How to cut webbing

IMG_1744If you have polypropylene, nylon or polyester webbing, you don’t want your cut ends to look like this. Even though I cut this piece of 1″ nylon webbing with a very sharp pair of scissors, the result is awful.


Cutting with a hot knife is the better way to go. I have let this one get really hot so you could see the cutting blade but for actual use it works much better if the temperature is just a bit higher than the melting point of the material.

  • Nylon: 380º F
  • Polypropylene: 330º F
  • Polyester: 500º F

If you don’t own a hot knife you can seal the cut end of your webbing with a propane torch, match, lighter or even with a gas burner on your stove (but don’t make a mess in the kitchen).


The finished result should look somewhat like this. My example is rather black due to the really high heat of the hot knife which melted way more material than is necessary.

You don’t need to have a fancy hot knife like what I have. My Weller soldering iron has a blade that I purchased at the local hardware store which works quite well. The advantage of the tool I use at work is it heats up much faster which is nice if you need to make a bunch of cuts but hardly necessary for occasional use.

If your webbing is a natural fiber like cotton, it won’t melt. There are a few options:

  • Metal end covers are available like what we use in our military style belt
  • The raw end of the webbing can be soaked in shellac or some other quick drying liquid to “seal” the end so it won’t fray.
  • If the webbing didn’t have to pass through something, you can fold it over twice and sew the end so the cut portion is not accessible to fray. This works best with thinner webbing.


Yakima Sportsmen Show

We will be in Yakima this weekend, booth 419 at the Central Washington Sportsmen Show. The show is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday February 19-21, 2016. Our booth will feature web straps of many varieties, throw bags and a new product for us, Rod Wranglers.

In addition to the exhibitors there are a wide range of events planned. I think we will have to check out the trout races on Saturday afternoon. When I Googled “trout races” I didn’t get a hit so this is sure to be something special.

Come by our booth and say hi to Karen and myself. Buy a strap or Rod Wrangler or order custom straps, and enjoy the show.

Frozen Zippers

Even though we don’t sell zippers we all use them and know how frustrating it can be when one becomes frozen. This morning I was going through my email and noticed an article published by BoatUS on how to unstick frozen zippers.

I have not tried using vinegar but the next time I have this problem with a corroded zipper my first trip will be to the pantry. My guess is this will work with salt water corrosion, zippers stuck for other reasons might require different techniques. With the nylon coil type I have found when they get stiff and difficult to use some baby oil does the trick. If you have other tricks, let me know.

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Rollie Herman

President of Straps to Go's parent company, Westpac Marine Services, Inc.
Bicycle rider, cook, husband to an avid gardener
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Ratchet straps in the garden

Walking in Seattle I noticed that someone had used a few ratchet straps to hold up a tree. I don’t think this would have come to my mind if I had to guy a tree but it sure works. 

We sell stainless steel ratchet buckles and can make them in to your strap of choice. To hold up a tree you don’t need much fancy end hardware, sewn loops will do the trick. 

Side Release Buckle Straps- the cat’s meow

We have a problem. Our neighbors are remodeling and the fence had to go. Unfortunately that fence provided access to a tree, and then on to the cat door. We tried leaning a piece of latticework against the tree to take the place of the fence. It lasted a night and then blew over. 

When I got home today I was “informed” by the cat that his temporary route wasn’t working and I had better fix it right away. So now the section of latticework is held in place by a side release buckle strap. Quick to install and when we need to move the latticework, quick to disconnect. 

Chance, our cat is once again able to roam freely and I didn’t have to endure him gnawing on my leg.  On top of that the strap blends in so you don’t notice it. 

Straps to Go at the Seattle Boat Show

Tomorrow is the start of the 9 day Seattle Boat Show. We will be in booth number 2122 on the Concourse Level (upstairs). In our booth you will find a wide selection of side release buckle straps with polypropylene webbing, sail ties in both polypropylene and polyester webbing, jack lines, ratchet straps and belts.

If you want to special order something, we can take care of that at the show. Don’t think we just make straps for boaters, if it is made with webbing (and is NOT designed for overhead lifting or life safety) chances are we can make it. There is no minimum order so even if you just need one of something, come by and chat.

After the Seattle Boat Show, our next event is the Yakima Sportsmen’s Show in February. We will be in booth 419 from February 19th through the 21st.

Polypropylene Webbing Breaking Strength

How do you determine the breaking strength of polypropylene webbing? It depends. There is no industry standard way defining breaking strength. One manufacturer might test 10 samples and take the lowest strength. Another might take the average and a third might take the highest. Being a commercial grade product that is not designed for use in life safety or overhead lifting no government agency is telling the manufacturers what to do.

