Making a Simple Sling: An Illustrated Guide - Chris Harrison
I get emails all the time from people wanting to know how to make a sling. Other people have sumbitted articles on braided slings, staff slings, and all sorts, but not specificaly on a simple sling that anyone could make. This site has grown to be the definitive source of sling-related news, discussion, and information, but it lacked a straightforward sling making guide, until now hopefully. Enjoy.
First off, you will need some material for a pouch. I prefer Leather. It’s got a good feel, it’s durable, and readily available. I’ll be using a piece of scrap leather. You can use fabric, like jeans, but they tend to rip around the hole the cords go through unless you reinforce them.
To get a nice symmetrical pouch, I recommend making a paper template. I recommend using a piece of graph paper. First, I sketch out a rough pouch shape on the paper in the dimensions I want. Don’t worry; it doesn’t have to be perfectly symmetrical. Because it is on graph paper, follow the pattern and cut out a very crisp rectangle (keeping the sketch in it). I suggest people aim for a pouch about 5 inches wide and 2.5 inches tall.
If you try and cut the edges off individually, it won’t look as good and take far more time. The easiest way is to fold your paper in half twice, once one way and once the other way, much like how you make those paper snowflakes. You should be looking at one quarter of your sling.
It should look like a rectangle. Find the corner that has four separate layers, each with their own corner. If you cut it in half diagonally (leaving a triangle), you’ll have a diamond-shaped pouch. I recommend you cut off a triangle shaped piece from the midpoints of each side. Depending on how you folded it, you might still be able to see your original sketch, which can give you additional visual clues. Study the pictures if you are confused. It’s an illustrated guide for a reason.
Unfold the paper. You should have cut off the four corners of your rectangle. You should have a great looking pouch template in front of you!
Take your paper template and lay it over your pouch material. Get a pen or marker and draw around the template. Don’t get sloppy here. Take your time and make sure you keep the template in place. You should be able to draw all the way around to your initial point and match up exactly.
Remove the template. Voila! You’re ready to cut out your pouch. I use regular scissors, but a box cutter would probably work too. You drew those lines on for a reason, so follow them precisely.
Now, we need to make holes for your cords to go through. You can use a leather punch or even a hole punch (for leather and other tougher materials, it will need to be pretty heavy duty). If you have neither, you can try making a hole with scissors. You want a nice, clean, round hole. The hole should be about a quarter inch in diameter and be at least a half-inch from the sides of the pouch. If you make the hole too close to the sides of the pouch, it might be too weak and rip. If you are using a weaker material, you might want to consider strengthening the hole by doubling over the material or reinforcing it with layers of duck tape. I’ll let you be inventive.
Ok, we’ve got a very hansom pouch ready for cords. You can use lots of things for cords: Leather works well and looks traditional. Shoelaces are durable and you might have some old ones kicking around. Nylon rope is nice and strong. You can get appropriate cord from a hardware store very cheap. I like military surplus parachute cord. It’s strong, flexible, and has a good feel. As for length, the general rule of thumb is the distance from your heart to your left hand (extended outwards). You need to cut two pieces of that length.
If your going with a synthetic cord, like parachute cord or nylon, I strongly recommend you melt the ends. This gives it strength, a better finish, and stops it fraying (it acts like those little plastic things on the ends of shoelaces). You can do this by exposing the ends to a flame (lighter, match, etc). You should see the material melt into a little ball. If it catches on fire, blow it out quickly. Be very careful!! The liquidized material is very hot and will burn you and/or work surfaces. Also, the fumes are very toxic, so if you’re going to do this, make sure the area is well ventilated. I take no responsibility for your actions. If you can’t handle it, don’t do it. This step is not necessary, just a nice finishing touch.
Ok, so we’ve got the cords ready too now. You’re almost done. I like using a special type of knot pictured below to tie the cords onto the pouch. Study the picture a bit, and you’ll figure it out. For people who’ve picked which side of their pouch if for the projectile and which is for looks, the picture below shows the inside of the pouch. You will need to poke the cord from the outside of the pouch into the interior (where the projectile sits). If your confused, or don’t care which side is which, just thread it anyway you like.
You will need a loop on the retention cord. You can use something similar to a yo-yo’s slipknot, or even a regular knot (like I have). Ideally, you want to be able to adjust it to provide a snug fit. When I sling, the retention cord is anchored on my middle finger. Some people use their index or ring fingers. Others have a big loop so they can tie it around their wrist. I urge you to experiment and see what feels natural for you.
Lastly, I recommend you put a knot on the release cord. Hold the sling in your hand, pinching the release cord between your thumb and index finer. Find the point where the pouch becomes level. Mark that spot with your finger and tie a regular old knot in that place. This lets you quickly slide the release cord to the correct level, rather than having to keep adjusting it so the rocks don’t fall out.
And there you have it… your very own simple sling. This design has served me well for years and I hope it will for you too. I’d love to hear how you get on with it. Drop me a line in the forum.
- Chris Harrison