How To Sling Hexes
This is a step by step Photo-mentary of the way I sling Black Diamond Hexentrics with 5mm cord.
DISCLAIMER: Build and use at your own risk. Neither the author of this how to, Black Diamond or Maxim accepts any responsibility for the use or misuse of any of these items. Climbing is an inherently dangerous activity and the information on this page is not a substitute for training from a qualified instructor.
Click on the thumbnails to see high-res images.
Read though all the instructions first so you'll know how to prepare.
Things You'll Need
1-A set of unslung hexes
2-As much cord as it takes. I used 5mm Maxim Tech Cord from two 20' spools and used about 34'.
3-A camp stove or some other high-BTU flame based heat source that you can take outside. If you have an electronic hotknife, that might work as well.
4-A hot pad
5-A very sharp knife, preferably with a thin blade. I find that an X-acto works the best.
6-A cheap stainless steel butterknife. Do NOT use silver or aluminum as you need to get this red hot. Also, don't use any knife that you intend to eat with again as it'll be covered in junk.
7-A cutting board or any surface you don't mind gouging holes in.
8-Masking tape(doesn't need to be 2", 1" would actually work better)
9-Needle nose pliers
10-A lovely assistant
**You will also need to know how to tie a double fisherman's knot.**
Hopefully you haven't pre-cut your cord as I find it much easier to work off the reel. But if you have pre-cut, you can skip all of the length tweaking tips.
I like to start with the largest ones and go smaller. I also like to tie the knots on the biggest two(#10 and 11) inside of the hex itself. I think it looks cool and it's clean.
If you want the knots outside, check out step 17 to see where to start then come back up for cutting and melting tips.
Start by running one end of the cord up through and out the top of the inside of the largest hex. If the end of the cord is such that you can't get it to feed smoothly, skip down to step 7 and follow the cutting and melting procedures for this end then come back up here.
Pull enough cord through so that you can go back down through the top, the bottom then loop around and come back up through the last bottom hole. This is where you want to get a rough idea of how long you want your loops to be. I run them long as it give you more placement options. Long ones can be tied short if needed while short ones can't be lengthened on their own.
Tie one half of the fisherman's using the live end from the hex. This will allow you to size your loop accurately. It's easiest if you do your adjustments with the knot pulled out as shown then tuck it back in to check fit. Adjust until you're happy with the loop size.
Finish the fisherman's once you're happy with the size. It can be rather cumbersome pulling 18' of cord through the knot yourself a few times, so this is a great time for a lovely assistant!
Pull the knot back into the hex and get the cord in it's proper place. Stand on the hex as shown and pull as hard as you can. The knot will snug up to it's final resting place. You can untie the knot after you've set it like this, but it's a lot of work!
(The picture shows the cord cut already, yours should still be one long piece.)
The next steps are easier if you pull the now-snugged knot back out of the hex. Wrap a bit of tape where you're going to make your cut. You should have a minimum of 3" of tail. You don't have to use more tape than to get around it once. This is only to keep the ends from fraying during the cut.
Using that super sharp X-acto, cut through the cord in the middle of the tape. Use a lot of downward pressure as the core of tech cord is pretty gnarly stuff.
This is what your ends should look like post-cut.
Pull back the sheath of the cord to reveal the core.
(I apologize for how blurry this photo is, I didn't catch that until after I had finished.)
Using that super sharp x-acto, cut the core ends off. About 3/8" on the hex end is good but on the long cord end, only do about 1/4". If you do more on the long end, you'll have to cut off a lot of excess sheath with the hot knife.
Don't breathe in the fibers you cut off! Try not to get them stuck in your fingers either. They aren't nearly as bad as fiberglass, but they still suck. I usually use a Kleenex or masking tape to pick them up. You'll produce a lot of it during this project so you may just want to start a pile.
Slide the sheath back over the core. You'll notice that the cord end goes a lot further than the hex end as the hex end only has 3" while the cord has 18" feet!
Take both the almost finished hex and the rest of the cord outside to your camp stove. Get it fired up on high. It helps to have your lovely assistant available for this portion of the program as well. This will save you from having to get up from the fire to get the stuff you forgot inside.
Wrap the butter knife handle in the hot pad. The knife will get red hot so make sure you have a good hold on it. Hold the knife in the fire. It takes a few minutes for the knife to get hot so ask your lovely assistant a few suggestive questions while you wait.
Have your lovely assistant remove the tape from the hex end.
I've found that a red hot knife works great for the hex end because all you are doing is melting the crap out of the sheath that is sticking out past the core. Your goal here is to seal the end closed. This happens very quickly with a red hot knife.
Try not to breathe the highly toxic fumes coming off the melted sheathing. This is why it's important to do this outside.
Oh, and no matter how much you want it to, the core won't melt with a hot knife. I'm sure it'll melt at some point, but not using this method. This doesn't mean that you can be reckless with your melts, though!!!
Have your lovely assistant remove the tape from the cord end.
Then have them run inside and grab the pliers.
While the hex is pictured here, I'm using the technique I use for the long cord. Your goal here is to seal the end as well as shape it into a small cone so that it easily slides into the next hex.
I've found that a cooler knife works best for this as it allows you some control . It takes a bit longer as you have to put the knife in the fire a couple of times during this step.
Work the knife from the cord out to the tip or wipe the cord along the blade so that it gets pointy as you go around(follow the direction of the arrows in the pictures.) You could also try twisting the cord. Due to the cooler temp of the knife, you have to move slower than you think here, but always keep the cord moving. You may want to use the pliers to hold the cord so you can get more control and avoid a nasty burn.
This is what the ends should look like after they are melted.
Pull the knot back into the hex and tuck the tails inside as well. Give it one more good yank while you stand on it for good measure.
Congrats, you just finished the first one!
As the hexes get smaller you may need to use the pliers to help pull the cord through the inside.
Start the smaller hexes by going up through a bottom hole, out the top, back down the other top and out the bottom again.
Pull a bunch of cord through and choose where you want your knot. I like to put them down near the bottom as this keeps the stiff knot section away from the hex while at the same time keeping the loop open for a biner.
Start your knot with the cord you just pulled through the hex. Adjust the loop size to your liking. Finish by tying the second half of the knot then go back to step 5 and go through the snugging/cutting/melting again.
In no time at all, you'll have a happy set of custom hexes. Make sure to check that all knots have been snugged up tight and still have enough tail!!!