How To Make A Rosary

Tips Before You Get Started:

Rosaries can be made from a variety of materials. Be creative!

We encourage Rosary makers and recipients to pray for each other.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Lightweight Rosaries (of plastic and cord) are less expensive to make and ship.
  • Prisons and the military may use black or brown Rosaries only. 

Instructions for making cord rosaries using knots and beads:

These instructions are for a person working right-handed.

  • Use either bonded (coated to minimize unraveling and firmer to work with) or unbonded (softer on the hands) cord.  Rosary twine may be known as twisted nylon.  Size 9 cord is commonly used with 5x7 mm oval beads.
  • The hole of the beads should be wide enough to easily string on the cord you are using.  The spacers you are using should be wider than the hole of the beads to keep the beads in place.
  • To help distinguish “Pater” (Our Father) beads, use a different color bead or different size or shape than the Hail Mary beads.
  • Cut a piece of cord about 36”.  The length of cord you need depends on the size of the beads you will use and the amount of knots you choose to make.
  • Leave about 8” of cord on the tail end to start.  Coat the working end with clear nail polish so it will be easier to work with and less likely to unravel.  Allow to dry.
  • Start with a spacer.  Use a spacer tube or “barrel knot” as spacers.  These separate the Hail Mary beads from the Pater (Our Father) bead.

Wrapping Tools

Some people use their fingers (usually index or middle).  Look for cord rosary making tools on the market or make your own.  Lewis & Company offers a metal tool resembling a set of tweezers.  Plastic versions can be bought in large quantities.  The idea is to have a narrow tool with a handle that is easy to grasp in one hand (about the width and shape of a pen, but a little shorter).  The other end should have a notch or groove deep enough for the cord to easily pass through.

How to Tie a Barrel knot

  • Use the thumb of your left hand to hold the end piece of cord against the tool you are using

  • Using your right hand, wrap the cord around the tool 

  • Cross the cord over diagonally on the bottom side

  • Continue wrapping left to right 3-5 times, so that each layer is side-by-side

  • Push the working end through the center of the knot (using the groove) from left to right

  • Pull the right side tightly

  • Carefully slide knot off of the tool

  • Pull both ends to tighten

Forming the Rosary

  • After the first spacer, string the first set of 10 Hail Mary beads
  • Leave a little “wiggle room” between the Hail Mary beads and the spacer to allow praying fingers to move the beads and so the Rosary can bend easily.
  • Add a spacer.
  • String a Pater (Our Father) bead--this actually represents the Second Mystery.
  • Add a spacer.
  • String the second set of 10 Hail Mary beads.
  • Continue this process until you have five decades (sets) of Hail Mary beads.
  • Finish by adding a last spacer.
  • Tie the two sides together by using a center piece (comes with 3 holes) or a larger barrel knot (using both ends of the cord).

Note: If you are using a center piece, you may decide to attach it to one side before continuing to make the decades.

  • Add a spacer after the center piece.
  • String a Pater (Our Father) bead--this actually represents the First Mystery.
  • Add a spacer.
  • String 3 Hail Mary beads.
  • Add a spacer.
  • String a Pater (Our Father) bead.
  • (Optional) Add a spacer.
  • Tie Crucifix, leaving some room between the first Pater (Our Father) bead. 
  • Use a sharp pair of scissors to cut off extra cord.  Apply clear nail polish to the ends to prevent unraveling.
  • Use a damp cloth to remove any charred pieces if you choose to burn the cord ends (i.e. with a lighter) to prevent unraveling.  Practice this with a test piece of cord before trying it on a finished Rosary.  

Visit the Lewis & Company website ( for Rosary making supplies or to learn how to make a chained Rosary.