Braiding … General Techniques

First of all, parts / strands / thong / lace are interchangeable.  Plait / Braid / Weave should essentially be interchangeable too.  As far as I can tell, cowboys / spanish / sailors / boyscouts all use slightly different terms for the same things.  Then there are other knot tying terms like “standing end” which is the long part of the rope during and after the knot is tied.

Flat Braids

Now, Imperial lace is like a foamy substance that sucks to work with in braiding unless you leave it on the reel, but great for starting out and doing edge lacing. The Pro Lace is pretty amazing for the cost! It also is shiny and makes beautiful projects. I use it in all edge lacing over real leather, as the strength is not an issue. It does tend to scar a bit fast than the real leather. With ProLace I find that when you do the braids, the important part of making sure they turn out pretty is …

  • Anchor it with a clamp to your table or a braiding stand
  • Use a ring, a bar, a comb or another piece of something stiff to start the item out, leather sinew or rope can work, but is harder to use … preferably something that you can take the braid off easily like a two part key ring or lobster clasp that locks to allow maximum pressure – if you use force to stretch your leather while braiding it.
  • Braid management is key to even braids after getting started.  Always use the same pressure when pulling the braids tight.  From there, two schools of thought exist on the angle to pull.  Some people prefer to pull side ways for tighter sitting braids.  Other people prefer to pull down to the entire braid stretches less later on in the life of the braid.  Then there is the stiff method.  First I pull the strand extra hard down at a 45 degree angle.  Then I pulling across all strands away from the braid almost completely horizontal, then I pull them all down, lastly pulling all of the strands up to lock them back in place and a final tightening.  This method can at 15 minutes to the braiding process, but makes a leather braid stiff enough to stand almost upright when held from the bottom on a 12″ piece of diamond braid.
  • There seems to be some experience required with strand management.  I do not have this experience or skill to impart on you, beyond the saddle soap shavings trick.  It is especially annoying to get near the end of the reel and all of these rounded cords bending in over each other.  With the bonded 1/8″ or wider ProLace, I tend to add just a light dash of neatsfoot oil to a cloth and wipe/pull the leather loosely to help rather than doing the saddle soap.  I am really on the fence about either one and recommend testing these yourself based on what you need from the braiding.  If someone has suggestions for dealing with strands/parts off of reels of leather and management of any strands, I would love to hear from you!

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