Introduction: The 3 in 1 PVC Paracord Jig

I love working with paracord. My dad introduced me to this totally cool medium about two years ago. I started tying and never looked back! I love all the different knots, braids, and weaves that can be created and the camaraderie I've discovered from meeting other Paracorders on-line and in person. So when I saw the PVC contest the first thing I imagined was a jig. Something light weight, easy to tear down and put back together, something that I could use for all the paracord creations I make the most. After all was said and done, this is what I came up with....

The 3 in 1 PVC Paracord Jig. This jig can be used to make the traditional bracelets, lanyards, and key fobs, but it does so much more! It has both a Turk's Head mandrel and a Monkey Fist jig. That's right!! All three in one lightweight, compact jig. Wanna see how it's done? Well, let's go!! :o)

Step 1: Supplies and Tools Needed

For this project you will need the following supplies:

  • 1 ½” PVC Pipe cut to these lengths:
    • 1 - 20" for the spine of the jig
    • 2 - 8" for the legs
    • 2 - 3" to join the legs to the spine
  • 7 - 1 ½” PVC Pipe Fittings in the following sizes:
    • 3 – Couplers, 2 for the main jig and one cut in half for the Turk’s head attachment
    • 2 - 90 degree Elbows for the base of the jig
    • 1 – Cross for the Monkey Fist attachment
    • 1 – Tee to attach the base to the spine
  • 10 - Small Screws (about 1” long) to lock the PVC pieces in place (set screws)
  • 8 - ½” Pan Head Screws, or more, depending on how many bights you want for your Turk’s Head jig. You’ll need two screws for every bight, one for the top and one for the bottom.
  • 2 - Lanyard Clasps or clips of some kind to hold your clasp, shackle or key rings taunt
  • 4 – 8 x ¼” Wooden Dowels for the Monkey Fist attachment
  • Permanent Marker
  • Tape

The tools are pretty basic. No planer, jointer or drill press needed for this project! The fanciest tool I've listed is a Dremel and you could probably find quite a few alternatives for cutting off the tips of two screws.

You will need:

  • An Electric Drill
  • A Measuring Tape or yardstick
  • A ¼” Drill Bit, or one that is the same size as your wooden dowels.
  • A second drill bit one size smaller than the screws for your base.
  • A Screwdriver
  • A Coping Saw, Hack Saw, Miter Saw or Pipe Cutters (some way to cut your PVC to length)
  • A Dremel with a cut-off disc
  • A Rasp
  • A File
  • Some Sandpaper in differing grits, anywhere from 60 - 400 will work

Step 2: Cut, Cut, Cut! Oh...And Measure

Now that we've gathered all of our necessary pieces and parts, let's cut this PVC! Ok, get your hack saw, japanese saw, pipe cutters, or miter saw and cut ...... oh, wait a minute.....hold on.....my husband is telling me that once again, I've forgotten to measure twice, cut once. Shoot, I forgot to measure at all! That's pretty typical of me. Let's try this again...

FIRST, measure out one 20 inch piece, two 8 inch pieces, and two 3 inch pieces. Then you can use your cutting implement and cut out your pieces. I chose a 20" long spine because I typically don't make things over that length. If you regularly make dog collars or belts or other things that are longer than 20", you should make this cut long enough to hold your longest piece. Keep the length within reason, a 40" jig for example, would be very top heavy and would not only continually fall down without added weight in the legs to support it, but holding your arms up that high would quickly become exhausting.

Next cut your 8" and 3" pieces to form the legs and base of your jig.

Your last cut is one of your couplers. Cut one of them in half...yep, directly down the middle. This coupler will form the Turk's Head portion of your jig.

Step 3: Smoothing the Couplers

After all of your pieces are cut you need to file down the interior ridges of the couplers. PVC fittings have interior ridges which stop the corresponding size pipe from going in too far, but we want the couplers that make up the bracelet portion of the jig and the Turks Head mandrel to slide easily up and down the length of the spine. Using a rasp or a Dremel with a sanding drum go to town on those ridges. Depending on how easily you want your jig to slide, you might want to thin the couplers a little now too.

Once you've gotten rid of the ridges, use a file, then the finer grit sandpaper and smooth out any scratches remaining from the interior of the pipe. The more you polish the pipe the easier it will move up and down your jig, so be patient with this part.

Step 4: The Bracelet Jig

Now let's add the clasps to the outside of the PVC so that we can lock in our bracelet buckle or shackle. I chose to use a badge clasp. It is the plastic piece that holds a badge to a lanyard via a loop and snap. I discovered that this is the perfect way for me to attach buckles, shackles, or key rings. It allows for a multitude of different connections to be used without having numerous things screwed down all at once.

