Drawing inspiration from MP#14: Outdoor Paracord & Tape Organizer Mk.IV by Lets_Prep_Together I decided to make one for myself.
I wasn't able to find PVC foam sheets anywhere (Alex where did you get yours?)
So I was going to make mine out of hardboard. It is also called HDF (high density fiberboard) or masonite. So off to the big box store I went. While perusing the lumber aisles I happened to notice a full 4'x8' sheet of 1/4 inch lauan plywood on the bang and dent cart just because it was a weeeeee bit wavy.
One inner happy dance and 3 bucks later I was heading home to start crafting.
4/20/2016 - added steps 11-14
Step 1: Grab the Tools
Bar Clamps - make any project better
Drill - because how else are ya gunna put holes in stuff
Coping Saw - for coping with what a pain it is to make curves out of straight lines
Rasps and Files - when sandpaper doesn't remove material fast enough
Dremel - 30,000 RPMs of rotary goodness MUH HA HA HA
Not Pictured Here:
Table saw - for turning one big sheet of wood into lots of small manageable pieces of wood
Wood Glue - A little goes a long way
Masking Tape - Duct tapes lil brother
Step 2: Pattern Design and Application
The basic shape for the body of the holder is Alex's design.
I used a quarter to get the outer diameters of the arms and a nickel to get the inner diameter for the paracord section of the holder.
I decided I wanted to add a recessed blade in the body for cutting cordage.
Since razor blades don't stay sharp forever (so sad) I needed a way to be able to change out the blade when needed. I wanted to maximize blade usage so I designed the cutout to access the blade slightly offset from center so it can be flipped over before having to be changed out. Once the blade is removed the ends are still sharp and it can be utilized in a utility knife.
The pattern was made on a standard sheet of paper so the overall height was 11 inches and the widest width was 4 inches. I used my table saw to cut a 5 inch wide section off of the narrow end of the sheet of lauan, then cut that strip into 4 equal pieces measuring roughly 4x12 inches. Enough to make 2 holders if all goes well, or have some spare parts if things go south during construction.
Now it is time to rough out the shape from the blanks. A few quick wraps of masking tape over the arms of the pattern secured the 4 blanks together while leaving all of the parts that needed to be cut exposed.
Step 3: Rough Cuts
Setting the depth of the table saw blade to just under an inch and all that excess material was whisked away leaving minor clean up work and contouring to be done.
Step 4: Refining the Shape
For all your wood shaping needs (at least for this project): One half round rasp, one flat rasp, and a fresh pack of sandpaper.
With contouring cutting into the masking tape, it was time to bring in the clamps to keep the blanks together for final shaping.
Now is also a good time to drill the holes marked out on the pattern. They will come in handy for lining up the parts later on.
Step 5: Modifications
The coping saw was the finest blade with the smallest kerf that I had on hand, so I used that to cut off the parts that will become the blade covers.
If I make any more of these in the future I may try different materials. Preferably something that can be tapped and hold a good thread.
Working with what materials were on hand I knew that regular screws would not work for repeated opening and closing of the blade cover without wearing out the material. So it was time to find a special fastener that could do the job.
The name will vary depending on where you go shopping for them, but they are all the same thing
big box store - Chicago screws
arts and craft store - binding post screws (usually found in the scrapbooking section)
other names you might find them under - sex bolt, mating screws, barrel nuts
Step 6: Putting It Together
Spread a nice even thin coat of wood glue on both pieces. A little bit goes a long way.
Use the holes you drilled earlier to line the parts up and clamp them together while the glue dries. See .. I told you they would come in handy.
Now comes the hard part ... waiting for the glue to dry.
Tune in tomorrow .. same bat time .. same bat channel.
Step 7: Improvise and Modify
Lacking a bench vise, I clamped the holder to the porch railing to do the final clean up and shaping.
Rounding the edges will not only make the holder look and feel better, it will also help to avoid damaging the cord as you wind it on to and off of the holder.
Originally I was just going to sandwich the blade between the holder and the blade cover, but it was too wiggly for my liking. A standard utility razor is about a half a millimeter thick so I didn't have to remove much material to make a recess that the blade would fit in snugly and prevent shifting during use or travel.
