DIY Gear: Amsteel Minimal Tag Holder

While we love Robin’s White Pine collar (review), we typically remove it in the house for safety reasons since it’s a martingale. This led to accidental tagless moments when we left in a hurry. I couldn’t find the low profile, lightweight tag holder I was imagining, so I made one up with some leftover hammock cord.

I used 7/64 Amsteel Blue, a braided rope that’s as strong as steel, but another spliceable hollow braided rope should do – see photos below to test that it “opens up” when compressed longitudinally. Use thicker cord for a larger dog- thin cord can cut into the neck. Amsteel Blue can be purchased from marine and hammock supply websites; the best price I could find when updating this in January 2016 was $5.25 for 25′ on in seven colors. I have only used a dark charcoal gray and it fades to light gray over time.


Time: 5 – 10 minutes. It’s a bit complicated to explain but very easy to do.

Materials: Scissors, a 10-15″ length of thin wire, cord, and tag (not pictured).



  1. Cut the rope: Measure out a length of rope that hangs where you’d like the tag collar to sit. Make sure it can easily slip over your dog’s head since these collars can hold a 1600 pound load. Add 12 inches to the length, and cut. To make Robin’s 13″ circumference collar, I cut a 25″ length of cord.
  2. Taper the ends: The collar is made by burying the ends into the core of  the rope. It’s much easier to thread the ends if the thickness is reduced. To taper, measure 1 inch from each end, and open up the rope by grasping on each side of the 1″ mark and pushing the hands together. 3Fold your wire in half to create a splicing tool. Using the folded end, pull out and cut off every other strand (on 8 strand Amsteel, this is 4 strands) so that at the 1″ point, the diameter of the rope is reduced by half. 4
  3. Find the begin points for the bury: The 5″ ends of the rope will be “buried” into the main loop of the collar, creating a seamless circle. Measure 5″ from each end (including the taper), and open up the rope at that mark. These points can be tweaked if necessary if the collar ends up being too loose or too tight.
  4. Prepare to bury the ends: Coil the rope as shown. Point A is the midpoint of the piece of rope; point B is both 5″ marks.5
  5. Insert the splicing tool: Thread the folded end of the splicing tool between strands at point A and push it through the core of the rope to point B. At point B, poke the folded end out between two strands, ensuring that the wire doesn’t bisect any individual strands. 6
  6. Bury the first end: Thread the tapered ends of the rope into the loop of the splicing tool, and fold the taper in half at its halfway point. The splicing tool has become a needle to pull the end through. Gently pull the splicing tool back out, threading the rope end through the core to point A.7
  7. Adjust the size of the loop so that the remaining 5″ mark (point B) on the rope meets up with the beginning of the bury.  Smooth the loop so that the loose ends disappear into the encasing rope. 8
  8. Thread the ring of the tag onto the free end of the rope and repeat the splicing by threading the splicing tool in through point A at the top of the collar, and out as close as possible to the connection point at point B.
  9. Before smoothing the second bury, pull tight on the end to lock it tightly around the tag. Done!0Note: Thin tag holders like this one should never be used as a collar for safety reasons.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Barbara says:

    I guess it’s too late to ask for a video? 🙂 Recently I faced the same problem – how to attach the tag to Ezra if I don’t want to use a collar. I wanted to do it without the need to put it on different harnesses, or to even put on a harness, since I like to let Ezra run as free as possible, when she’s not needed on the leash. I figured out I’m going t make it of some thin line, to make it barely visible, pretty and not interfering with harnesses (I don’t like the look of a dog wearing both). And now I found your awesome blog 🙂


    1. I’ve stopped using Robin’s Amsteel tag holder since we have him wearing an amber collar to repel fleas. I’ll put making a video onto the list, but it’ll be awhile! If you decide to try it with the instructions, I’d be happy to talk you through any questions.


      1. Barbara says:

        I’m afraid I don’t understand steps 3-8, what is actually happening there. It might just be the language barrier though. I’ve made my own tag holder from a trixie training line I found at home, but I’m pretty sure I made it completly different. Since I discovered that it has a hole inside, I’ve put the wire into the line, made a wire knot and burned the line in the knot place to trap it there. It looks like this now: it serves it’s purpose, but I’d like to use more elastic wire, as current tag holder can get folded and it doesn’t look so pretty then. The burn point doesn’t look that good eithter, but I’m sure it can be done better or maybe even barely visable.
        Backing to your tutorial, can you please try to explain what did you do in step 3, more idiot-for like? 🙂 I guess maybe the weave is amsteel characteristic, and that’s why I had trouble understanding it?


      2. Try watching this: The process is exactly the same (I didn’t do any whipping – that starts halfway through – but it wouldn’t be a bad idea. The only difference will be the measurements and adding the tag ring before burying the second side of the collar. Let me know if you have any questions!


      3. Barbara says:

        That helped me a lot, thank you! Cheers to you and Robin 🙂


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