Thursday, 12 January 2012

Hermitcraft: Fudos, Pt. 2: Building the 100-Year Fudo

Don't panic.

As Douglas Adams might have said, had he been a hermit, building the hundred-year fudo is a snap for the hoopy frood who knows where his towel is. At base, it's a ring on a string. In theory, any ring, on any string, is a fudo. But the hundred-year design is distinctive enough to look deliberate, simple enough to produce quickly and repeatedly, cheap enough to be universal, and rugged enough to confront time. Hence the name.

The wherewithals:

o A washer to serve as the ring
o Nylon twine (also sold as seine twine or mason line)
o A flame, such as a candle
o Sharp scissors

o Something to hook the washer on while braiding
o Clear fingernail polish (optional)

The procedure:

1. Cut three lengths of twine, 40 inches long.

2. Seal each cut end by holding it over the flame. Be careful not to overheat them or the ends will mushroom and discolour. They might also catch fire. (Fireless method: dip the cut ends in fingernail polish.)

3. Smooth the three strands together and knot the hank four to six inches from one end. Any style knot will do, from simple to fancy, but mind you don't outsize the ring's (washer's) hole. Half-knot is code, if you seal it with fingernail polish. If not, a figure-eight is less likely to pull out.

4. Optional: seal the knot with a liberal coat of fingernail polish. This stuff partially melts the nylon, resulting in a knot that's permanently welded shut.

5. Suspend the ring from the bridle you've made, so that it hangs on the knot, with one strand on one side and two on the other.

6. Hook the ring on something. The photos show an S-hook I made from a coat hanger. It hooks over the edge of a counter or table, to a chair back, on a fence or branch, on my shoelace, sandal strap, or big toe, etc. You can also set a nail in a board or bench, or find some doohickey around the place that already has a hooky bit you can press into service. Just anchor that ring.

7. Tie the single strand around the other two with a half hitch, as shown in the photo above. Tighten it up and straighten out the knot so it will hang straight when you're done. (Keep tension on the strands while passing to the next step, to make sure the knot doesn't pull up or down in the process.)

8. Make a cord of the strands, using a standard 3-strand braid.

9. Knot the cord about six inches short of the strand ends. (Generally you leave the end tassel a little longer than the ring tassel, because it'll need to be trimmed up a bit.)

10. Trim the end tassel so it's the same length as the ring tassel. This step also lets you smooth out any unlaying of the strand ends that has happened during the braiding process. (Common in twisted line.)

11. Reseal the trimmed ends with fire or fingernail polish.

12. Optional: seal the end knot with fingernail polish.

And you're in business. Hang the fudo in a place where you feel at peace, or where you'd like to feel at peace, or where you think others may feel at peace, or where you'd like others to feel at peace. Alternately, give it to someone else, either in comradeship or as encouragement in hard times.

Then make another one. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Hundred-years can also be made of other colours, with non-washer rings, and other numbers of strands. A precise definition doesn't exist, but in general they're small, have one to four strands, and cheap rings, ideally ones that were found or salvaged. Bigger, fancier, or more expensive fudos, and those made of less durable cordage, are still fudos, but they're not hundred-year fudos.

Because you just can't beat that white, three-strand, hundred-year fudo. The glorious foot soldier of Fudo's stone army.

Hope to see yours out in the world one day.


  1. My daughters used to string multi-colored twine like that so I could wear them as bracelets. Still do. I should get them involved with this project.

  2. Yeah, those friendship bracelet braids work great for this. They probably do the kind you have to use a card for. (Otherwise known as kumihimo.) Me, too. I'll eventually get up some stuff about making those.

    1. Hi Robin - I commented earlier but it must have taken a dive into the spam bin. Wondering now about the best knot for the end of the braid? (The end away from the ring)

      First thing I noticed when I just finished my first one is that the strands look a lot better when left long like most of yours. About to start a 2nd one and will use a lot more cord than the first.

  3. Hi again, Will. Yeah, it takes more line than you tend to guess, what with the braiding and tassels. Plus it's better to have too much cord than not enough; you can always use more turns on the branch when you hang it, if you have to.

    As for the end knot, anything works. I usually use a figure-eight on the 100-years, just because it looks nice. I'll also use others sometimes (sorry; I can tie 'em but I can't name 'em!), and sometimes I just throw on a plain old half knot. On fatter cords I usually serve the end instead, because the knot would be huge and take up a lot of line. If you check out the pictures of bigger fudos here on the blog, you'll see what I mean.

    Glad you're out there tagging!


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