Bolo tie fabrication

Hi all, I have questions about bolo tie fabrication. I’m working on
a commission for one and wasn’t able to find any components in 14kt.
Does anyone know where I might find one? If not, if there is anyone
out there who has made them and would like to sell me the part that
needs to be soldered to the back…so that I know it will function
perfectly…let me know. For those who’ve worn them…Why isn’t a pin
mechanism sufficient?

Thanks! Marianne

Hi, Marianne-

I have made a few bolas. The storebought “mechanisms” which you
solder to the back are junk IMO. Not only do they cheapen the piece
but they generally chew up the soft leather of the bola cord. A bad
deal all around.

Here is the best way that I have found-

Take the bola cord which you wish to use with the piece. lay the
cord down so the ends are right next to each other, side by side.
Take a ring mandrel and find the spot on it that is as wide as the
two ends of cord together. Now take a heavy piece of wire, say 16
guage for silver, and wrap it around the mandrel at that place twice.
Cut off the end of the wire so that you will have a piece of wire
which wraps around the mandrel exactly twice.

Now, unfold the two loops of wire and solder the ends together.
Next, take two ring mandrels, you will put one in each end of the
long oval of wire you made, and then take a pliers and squeeze the
loop together in the middle. You are trying to make something that
looks like a figure eight. When you have done so, and it looks like
you have planned it that way, bend each loop of the “eight” up enough
so that you can solder it to the back of your bola with just the
middle of the eight touching and both loops remaining free. The loops
will point to the top and bottom of the bola. Solder the thing in
place on the back. When your bola is finished, you can bend the loops
so that the cords just fit through with slight friction.

This is a really nice way to do a bola backing, both because it is
handmade and because the round wire will not damage the leather

Please feel free to e-mail me if these directions are not clear or
if you have any questions.


The best bolo findings I’ve found were from Tripp’s. They have a
hinged part that holds the bolo tightly, yet is easy to adjust.

Janet Kofoed
Kofoed Design

Use round wire 14 gauge and rap it around a mandrel that will double
the width of your bolo cord, cut off the first two full lopes of the
wire and solder them on the back of the base metal. String the bolo
cord through the lopes and spread the lopes so that there is tension
on the cord so it will not slide after it is adjusted.

Hope this helps.

If you need any more let me know.


Hi Marianne - The handmade way to do a bolo tie is pretty simple. You
don’t need to buy the finding unless you just like it. If you make
it, you’ll need to gauge it to the width of your own piece a little -
I’d use copper sheet or wire or something to get the length right
first, probably. You just make two strips of metal about 1/4" wide or
so, one about 2/3 as long as the other. Then you roll loops or on the
ends of each so the loops are of a size that your cord will go
through them with a friction fit, and solder them down. That’s a
strip with each end rolled around like a jump ring on each end, if
you can envision it. Then solder them on the back with the longer one
on top and the shorter one below it, so it makes that “V” profile
when it’s on - you can pinch the circles shut a little to adjust the
tension, too. When I used to make them a lot, most people considered
this way to be better than the finding, anyway - handmade and all

Hi Marianne,

You can make one easily enough - just cut out the metal in the shape
of a chevron, then roll up the “wings” tight enough to hold the cord
but loose enough so the cord will slide when pulled. Solder the
center to the center of the back of the bolo, up a bit so it will
hang right. I do this with my silver bolos every time because I don’t
like the available spring gizmos which are usually made with base
metal. I’ll send a picture if my explanation leaves something to be
desired - just let me know if you want one.

BTW, your jewelry is out of this world - I’ve long admired your


I don’t believe any 14K bolo tie findings are available. Even gold
tips are hard to come by and may have to be made. A pin wouldn’t
work because the bolo is suspended on leather cords, the cords pass
through the back which in some way pinches the leather to hold it. A
simple friction back can be made in any round wire like two "M"s
which the leather would pass underneath or I also make a figure 8
out of round wire which also stops the leather due to friction.

I was always of the opinion that the commercial findings are not
nice enough for a high end bolo anyway.

Sam Patania, Tucson

To all the folks who offered suggestions on making the slide on the
back of the bolo, here’s my question:

How do you make the metal ends that finish the leather? Please send
advice, URLs & book titles.

Many thanks,

Hello everyone,

I must say this is a two part comment upon one topic. Marianne,
Considering all the fabrication you do as seen on your website I
would totally recommend you making a bola back yourself.I think it
would definitely be within your level of expertise in working with
14k. Some people have pointed out some great ways to make your own.

To the findings side of things, I would agree that a nickel bolo back
would not be called for with a high end jewelry piece.

However considering that we have been manufacturing bolo’s for a
couple of decades or more and supply to most everyone who resells
findings or manufactures mass produced jewelry I would say that the 3
styles we make are perfect for that application.

Lots of findings come unfinished as to save money for the consumer in
the long run considering the high cost of manufacturing.

The tongue of most bolo’s haft to be polished to a smooth finish to
advert wear and tear on the vinyl or leather they come in contact
with.Soft leather will always become crimped or etc at some point in
time. Even jump rings which begin their journey strong and intact
wear with age.

