Let's talk tools for a second.  The only tools you'll need for this are a
dull-pointed awl or spike and a pair of sharp cutters of some sort.  I favour
something called 'cuticle nippers' which I get from my local big-box drugstore
chain when they're on sale.  They run (2008) about $16 regularly, but if you
keep an eye out you can get them for $6 or $7.  They last for about two months
or so if resharpened gently on a stone and they give the best and closest
cuts I've found.   Failing that,  a very sharp knife will do just as well, but you
must have complete control over it to prevent cutting the other parts of the
work by
misteak.  (My hands shake, so I use the cuticle nippers.)

The spike should NOT be a sharp-pointed one, as you will only be using it to
clearance a hole to poke the end of the line thru, not actually penetrating the
line itself.

Well,  THAT was clear as mud, then.

It is most helpful if you glue up the ends of your lines with quick-drying
super-glue and allow them to harden up.    Do about 1-1/2" for each line end.  
If you're using the rayon or a cotton line, the ends will harden in anywhere
from 4 seconds to a minute or so, depending on how much you put on, the
ambient humidity and temperature and the current phase of the moon.

Just so I can sound like Norm Abrams, "
 Also, DO
NOT breath in the fumes! If necessary, set a small fan to provide air
circulation AWAY from you.  They not only smell bad, but they are dangerous
to your health.

Pretty self-explanatory.  I use nippers which are no longer sharp enough for
fine work for this or a small pair of electrical wire cutters...

Cut at a 45 degree angle once the end is good and hard and you'll have a
threading needle end that will probably last the job thru.   Beats the
(censored) out of the brass or aluminum "threading deedles" that some
people use.

Allow about 18" per side (36" per line) for the construction... that is, measure
a full yard in each of the red, white and blue, then 'middle' the lines (find the
centre of each) and then clamp them about 2" away from the center as shown
to right.   You'll be making a flat braid BACK in the direction of the middle and
past it to form your loop.  Do the braid firmly for about thirty full passes, then
just pinch it with your fingers.
(When speaking of a "FULL PASS" I mean one set of passes, one left and one
right.  Count your passes from the LEFT side...trust me.)

STARTING THE BRAID                                            COMPLETED

Still pinching the end, take the clamp off and then even up the ends of the
lines.   Be sure you have sufficient braid to do the next step.

Next, you will fold the braid over and count off NINE , then pinch it there...  When I say "Count off
NINE", I'm referring to the loops formed by the colors:  counting down (9) on one side actually
give you {18} braid passes... (I trust that's as clear as mud?)... then arrangethe loop so that you
have two of the same color as shown to right above, then tie the braid off there to be ready for
the next step.  

You can tie it using thread or string, but I have some sailtwine available to me and so I use that.  
Any small, tough line will do just fine.    I use a "slippery clove hitch" for this... tie a standard clove
hitch but put a loop thru the second leg so that both ends point back one way and you can get a
nice, tight strop which is easily pulled out when you're finished with it, which will be almost

                               (Slippery clove 1)    (Slippery clove 2)

Now invert the work and arrange the strands as shown to right, alternating
colors.    If a solid color work, then just arrange them neatly so that you can
perform the next step easily.

Separate one line of each color as shown and lead them up in a bundle away
from your hand... (I hold 'em in my mouth, but you can clip 'em to your ear, if
you like.)  this forms the "core" of the footrope knot.

Now we form the Crown part of the footrope knot:   quite simple, really, and
useful in SO many applications.  

Just take the three lines left out and loop them as shown.  I left it loose so
you can see how this goes... and that's the Crown portion of the knot.

(Expand the picture for detail...I would)

The Wall portion of the knot is nothing but another Crown, just done under
adn UP innstead of over and DOWN !  Since we're working with a small piece
here, the easiest way to do this is to INVERT the work and do the Wall as you
did the crown above.  In practical uses, you don't always have this option, so
it's better to learn how to do everything in the same orientation...

Note that the line continues moving in the same direction, always.  If you start
your crown counter-clockwise, the wall also goes counter-clockwise..

Doubling the footrope knot give it some heft and improves it's appearance.    
Again, increasing the picture will let you see what I talk about here.   As you
look at the knot, the line comes up and across the top NEAREST the core
lines.  Take your spike and (if necessary) clearance a space for the tip of the
doubling line to go under as shown, then gently pull it thru.   

Do this for all three lines until you get the crown portion doubled up neatly.

Next, we double the wall portion, but this goes just a bit differently:  We're
PENETRATING the knot with the spike to clearance the end of the doubling
line and it will go INTO the center of the knot and come out right alongside it's
color mate in the core lines.   The pictures are much better at explaining this
than are words.

ONE shows the spike going into the center... in this case. it goes below BOTH
the white and blue lines and comes out as shown.

TWO shows the red doubling line replacing the spike and I think that it's a bit
clearer to see where the line is going.  

