Net Making With Gauge Block and Netting Needle

Learn this method of net making and you won't have to spend a fortune on fishing snares, hammocks, mesh bags, and other such webware.

| May/June 1983

  • net making - assorted equipment
    Tools for net making: two netting shuttles(one wound with twine) and two sizes of gauge block.
    Photo by Tom Hamn
  • net making - overhand knot illustration
    A simple overhand knot.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff
  • net making - gauge block and netting needle in use
    Making the second pass after the first row is completed. With the gauge block in your left hand, place the leading (narrow) edge against your last knot, with the twine passing in front of it and then over to the shuttle. The next pass of the shuttle takes the string around both sides of the upper loop, with the twine staying above your thumb, and then back down through the hole held open by your right wrist.
    Tom Hamn
  • net making - double clove hitch illustration
    The double clove hitch.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff
  • net making - illustration of process for double clove hitch
    Making the first pass on the double clove hitch.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff
  • net making - diagram of stretched mesh
    A netting mesh with knots at 1" intervals.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff
  • net making - first row of loops
    The beginning slipknot (note the starting string above from which the loops hang). The first row of meshes will be hand gauged with slipknots.
    Tom Hamn
  • net making - diagram of starting knot
    Method of starting a new. Note the overhand knot the provide an initial anchor point.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff
  • net making - illustration of sheet bend and double sheet bend
    Methods of tying a sheet bend (or becket bend) and double sheet bend.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff
  • slipknot on a bight
    Method of tying a slipknot on a bight.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff

  • net making - assorted equipment
  • net making - overhand knot illustration
  • net making - gauge block and netting needle in use
  • net making - double clove hitch illustration
  • net making - illustration of process for double clove hitch
  • net making - diagram of stretched mesh
  • net making - first row of loops
  • net making - diagram of starting knot
  • net making - illustration of sheet bend and double sheet bend
  • slipknot on a bight

In many parts of the world, fisherfolk have been making their own nets for generations! It's an enjoyable and productive pastime, and with some knowledge, a supply of string, and a couple of handmade tools, you can start tying your own meshwork right in your living room or back yard. I learned the art from old-timers, who taught me to "knit" a net; that is, to build a series of "meshes" to create an overall pattern. I also learned that net making can be a great family activity, especially when everyone keeps in mind the delicious fresh fish that will soon be landed in those interlocking strands and brought to the dinner table.

String Along

Nets don't have to be used for fishing, of course, but whether you make one to catch walleye or to serve as a decorative wall hanging, you'll have to knit it from some type of string. Kite line, baling twine, upholstery sewing thread, package cord, and even crochet yarn are all good candidates for webbing, although the intended use of the finished net will eliminate some choices and recommend others. (For good-quality, lightweight, strong, kink- and rot-resistant cord, however, Dacron or polypropylene are likely the best bets.)

You'll also have to decide the actual size of whatever twine you pick. Just remember that while thinner cords tend to cost less, they also have less durability and strength. If you plan to land lunker bass, for example, you wouldn't make your net out of crochet yarn! (On the other hand, if that's the only sort of cordage you have available at the moment, why not use it to practice the skill for a while?)

Besides string, you'll need a gauge block or stick, and a netting needle or shuttle. You can purchase these tools from most craft outlets, or you can make them from hardwood scrap (See Make a Gauge Block and Netting Needle to learn how).



Let’s Take a Dip

The types of fishing equipment you can make using the block, shuttle, and string include such relatively large-scale harvesting devices as gill nets, hoop nets, and trammel nets. The same technique can produce good cargo nets, throw nets, hammocks, and even wall decorations. In order to master the basic method, however, it's best to start with a relatively simple (and very useful) project: producing a webbing tube that can be transformed into a dip net or landing net. Naturally, this device also needs a frame, so in addition to your string and tools, you'll want either a commercially made landing net frame (an old one that needs new netting would be fine), an adaptable existing frame (such as a discarded badminton or tennis racket), or a homemade "hoop" (perhaps fashioned from wire, or from springy or steamed wood).

To make a dip net suitable for landing a pan-sized trout, you'll need a ball of No. 9 twine, a gauge block with a circumference of about 2 1/8", and a shuttle that's about 8" long and 3/4" wide. In order to prevent a fish from slipping through your homemade net, you'll need to space the loops close enough together to prevent the meshes from hanging in squares. I chose to hang my loops 1" apart around the frame. I used a frame that's 18" in diameter and has a circumference of 56 1/2 ", so at 1 mesh to the inch there are 56 meshes around the webbing tube.

kenneth easterday
1/1/2010 1:23:43 AM

i would like a price guide for tools to make dippen nets please







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