Introduction: Traveller's Handcuff Cup Holder

I am thinking about handling a cup of coffee at the airport while we have to carry backpack and suitcase and maybe wandering, shopping or even just window shopping. Well, just my imagination. The truth is I do not travel by plane much. Not in the last five years as I can remember.

I couldn't find any plastic tube bangles around, which was my first idea for this project. Then I found this 3" hose clamp which is just perfect for most coffee cups and I get another benefit from the adjustable clamp.

I called it "handcuff" because there are two clamps and a paracord braid joining them just like a handcuff. Everything is pack into the size of a 3" hose clamps so there will be no pain to bring it along everywhere you go. It fits in your pocket or backpack side pocket for water bottle or you can even hook it anywhere with the 1.5" carabiner. Not only as a cup holder, but you will get another feature at the last section of this Instructable.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

  • 2 pieces of 3" hose clamp.
  • Paracords. I use about 2 feet of black and three feet of each yellow and orange.
  • One or two small carabiners (around 1.5").
  • Scissors.
  • Pliers.
  • Lighter.

Step 2: Knots to Know

Here I present three types of knot we use in this project, namely : Bowline, Noose, Running Bowline. I try to serve every knot in a single image to simplify the steps. You can print them out or you can go back to this step anytime you need one.

I love Bowline because it is secure and you can untie when you need it no more. The more you pull, the tighter it gets. Well, knots are not crucial in this project. You can pick any knots you love.

Step 3: The Braid - Part One

Prepare your paracords :

  • Black : 2 pieces of 1 foot.
  • Orange : 1 piece of 3 feet.
  • Yellow : 1 piece of 3 feet.

Follow the pictures above :

  1. Make a loop with bowline knot on black paracord. The loop should not be too large but large enough to let the hose clamp runs through it. I will call it core cord.
  2. Align the orange and yellow cords below the knot. The core cord circle around the bright color cords from the left side of the loop. Make another circle around the bright color cords from the right side of the loop.
  3. Optionally add another black cord or more black cords, aligned with the core cord to get a thicker braid for handle. This black cords are around 7" to 9" which will be half. Adjust to fit your palm when you hold it.
  4. Pull tight the core cord.
  5. At the back side, the core cord will form an "X".

Step 4: The Braid - Part Two

At this point we have two cords on the left side and two cords on the right side and the black cord(s) lay(s) vertically at the center. Now let's do the braid.

  1. Upper left (orange) goes to the back of core and comes up in between the right side cords and back to lower left.
  2. Upper right (orange) goes to the back of core and comes up in between the left side cords and back to lower right.
  3. Upper left (yellow) goes to the back of core and comes up in between the right side cords and back to lower left.
  4. Upper right (yellow) goes to the back of core and comes up in between the left side cords and back to lower right.
  5. Pull both ends with equal tension. Push the crossing cords (middle) up.
  6. Repeat the steps until you get at the end of the middle black cords (approx. 4" braid). Do it slowly to get best result. Don't worry about the back side of the braid, it will get the same pattern as the front side. Ups.. seems like I forgot to put some binder clips in material list. You can use some to hold when you feel dizzy or tired in mid way.

Step 5: The Braid - Part Three

When you reach the end of the braid, do overhand knots for the orange cords and also the yellow cords as in picture #1. Snip off all excessive cords and burn with lighter, leaving only one core cord. Make a loop with the core cord with a bowline knot as close as possible to the end of the braid, just like the first loop at the beginning.

Now we have braided a handle with loops at both ends.

Step 6: Assembly

  • Get the one clamp into a loop at the braid and the other clamp into the other loop.
  • Tie a Running Bowline knot on the top clamp with approximately 1 foot of cord. Make a Bowline loop at the other end with your favorite keychain multi tools on it so that you can use it to adjust the clamps. Otherwise, simply hook a carabiner and you can still adjust it with your fingers or any key in your pocket. Mine is on the way, so here I attach a handmade flat head screwdriver temporary.
  • Tie another Running Bowline knot on the same top clamp. This time use a shorter cord. Make a Bowline loop at the other end of the cord to hook a carabiner.

Your handcuff cup holder is done. Next I will show you how to use it.

Step 7: Cup's Handle

  • Larger clamp on top, narrower clamp below.
  • Twist the braid (clockwise or counter clockwise) one way until it is tight enough.
  • If your top clamp is not large enough (does not reach the mouth) then you need to hold the mouth with your thumb.
  • If your fingers touch the hot drink, put the carabiner in between or wrap the long cord there.

Step 8: Gravity Cup

  • Adjust the short and long cords so that the cup is at balance position.
  • Join the cords together with their loops into the carabiner.
  • You can carry your cup like a bag (picture #3).
  • You can hook it on your suitcase handlebar. Oh, I forgot this Lark's Head knot (last picture). I hope you know how to do this, slowly, do not spill your drink.
  • Your gravity cup will not spill the drink even if you are on the go (your suitcase is not standing upright).

Step 9: Carrier Handle

You just can't avoid shopping while travelling. I drink a lot. When I have enough coffee, I need soft drink or mineral waters. When we buy in bulk for stock, you can imagine the weight of 4 bottles of 1.5 liter mineral water in a plastic bag. The bag's handle will be pulled into a tiny line and you will feel the pain carrying it for 15 minutes or so.

Well, put the smaller clamp into the large clamp, then put the paracord braid inside the small clamp, now we have a better handle for the bag. Hook your plastic bag into the carabiner and you can carry it better than before.

You can also hook your plastic bag at the paracord braid and use the two clamps as handles.

Step 10: What Come First

Actually I have an idea of simple collapsible cup holder like this at the very beginning of this project. I have no access to any 3D printer nearby. I also never success in learning CAD software until I met this Fusion 360.

This is my first try with Fusion 360 in 3 days. Well, at least I get the shape. The measurements and joints limit may not be accurate and in explosion mode, the handlebar and its hinge are not combined well. I need more time to play with this software. Take a look at my design here : Collapsible Cup Holder. It is free to download and edit. May someone make it better. I would be pleased if one of you print it out and give it a test and improve it. I know, the bottom ring has the same size with the upper ring, it would be more like keeping the handle bar near the cup rather than flipping into opposite direction. Yes, some patches crossed my mind. All I need is time to learn how to draw with Fusion 360. I think I am falling in love with CAD ... again ...

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Bio: Just an ordinary person who loves #thinking and #tinkering
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