Easy Knife Lanyard

Knives are expensive, and you don’t want to lose yours.  And in a survival situation, losing your knife could be fatal.  That is why it is good for every knife, and critical for a survival knife, to have a way to attach a lanyard.  What is a ‘lanyard’?  It is a ‘leash’ or way of attaching a piece of equipment to your body, clothing or load-bearing equipment so that it cannot ‘get away’.

A good knife lanyard allows you to use the knife as needed, but makes it ‘impossible’ for you to drop it or otherwise lose it.  In some cases, this means that the lanyard would be around your neck or fastened to your belt or some place else and would be long enough to allow usage.  The advantage of this is that at no time are you in danger of losing your knife, but the downside is that the longer the lanyard, the more likely it is to get snagged on something.

In the case of a knife lanyard, particularly for a sheath knife, it is an option to have just a loop which goes around your wrist and cinches tight enough that it can’t slip over your hand.  This is handy in use, and fairly snag-free, but you have to remember to use it, and there can be a period of time while you are putting it on when it is not protecting against loss.  This risk can be minimized by putting your hand through the loop before drawing the knife and immediately cinching it down as soon as the knife is in hand.  Not too tight, just enough that it can’t slide off.

Another idea would be a ‘two part’ lanyard, where you have a band around your wrist which is ‘always there’, and a short lead with a clip which you would attach to the wrist band to secure the knife.

Can you buy such a thing?  Perhaps, but in a cursory search, all I found were short ‘fobs’ which seemed to be for attachment to pocket knives for decoration or to help get them out of your pocket.  Not what we need at all.  But it should be easy enough to make one yourself, if you have access to some paracord (and what survival-minded person doesn’t).

The simplest would be a short length of paracord, 24″ or a bit less, and a cord lock.  Thread the paracord through the lanyard loop, then both ends through the cord lock.  Adjust the cord lock to the maximum opening (big enough to easily get your hand through, possibly wearing a glove.  Tie knots in the cord ends so the cord lock cannot be moved any further, then trim off the excess and burn the ends to keep them from unraveling.  Quick, simple, easy, cheap, but there is that plastic lump (cord lock) in the system.  Another option is a self-‘locking’ system made entirely from paracord.

For this, you will need 36″ to start.  You will also need a ‘fid’, or paracord ‘needle’ which threads onto the end of a piece of paracord.  It is possible to do it without the fid (by starting with more cord), but having a fid will make this, and many other paracord projects, much easier.  NOTE, I found a version of this which does NOT need a fid or any extra effort, see it at  http://wp.me/p3TYmc-8l

Thread 1/3 of the cord through the lanyard loop and fold it back against the other end.   Tie a knot in the short end just as a marker.  Attach your fid to the long end, and then start about 1 inch from the short end knot.  Wrap the long end around itself and the short end, completing 7 or 8 turns.  Use the fid to thread the remaining long end up through the wrapped coils and out the top, making sure you come out the top of the stack of coils in the middle of that first wrap.  Remove the fid.  If you don’t have a fid and never again will make anything out of paracord, you could use more cord, and do the wraps loosely enough that you can thread the bare end through the coils.  In either case, tighten all the loops.

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Trim the remainder of the long end close to the coils, and then burn the end to seal it.  Now adjust the lanyard for size by putting your hand through the loop (from the edge side of the loop works best) and holding the knife in your most common grip, pull on the knotted end to tighten until comfortable.  Try simulated uses and other grips to ensure the adjustment is good.  When you think you have it, try taking the loop off your wrist without enlarging it; you should just barely be able to do so.  Without disturbing the adjustment, tie another knot in the knotted end, this one 4″ from the end of the coils.  Slide the coils to the knot, and ensure you can easily get your hand into and out of the loop, even if wearing gloves.  If all seems good, trim this end just past the knot and burn it to keep it from fraying.  That’s it!

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Note that although the lanyard is fairly short, it still could get snagged on something.  By wrapping it around the handle before fastening the safety snap, this risk is eliminated.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Easy Knife Lanyard

  1. Cool idea. Machete for one being modified today. Thanks.

  2. If you’re chopping near other people (especially children), then a wrist lanyard is a GREAT idea. You wouldn’t want a large blade slipping your grasp and flying off to maim someone!

    If you’re not around others, a wrist lanyard is a TERRIBLE idea. Ever had a blade slip your grasp and come swinging right back at ya??? Nuff said!

    • The primary purpose of a lanyard is to prevent loss of the knife. The smaller the knife, the more important that is, and the less risky since you generally don’t use a lot of force with a small knife. With a big, chopping knife, there is less chance of loss unless your are near water or other environment where the knife could ‘vanish’ if dropped, thus use of the lanyard is more optional.

      A secondary purpose would be to prevent the knife ‘flying off’ and injuring someone else, as mentioned.

      I can’t say that I’ve ever had a blade slip in my grasp in a situation where it would have come swinging back at me. I have dropped several and nearly impaled my foot, though. Do you have knowledge of cases where someone was injured by a properly lanyarded knife swinging back at them?

      Of course, when chopping you should use standard precautions; that is, keeping any part of your body out of the potential path in case you miss your target or it presents less resistance than expected. Thus, it would appear that the area most at risk from a swinging blade would be the forearm and elbow. Doing some low force testing, it seems that a guard between grip and blade, if present, might interrupt the swing of the blade, preventing or reducing the impact of the edge against the arm.

      • Many years ago, I had a machete that I fitted with a paracord lanyard. I was clearing brush, and admittedly tired. The blade hit something (I think I caught a knot just right). That sudden directional change wrenched it just right to pop the handle from my grip. The chop was downward, and the blade came pivoting around on that lanyard and caught me in the leg… luckily with the flat of the blade!

        It was one of those moments in life where time seemed to slow down. I could see that blade coming right back towards me, and I remember thinking, “oh man… this is gonna do some damage!”. In the end, I was seriously lucky to walk away unscathed, but I’ve always remembered that incident.

        Since then I almost never use a lanyard on any chopping implement (unless there’s kids in the area). In fact, most of my knives have no lanyards.

      • That is a disturbing incident, and I don’t have access to a machete to see if there is any way around that, as there appears to be for shorter knives.

        As the primary purpose of the lanyard is to prevent loss, and it is hard to lose a machete, I would tend to agree that using one on a machete should be avoided in most circumstances. However, I think I would have one on the machete or at least available and easily installed to use on the machete when those circumstances (such as around other people or next to a river/lake) arise.

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