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How to make a heckin’ rope leash

This tutorial is licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial. Please do not use my tutorial to make leashes for sale.

Citizens of Earth! It is not necessary to spend $40-50 on an Internet leash. It is not even necessary to spend $28-35 with  a “discount” from Konaleashes or Pack Leashes.

If you are not in a DIY mood, you can order one for $11 from Chewy or Amazon. Alternatively, you can craft one of these beauties with ~$7 worth of materials and 15 minutes of your precious free time. Here’s how.

Stuff you will need


Adult supervisionVaries; try bartering for 1 cold beverageIt’s just a good idea.
Ratcheting bar clamp$3 at Harbor Freight, $5.50 at Home DepotIf you do not have a garage full of clamps like SOME PEOPLE, you can pick one up at your local hardware store.
Eye protection$2 (Harbor Freight) or $3-4 at Home Depot/LowesThe average person has fewer than two eyes. If you are already above average, let's try to stay that way.
Tape MeasureFree when you borrow one from your neighborDon't forget to give it back!
Lighter$2You did get adult supervision, right?
Snippy snipsIdk like $3?Sharp scissors or small gardening shears. Whatever you do, just don’t use the fabric scissors. Please.


Fancy duct tape$4This is enough for many, many leashes.
3/8" rope$12/100 ftEnough for 10-15 leashes. The rope I used is from Harbor Freight, but if I were to do this again, I would order made-in-the-USA rope from Atwood Rope.

Their rope looks suspiciously similar to other rope leashes I’ve seen for sale, and it’s only a little bit more expensive; $14.99 for 100 feet. The rope that I used has a working load rating of 224 pounds.
Rope clamps$1.78/22 per leash. These can be found at Home Depot or Lowes. There are two sizes that will work with 3/8” rope; the smaller one is for 1/4” to 3/8” rope and the larger one is for 3/8” to 1/2" rope.

I tried both and went with the smaller one because it seemed strong enough and the large one was a little more bulky. If you have a dog over 50 pounds, I might consider the larger size.
Clippy thing$8.75/pack of 5 or $2.36/11 per leash. You can use either a carabiner or a bolt snap (a bolt snap is a "regular" leash clip); your choice. Both are available at your local hardware store. I know that clip looks tiny in the picture, but it’s rated with a working load of 160 pounds (and as everything is overengineered by a factor of several, I’m not too worried about it for my ~35 pound dog.)
275 paracord$8This is enough for 10 leashes. Please note that this is thinner than most paracord. Available from Atwood Rope; I purchased 100 ft at my local feed store for $3.99.
Superglue$2.50Enough for a bunch of leashes.
OPTIONAL: O ring$11 per leash. Available at a hardware store near you; look for "welded ring" in 1" or 1.5" sizes. If you put one of these on the leash handle, it's super easy and quick to shorten the leash to half its length. I'm never going back to a leash without one.

How to put it all together

  1. Measure out about 78″ of rope for a 5 ft leash. I like my leashes a little on the short side; 6 feet is 42 dog feet and that’s a heckin’ long leash.
  2. Burninate the ends of the rope with the lighter to prevent fraying. I highly recommend doing this outside.
  3. Line up one end of the rope in a rope clamp like so. This will be the smaller loop, i.e. the end that attaches to your dog. If you are using a bolt snap (standard leash clip), you will want to thread the rope through the snap at this stage (see step 5.) If you are using a carabiner, you can add it later.
  4. Now comes the fun part. The instructions on the rope clamp suggested using a hammer to close it, but I found I got much better results using a bar clamp. In addition, I found I’m far less likely to wreck a table. There’s a bit of a learning curve with this, and it can be a little fiddly, but here’s the general idea. You want to squish those little prongs down as hard as possible. Make sure they overlap and then squish them some more.
  5. Give that loop a REALLY good yank! That rope should be going nowhere! Now repeat this process on the other end of the rope to create a handle. I like to string an O-ring onto the handle like this. This allows me to quickly shorten the leash by clipping the clippy thing to both the O-ring and my dog’s collar.

  6. We could probably stop here, but let’s make things a little prettier by hiding the clamps. Start with some tape. I like to cut it at an angle because it makes it a little less bulky where the tape overlaps.

  7. Now we’re gonna whip it! Whip it good! Cut about 9 feet of the 275 paracord (you will need one length for each end.) Don’t bother burninating it just yet because we might have to cut it again. We’re going to make some fine country whipping. Yee-haw! Fold the paracord in half to find the middle, and wrap it tightly around where the tape begins, using a half-hitch (this is the same knot you use in the very first part of tying your shoes.
  8. Now flip it! Flip the rope over and make a tight half-hitch on the other side. Continue flipping and half-hitching until you see something like this or until you get bored.
  9. Now snip it! Tie a square knot at the bottom and trim the ends. VERY CAREFULLY burninate them.
  10. Now stick it! I wrapped the ends around the bottom of the whipping and glued them in place. It’s not perfect, but it hides them pretty well.

  11. Admire your handiwork! Make some leashes to give away to your friendos!


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