DIY Handplane Leash

Since Summer’s in the air, I figured it was time to pull out the handplane I made again and make some things for it I’ve been meaning to in time for warm water bodysurfing season (with a hope for some hurricane swells!).
I haven’t lost the handplane yet out in the water, but I thought it might be good to have a little insurance. I wanted to make a leash, but nothing too obstructive that would get in the way. Around the house, we had one of these keychains with a plastic coiled cord:

I just needed the coiled cord, so I removed the key ring from the one end and used a pair of tin snips to cut the hook end free from the cord:

Next, I made a wrist strap by cutting off the last 2 inches of an old neoprene wetsuit sleeve:

Cut off wrist of a wetsuit sleeve

If you need a bigger cuff, just cut a two inch section higher up the arm. To attach the cuff and leash, I used pieces of kumihimo cord I made before (or you can use boat line), and overhand knot tied off to one side of the hand hold and made a lark’s head around the neoprene cuff:

All leashed up!

That’s it! I’m going to leave this leash attached to my board, but I can cut the tie off if I want. I plastic zip tie would work great too, I just wanted to avoid using any metal that could scratch up the board or get rusty over time.
I wouldn’t expect this to hold in super heavy waves, but then if I get into a super heavy wave and get tossed, I don’t want a square foot of poplar within close proximity to me anyway….

World’s Smallest Wax Comb (on a spare leash loop)

On Wednesday, I said I’d be making rope all week on the disk, so I thought it would be fun to take a riff from that and make a small length (or longer) that can serve as a bracelet or a necklace for the World’s Smallest Wax Comb (at least until my eye is feeling better).
Since I see surf related necklaces and bracelets everywhere, I thought this would be unique since it actually has components used in surfing, and in a pinch, is not just for show, but can be USED! BONUS!
Here’s the pattern for the nylon rope cord I made for this project (refer to Wednesday’s project for more info):

The blue is the lighter blue string, and the white represents the silver/white string
The pattern created

So, to make the comb, I used Sculpey Premo in pearl. When baked as a thin piece, this color almost gives a carved wooden look, to me.
I used about 1/8 of a block of Sculpey to roll out to a thin sheet about 1/8″ thick. I used my Plexiglas roller and a tiny cookie cutter in the shape of a rectangle. You can make one yourself using a small piece of craft tin and some tin snips and bending it into whatever shape you want.

1/4 of a bar of Sculpey- this will make a lot of combs!
The little cookie cutter

I then started to make little sawtooth notches along one edge (see this previous project) and I made sure to poke a little hole at the upper corner, since I’m going to put a jump ring (tiny ring of wire) there, so I can attach it to my piece.

Some of the tools I used

Sculpey Premo advises baking for around 30 minutes at 275 degrees Fahrenheit, but since this can be used as an actual wax comb, I baked it for around 40-50 minutes. Just keep an eye on the oven.
To make the bracelet or necklace loop, cut the length of rope you want and carefully melt the bitter ends with a lighter, candle flame, etc. (OUTSIDE PLEASE). Quickly butt the ends together and they will melt together and form a good bond. This will only work with nylon rope. Keep in mind that the rope loop needs to be big enough to fit over your head or wrist, but the rope will have a bit of stretch, but don’t push it.
Take your wax comb, add the jump ring to the upper corner where you made the hole (you may need a needle file to rout it a bit if the hole’s not big enough), close it over the rope, and you’re done!

Couple of bracelets- one even has a tiny thumb indent!

These actually work and are more functional than a shark’s tooth, and won’t piss off the shark. 🙂

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!

