DIY Nylon Leash Loops for Board ID using Kumihimo braiding

I’ve really been fascinated by leash loops- they’re such a small item that gets taken for granted, and should be especially respected by a person like me who wipes out on a regular basis. In fact, I made it one of my first projects on this blog, creating one from cotton embroidery thread and using a Kumihimo disk. Not too long ago, I did some using plastic bags and braiding them. Now, I found some nylon crochet thread and I’m going to make some rope that looks just like what you’d get at the marine/boat store- only in the pattern and colors I want, and made by yours truly.
I went back to using the Kumihimo disk again- this tool is cheap and easy to use and learn. It’s a foam disk like you used in camp that keeps your strings separated and gives them some tension. It also creates a wicked round braid, like a rope, instead of a plain one. You can make 4, 8 or 16 strand rope braids that are VERY strong. If you want a general tutorial, there’s always one that comes with the disk, or you can look at my first project here.
I found several different large spools of nylon string at my local hobby shop, so I picked up a few colors:

Spools of nylon string

If you keep up with this blog, you know I have this little blue 5’8″ that I can’t ride very well yet, but I’m pimping it out, and that’s the important part, as everyone knows. 🙂 The other day, I cut down a board sock for it, and I was thinking, if I had a lot of clear glassed boards about the same size, it would be nice to take a quick peek to identify which was which, or if going on a trip, which one was mine- I remember that confusion on the surf mobile in Costa Rica (honestly, it wouldn’t matter what board I rode). So I thought having a unique, stand out leash loop may help. Or maybe I just wanted to braid some rope, what’s it to ya?
For this, I went with the colors of the board, blue and yellow. I did an 8 strand rope. Remember that nylon frays like crazy when you cut an end, so either knot it off or singe the end lightly with a small lighter. If you singe it, DO IT OUTSIDE! It smells, and it’s the safest place do it.

Overhand knot on a cut end

You may want to wind each strand around a special type of working spool that you can tug on a release string while you’re working, but it’s not necessary since nylon is so slippery it untangles pretty well.

Plastic feeder spools for braiding

Once I got my 8 strands together, I did one big over hand knot to join them and put the knot down though to the backside of the disk:

Backside of disk

Next, I set up my initial pattern. I took a pic of my color configuration:

6 blue, 2 yellow

But since the pictures don’t always shown the colors well, sometimes I’ll make a diagram if I like how the pattern comes out so I can remember it for the future:

When I was done braiding, I made a loop and tied it off with an overhand knot- I’ve been told not to make this loop too long or it may negate the purpose of the rail saver on a leash and cause damage to your board, so maybe 1-2 inches is plenty, depending on how thick you make your braid. I singed the ends with a lighter and also singed the knot a little to keep it from slipping out. Make sure to stretch your braid out before using it- it will have a lot of stretch coming off of the disk.
I ended up getting two leash loops out of the length of braid. Here’s one:

Here’s another pattern I did using variegated red and black string with 2 white strings and what it looked like when it was finished:

Red/back/white pattern
Completed pattern

It’s a good skill for a waterman or woman to know, and is a great way to label your board at a glance:

Leash loop attached to my board
I’ve got to be out of the water for a few days after a small surgery, so I foresee a lot of these in my future week. I’m trying to practice braiding while on my Balance/BOSU board- now that’s some surf craft training!
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