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Making a Braided Sling: An illustrated guide - Dan Bollinger
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Braided slings were made by ancient slingers and continue to be popular by contemporary slingers. They are easy to make, work well, and beautiful craft objects, too. These instructions are for a 39", or one meter, long sling, the simplest form of all braided slings based on a continuous triple-braid. It features a finger loop, split pouch for the stone, and can be braided in any length to suit your purpose.
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For your first sling, use nylon #18 string sold in craft and hardware stores, and sometimes called "Mason's Line." It is inexpensive and readily available.
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Any string 1/16" (1.5mm) wide will work. Many people like to use natural fibers for a historically authentic sling. 48 pound hemp works well. Smaller and larger string can be used, just alter the number of strings to suit.
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Dimensions are in inches followed by the metric equivalent in centimeters in parenthesis unless otherwise noted.

Cut six lengths of string 110" (280cm).

For this pictorial, I've chosen three colors to illustrate the 3-strand braid better. You may use one color. 

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Combine all the string and double to find the middle.
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Secure the strings at the middle. A spring clamp works well, too.
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Divide the string into three strands. In this case, the three colors of string.
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If you already know how to braid three strands, skip this and the next panel.

Braiding three strands is the same as braiding hair. The outermost strand always goes over the middle one only to become the new middle one itself. A strand in this sling is composed of two strings. Keep the strands tight. It helps to secure the braid to a stationary object so you can pull the braid tight.

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When making a three-strand braid of many strings, how the strings are oriented changes the braid.This is useful in making a sling.

If the strands are 'rolled' over the previous strand, it makes a "round" braid. Fast. Good for 'down' and 'release' cords.

If the strands are kept flat and parallel, it makes a "flat" braid. Slow. Good for 'finger loops' and 'pouches.'

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Braid a 'flat' braid for 4" (10cm). This will become the 'finger loop.'
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Bring the ends of the 'finger loop' together and secure. Separate the string into three equal strands.
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Braid a 'round' braid the 'down cord' for 14" (36cm)
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When finished with the 'down cord', secure the braid and separate each of the strands evenly into two, new strands of six strings each. Divide each of these into three strands and begin flat braiding one set to become the 'pouch.'
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Flat braid the 'pouch' for 4" (10cm) as shown. Repeat for the second side of the pouch.
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Combine the two pouch cords and evenly divide their strings into three new strands. Begin an 18" (46cm) round braid for the 'release cord'.
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When finished, take two of the three strands and tie a square knot to secure the braid. Nylon is slippery, you may want to add a drop of super-glue to secure.
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Trim the ends. Use a match or hot surface to melt the nylon strings to prevent unraveling.

Some people like a smooth release cord. Others prefer a knot. Tie an overhand knot in the release cord to make a 'release knot.' You can move the knot to adjust the cords so the pouch is centered during throwing.

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These instructions make a short sling good for practicing your braiding technique. If you want to make longer slings you will need to begin with longer strands. To make an finished sling 'x' long the formula is:  'x' times 2.8.

Change the size of the finger loop to suit yourself, change the size of the pouch to suit your stones. 4" is good for stones the size of a golf ball; 6" for tennis ball size stones. 

The slings to the left are made from #18 Nylon (6 strings), 20# Hemp (6 strings), and Sisal (6 strings).

- Dan Bollinger

© 2007