Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review - Paracord Fusion Ties - Volume 1

Front Cover - Paracord Fusion Ties - Vol. 1
JD Lenzen is one of the top instructors for making woven crafts out of 550 Paracord. His instructional videos on YouTube have over 38 million views. If you haven't seen his videos, you can find his YouTube Channel here.

For those who would rather have a physical instructional guide in front of them, in October 2012, JD published Paracord Fusion Ties - Volume 1. In my opinion, this is the best instructional guide for making Paracord crafts that has ever been published. There is nothing else like it.

Paracord Fusion Ties consists of 123 colorfully illustrated pages which show you how to make 35 different crafts. From Solomon Bars (Cobra Stitch, Portuguese Sinnet) and Monkey Fists to Switchback Straps and Feather Bars, this book has more weaves in it than many of you have ever even heard of.
Back Cover - Paracord Fusion Ties - Vol. 1

The step-by-step illustrations, combined with clearly written instructions, make using this book very simple and intuitive. Don't get intimidated by all of the Paracord crafts out there! With this book, you will be able to easily learn to make much of what you see available in the Paracord craft market.

For those looking to begin braiding 550 Paracord, Paracord Fusion Ties - Volume 1 is definitely a great place to start. For the seasoned Paracord weaver, this book is bound to have some new braids that you've never seen before or it may give you inspiration to create your own custom crafts. All in all, this book belongs in every Paracord crafters toolbox.

Have any of you purchased and/or used this book? If so, let me know what you think of it in the comments below.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Paracord Manufacturer Review - Gladding Braided Products

Since we’ve gotten thoroughly acquainted with E.L. Wood Braiding, it’s time to take a look at another very popular braiding company: Gladding Braided Products.

Gladding Braided Products has been around forever and ever and ever… well, since it was founded in 1816 by B.F. Gladding with a single horse-powered braiding machine. :P Today, Gladding specializes in a multitude of products that has only continued to grow year by year. Each and every product is U.S. Made in their Otselic River valley factory in South Otselic, New York. They are also a current U.S. Government Contractor, braiding products specifically for use by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Straight from their webpage, “…We pride ourselves on our tradition of providing uncompromising attention and dedicated service to each client.” Apparently, when they set out to do something, they set out to do it right. If that hasn’t carried them through nearly two centuries, I don’t know what has! Gladding has a unique dedication to their customers in that they have a communal sense of responsibility to serve with dignity and respect. They continually conform to the changing desires of their individual customers, as well as the entire braiding market! They make use of advanced computer and raw material technologies in order to make advancements in their product line, as well as engineering requested custom prototypes and products.

Gladding’s product line is very similar to E.L. Wood’s. However, Gladding has an extra feather in their cap in that they not only produce fiber braided products, but wire braided ones, as well! The materials that Gladding uses include: Aracon, Bronze, Bare Copper, Tinned-plated Copper, Dacron, Dyneema, Fiberglass, Inconel, Kevlar, Monel, Nextel, Nickel 2000, Nickel-plating, Nomex Yarn, Nylon, Peek, Polyester, Polypropylene, Silver-plated, Spectra, Stainless Steel Wire, Trevira, Vectran Yarns, and a few others that they would happily list if you contact them.

The many products that Gladding manufactures include: grounding straps, tubular braids, flat braids, multi-layer braids, coated braids, buss wire, cable harnesses, over braiding, shielding, double braids, solid braids, diamond braids, twine, 12-strand rope, shock cord, Duravet cord, Gladbrite accessory cord, paraline, 650 Nylon cord, Mil-C-5040 Type III 550 Military-Spec Paracord, Type III 550 Commercial-Spec Paracord, plus all sorts of custom requests and prototypes. Of course, the braid diameters range between products, all being packaged in various lengths and forms.

The History Channel stopped by the Gladding Braided Products facility to film an episode of “Modern Marvels” on Ropes & Chains. Check it out here!

So, suffice to say, these guys are pros when it comes to braiding stuff… maybe not hair, but regardless, they’re pros. In regards to their Type III 550 Commercial Paracord, they have a sizeable collection of colors: 57 different solids, patterns, camos and reflectives. While theirs might not be the most extensive, the vibrancy and uniqueness of the dyes that Gladding uses for their cord certainly shows that more isn’t always better. Gladding’s brand of 550 Paracord is very popular with everyone from part-time crafters to full-time businesses. One size fits all!

One criticism that I would have about Gladding’s 550 Paracord is their inconsistency in a few manufacturing areas. From batch to batch, some of their dyes have changed on occassion without notice, which can be a bit of an annoyance to those who depend upon them to deliver the same product that they purchased a month earlier. Additionally, the outer sheath of some of the more intense colors (red, neon orange, etc.) tends to be flattened and stiff. This can be a positive or negative characteristic, depending on the application used by individuals. Their other colors have a rounded sheath, which lends to its flexibility and uniformity in real-world uses and creating unique crafts.
Overall however, Gladding Braided Products is a fantastic company to work with, with fantastic products to show for it.