Simple DIY Leash Loop from a Grocery Bag

So, one of my first projects I showed on here was how to make a leash loop using a Kumihimo technique. This time, I thought it would be fun to revisit making a leash loop using a plastic shopping bag and simple twisting and braiding techniques. It works, and I’ve even tested them on my SUP’s which I wipe out on quite a bit (fair warning). I wouldn’t advise using these in rough, gnarly conditions, just like with any other piece of equipment, of course, check to make sure it’s intact before using.
First, I took a plastic grocery bag- yes I still have a few of those- and laid it out flat on the floor:

Next, I cut off the handles and the pleated bottom so I’d just have a fat plastic loop:

Bag with handles and bottom cut off

Next, I cut the bag into 1/2″ strips, making 6 strips (loops) total:

I took those loops and cut them open to make six long pieces of plastic strips:

After that, I grouped the pieces in pairs and taped the ends to a stable surface. At this point, I took one of the strips and started twisting it clockwise, or in the “S” direction (the name comes from the way the diagonal twisting forms). DO NOT PULL on the strips!!! The strips are weak- it will be the twisting together of these strips that will make the strength of the cord. I cannot stress this enough, or you’ll be back to the bag stage.

Twisting the first strip clockwise

Once you’re finished making your strip into a tight twisted cord, tape the end off so it doesn’t untwist, and then do the same thing to the other strip.
This is where the magic happens. OK, it’s not THAT exciting. Take your two strips and twist them together COUNTERCLOCKWISE, or in a “Z”  direction twist. This will lock the strands together. Remember when you were little how you twisted a piece of string in one direction tightly, then it folded back on itself in the other twisting direction, and the twisted string didn’t unravel? Same principle. Another name for this is plying. Take a good, close look at a piece of yarn sometime, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

One completed strand (out of three)
Close-up of the cord.

Repeat this for the next two pairs of strips.
After you’re finished with the three twisted cords, you’re going to put them together and begin to braid them tightly. DON’T PULL HARD! You may want to reinforce the twist of your cords as you braid them together to make sure the cords stay tight.

Making a tight braid

After you’re finished making the braided cord, either overhand each end to keep the braid together, or wrap a piece of tape around the ends. Putting some tape on the ends is probably better since it won’t use up your cord like an overhand knot does.

Completed braided cord

Next, I’m ready to put it on my board. You can use the single cord to make a leash loop, or since I shred so hard, I decided to make this one doubled up for extra insurance on those mackin’ 3 foot days.
Here, I show how I’m threading the doubled up cord through the cord holder, next to a regular leash loop for size comparison:

Threading the cord

Next, I just make a simple Lark’s Head with the cord and tie an overhand knot, giving plenty of space for the Velcro attachment on my leash to pass through:

Completed leash loop

And there you have it- yeah, I know you can buy one, but you’re probably got some plastic bags that would love to be something other than landfill fodder. Plus, this cord may last a bit longer since this stuff doesn’t want to break down and go away easily. Put one on your locally shaped board, and you’ve got bragging rights before you hit the water.
Disclaimer: After entering the water, bragging rights may diminish.

Surfboard Leash Organizer Hack

Ok, like I’ve said in the past, a pet peeve of mine are surfboard leashes tangled and I can’t remember which length is which, especially if I’ve got a 7′ and a 9′ side by side. I did this project to help that problem, but now, I still have a leash mess everywhere.
I was racking what’s left of my brain for something that could hang a leash up off the ground, but all the ideas I had made the leash slip off, or loop back down to the floor. I don’t want to keep my leashes wrapped around the tail of my boards, so now what?
I went to the local hardware store and started looking at all the different types of hooks. I looked at those 3M hooks I’ve used in the past- they’re usually plastic hooks with an adhesive foam backing that you can stick on the wall, and they hold OK if something isn’t in direct sunlight or heavy (DON’T hang framed diplomas from these….ahem.)
I noticed that they had one that was a “cord keeper” to organize electrical cords. Perfect! And cheap!

3M cord keeper hook front
Cord keeper hanger back with the foam sticky backing

Basically, the hook is a soft latch that pulls up, you put the cord- or leash- into, and it snugs up holding the leash cord in place. I decided to put these on my surfboard racks in the garage.

Hanging up the leash onto the cord keeper

I put these hooks BEHIND each of my racks, with the corresponding leash that goes with the board. The plastic hook is soft, and won’t scratch the bottom. In this case, I put my 7′ yellow leash, which goes with my Sharpe T&C, on it’s rack, and will put the board back into it’s slot.

