When working on a marudai and making drop-kongoh beaded braids I prefer to start the braid with the cords tied to a wire split ring. The split ring provides a secure way to hang heavy counterweights without pulling on the braiding cords. The braid will then have a small, neat beginning and will eliminate the need to trim off cord and knots later. You can use the third hand tweezer to hold the split ring while attaching the cords.
The cords can be tied individually to the ring when you want a very small start for the braid. Find the center of the cord, slip it onto the split ring, then tie a square knot at the center of the cord. And now one cord becomes two warps. Notice that although the split ring has several wire wraps I am only tying the cord around one wire of the split ring.
Use this method when you are using a small finding that needs a small braid nub. I begin this way when I plan to make a peyote beaded end cap. It is also a good way to start if using beading wire as you can not cut the beading wire to shorten it after the braid is finished.
If using all CLon or SLon cords then simply tied them all together to the split ring. The bulky knot can be removed when the braid is finished and the braid nub can be shortened to desired length with a Cord Zapper.
It is easy to make a split ring. Use 16-gauge round wire. Copper wire can be bought at most any hardware store or you can purchase craft wire. Wrap the wire around a mandrel or dowel [about 1/2 in. (1.25 cm) diameter] two or three times, then cut the wire.
Alternatives to a Wire Split Ring:
Key Ring: I do find that wire key rings are sometimes difficult to open up which may make it a challenge to get the cord around just one of the wires.
Cord Loop: Cut a piece of cording or rattail (1 to 2 mm diameter), fold in half and make an overhand knot. When project directions indicate using a split ring a cord loop can usually be used in place of the split ring providing it is strong enough to hold the necessary counterweight.
Overhand Knot Loop: If using all CLon or SLon cords simply gather them together and tie them at the center with an overhand knot. Leave a space so that there is a loop at the center to hang the counter weight. The knot and loop can be removed with a Cord Zapper after the braid is finished.