The bolo is still strong in the southwest and considering the
millions that have been made I would say it works for the right

One should consider asking also his or her seller if they can offer
products made in different types of metal that they currently offer
in another. I do lots of work in other metals especially 14k that
aren’t usually offered in our store.It’s usually high end
applications that they are used by high end designers around here.

I by no means am saying everything is perfect but simply saying it
serves a purpose given the right application.

Daniel Wade

If it is custom you can make great tips for the bolo by using silver
tubing and seal the ends by soldering a silver cap on the tube.

Glue them on with a good two part epoxy.



How do you make the metal ends that finish the leather? Please send 

What type of tips do you want and does anybody else want any. If you
aren’t interested in anything too pointed, I might be willing to
make some up for you. Also, what weight / thickness of metal would
you like, do you want eyelets on the tips, and what open edge; smooth
or fancy?

Daniel Culver

Hi, Kelley. Again, the traditional way to do the tips for bolos is
related to the way squash blossoms are made. A sheet of silver of the
length wanted for the tip or a little longer is cut into a taper.
Measure the diameter of the cord you’re going to use, multiply thta
by pi, and that gives you about the width of the large end. What you
want is a piece that looks like a triangle with the small end snipped
off, so it’s 100% on the widest end, and maybe 20% of that on the
narrow end. The standard way to make a cone. The steeper the angles,
the steeper the cone in the end. Then raise it to put the seam
together, solder it and round it out using whatever tools you have
that are best, file the ends straight and generally people put a
bead, stone or a dangle or something on the small end. Then the top
end where the cord is to go is scalloped into sharp triangles - maybe
5 or 6 of them - you can see pictures of these in Rio and stuff. The
cord is inserted, often with epoxy down inside, and those scallops
are pushed inwards, clamping the cord in place. That’s the
traditional way, but of course you can use a true cylinder or
anything else that strikes your fancy.

Thanks very much to all of you who supplied the elegantly simple
ideas I was looking for. I agree that commercial findings are a last
resort. In this case, what I found was beyond unacceptable! Next
question to those of you who know; Is there a source you would
particularly recommend for the best quality leather braid? This piece
will have some size and weight…can/should I get a heavier “gauge”
of leather braid, or is this not done? Again, thank you for your
guidance! My best, Marianne

Marianne Hunter


The correct term for a bola is bola not bolo.

The process of making a cone tip for a bola cord can be challenging
when doing it for the first time.

You might want to make a tip out of a tube the size that would fit
on the cord. Cap the end. Drill two holes in the cap. Make two fobs
that match the Bola. Drill holes in the top of the fobs. Form two u
shape wires. Slip them through the holes in the fobs then slip the
ends of the u shape wire through the holes in the caps. Bend the
ends of the wire that are inside the caps. Epoxy the caps on to the
bola cord. This type of design looks very high end and would
compliment your bola.

note: If the bola tips are heavy they will swing back and forth on
the chest of the bola wearer as they walk. I designed a tie tack
through which the cords slip. The tie tack can then be tacked to the

I made several cap of different designs out of wax and cast them.
Made rubber molds so I can produce them.

I can send pictures of the designs if you contact me off the list.

I am not making bolas now but do have some very nice 6 ply cords
hand made by a friend. They are made with a flat section in the neck
area. They are excellent for heavy bolas. I would be willing to send
you a cord if you contact me off list.

Some bola cords are made with flat leather lacing braided over a 1/4
cord. These cords are very thick. I feel that these cords detract
from the bola.

I am not impressed with the clip designs that have been described on
the list. You mentioned you bola is heavy. All the designs described
will not create enough friction to prevent the bola from slowly
sliding down the cord. It is a real pain to continually slide the
bola up in place.

I used to use what was called the Bennet clip on all my bolas
including the very expensive ones. I never had a complaint about the
use of a commercial bola clip. The commercial clip needed some
polishing to remove sharp edges. I also bent the lower edges outward
so the cord would not get caught in the clip.

I can supply photos of any of the things I described if requested.

Lee Epperson

I like the flat backed thick leather from IJS for up-scale bolo
ties, you will have to make your own tips for them though. I don’t
believe any gold tips are available commercially for that thickness.

Sam Patania, Tucson


A number of years ago I used to make braided leather bracelets by
the thousands and used Indian Jeweler’s Supply. They are one of the
few, if any suppliers that offer hand woven bola type cords (
residents of a local reservation). If you found a flat cord that you
liked they might be able custom weave it for you. You do beautiful
work, and I see you’re local (310)



Learned a neat trick from Andy Cooperman at his workshop at MAKER in
June. Use the flat side of a cut off wheel to shape the end of your
stainless steel pin stem. Tried it for the first time just today and
it worked like a charm.

Cynthia Clearwater

I patented a way to mount bola cords to a bola so that they can be
removed. A loop is placed on the back side of the bola at the top.

The bola can be worn as a pendant by removing the cords and placing
a chain through the loop.

The idea of a bola that could also be a pendant sure sold lots of
women into buying bolas for their husbands.

I would be glad to share the design with anyone interested.

Lee Epperson


I’m in the process of fabricating a bola as a gift so I would love
to se your design.

Jim Taylor


You can get 10mm black, carmel, tan individual bolo cords from
Indian Jewelers Supply in Albuquerque. Not sure whether they’re in
the catalogue, but you could call. They really are lovely.

Kay Taylor