videos. Each video has a photo of the completed braid.

I'm going to publish this with 5 or 6 different braids and will add more as I create the videos. They start very easy, and I'll introduce new techniques as we add new braids. The braids I'm going to show you are made by one person. There are also patterns for braids that are made by two or three people working simultaneously on one braid.

Lets go. Have fun.

This is the introductory video for Finger Loop Braiding. I'll tell you how it is done and show you some examples of Finger Loop Braids that I'm going to teach you how to create.

New: I made close up videos of my hands are up for all braids. They are very easy to follow.

Step 1: Braid Number 1 - Flat Braid

Picture of Braid Number 1 - Flat Braid
This is our first braid. Watch the video and look at the photos to see how it is made.

You start with some kind of rope,string, etc. Hook it onto something sturdy and create 5 loops. I'm going to hook it over my bedpost. Then I'll loop the rope around the post until I have 5 loops. The rope is tied in one continuous loop. After I've hooked the loops, then I pull the rope back and forth to get all of the loops to the exact same length. These loops are called "Bowes" in the original manuscripts. Sometimes I say bow and sometimes I say loop. They are the same thing.

I'm going to add a L or a R to the front of the names of the fingers so you know which hand I'm talking about.

For this braid, start with two loops on your left hand. One over your LMiddle finger and the other over the LRing finger. On the right hand put one loop over your RIndex finger, one on the RMiddle finger and the last one on your RRing finger.

In the first move, we start from your left hand. Reach your LThumb and LIndex finger through the back of the loop on your LMiddle finger. With your LThumb and LIndex finger, grab the lower string of the loop on your RRing finger. When you take the top string of a loop, that is a straight exchange, taking the lower string is a reverse exchange. Pull that through the loop on your LMiddle finger as you transfer it to your LIndex finger.

You should now have three loops on your left hand. One each on LIndex, LMiddle, and LRing. On your right hand you have two loops. One each on RIndex and RMiddle.

Now we need to move the bows from RIndex and RMiddle, down one finger so they are on RMiddle and RRing. This is called Walking the Bows. You now have the same set up we started with, but on opposite hands. Next is the same move as before.

Reach your RIndex and RThumb through the back of the loop on RMiddle and take the loop on your LRing finger reversed (grab the lower string on the loop). Pull it through RMiddle. Then Walk the Bows on LIndex and LMiddle, down one to LMiddle and LRing. We are back to the beginning.

After each transfer, spread your arms wide apart to tighten up the braid that is forming at the far end of the string. Do this every time to keep the braid tight and even.

Just repeat those moves.

I've attached a series of photos illustrating the moves but the video will really be easier to understand. The first and second photos are the braid that we end up with at the end of the video.

These are new videos. The first one is a full view that shows you how I load the rope onto my post to make the loops. The second video will show you how to do the braid. It is a close up on my hands and will make it very clear how to make the braid.

Step 2: Finger Loop Braid 2 - Square Braid

Picture of Finger Loop Braid 2 - Square Braid
This pattern makes a really nice square braid.

We will start out the same way as the first braid.

2 Loops on the left hand - LMiddle and LRing.
3 Loops on the right hand - RIndex, RMiddle and RRing.

Move your LIndex and LThumb through BOTH the LMiddle and the LRing loops. Just like you did on the first braid. Then take RRing Reversed.

Walk the bows on the Right from RIndex and RMiddle, to RMiddle and RRing.

Now we do the same pattern.

Move your RIndex and RThumb through BOTH the RMiddle and the RRing loops.Then take LRing Reversed.

Just repeat that to the end.

Video with Close Up on my hands:

Full view shot:

Step 3: Braid 3 - Split Square Braid

Picture of Braid 3 - Split Square Braid
For Braid number 3, we are going to make a square braid, but I'll change a step part of the way through and make it split into two separate braids. I'll do that pattern for a while, then switch back to square braid.

We start with the same pattern as the previous braid - the square braid.

2 Loops on the left hand - LMiddle and LRing.
3 Loops on the right hand - RIndex, RMiddle and RRing.

Move your LIndex and LThumb through BOTH the LMiddle and the LRing loops. Just like you did on the first braid. Then take RRing Reversed.

Walk the bows on the Right from RIndex and RMiddle, to RMiddle and RRing.

