Tailing Out

Some hints for achieving a smoother finish on the last foot and a half of your whips.

There’s nothing more frustrating than a twisted seam after hours of getting it straight.  Spiralling can occur in 6 and 8 strand points no matter how straight they are when they’re plaited. This can be due to a number of factors such as uneven width of strands in the overlay, lack of symmetry in the foundation and uneven tension in the plaiting. As 6 strands tend to form an elliptical outcome when rolled, it can have the potential of twisting your nice straight seam. With 8 strands, a square braid can happen and will result in deforming a long-laboured effort.


Gentle tapping with a wooden mallet along the seams of the point can take the squareness out before rolling the thong, the last thing you want to do is pulverize your plaiting with too much force. After tapping into shape, I then roll the thong onto a harder surface like a sheet of glass or a slab of marble. What I’ve found useful to roll with is a 5 x 1 hardwood with brown paper wrapped around it. When I start to roll the point region, I use minimum force at first and sometimes more gentle tapping with the mallet until I achieve the required result. A note of caution is not to tap the point too hard in case strikethrough indentation from the strand underneath appears.


The same tapping can apply to the fall fastening before you roll it. Simple, but effective. A note of caution after completion: I avoid hanging any heavy object off the fall for it can also spiral your seam. You can apply this sort of tension to the plaited belly and still have the desired outcome.

One way to overcome this inconvenience is to find something like a soft timbered cutting board such as Pine. I use a Paulownia wood sushi cutting board. The Japanese use Paulownia wood for a variety of utilitarian purposes because it’s fast growing and soft, great to sheath your working knives, also. I’ve also found that any soft timber will suffice for this purpose.



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