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Cord Preparation

Preparing Cords

Cord Preparation is a topic seldom found in Macrame books.  Preparing the tips of cords properly is the most important step for every Macrame project.  Materials may need conditioning or stiffening, too. 

This page shows you various ways to deal with the cut ends, to prevent the cords from unraveling while you work.

Handling materials can cause messy and frayed ends, which can be frustrating. 
Twisted materials are likely to come apart completely, if you don't do something about it BEFORE starting your project.  

Preparing the cords should take place as you cut each one, which is usually the first step. 



After you cut each cord from the roll, you can apply beeswax to soften it, and eliminate any fuzz.

Warm the wax in your hands, then apply it like a crayon, rubbing it along the length of the cord (both sides).

I recommend applying beeswax, or a similar product, to all the Natural Materials (except Leather).  

When using  Synthetic Materials, beeswax can be applied to Satin and fine Nylon Beading cords.  The others are optional.

After the cords are conditioned, inspect each one for imperfections.  Discard any material that's damaged.

Then use one of the following methods for cord preparation:


Preparing with Tape

The term "fray" means the fibers are separated. 

So using tape to hold the fibers together is one technique you can use for cord preparation.

Cut a SMALL piece of masking tape (or cellophane tape).  Wrap it around the tip of the cord while you squeeze the area to make it narrower.

During the finishing process, you can cut off the area with the tape.

This is my favorite technique, and I use it when I will be applying beads.  By making the tip narrow and as flat as possible, it is much easier to pass the cord through the bead.


Preparing with Knots

One quick and easy way to prepare cords is to tie knots near the tips.

The Overhand knot is one option.

Figure 8

The Figure 8 Knot is another option.  It's easy to tie and to remove.

This is the best option for flexible cords where you need to remove the knots at some point.  It won't be as tight as other knots.


Use the Stevedore knot when working with slippery material, such as Satin or Nylon.

You can place it anywhere on a cord, and it's very easy to tie. 


Preparing with Glue

There are certain brands of glue specially formulated to prevent cords from fraying.

Aleen's Stop Fray is one such product.

Glue works best with cords that are 1mm to 3mm wide.  You should TEST the glue on a small piece of material before using it, to see if damage occurs.   Some brands will permanently darken the material. 

You can also use household glue for cord preparation.  Dilute it with water first, then dip the ends into the glue.  

In designs where you plan to add beads, you can roll the tips between your fingers to make them narrower, as the glue is drying.

You can also use Nail Polish in the same way, applying it with the brush or by dipping.


Preparing with a Flame

Sometimes Synthetic Materials can be prepared and finished with a flame from a BBQ lighter.

Parachute cord should ALWAYS be prepared with this method.


Makes sure you test the material first, by applying a flame to a small piece. The material needs to MELT rather than burn.

The melted portion will be darker than the rest of the material, but it should NOT ignite.

Olefin, Polyester, and Nylon should be prepared as follows:

Hold the flame to the tip of the cord for 1 to 5 seconds, then stop when the area is melted. 

Important: Observe the cord for signs of burning, and stop if you see it ignite.

Preparing Parachute Cord (Paracord)

Parachute cord is a little different, because it is made up of several core yarns surrounded by a braided sleeve. 

You must seal in the core yarns by melting the sleeve around them, or you run the risk of accidentally pulling them out while you are working.  Then the cord will bunch up, or unravel completely. 


Here's how you prepare Paracord:

Immediately after cutting, pull the core yarns out of the sleeve, so you expose approximately 1/2-inch.


Cut the core yarns back, so they are even with the outer sleeve.

Then push the outer sleeve forward, so you can't see the core yarns anymore.


Apply the flame to the outer sleeve, until you see it MELT.  Then press the handle of the BBQ lighter down onto the area, flattening it as much as possible.

The melted area will look a lot like plastic, and will be darker than the material.

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Have any comments about Cord Preparation? Contact Me.

Macrame Cord Divider