Now we do the same pattern.

Move your RIndex and RThumb through BOTH the RMiddle and the RRing loops.Then take LRing Reversed.

Now - do several rounds of the square braid pattern and then change it like this:

Move your LIndex and LThumb through BOTH the LMiddle and the LRing loops. Then take RRing UNReversed.

Walk the bows on the Right from RIndex and RMiddle, to RMiddle and RRing.

Move your RIndex and RThumb through BOTH the RMiddle and the RRing loops.Then take LRing UNReversed.

Do that for several rounds, then switch back to the square braid and repeat that to the end.

We end up with what looks like a normal square braid, but half way through it splits into two separate braids, then comes back together into a square braid. Look at the video and photos to understand.

Here is the new close up video. It is a close shot of my hands with good lighting. It is very easy to follow. The second video is the original full view.

Step 4: Braid 4 - 2 Color Flat Braid

Picture of Braid 4 - 2 Color Flat Braid
This is the same braid pattern as Braid 1, but I'm going to use two colors so you can see what that looks like.

First Color - 2 Loops on the left hand - LMiddle and LRing.
Second Color - 3 Loops on the right hand - RIndex, RMiddle and RRing.

Move your LIndex and LThumb through the LMiddle loop. Then take RRing Reversed.

Walk the bows on the Right from RIndex and RMiddle, to RMiddle and RRing.

Now we do the same pattern.

Move your RIndex and RThumb through the RMiddle loop, then take LRing Reversed.

Repeat to the end.

New Close up video on my hands. Very easy to follow the steps. The second video is the full view.

Step 5: Braid 5 - 2 Color Square Braid

Picture of Braid 5 - 2 Color Square Braid
This is the same pattern as the Square Braid, but with two colors

First Color - 2 Loops on the left hand - LMiddle and LRing.
2nd Color - 3 Loops on the right hand - RIndex, RMiddle and RRing.

Move your LIndex and LThumb through BOTH the LMiddle and the LRing loops. Just like you did on the first braid. Then take RRing Reversed.

Walk the bows on the Right from RIndex and RMiddle, to RMiddle and RRing.

Now we do the same pattern.

Move your RIndex and RThumb through BOTH the RMiddle and the RRing loops.Then take LRing Reversed.

Repeat to the end.

There are more patterns and braids coming - I've worn my fingers out for today though.

This is a newer video. It is only a close up on my hands with better lighting so you can see exactly what I'm doing with my fingers. The second video is dark, but you can see what this looks like from my hands to where the end is anchored.


Woobix. (author)2017-03-27


I'd really like to try this out as a present idea. But im not sure about the length i should buy. Can you tell me approximately how long of a string ( leather in my case) would i need to make an averake man bracelet sized one?
Thank you, cant wiat to try it out:)

FionaW13 (author)2016-05-01

Thanks for doing the close-up video.I understand it more clearly. So if I understand the index finger are like the needles for braiding. I will try the five loop method and may more to another design.Thanks

Jenna Tagliaferri. (author)2015-09-23

Do you have a video for making the more round shaped finger loop braid, as opposed to the flat braid in the first two videos. It looks like you have some make in the photos and the ones you hold up in the first video.

I want to made something similar to the photo shown without having to pay $250 for it.

cheesie (author)2014-12-03

Awesome . really want to make a chain now. How do you finish the ends etc?

geitastirr (author)2014-02-15

Wow, what a great tutorial - thank you for sharing! I've just made a bracelet of the first kind of braid, and it really was simple to make and looks great - I look forward to trying the other braids later :)

ghilliefinn (author)2014-01-08

Took me two attempts but got it in the end! Thanks for the boredom buster!

controlledwrinkles (author)2013-08-26

I think I learned this from you at a Maker Faire 6 years ago, weird though, I use my ring finger to transfer over, not my index finger, it's like doing what you are doing but upside down.
I recently used finger-looping to braid a bowstring for a toy bow made out of half of a powder coated bicycle wheel for my nephew. As soon as I put up the Instructable for it, I will link to your Instructable as a reference.

wulfhardt (author)2012-07-20

Very nice, SFHandyman! I'm going to use this Instructable as a reference guide for some time, yet. I can't believe how easy it was, once I got going. Thanks for the clarity and brevity. Do you have any suggestions for an inauspicious bracelet knot or clasp?

