I’d seen versions of tools like this fraying shield (sometimes called a fraying plate) for a couple of decades. Some are just a simple “V” cut into a pressing tin thickness piece of metal. Why bother, I thought? Who needs another specialized, single purpose tool for such a simple job? I’ve been fraying out the cords on scrap pieces of binders board or card stock just fine.
But recently Peter Verheyen engaged me to design and make one for him. He details some historic ones and has a video of him using this one in this blog post. I became intrigued by some of the subtleties of this simple tool. Once I had a prototype I liked, I had a familiar, nagging feeling. Why the hell didn’t I do this sooner? Even if you don’t buy this one, I urge you to make one for yourself and see!
The speed of fraying is quicker, and the quality of the resulting slips much better than using binders board or card stock. They are very even and it is easier to control how thin they get. This is due to fraying on a hard and flat surface, rather than an irregular surface that abrades. The thinness of the steel helps too, so that you can start fraying just next to where the cord exits the endsheet. The shield itself is made from an unhardened stainless steel, soft enough that it won’t damage your knife blade. Traditionally, though, the back of your knife is used. So far it has worked with all the different plys of linen cord I’ve tried, from 2 to 12. The stainless steel is also safe for contact with binding materials.
Fraying shield. Stainless steel, 2 x 6 inches. Buy it here, introductory price only $25!