Triumph! Take that, Turk's Head Knot.
They say if at first you don't succeed, try again. After about 25 unsuccessful attempts I have finally made a satisfactory pair of Turk's Head knots. What's more, I've figured out a functional process for making more turk's heads, so unlike some first successes i should be able to replicate this in the future!

Thank you to everyone in the various threads who have discussed this process before....the information here on myArmoury was invaluable in getting started. I didn't end up doing it quite like any of the descriptions I read here (at least i don't think so).....instead, after many many lopsided and lousy attempts I created a jig to help keep things even. I saw similar jigs on rope-typing websites, so it's not in any way an original idea. Denny Graves also gave me some good advice, which was to do a really tight twist to make threading the wire a bit smoother.

I'm going to include a few photos of the jig I made, but if its not clear i can maybe do a better job describing it. Basically i used masking tape to measure the grip circumference, then found a spot on my hammer handle that was about 3/16" less. Then more masking tape to create a precise measure of that spot. Draw a line around the handle on the tape. Then cut off the tape and divide the line into 7 equal sections. Then draw a line about 3/16" or less below the first line and divide that into seven equal sections, but offset from the first line. I did the measuring and dividing with a calculator and a digital caliper. Decimals are so much easier than fractions. Then put the tape back on the handle (in the right place) and drill holes where you've marked the lines. Pins (in this case tiny nails) go in the holes, and you have a jig that locates all the scallops of the turks head.

The actual winding of the wire is trickier to describe. I will try. This might need more pictures. I think it definitely helps to know how to do the turks head have to know which loops you are looking for to duck under. Anyhow, you wrap the end of the wire around one pin to start, then begin to go around the outside of the 2nd (not the first) pin on the opposite side of the pin you are on. After going all the way around twice, you duck under the first full loop after you pass your starting point.

Having done that you will be set to continue around, but the very start of the wire where you tied it off will be wrong. This is easy to fix at the very end. I appreciate that makes little sense if its not right in front of you.

Anyhow, after you've gone all the way around a 3rd time, going alternating over and under, you can pull the pins and slide it down or off the mandrel to give yourself room to make the 2 full circuits and complete the turks head. Stretch it out with a pair of needle nosed pliers, and you're done.

Clear as mud?

The pictures are from my first jig attempt....the final knots came off two essentially identical jigs at different spots on the mandrel (of correct diameter for the two knots).

I've put these two knots on a rapier grip I just redid with a wire wrap....its a touch shorter than the original leather wrapped grip, and now with extra bling.

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failed attempts....
Just as encouragement to those who are trying to get the hang of these, here's a photo of the turk's head graveyard about halfway to the finish line:

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Hey Jesse, nice work on the knots, that is a beautiful wrap. I know its a little late, but there are two references to this knot that i can share. 1 is the Compendium of Celtic Crafts, its a book that breaks knotwork down quite simply, more for the arts and crafts crowd, but simple enough to make things easy, and 2. the Encyclopedia of Rawhide and Leather Braiding by Bruce Grant. While you aren't technically braiding leather this is still a great reference to all things knot related. It took me a number of tries to get them right myself until I found the methods in these books, they both helped alot.
Thanks Richard, i will check those sources out. I found this online site very helpful, with its step by step slide show:

I just did another pair of Turk's Heads for another rapier grip, and I took a few more photos. I made a new round mandrel out of a stair bannister from home depot....a really good buy at only $4 or so. Having a round mandrel shape instead of the rounded rectangle of the hammer handle makes it easier to get evenly spaced curves. Having the rectangular shape is still helpful at the end for stretching the bigger ring into a oval shape more like the grip itself. As a general rule of thumb, i think the bigger the ring is the closer the two lines of pins should be for a tight knot....that's a deduction based on this last set of rings. I will try to confirm it in the future.

In these pictures i've taken the red tape and wound it around the grip end (sticky side out), then slipped the resulting loop off, cut it open, and found a spot on the mandrel where its just a little too big (some overlap at the ends). Then, i make another reverse tape loop on that same spot on the mandrel, slip it off, cut it open, and stick it down on some masking tape. This is the length of the circumference on the mandrel where you will make the knot. Draw the two lines, divide into seven equal parts, offset one line, and put the masking tape back on the mandrel. Drill holes where you've marked the lines, stick in some pins, and you're good to go.

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