Lastly, here's a note for anybody trying this for the first time:
If you tighten a C-clamp onto your work table, you can use the threaded axle as your hitching post. Just remember to slip something over the axle before you start braiding - a short bit of pipe or something similar would do. Otherwise, you won't be able to get your finished braid over the clamp's foot. That sounds like a goofy mistake to make, but it's exactly what I did on my first try. For awhile, I had the most decorated shop clamp on the block. Still, the C-clamp arrangement works pretty well with a bit of pipe over it.

iloveshinies (author)2012-06-13

Love these tutorials! This technique is so cool, and instantly gratifying (unlike many other jewelry types that take hours, even weeks to complete!) I tried out the square weave today to use as a chain for a pendant I made my daughter. I'd be honored if you checked it out.
I gave you props for the tutorial and linked back to this page as well. Hope it's alright :)

votavista (author)2012-04-28

thanks dude i really like your videos and i like that brown bracelet um at work now and i cant wait to go home and try to make my own :D gonna look for the braids here in saudi arabia and wish i could find these kinds of ropes . and sure once i go back to my country Egypt im gonna teach my friends this kind of high classy technique . ill keep u updated about my own art :D

actrivi (author)2012-01-15

Beautiful braids :) I had alot of fun making them. Thanks for posting! The videos were very helpful.

darrenchittick (author)2011-11-01

Every time I look at this 'able, it's better. And, every time I look, I make more braids. I just need to actually FINISH a project so I can make them useful. It's just so fun!

WendaBoyer (author)2011-09-10

Thank you for the easy to follow finger loop braiding instructions. I have been using your technique for my horse hair jewelry; loving the flat braid look. I will try the square braid next! Thank you!!!

Wendy, that is beautiful! Thank you for sharing it!

moills (author)2011-09-24

Inspiring videos but is there any way of recording them.
Do you sell a DVD of them. Also I did have trouble with tension with silk cords.


byap1 (author)2011-08-28

Hi there :) been testing out all of the different types of braids, with reference to all your videos. I'm gonna try this last one now, unfortunately the second video wouldn't play. :( I wonder why? I'd like to know if the different colors are in different loops by themselves, or...?

purpgee2000 (author)2011-07-02

Oh wow, I remember my friend teaching me how to do this at day camp with embroidery floss! We would hold the strings for each other, and sometimes we'd have to go somewhere and we'd shuffle around holding all of it XD

kitjen (author)2011-04-28

Hi, great 'Ible! The videos helped a ton. I was wondering if you had measured an approximate unbraided length to braided length ratio figured or no (I know there'll be variance depending on which braid and how tight they are). If you have, what are they, for each braid? Just curious, because after my first few tries I realized I needed a bit more cord :D Keep up the good work!

petraks (author)2011-04-24

Made a flat braid belt for a friend's birthday. Finished one end with a metal ring, the other with knotted leather cord. made the connections neater by wrapping them with crochet thread.
Thank you for the great instructable, the whole project took only about half an hour (and 17 yards of cord).

dil.seed (author)2010-11-27

loved, loved, loved the video - I was up and running in five minutes flat :)
Your directions were easy to follow and I now have a number of colorful braids just languishing around the house!

I do howver want to make the brown bracelet pictured here (next to the white one) and although it looks like the same five loop technique my attempts always come out looking more like the white one. Can you tell me whether this is becasue,

a) the technique is different,
b) the cord is different,
c) I'm pulling it too tightly,
or d) all and / or none of the above??

I really appreciate any help you can give me on that score and just want to reiterate that your instructable was totally amazing !! :) Thanks much :D

SFHandyman (author)dil.seed2010-12-16

Your answers were correct. All of the above. They are the front and back of the same braid. They were the very first braids I did and I could have been taking one of the strands in a special way. I know they are the front and back of the same braid though.

dil.seed (author)SFHandyman2010-12-17

Thanks - that helps :)

natcrazz (author)2010-04-04

You've done a marvelous job teraching these braids.  How would one go about making a two-color split square braid, and have it split into the two colors?  I think I will just experiment

SFHandyman (author)natcrazz2010-12-16

Yep, you'll have to experiment. I'm glad you liked the lessons.

hiasun (author)2010-04-27

Bravo! Thank you for sharing this technique. I can't wait to try it out.

