Guitar Straps

Braided Guitar Strap

Learning The Magic Braid Was Fun.

Braiding a leather strip with un-cut ends and only mid-slits down the length.

      My trials with learning the secrets to slitting and braiding leather resulted in two straps. One I keep on my 12-string, the other sent down the road with a friend. Both these straps went through a lot of handling so I went for a rugged look to incorporate my attitude from many re-tries at braiding them. I basically oiled and waxed it, bare handed like a auto grease rag. I shined it over some old jeans I was wearing and finished up with a junk terry cloth hand towel. Beautiful isn't it?

Braid Paper Test Strip      The trick with the magic braid is making sure you make an even number of slits, to produce an odd number if strips. I practiced using a slit strip of paper 11" x 2" with two slices in it for three strips. just enough to prove the concept. Makes a nice paper bracelet.

      Any odd number of strips can be braided, with a limit around nine. With nine you will want to lay out a pattern that narrows at the ends to balance out the narrowing of the braided section. The more strips you braid, the narrower the finished piece is from the original cut leather strip width. I found a lot of my tips on line, but had to go to the library to check out some of the books others referred to in the their descriptions of the braiding steps. There is a lot of contradiction in the wording used out there and even some different methods of doing the flip-through at the intermediate step of the braiding process. I ultimately just sat on one end of the piece, grabbed it in the middle, braid starting with the center strips, bringing the outer ones in continuing the braid till I've crossed as many times as there are strips to braid. 5 strips, 5 braids. This should now have the strip that was on the right, on the left. And the strip that was on the left, now on the right. Flip the top of the work back through the middle of the braiding where you are holding the work, and if it looks like the upper twisted strips just got more twisted, pull it back through and flip it the other way and see how that looks. The twisted upper strips should be looser after the flip-through not tighter. You then continue braiding the same as before for the number of strips again. When one full braiding cycle is complete, flip the top through again (the same as before) and all the strips suddenly lay flat again. The right is now again on the right and the left is now again on the left. Tighten down the braiding and if there is enough length to do it again, repeat the braiding process steps again. Then even out the braids bottom to top and study it as finished.

      Summery. Slit the mid-length of the leather for an odd number of strips leaving both ends of the strip un-cut. Braid 1/2 a step, flip the top through the work, braid the other half step and flip the top through again for one full complete step cycle. At each complete cycle the work will lay flat. For a two inch wide belt that is four feet long and slit twice for three strips you will get about four or five cycles before the braid tightens up. At the end of each cycle tighten all the braiding to the bottom so all the strips from your hold to the top lay flat and are un-braided. At first you will seem to be braiding the middle of the work, but as it progresses you will see that it braids up from your hold much like any other braiding you have done. You are only forcing the top end back through the work each half step to un-tangle it as you go.

      I combined my experiments braiding a three strip and a wider five strip together to make his strap. Sort of un-planned but it turned out well. The length allows me to just wrap the thinner, tapering braid around the 12-string tuners several times letting it cinch up on itself tightly. That way I don't have to tuck it under the strings or have it tied onto the guitar in any way. Just pull it off the end pin and unwind it from the head stock. The ornaments pictured below are at the long end of this strap.

Hand Laced Guitar Strap Hand Laced Guitar Strap detail


      I just love to sit and run a lacing. It takes forever but produces a rhythm to a piece that I really like. This strap is rather plain. I think I just wanted to use up a lot of lace and see what it would look like as the only feature of the strap. It turned out to be my most used strap. there is nothing to scratch the guitar so it can be wrapped around the bouts or laid under running up the back of the neck in a guitar case. It works equally well on my Stratocaster® as it does on my beach acoustic guitar. There are no adjustments for the length. It is just a wide slightly tapered strip, laced all the way around the edge and fitted with strap-locks.

      I have several designs worked up that use the snake like pattern that lacing produces. Tendrils like those locks of hair hanging from the Predator character and the wet leathery look of the Alien work out well with laced leather and braided lace. I will post some pictures when I get a good thing going on with a finished look to it. Lacing can be used to replace stitching in almost any project. Where you see a sewing job, picture it with one of the many styles of lacing that can be done and you will start getting many interesting ideas. The first effect is usually a western look that has to be bumped up using design and dark glossy black to move it toward the snake. I used to do western pattern tooling. Not so much anymore. There's just no shortage of leather workers doing pattern tooling. Mostly I use the texture of the leather and different polishes to bring out a look. I am currently working tools to try to get to the point where I can be happy with a portrait transfer. Working from a face photo and trying to transfer that with conventional tools to the leather. Not too many examples of that out there.

Strap End Swag

Swag, You Gotta Have It.

      These make a nice rattle on the end of the neck. Silent most of the time they make noise with a back beat to hard playing. Augmented with shells and carved wood to remember campfires enjoyed. Both braided pieces used to build this strap were slit down the middle and un-cut on the ends. the narrower piece was cut with a taper over the length, so by the time it gets to the end the braiding results in a 1/4 inch wide almost whip like end. The remaining un-cut tail was then slit into many spaghetti like strips to tie stuff onto. I also do a shrunken head with a scrap of leather (not pictured).

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