How to Finish Bar Wraps with Natural Twine, Hemp, or Thread

Old school technique uses “Whipping” or “Whip tie” knots on leather bar wrap installations, finished with a waterproof gloss

How to Finish Leather-Wrapped Bar Ends

After leather bar wraps have been sewn, coiled, or braided on, we want to cover up the cut ends with the perfect finishing touch, both to hide and protect the leather ends from the elements.

Cutting clean the ends of Walnut’s Sew-on Leather Bar Wraps in our YouTube installation video.

The simplest finish is a simple strip of electrical tape – it’s no muss, no fuss, and it stays on pretty well. You can even dress up the electrical tape by cutting thin strips of colored electrical tape to create a pinstripe effect.

Classic electrical tape finishing technique for bar wraps, demonstrated by Parktool.

But for a classy, vintage finish, many turn to old-fashioned twine to cover their bar ends. Some have concerns that electrical tape won’t stay down with time and use, that it might lose its gumminess or start to fray. While others like the look of a more natural material to end cap their beautiful natural leather wraps, in a complimentary material palette. This technique is often called “whip tying”.

What is a Whip Tie

A whipping knot or whipping is a binding of marline twine or whipcord around the end of a rope to prevent its natural tendency to fray. The whipping can be made neat and permanent by tying it off or sewing the ends of the twine through the rope.

Wikipedia, Whipping Knot

Borrowing a trick from sailmaker’s knots, we can cover the electrical tape wrapping on a type of thread in the whipping knot. This will protect it from fraying and also waterproof it.

Customer John’s Honey Coil Leather Bar Wraps
Finished with whip-tied artificial sinew

Which Type of Thread To Use

The traditional, retro-grouch choice for whip-tying was a rough jute twine, like the kind used for gardening. This method was popularized by Rivendell Bike, who now sells hemp twine.

Twine-wrapped handlebars.
Photo by Richard Risemberg on Flickr.

But you can use just about any thread you like. Popular choices include carefully wrapped coils of hemp twine, artificial sinew or waxed thread.

Honey Leather Bullwhip Bar Wraps
Finished with White Waxed Thread Whip Tie

(Photo credit: Erin Berzel)

The more waxy it is, the less need to waterproof it. With traditional jute twine, bicycle mechanics would cover it in a coating of shellac to prevent fraying. A low-tech alternative to shellac is simply watered-down Elmer’s Glue.

On our bikes, we use the same waxed sailmaker’s thread used for stitching on sew-on wraps, with a thin coat of watered-down Elmer’s Glue.

On our website, we sell a separate listing of an extra length of waxed thread in our 3 standard colors (Black, Dark Brown, White).

For those looking for waxed threads in other colors/fibers, we also recommend American-made Maine Thread Company’s waxed polycord, and Etsy Seller WhiteCloverKiln’s waxed linen.

How to Whip Tie Bar Ends

For photo instructions, look no further than michaelk42’s excellent Instructables post from 2007. We also particularly like the way he whip-tied his brake levers:

You may find — after getting the hang of it — that you’ll want to wrap a lot more things in your life with this versatile technique!

Blog post about whip-tying and shellac on Everyday Cyclist

About Walnut Studiolo

Walnut Studiolo crafts original modern designs by hand in our Oregon workshop using only natural materials. We are a family-run company located on the North Oregon Coast. Learn more about us on our website:

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