THREE, of course shows the entire footrope knot doubled up and hung on the
working peg, ready for braiding.  (You can now remove that clove hitch.)

Buggar, if I'd known it were gonna be THIS hard to explain......)

A quick word about a work table.  I use a "T.V.table" for my work surface.  In
the US they're sold in sets of four with a stand for storage and you can usully
get them for (2008) $<50 the set at a discount mart.   GET THE SOLID WOOD
ONES! THEY LAST A LOT LONGER!  You'll note I have a spool of line
suspended between the legs.   I can put between four to eight spools of line
under the table, which greatly reduces it's tendency to tip forward.   Along the
front edge, I've bolted a 2" square piece of soft wood (the scrap end of a
baluster for an outdoor deck) and drilled holes in it to give me pegs for
working.  Strapped around that are two upright pegs to hold work in
progress.  Cheap, reliable and easily transported.  Also in the background you
can see my TV and that's REALLY helpful preserving my (alleged) sanity.

OK:  Back to work.

The braided part is a six-strand half-round (or Reefing) braid.  I use it because
it produces a flat section on one face which is comfortable to wear.

To start it,  I hang the loop on a peg and then separate the three colors to
each side.  Here, it happened I did White for the first pair, Blue for the middle
and then Red for the inner.  Again, in this case, you begin with the white, then
use the blue and the red is last.  Once you strighten out the lines, you always
start with the pair closest to you, then the middle and then the farthest.

SETTING UP THE BRAID                                      FIRST PAIR DONE

Get the braid comfortably in both hands, then take the TOP pair and cross the
RIGHT HAND to the LEFT SIDE, then cross the LEFT HAND
OVER and to the


The second pair is similar to the first:  Take the RIGHT SIDE blue and cross it
OVER the White leg to the LEFT SIDE, then take the LEFT HAND blue and cross
UNDER the WHITE and OVER the BLUE to the RIGHT SIDE.   Confused yet?  

THIRD PAIR - FIRST PASS                              THIRD PAIR - SECOND PASS

The third pair is NOT the same.   Take the
LEFT HAND side Red line and bring
it around the BACK of the braid, come up BETWEEN the WHITE and BLUE on
the RIGHT SIDE, continue leading it LEFT and finish up on the LEFT SIDE as
shown.  Then take the RIGHT SIDE and do the opposite.   You'll now be
looking at something like the picture "Third Pair - Second Pass" above.   This
is a GOOD thing.

The REST of the braid is made using the method used for the third pair.
Tighten everything up neatly and just continue taking the TOP line on the
LEFT around, up and thru the bottom pairs and continue to the LEFT, then
take the TOP line on the RIGHT.... I think you get the picture.

After a few of these, muscle memory wil take over and you'll be able to talk to
someone, watch TV or think about that girl in the string bikini you saw last
week at the boat docks.  

(Sorry, didn't see the wife there reading this with you!)

Here's the finished braid, again tied off with the slippery clove hitch, ready to
have the star knot applied to it.

Length is something you'll have to experiment with, but a child's should be ~6
inches, a woman's about ~7, a medium man's ~8 and a large man's ~9.  You'll
find that a certain number of passes equals a certain number of inches, and I
refer to my wristlets by that number.  

In 1.4mm line,  36 full passes =  appx. 7.5".

Another point:  when getting down to the number of passes for the size
you're making, continue for SIX full pair/passes beyond that point so that you
can more easliy tie the braid off at the desired point.  

(You'll thank me for that, later.)

Now we have to put either a star-knot or a large footrope knot on it to end it
off.   That will be covered on the..............

The Chesapeake Bay
Lifesaver Bracelet
Last updated  
Click on any
picture to
bring up a
The Chesapeake Lifesaver is a bracelet worn by watermen
in that region which had several purposes:  It served as a
lifesaver (if someone was 'going over the side' and you
could grasp his wrist, it was a purchase point to hold him
and bring him back aboard should your handgrip fail), a
"corpse recoverer" (a point where one could pull with a
boathook rather than using a gaff on the body) and as a
distinctive piece of fancywork.    They were usually
finished off with a footrope knot, but I like using a starknot
instead as it provides a more secure closure point and
is a lot nicer looking. (IMHO)

At the request of Ron Haralson of Culver city, CA, I have
made up this page to attempt to teach it's construction.

If you have any comments, suggestions or questions,
please contact me by
As always, the smaller pictures to the right are linked to larger pictures: to view those, simply click on the
picture you wish to enlarge.

The mechanics of construction are simple:  you may use any line you think suitable in size and construction
(the two in the first picture are made of  white cotton line (#18ga) and a rayon line used for mini-blinds (about
#10ga, or 1.8mm)  Sources for both are listed on the
tutorials main page.   The loop is a simple three strand
flat braid, then a three (or four) strand footrope knot to a six-strand half-round (gripper or reefing) braid and
finally the starknot end.    (ABOK #'s 2965, 694, 3003 and 727, respectively.)