SFHandyman (author)hiasun2010-12-16

Glad you like it.

platinum15 (author)2010-05-07

 ur one crazy-kewl person!!!!!!!!!!!

SFHandyman (author)platinum152010-12-16

No UR. :)

electrophobia (author)2010-06-11

Perfect instructable... Thank you for recording and uploading these foolproof videos. Good job!

SFHandyman (author)electrophobia2010-12-16

Wow, Thanks.

wilcurt (author)2010-06-19

The videos MADE the instructable.

SFHandyman (author)wilcurt2010-12-16

It was so hard for me to figure out from the written instructions, I was sure a video was what we needed.

brillbouncer (author)2010-07-04

Is the white bracelet in the picture made with the first method?! I coudn't work it out!

SFHandyman (author)brillbouncer2010-12-16

Same one.

TabbyDeAnne (author)2010-06-22

Thank you so much for this instructable! You are a really fantastic teacher. The videos helped me more so than anything written. I learn by watching not so much by reading instructions. I guess I have a bit of dude in me somewhere! lol!

bankersgirl (author)TabbyDeAnne2010-07-06

LOL... I must too. I'm very much a visual learner. I enjoyed that the directions were clear, everything was visible, and you went slow for a majority of us who have not done this before. Nothing makes me more irritated when someone with a COOL skill speeds through the video, or keeps their fingers in the way or cover their work so you can't see what they are doing. I am very impressed with your braiding skills! How well do you think this would translate to wire?

SFHandyman (author)bankersgirl2010-12-16

Keep reading the comments. I know someone did make one with wire and wrote in. I think they'd look cool but could be difficult.

oktokrewl (author)2010-07-13

wow! thanks! i watched your 2 videos and now 5 minutes later, I have a cotton twine fingerloop bracelet! i was looking for cool braids to use to make my husband some bracelets for his birthday, and you have won the cool braid contest my friend. thank you a million times and now i'm going to try the square braid. you were right, it seriously does only take 5 minutes, and you are a fantastic teacher. :D

SFHandyman (author)oktokrewl2010-12-16

Yay. Thanks.

z7z7 (author)2010-07-22

thank you good job>>>>

SFHandyman (author)z7z72010-12-16

Glad you like it.

natureboy679 (author)2010-08-23

Thank you so much! All the other cool looking brackets had complicate patterns and confusing instructions. This was easy to make, and te 2 videos made it simple to learn. Thanks! Also, just for anyone who is wondering, to figure out the length of each loop, it should be twise the final length you desire, plus 4-6 inches ( the thicker the string you use, the more you should add)

SFHandyman (author)natureboy6792010-12-16

Thanks for the advice. It is a great help to share your experiences.

WhyHello (author)2010-11-19

didnt notice ur tremors =) I got s necklace for my boyfriend last year. It was of a Mexcican Island called "Cozumel" the necklace had a talon pendant made of black coral. But, those necklaces dont usually last long (if ya know what I mean) The string got loose and he cant wear it anymore. Thanks for the vid =) and my boyfriend thanks u too

SFHandyman (author)WhyHello2010-12-16

You're welcome.

NicodemusFamily (author)2010-12-05

I just have to say, outstanding instructable!! Your videos made it incredibly easy to follow, and the first braid I did only messed up once (due to my own error, not yours). :D
Easy to follow videos + great teacher + some pretty darn cool designs = GREAT Instructable!

Awesome. Thanks.

burdick808 (author)2010-01-21

i was wondering i really like the style that you made for the brown string braid. i was just wondering though i think that is too thin for a guy me. i was wondering if it would be the same steps to make the bracelet wider. please let me know. thanks in advance

SFHandyman (author)burdick8082010-03-13

Sure, just use a thicker cord, or double it up before you braid it.

gofeetgo (author)2010-02-22

So I made one of these beautiful bracelets for my husband last month. The only problem is I don't know how to finish it! I used materials that represented various components of our marriage per say, so it's actually quite bulky (suede & twine). He's a really big guy (6'6) so the bracelet looks tiny of his wrist but is too big for most end closures... Couldn't find anything big enough as a clasp so he can wear it properly... Any ideas? Thanks!

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