How to Make a Bolo Tie

by Emily Jeren

The bolo tie (or bola tie) is a unique necktie often associated with Western wear. This sleek tie provides an understated yet polished look, and can be worn in a variety of environments, from professional to casual. In 1971, the bolo tie became the official neckwear of the state of Arizona. Neighboring New Mexico adopted the bolo tie as the state's unofficial neckwear in 1987, and made it the official tie of New Mexico in 2007. Although bolo ties are often synonymous with Western wear and are popular with men, the tie can be stylized to fit any look and women can pull off the look too. Making your own bolo tie is not only fun, but allows for creative expression that reflects your personal style--something you can't buy in a store.

Items you will need

  • 40-inch braided leather cord
  • Decorative button, pendant or stone
  • Metal bolo slide
  • 2 metal bolo tips
  • Pliers
  • Metal file
  • Jewelry glue
  • Sturdy scissors
  • Damp cloth
  • Dry cloth
Step 1

Select a braided leather cord in your desired color. The cord needs to be about 40 inches long, and the ideal thickness is approximately four millimeters. Place the cord around your neck with the ends hanging down evenly in front of you like the bolo tie will be worn. If the cord is too long for your taste, trim it using a pair of sturdy scissors. Most bolo tie cords are between 36 and 40 inches long, so don't trim it too short.

Step 2

Slip one end of the braided leather cord through one of the two bends in the bolo slide. Remove the cord and set it aside. If the cord does not fit, gently pry open the bend using a pair of pliers to make room for the cord to slip in later on.

Step 3

Gently file the edges of the metal bolo slide using a metal file, concentrating especially around the bends where the cord will come in contact with the metal. This helps smooth the surface to prevent damage to the cord. When you are done, remove any residue using a damp cloth to wipe the surface of the slide, and then dry it with a clean dry cloth.

Step 4

Pick a medium or large decorative button, pendant or polished stone with a flat backside. This will be the "centerpiece" of your bolo tie. Wipe the backside of the button, pendant or stone with a damp cloth to remove residue, and dry it thoroughly with a clean dry cloth.

Step 5

Glue the button, pendant or stone to the flat front side of the bolo slide using a secure jewelry glue. Follow the usage instructions included with your jewelry glue, and let it dry for the greater of an hour or the amount of time recommended in the glue's instructions.

Step 6

Assemble the bolo tie by sliding both ends of the leather cord through the two bends in the backside of the bolo slide -- one cord end through one bend, and the other cord end through the other bend. Make sure that you slide the cord ends through the bends from the top to assure that the orientation of your button, pendant or stone will be correct.

Step 7

Gently tighten the bends of the bolo slide around the leather cord with a pair of pliers. You want the bolo slide to still be able to slide up and down the leather cord, but you want the bends to be snug enough so the slide doesn't slip down on its own.

Step 8

Attach the metal bolo tips to your new bolo tie as the finishing touch. Apply a small amount of glue inside each bolo tip, and then push the tips onto each of the leather cord ends. Secure the tips on the cord ends with a pair of pliers, if needed.

Step 9

Wear the bolo tie by sliding the bolo slide down to the tips. Put the bolo tie over your head, and once the tie is around your neck, slide the bolo slide up to your desired position. For a more polished or professional look, have the bolo slide up higher, or to be more casual, place the slide only halfway up the cord.

Tips

  • Bolo slides and bolo tips can be found at almost any craft store that sells jewelry-making supplies.

    Beads can be added to the cord for color or style.

Warnings

  • Make sure the damp and dry cloths you use are soft and won't scratch the surfaces.

Photo Credits

  • lisafx/iStock/Getty Images

About the Author

Splitting her time between the East Coast and the West Coast, Emily Jeren has been writing professionally for over 6 years. Jeren spent 4 years in hotel management before transitioning to professional travel ghost writing for various travel websites. In addition to travel, she also specializes in writing entertainment and style related articles.