Table of contents :
Braided mandolin strap
Here is how to make of a leather strap for a bluegrass style mandolin.
The main part has a round section, braided with 4 flat strands.
The end on the bottom side has a flat section with a buttonhole cut into it, to be attached to the end-pin at the bottom of the mandolin.
The end, on the side of the neck is here made for an F5 style mandolin, with a scroll. It has the shape of a leash, that is traditionally passed inside the scroll.
For an A style mandolin or any other instrument without any scroll, you can also install a buttonhole like for the tail.
The braid is made from 4 soft leather laces, of 3 to 4 mm width.
For the stiffness of the strap, is is braided around a hidden core of 6 mm polyester cord.
Here are the steps to make this braid :
The steps for making a 4 strands braid
We start by ligaturing the four strands around the core with some sewing thread. The four strands are laid out like this , with two arms and two legs.
The upper right arm is folded underneath and must come out between the arm and the leg on the left.
This strand is then folded over, so that to become the new leg on the right.
The strand is stretched so that to stick the braid on the core.
We come back to the starting point, with two arms and two legs. There is one of the two arms that is higher than the other. It is this arm that will always be folded underneath to come out between the leg and the arm on the other side.
And folded over to become the new leg, on the same side as the starting point.
We come back to step -1-
Same as step -2-
Same as step -3-
Same as step -4-, and so on …
See also the explanation on this video :
As an alternative to the round braid, a flat braid can also be used, here is a nice how to showing two different ways of doing a 6 strands braid. (thanks ianbarton from Mandolin Café for the link).
The buttonhole is done with two layers of leather, sewn together, sandwiching the end of the braid.
The strands of the braid are stopped by the stitch of the sandwich. For aesthetic reason, a ligature is added at the end of the braid with some sewing thread.
The hole for the buttonhole is done with a punch and slitted so that to just allow the end-pin button to pass through it.
The part that is passed through the scoll of the mandolin, that I call the leash, can be done using a kind of braided knot often used to make leashes for dogs.
The leash is made with a leather ribbon that will, at one end, be connected to the braid using a ligature of sewing thread.
and at the other end will be terminated in the shape of a loop, closed by a braided knot.
Here are the steps for making this braided knot :
(Note, the strap on the above picture has a single knot braid. The example
showed below has a double knot braid.)
Braided knot for the leash
We start with a leather ribbon. We cut two times two slits.
The main space bewteen the slits corresponds to the opening of the loop.
The slits each have ~1.5 x the width of the ribbon.
I number the slits from 1 to 4, number 1 being the one at the tip of the
We pass the tip of the ribbon through the slit 3.
The slit 1 and 2 must go entirely through.
We pass the tail of the ribbon trough the slit 2.
The slit 4 must go entirely through.
The shape of the braid starts to appear,
we must be careful not to twist the ribbon at each step.
We pass the tip of the ribbon through slit 4.
Slit 1 must go through.
The braid must be arranged to get all the parts even.
The tail is passed through slit 1.
Here is the result on one side…
… and on the other.
We also could have done the same with 3 or four slits.