To carve the recess for the utility blade, I used the utility blade ... BLADECEPTION.
I first started out by making several shallow passes around the outline of the blade area to establish a strong straight edge. Starting by working around the edge and gradually moving in towards the center of the area I carefully carved off the top layer of the plywood. Small, well-controlled cuts take a bit longer to get the job done, but it beats the heck out of a huge ugly gouge of missing wood because you got impatient.
After the first one I knew how much material I had to remove. I carved the edge the same way as I did the first one. Once I had a good perimeter established I removed the rest of the material with a drum sanding bit on my dremel. If you try using a dremel, I recommend lots of extremely light, gradual passes. 30,000 rpms will remove a lot of material with astonishing speed.
Step 8: Finish
Now comes the really hard part. Deciding if you are going to paint it or not and if so what color to choose.
I painted one a metallic silver and left the other bare.
Step 9: Wrap It Up
I found a package of heavy duty 1100 paracord while looking for some 550 paracord at walmart. 1100 is a thicker nylon sheath with 14 core threads instead of seven typically found in 550.
The holders were able to hold 50 feet of 1100 cord and 100 feet of 550 cord respectively. I really like the idea Alex had for using cord locks to keep the paracord from unraveling. I will be added cord locks to my design once the ones I ordered arrive.
Each holder also has 40 feet of heavy duty duct tape with the ability to hold more.
Step 10: The Mods Roll On
While looking at the holder I noticed a little room between the duct tape and the holder. Just enough room to wind about 50 yards of 150 lb test nylon cord from an old kite setup.
I don't know if the string was twisted up on the old spool from use in kite flying or if it just woven from strands of pure evil. but man this stuff wanted to twist up something fierce when I had it all laid out trying to get it onto the holder.
If I decide to add this cord to the other holder I will pull it directly off the old spool onto the holder and avoid all the tangled headaches I had on the first holder.
All that was missing was a lighter to seal the ends of cut cord to prevent fraying. I'm by no means an expert weaver ... yet. But I did manage to wrap up a mini bic lighter in a Solomon weave secured through the top lanyard hole.
A nice tidy flat package 4x11x2 inches with lots of potential for crafting.
Step 11: No One Likes Melted Nylon on Their Fingers
Trying to find a way to avoid the possibility of burns from molten nylon I looked around for other ways to finish the ends of cut cord.
Most of the results I found were to use pliers to crimp the end instead of your fingers. Although I carry a small pair of pliers as part of my EDC, I know most people don't and I want this project as self contained as possible.
The only other solution I found was on a product called spool tool. The have a series of various sized holes to pull the cord through to shape the melted end.
knowing that 550 cord has a diameter of 5/32 of an inch (roughly 4mm for our metric friends) I tried making a hole in that size, and also a slightly smaller hole 1/8 of an inch in diameter. I tried straight vertical holes and holes with a tapered edge to see which would get a better result.
The tapered edge did not seem to have any real effect on the result so that is just a matter of personal preference.
The 5/32 hole was too loose and did not do a good job of finishing the cord. The 1/8 hole had just enough pressure to squeeze the end as it passed through. The problem I was running into was the cord drifting back out into the groove as I tried to finish it making irregular shapes on the end.
Step 12: HDPE to the Rescue
I figured that if the groove was the problem I needed to change it.
First I tried setting the hole farther back to make the groove more gradual, that didn't do it.
So the next solution was to move the hole closer to the edge and eliminate the groove.
That just left the question of how to keep the cord in the hole without burning a finger.
High Density Poly Ethelene to the rescue!!
I cut a piece of plastic from an empty laundry soap bottle. Trimmed it to size and attached it to one side of the hole.
Step 13: Time to Modify the Holder
now that the idea is working right it is time to transfer the design to the actual holder.
Take your time and be careful. You want to make the hole as close to the edge as possible.
remove whatever material remains so you can access the hole. Make the edges nice and smooth.
One of the most important steps in this mod is to drill the pilot hole for the screw, to avoid cracking the wood or even worse separating the layers that you previously glued together.
attach the HDPE tab you made earlier.
Step 14: Making Sure It Works
No time like the present to test your work and make sure everything works the way you want it to.