One question we hear a lot is: "How do I finish off paracord ends?" So whether you are a complete newbie to paracord crafting or just looking at ways to improve your skills, here are some tips for how to finish and hide the cord ends on your paracord projects.
The standard tools for any kind of paracord craft are a lighter, and some kind of cutting instrument. This can be a scissors, knife, or one of our designated cutting tools.
Newbie Note: For those of you that are absolutely new to paracord, paracord is made of nylon. One can easily keep the ends of the cord from fraying by melting them with a lighter. Below are some different methods for making that look nice.
The Basics: Melt Them
You've spent a lot of time on your project. The last thing you want to do is ruin it on the final step. Melting the ends can be scary. Even if you know and use this method, it can be difficult to get a result that doesn't look like a preschooler's art project.
Melt don't burn
If your ends turn black, you're using too much heat. Your tiny Bic lighter can reach temperatures of nearly 1,500°F (No, that's not a typo). Only about 500°F is needed to melt paracord (Yes, only). Go slow and hold the paracord near the flame rather than in.
NOTE: High quality paracord is made of nylon. Cheaper, polyester paracord will melt and burn all at the same time. The upside? Burning polyester doesn't smell as bad.
Use a Sharpie
The previous method can sometimes leave an unsightly white mark from the exposed core strands, especially on dark colored paracord. To remedy this, you can use a permanent marker colored the same as your paracord. This makes the end blend into the rest of the project. Simply melt your ends (without flattening them) and apply sharpy once it has cooled.
Burning paracord ends is generally bad practice and can make someone look like a newbie. However, it can be done intentionally to finish off cord ends when working with black paracord. Burning happens when you go past melting your paracord to the point where the cord starts to hold a flame on its own. No matter what color of paracord you are working with, it will turn black when burned.
This method also comes with a couple of warnings:
- Be careful that your burning paracord does not get out of control. You may have to quickly blow on the flame to put it out.
- Do this only in a well-ventilated area. Even melting paracord the RIGHT way produces a bad odor. Burning it in an enclosed space can quickly give you a headache.
Flatten Them on the Back Side
If you don't like the look of paracord ends, period, you can sometimes hide them on the back side of your project. On a cobra survival bracelet, it would involve bringing the top cord around to the back to be secured under a knot before melting as normal.
Cut the Core Strands Shorter
To avoide seeing a white mark from the core strands, you can cut them just slightly shorter than the outer yarns.
After you cut your cord to length, pull back on the sheath. Then, cut the core strands and pull the sheath back over. this can be near impossible to do with less than an inch of cord left, so it definitely doesn't work in every situation.
Bury Your Ends
There is one method that does not involve any kind of melting. If you tuck the ends of your cords underneath a few knots, you can make a bracelet without using a lighter at all. This will likely involve the use of needle nose pliers or forceps.
Assuming you're making a cobra bracelet, tie the last few knots a little bit loose. Then, on the back side, tuck the ends underneath those last few knots. Pull everything tight and trim down the ends. The ends should stay put, as the weave cords are not the ones holding the bracelet together.
Be warned! If you use the "no lighter" method, you will not only have to deal with fraying ends as you frustratingly tie itty-bitty knots, you will be ostracized from the paracording community as a savage heathen.
Which of these methods have you used? Do you have any other tips for hiding your ends? Let us know in the comments.
Looking for tips on finishing paracord bracelets in particular? Check our blog post on that subject: 9 Ways to Finish a Paracord Bracelet.