General > Fancy and Decorative Knotwork

REVISED: Fancywork Supplies and Recommendations [29-12-2012]

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Frayed Knot Arts:
Some time ago  :o  I was asked by the Webmistress (I think) to condense the following once-stickied posting on sources.   

Finally: all things come to (s)he who waits...    ::)

[quote]Link to the original posting.[/quote]

I'm positive I've forgotten to include something really, really important from the OP, but it had gotten far too long at 5 pages to be really useful any longer.  Please feel free to berate me by email and let me know what it was I forgot, INCLUDING A CURRENT URL!  I'll add it forthwith.

PLEASE:  if you wanna do a "me-too!" post,  put it on it's own thread or send a PM to the poster:  let's keep this thread as clean and easy to use as possible.

ATTENTION ALL KNOTTERS!  If you have a website and have tutorials or useful instructions/information on it, why not reference this Forum, as well as sending me a link to your site/tutorials and I'll do up a second collective post!

Sources and thoughts on materials for knotting:  US version

Please don't post actual pricing and please don't post if you have an interest in the concern.  Let's keep this as a neutral informational post, not an advertisers jumble.

To start: Cyanoacrylate Glue in bulk.

As many of you know from my past drivels, I am a proponent of using cyanoacrylate glue for many purposes (*) in doing small fancywork, but getting some at a decent cost has been rather difficult.

Finally I found a good US source for this stuff and thought I'd share...

ExoticBlanks took over from WoodenWonders when Mannie retired: (see below) they are a master distributor for EZ Bond CA glues, and you can really get some nice pricing on 16oz bottles of the stuff. They also have smaller bottles into which you can decant the glue for convenient working sizes, caps and "wicking tips" which are just a super idea, as well as 2oz bottles of the glue if you don't need a big bottle.

I use the THIN *(5 CP) formula to "tip" my lines for weaving turksheads, to prevent the end of a line from "fagging out" while being tucked or braided (especially in squareknotting) and for a dozen other little things. (**)

They also sell "De-bonder" (GET SOME! It's really helps to be able to get this stuff OFF a surface if you have an 'oopsie'!) as well as accelerator to speed up drying, and while - nine times out of ten - you won't need it with the thin formula and cotton/linen lines. its nice to have some for working on real nylon or dacron blend lines, which are a bit slow to "set up".  Polyester blends set up just fine... use a bit of patience.

A lot of people like varnish. (I like the look) The way it coats the work and makes the surface smooth is very traditional, while CA penetrates the fabric of the line and does not give a 'smooth" surface finish. But the CA surface gives a far superior 'grip' to the handle, so it's really (as Daedalus said to Icarus) a matter of 'a pinion' as to which is better.  It also dries in a very brief time by comparison.

{(added DEC 2012):  ExoticBlanks is in Michigan (or Minnesota, or one of those Northern Places in the USA... which does (censored)-all good for the Brits and other international-type knotters.  PLEASE feel free to send me YOUR favourite  (local-by-country) supplier of this wond'rous liquid!}

Generally (and I am absolutely open to correction on this), very fine knot work requires a 8 ga. hard cotton line (codline) which is about 3/32" in diameter.  This may sound small, but the size, combined with the hard lay of the line will produce superior square-knot and fine braiding work.   This is about .9 mm in diameter.  This would produce (for example) about a 32-line square-knot belt (8 knots wide) at 1-1/2" across. .

Finding a really good line is probably the toughest thing about doing knotwork and it's why I started this thread.

The "creme da la creme" of knotting line was the "Dreadnaught" cord sold by PC Herwig from appx. 1927 thru 1970 or so when the company went out of business.  It was an 8 ga. hard cotton cord, sized (starched) and polished and came in six colours from white thru a truly awful yellow, but it was by far the absolute best thing for doing half-hitch belts, fine squareknot work and especially for making up fine braids for picture frames.  (Some of the "old salts" from the USN will remember this as "Belfast Cord" sold (jobbed off) by GEMSCO at Naval Exchanges the world over.  It was Herwig's Dreadnaught cord in disguise!)  I've searched for five years now for a manufacturer who could replicate this cordage and have come up empty.

As for the rest of it:

"550" or Paracord makes some VERY nice stuff if you're into larger sized work!

Cotton lines are superb, and Polyester cords are just great... both have their place and both produce completely different results.

Jimalax is loved by many (but NOT me!) for the vibrant colour and larger size... I prefer a much smaller size and a different layup to the line, but that's MY thuktun, innit?

I heartily recommend a reading (or purchase!) of Raoul Graumont and John Hensel's "Encyclopaedia of Knots and Fancy Ropework" (Cornell Maritime 1944) if for nothing else than their section and photos of square-knot work, most of the photos for which were originally taken for use in Herwig's "Square-Knotting Books", #1, #2 and #3.   If you have the Encyclopaedia, there no need of the Herwig pamphlets as it is all contained in the Encyclopaedia.  (Incidentally,  get a post-1952 edition of this if possible... the earlier ones have sections of the index missing!)

Tools are essential and good tools are always preferred!    "A Fine Tool Does Not Cost Money: It MAKES Money"  True in woodworking as well as knottying
 and any other trade where the right tool makes all the difference.   Spend it.  It WILL pay for itself!

OK:  The following have been gleaned from over 200 emails.  One assumes they're good contacts.  Feel free to correct me.

CA Glues:

Paracord ("550" cord):  (added 7/28/2014)-: Thanks to AKNOTTER!)   (Bob Dollar!)

Miniblind cords: ("Handy Hundred" and salvaged spools)  (ALSO ASK ABOUT 'SOLUTION DYED' MATERIALS)  (Bob Dollar!)

Cross-lace cord (As in LaCrosse)

Cotton cords for fancywork: 
Marty Combs   (RECOMMENDED!)

Rattail Satin lines:

Leather Lace:  (UK):

Interesting tools and books for turk's heads and globe knots 

Grip-fids and spikes:  SWEDEN Lasse Carvenal  Pieces of  bloody art they are!
lasse.carenvall (at) gmail (dot) com

Spikes, Clamps and Monkey Fist Jigs:   (Peter Nelson-RECOMMENDED! I have one of his spikes, he has one of my lanyards: everybody's happy!)

Charts and discussion of line sizes - very useful!  Explore the internal posts!

Small pieces for knot boards: pulleys, anchors, deck hardware, etc.  added June 01 2012


Anyone who is looking for the original thread can find it at

Thanks so much Vince - you have done all knot-tyers a great service!


For people looking for side release buckles for paracord buckles, check out  They carry different sizes and colors, they offer bulk prices and also carry bracelet kits and safety buckles.  I've ordered from them twice and have had great service.

For Australian members:

At last, an Australian supplier of paracord, micro paracord, buckles, lanyard breakaway clips, beads, etc:

Paracord 550 is readily obtainable here in "camping lengths" in limited colours, but buying colours and/or micro cord means buying from overseas. I've had excellent service from a number of US sellers but the postage usually more than doubles the cost. My first order from Cam's arrived very promptly and included a few extras of bits and pieces I'd ordered in other colours plus a few paracord colour samples. Excellent service so far!


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