The industry has two basic models of polypropylene webbing, lightweight and heavyweight. American Cord and Webbing (ACW) has their 549 material that ranges from 0.040″ to 0.060″ in thickness and in a 1″ width has a minimum breaking strength of 360 pounds. ACW’s heavyweight material has a thickness range of 0.055″ to 0.075″ and a minimum breaking strength of 560 pounds.

I have seen lightweight 1″ material listed as having a 600 or even 700 pound breaking strength. Is one better or different from the other, probably not.

Brand     Thickness     Breaking Strength
ACW       .040-.060        360 pounds
S              .040                 500 pounds
TS            ?                      700 pounds
ECW       .040                 550 pounds

What makes piece of webbing strong is the amount of material (polypropylene in this case) it contains and how it is constructed. Thickness tells you something about the amount of material for a given width.

So how do you figure out what to use? First the webbing is usually not the weak point in a strap assembly. Stitching or buckles can be much weaker. A 1″ side release buckle will have a breaking strength of around 200 pounds, much lower than ACW’s 360 pound breaking strength for the webbing. If you have a critical application the only way to be sure is to make some assemblies and test them. If all you are doing is strapping up some sleeping bags, strength is not an issue.

With polypropylene webbing chafe and ultra-violet (UV) exposure are two issues which will weaken your strap. Materials like polyester offer much better abrasion and UV resistance along with a higher initial strength. If you are repeatedly loading a strap consider nylon whose ability to stretch might help dampen the load.

My article How Strong Is Your Strap covers sewing pattern choices. Searching the internet you can find other information that will be helpful but at the end of the day, build a prototype and test.

Nylon webbing

Straps to Go stocks 4 basic types of nylon webbing:

  1. Standard weight with a breaking strength of around 900 pounds for 1″ width material.
  2. Heavy weight with a breaking strength of around 2750 pounds for 1″ width material.
  3. Mil-Spec with a breaking strength of 1200 pounds for 1″ material.
  4. Tubular with a breaking strength of 4000 pounds for 1″ material.
Standard weight on the left, heavy weight on the right.
Standard weight on the left, heavy weight on the right.

The image above shows commercial grade webbing in both standard weight (on the left in light green) and heavy weight (on the right in dark green). Note that when I listed the breaking strengths above, I said “about” since these are not load rated goods.

Mil-Spec on the left, standard weight on the right
Mil-Spec on the left, standard weight on the right

Here we have Mil-Spec webbing in Coyote Tan and standard weight nylon webbing in green. You can see the construction is different and the Mil-Spec webbing has a breaking strength of 1200 pounds (this material has a design strength unlike the commercial grade products).

Mil-Spec on the left, standard weight on the right
Mil-Spec on the left, standard weight on the right

This gives you an idea of the construction difference between the Mil-Spec and commercial nylon webbings.

Tubular nylon
Tubular nylon

Tubular construction is the strongest of our nylon webbings. It is really two layers of webbing so you get a breaking strength of 4000 pounds in a 1″ width.


This view gives you a good idea of the amount of nylon used in the tubular construction which is why you get the added strength.

What is each type best suited for:

  1. Standard weight is great for tie downs and general purpose straps. It is used on backpacks for attachment points and it works well with single lock buckles and slides to allow for adjustment.
  2. Heavy weight nylon is used extensively for pet leashes and collars. It feels nice in your hand (this is why it is used for leash’s, not that you need the strength) or around your pets neck. We also sell it for heavy duty tie downs. We stock a wider range of colors in the heavy weight product than our other offerings.
  3. Mil-Spec nylon is used in the same way as the standard weight commercial product. It is a bit stronger but the trade off is in stiffness. If you are making MOLLE loops, this webbing would be a good choice.
  4. Tubular nylon is the climbers friend. Slings and attachment points are commonly made using tubular nylon. It holds a knot well and feels good in the hand.

If you have questions on what product would best meet your needs, give us a call at (253) 883-5800 and ask for Rollie.

Life raft container lashings

We can make life raft container lashings (tie downs) to meet your specific needs. Since our parent company, Westpac Marine, sells and services life rafts, container lashings are something we deal with every day.

2″ polyester webbing is the most common material we use however we also have urethane coated polyester webbing in stock just in case you need something that has a bit more grip.

Hardware is always stainless steel and we have shackles, D-rings, triangle rings, pelican hooks and snap shackles in stock meeting 90% of our sales. If you are looking for a real heavy duty product like the one shown above we might have a couple of day lead time to get the necessary components.

There is really no such thing as a standard lashing. Each is a bit different so everything we offer is custom although since we manufacture these in house, the lead time is usually one one day.

Give us a call at (253) 627-6000 and we will quickly fill your lashing needs.