Making the square braid
with no void at the head
Last updated  11-02-2015
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The square or steamgasket braid is pretty and useful in so
many situations.   Making it is very easy, a matter of just
taking the uppermost line on either side and passing it
around the back of the braid and then up between the two
pair of lines on the side opposite to the side of origin... look
at the picture and imagine line
#1 will go around the braid in the back, come up between
lines 7 and 6 and wind up inboard line 4.  Then line 8 would
go around, come up between 2 and 3 and sit inboard line
5... this isn't rocket science and the braid, once learned, is
something you can literally do with your eyes closed...BUT:   
Getting it started so that it looks like it is continuous coming
out of another piece of work had me chewing the backstays
for many years until I figured it out.   Of course, about a
month after I did figure it out, I found Ron Edward's method,
which was the same as the one I'd "discovered", proving
that NO-ONE invents a knot or braid... it's been done.  That
tutorial is at the end of this page.

But nonetheless, let me share this silliness with those who (
you have my condolences ) find it important to know how to
do this.  (I've adapted these pictures from another tutorial
and will quite probably re-shoot them when the opportunity

So, we start with the first picture to spread out the lines...

The first move will be to move line 5 over beside line 4, NOT
over line 4!

Now, take Line 4 OVER  line 5 and there it will sit for a bit...

(Rounded edges mean not active.
Squared edges are the active line.
Pink means either I got fresh or the line has already been moved.
Green is seasickness or just for informational purposes.
Black arrows show direcction.
Green Arrows are DC Comics characters.)

Next, take line 6 over line 4 and let it sit INBOARD line 5.  
This starts building the herringbone pattern of the square

(Incidentally, for some reason I decided that the active
line [shown by the black dots here] should, in the rest
of the series, be the red dots.  Another reason to reshoot the

And so the next step, I'm sure, will be no great surprise:  
Take line 3 over and inboard line 4 as shown, but note:

"A" and "B" in the green pentagons mark the "middled
pairs", or "the essential gap" or any number of unprintable
terms used by sailors to denote any such cleft...  The next
step is the key to a seamless
top to the braid and they figure most prominently
in the construction.  

Take line 1 and lead it around the back of the braid.

It now comes up and through the gap at "B", back
over lines
3 and 4 and sits inboard of line 6 as shown.

We've taken the next line, line 8 and led it around and up
through the gap ("A") between lines 5 and 6...

And then over 6 and 1 and leave it inboard line 3, but note
the arrow on "A"?  This is indicating that the "gap" will move
to between lines 1 and 6 as soon as we grab line 2 and
bring it around the back and up between lines 3 and 4 at
gap "B".

(I kinda LIKE these "combo" pictures") (
It's either "like" 'em or
admit I screwed up.
) (They're really kinda neat...)

Anyway, there's line 2 as comes up thru "B", over lines 8 and
3 and we leave it lying happily next to (and inboard of) line 1

Then (again, no big surprise) line 7 snakes around, up at
space "A" and over lines 1 and 2 to finish up inboard line 8.

And "Robert is the Brother of your Mother".

Now you can continue along to build the body of the braid.  

Neaten things up a little bit,  get the lines taut and
you'll see the herringbone looking at you.  

From here it is only a matter of taking the highest line on
either side, leading it around the back and up between the  
pairs at "the gap", back over to the side it came from and
just keeping a reasonable tension on everything to "bed" the

Next line will be the highest line on the OTHER side, and so
forth.  Once you've conquered these initial eight moves, the
rest is all muscle memory.  I routinely do this and watch TV
or talk to someone.

And finally, here's what you've working for.   I haven't
bothered to take a picture from all four sides, but the top of
the braid will look just like this and when coming out of a
footrope knot or a starknot, will look as though the footrope
or star were put ON an already  existing square braid.  

Purely decorative but still a neat thing to be able to do.

When coming out of the collector knot of a Boatswain's
Lanyard, I will sometimes do a Double Square braid of 16
lines.  Simply double the lines and watch the orientation of
the pairs of lines to keep things from getting crossed up. At
some point you'll want to got to an eight braid and I'll have
that method HERE when done.

As always, if you think something is wrong, STOP.

Go figure out what happened, fix it and then proceed.  YOU
will always know there's an error in the piece, even if no-one
else notices (or is too polite to mention it.)

Enjoy and
let me know if you have suggestions to simplify
the tutorials or if you run into problems.   
All content these pages ©2004-2010 Frayed Knot
Arts.  All rights reserved.  Reproduction or use
prohibited without prior written permission.
The tutorial I made using Ron Edwards drawings