Leash hanging secure, board can be put back into place

Let the adhesive dry for a while before hanging anything from it, it takes a while to cure.
Here it is from behind the board:

Leash hanging behind the board from the rack

That’s it! Now my leashes are off the floor, I have a correct leash to go with each board.
Heck, I could hang two different leashes if I need a backup for the 5th Annual Heineken Invitational Pro Charity Benefit Competition to benefit Looty (I made that up….I don’t think that exists….)

Leashes…I NEED my Leashes!

Ok, as you may have guessed by now, I love to organize. But, I must confess, the hardest thing to keep neat are leashes. They are about as easy to keep organized as a stack of fitted bed sheets.
I never keep my leashes wrapped around my boards, since I tend to use different leashes on the same board quite often. However, when I’m finished surfing, I can never get the leash into something resembling an organized coil to put away, and if I do, it comes apart into the pile anyway, and ends up like this:

What a mess!

Now I know some people may have one leash, some may have many more, and can distinguish them by color, brand, etc. I can’t. I just have too many other things I’m forced to remember. And it gets really frustrating when I’m trying to determine the leash I need. NOW.
So, instead of trying to guess at which one is which, I’m going to label mine using some plastic duct type tape from the hardware store (or your garage). Electrical tape works well too.
I used two colors for mine: blue and yellow. Blue is for my “shortboard” leash (7 footer), and the yellow tape is for the longboard leashes. Now, I also have two longboard leashes that I can use for my SUP’s. Those I marked with yellow tape with a narrow cut of blue in the center. I have the tape wrapped around the leash just below the swivel where the leash attached to the board. I kind of like thinking of it as marking them like a resistor- you can get really creative with banding if you want, but I want to keep this simplified!

Tape wrapped around each leash base for marking
Closer view

In addition, I may want to know a little more detail about the leash, so I put a little marking on each one with a sharpie, indicating the foot length, and even my “knee” leash:

Good to know…

At least now, I can pull out the right leash- now if it’s tangled like a ball of Christmas lights, that’s my own fault.
This labeling is not only useful for leashes, but I find that it’s helpful for labeling things like sunscreen as well. Sunscreen loses a lot of effectiveness after 6 months- 1 year of opening, so I mark my bottles with a label to tell me how long I’ve had it, so I know when it’s time to chuck it.

Which one of these needs to go??? Hmmm……

Hope this helps out! Enjoy!

Leash Tie Cord/ Leash Loop Crafting

When it comes to that little piece of cord that attaches your leash to your board, you have about as many choices of color as a Model A- black, black, and black. All out of nylon too- no “eco” green, or just plain cool materials.
I made my leash loop using a foam Kumihimo disk, which is available at a lot of craft stores these days. It creates a round braid, similar to one you probably did in Summer camp growing up. Basically, with thicker cord material, I do a 8 cord braid, or with thinner cord, I will do a 16 cord braid to make the cord more substantial. Instructions on making the Kumihimo braid are usually included in the package, but they can also be found here. Here’s one I created using mercerized cotton in a variegated purple.

8 strand braid in cotton

 The fun part is coming up with color combos and using different materials to create a loop. Just make sure that the material you use can withstand saltwater and the conditions you will be using your board in. Cotton cord can be used in smaller waves, since the braid makes a strong rope, but keep a check on it often since it can deteriorate, but so can all leash loops. Other good materials are hemp, nylon cord (in colors!), and even in cut up grocery bags, also known in crafting circles as “plarn” (plastic yarn). Once the braid is complete, fold it in half, and put an overhand knot in it. Sometimes I may dot the knot with a bit of E-6000 industrial glue, which is waterproof and will keep the knot tight. The length of the loop you wish to make depends on your surfboard and leash type. Below are a few examples of completed cords:

Freshly made cotton 8 strand loops


Cotton braided leash loop used for several sessions