Decide where you want to place the clasp and mark the spot with a marker. Using your smaller drill bit, drill a hole in each Coupler. Attach the badge clasp to the PVC with a small screw. You'll notice that your screw probably goes all the way though the PVC. The part sticking out needs to cut off so that our jig will slide. Take the permanent marker and cover the part of the screw sticking through. Now remove the screw with the screwdriver and using the Dremel cut off the marked section. Now when you screw in the badge clasp it should be flush with the interior wall of the coupler. Attach both clasps and set the couplers aside.

Step 5: Monkey Fist Jig Attachment

To create the Monkey Fist Attachment measure a 1" diamond onto the cross piece and drill a hole in each corner. Make sure to drill all the way through the cross so that the wooden dowels will come out the other side. Inserting the wooden dowels through both sets of holes gives them the strength they need to hold the steel or lead ball easily.

If you are looking for something bigger or smaller than the standard 1" you will need to change the size of the diamond to the appropriate size and proceed from there.

Step 6: The Turks Head Mandrel

Creating a Turks Head Mandrel can save an amazing amount of time. Besides, it's too easy NOT to do.

First, grab your tape. This can be duct tape, paper tape, masking tape, whichever you prefer. I am using some leftover glitter tape from Christmas. Wrap the tape around each half of the coupler. Since the screws for the mandrel are going to be very shallowly inserted, adding the tape will give the screws a little staying power.

Using the smaller drill bit (one size smaller than your pan head screws) drill four holes an equal distance apart in both pieces. Then insert the screws enough for them to stay put, but not so much that they poke out through the interior wall.

You'll notice that I have two sizes of screw here. I used both 3/8" and 1/2" pan screws to show you the difference between the two. I prefer the smaller screw, just enough to hold the paracord in place.

For extra help in making the perfect Turks Head you must check out this Crazy Awesome Site! On T J's page you'll find a chart that lists the ins and out of what is allowed when tying the Turks Head and you'll even find a printable chart that makes the Turks Head a breeze to complete! Well, maybe calling it a breeze is an exaggeration, but it sure makes them easier.

Step 7: Installing the Set Screws and Assembling the Jig

Ok, we're almost done....just a few more screws so that your jig will stay in position.

Take your small drill bit and drill a pilot hole in each of the different coupler ends.

That means two holes in the elbows, three holes in the tee and just one hole in the bottom opening of the cross.

For your bracelet jig couplers, drill a hole into each end of the coupler. Then depending on how the couplers slide, use the set screw to lock them down at the perfect measurement.

Assembly is super easy! You are simply going to take the 8" PVC and using a screwdriver, insert a screw into the pilot hole previously drilled and attach the 8" PVC to the 90 degree elbow. Do the same thing for the second side.

Now take the smallest pieces, the 3" PVC, and attach it to the the other end of each of the 90 degree Elbows. Set both legs aside.

Attach the spine to the tee by inserting one screw into each of your pilot holes. Before finalizing the center screw, angle the jig into the position that is most comfortable for you. Once you have your angle, insert your set screws and Voila!! You've made it!

Step 8: Final Construction

The final construction consists of putting all of your pieces together. And that depends entirely on you and how you want your jig to work for you. I chose to have my Turks Head on the outside and my bracelet jig on the inside. To accomplish this I slid one of the Turks Head Mandrels onto the spine of the jig first. Then I added the bottom bracelet coupler (that is the one with the loop facing upwards) and then the top. After that came the second half of the Turks Head Mandrel and finally The Monkey Fist Jig.

Now you're ready to get tying!!!

Enjoy! And thanks for checking out my Instructable! I've entered the PVC Contest, so if you've found this useful please vote for me!

Comments

author
tomatoskins (author)2015-07-13

This is cool! You should add info on how to use this jig.

author
hsanford (author)tomatoskins2015-07-13

Thanks 'skins! That's a great point...I figured if people were looking for a paracord jig they'd already be familiar with how to use one, but that's not necessarily the case. I'll put together a short tutorial and add it as soon as I can.

author
CharlesS10 (author)hsanford2015-07-14

yes please , I have some paracord and I dont have a clue what to do with it

author
tomatoskins (author)hsanford2015-07-14

Awesome! Yeah let me know when that happens. Because I've never used one, I've just always made bracelets and the such by holding everything in my hands.

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Bio: I've always been a "crafty" person and my dream has always been to open my own small business. When the opportunity arrived I couldn ... More »
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