Art of the Hands

Time to Tinker

Tag: survival

Paracord Rescue Belt

A long time ago I was in need of a new belt but I didn’t want a boring generic belt so I decided to make my own. Right around this time I discovered the world paracord bracelets and had been experimenting with making some of my own and was always disappointed with the amount of rope each bracelet held. Each bracelet holds about 10 feet of rope which would be extremely valuable in a survival situation but I figured that where 10 feet could be good, 100 feet would be better. And so, I bought 100 feet or paracord and started tying. This is a link to some instructions on how to make the knot that I used so if you want to make this yourself I would highly recommend looking at that as he explains things way better than I would be able to. I chose this knot over any of the other knots out there because it only uses one strand of rope so I could fit a solid 100 feet of rope around my waist without cutting it. It also is a quick untie knot which is important in a survival situation. Some of the other more popular knots used in paracord survival bracelets claim to be a “quick release” knot but I have tried untying them and it takes a pair of pliers and lots of time to do, defiantly not easy and absolutely not a good survival knot.

To start my project I needed to choose a rope type and color. Because the knot I am using only uses one strand of paracord, the final belt will be one solid color and so I needed a color that would work well on its own. I also wanted to be able to use this belt as my church belt so my color choice was limited to either black or brown. I chose black partially because it is easier to find in long sections but also because black matched the black belt buckle that I salvaged from my last belt. Aside from the color, I decided to use 550 paracord which has a minimum breaking strength or 550 lbs, hence the name 550 cord. The rope also has seven internal nylon strands that can be removed for fishing string, bowstring, tent string ext. meaning that for any emergency survival situation meaning that I would have a maximum of 800 feet or differently sized rope tied around my waist at all times.

Tying the knot proved to be very easy once I got the hang of it.

I made my belt 5 strands wide (even though in this picture it looks only 4 strands wide, the way the knot works it is actually 5 wide) which ended being almost too big to fit into a belt loop so you may want to try 4 strands wide and see how that works for you. If you want to make this belt you should use this kind of belt clasp. The idea is that you push the prong (the straight bit) through the weaves of the knot that the belt is made of. A friction type belt buckle might still work but I personally have my doubts. another option is to use a traditional clasp but those will probably break faster and it will only give you one size in your belt so I chose to not go this route.

Once you get the rope attached to the belt buckle, the next step is to just start tying. My belt uses 100 feet of rope and fits my 220 lb frame with about 5 feet of wiggle room. If you are extremely skinny then 80-90 feet might work for you best while if you are fatter or just like a lot of extra belt length than try 120 feet of rope. Keep in mind that if you have extra rope when you get done tying then you can easily just cut it shorter but if you have to little rope then you get to untie the whole belt and start again with a longer strand. Also remember that this belt is going to be thicker than a leather one so it will likely be a tight fit to squeeze the belt twice through a belt loop, however, that also means you don’t need to worry about it accidentally coming out of your belt loop which is why only having enough extra to just reach the first belt loop has worked for me quite well.

Once you have gotten the belt to your desired length then it is time to tie it off. because you want to be able to disassemble this belt with minimal to no tools you must be careful with how you end this belt

at the end of your last loop, if you cut the excess rope very close to the body of the belt, then you can melt the remaining excess away with a lighter as you seal the end of the rope. By smoothing the molten plastic with a wetted finger you can get a flush, smooth end to the belt that can be removed by scraping it against a rock or cutting it with a pair of scissors.

Once you get done you should be left with a professional quality belt that will last longer than most storebought belts will. I have been using my belt for the last 5 or so years and the belt is still holding strong, while it is the metal clasp that is actually wearing out. in addition to lasting a ridiculously long amount of time, this belt can be unraveled in minutes to produce 100 feet of potentially lifesaving rope strong enough to support your weight, and yet still looks amazing, even when worn in conjunction to a full suit. It also passes under the radar remarkably easily so most people would never know you had it on, and those who do are always extremely impressed. In all, I would absolutely recommend that you make one of these for your self! this belt was made with survival in mind but with some different knots, you could have a lot of fun with different colors and patterns that would work with every wardrobe. I hope this post was interesting for you and I hope that you do make one of these for yourself! until next time, Happy Tinkering!

Unusual Candles

From a young age, I was one of those boys who grew up loving to run outside playing the dirt and get generally filthy. As I Grew Older that’s developed into an enjoyment of learning about how to survive in the wilderness on your own. One of the things that I have seen often in books was the concept of using the cooking grease to make a candle that you can use to light up your the past I’ve been skeptical of the idea because of two facts:

  1. Meat has a lot of bacteria in it and so it I always thought that the candle would mold in a matter of days making it a fairly impractical idea.
  2. There would be so many impurities in the grease that I figured it would either not burn cleanly or it would pop like a campfire throwing hot liquid everywhere.

I finally got around to putting the project to the test the other day and the results surprised me.

Just for fun, I decided to make two candles, one from sausage flavored meat and the other from taco flavored meat. I did this partly because that is what I happened to be cooking at the time and partly because I was curious if the flavoring of the meat would result in a scented candle. Because this is a survival-themed project, I decided to cut strips out of an old shirt to use as a wick. I’ve experimented with the concept in the past and so I know that pretty much any clothing will do a fairly good job of acting as a wick. The burn characteristics are slightly different as the cloth will probably wider meaning more fuel for the fire and thereby more heat and light but at the cost of burn time.

Since almost everyone has or knows someone with an old shirt that needs to be retired, this can work as a perfect substitute wick for a survival or DIY candle. The only downside is that I won’t have the little metal stands that usually come with store-bought wicks so it will be impossible to stand them up in the middle of the grease. You could make your own stand with some copper wire if you want to but I was lazy and I didn’t think it was necessary for this test.

Because I was nervous about the bacteria growing and making the candles disgusting, I decided to put the glass containers I was planning to use in boiling water so they would be sterilized, hopefully, so they would not be the culprit of any bacteria growth. One that step was done, it was time to get cooking, literally.

Once I collected the grease and set the wick, I let them sit in the fridge for a while to harden before testing.

The candles ended burn remarkably well. The grease seemed to burn as slow or possibly slower than traditional wax and had almost no smoke of any kind. The sausage flavored candle had no discernable scent but if you paid attention you could smell the taco flavoring. The light that they gave off was nothing to scoff at either. Having experimented with using shirts as a wick in wax candles in the past, it is my opinion that the grease candles outperformed their wax competitors in both burn duration and was easily their equals in light output and smoke quality. The only downside is that you have to store the grease candles in the fridge but if you froze them I would not be surprised if they had an unlimited shelf life.

This project thoroughly surprised me with both how easy it was to do and how well the final product worked. I would defiantly recommend trying this yourself. These types of ideas are what inspires me to keep tinkering because the creativity required to use grease for a candle is truly inspiring. Thanks for joining me and happy tinkering!