Dreadlock tool

Created by Olli Niemitalo on 2009-11-23, last modified 2012-01-31


When I had my dreadlocks made, I had little idea how to take care of them. I tried different things. By now, I have a routine. I wash the dreadlocks with water every morning and after sports. Once a week, I wash them with non-silicone shampoo, twice at a time, and rinse carefully to make sure there will be no residual shampoo left in my hair at the end. Additionally, I spend on average maybe 10 minutes a day fixing them using a tool that I devised:


The tool is simply a metal wire loop with a handle. It works like this:

you push the loop through a dread near its root, stuff any loose hair that you think "belongs" to that dread into the loop, and pull the loop and the hair through the dread. If the loose hair sticks out from the other side of the dread, you continue working towards the tip of the dread in a zigzag fashion. When you push the loop through the dread, make sure it comes out at the same spot as does the loose hair, so that you won't be leaving funny loops of hair on the surface of the dread.

The above cartoon misses a couple of important points: When you push the loop through the dread, make sure it comes out at the same spot as does the loose hair, so that you won't be leaving funny loops of hair on the surface of the dread. Also, hold on to the end of the bunch of loose hair with fingers, while you are pulling the tool through the dread. It takes a bit of force to pull the hairs from your grasp, resulting in a tighter weave.

Instructions for building the dread tool

Go to your local guitar store and ask for the thickest electric guitar string that they have that is a simple metal wire, not a wound string. You can tell them you will use it as metal wire for non-musical purposes. If you have access to stainless MIG welding wire, that will also do. Normal iron wire is too soft, don't waste your time with it. Guitar string that I have used were 0.4 mm (26 gauge) and 0.56 mm.

Cut a 20 cm piece of the wire. Fold it like this:


It should look like this when the two ends are held together:


Tie a cotton string to it:


The cotton string will form a handle on the straight parts of the wire ends. Cut off the loose end and wind the cotton string around the straight part of one end of the wire, then continue winding it around the other, so that the two are pulled together.


Hide the protruding wire tips by flattening the small hooks at the tips using pliers. Apply some super glue on the wound part of the cotton string, and wind the cotton string around the whole handle:


Quickly apply another layer of super glue, wrap the string once more around the handle, and squeeze the handle with pliers to flatten it. This will be of help when you use the tool as you will know its orientation by touch alone.


Apply super glue once more on the shaped handle. When the glue is dry, cut off the excess cotton string. Now the tool should look like this:


Apply some contact glue on the handle, and fit a piece of heat-shrink tube on it, making a nice rubber-coated handle. You can leave a bit of an overhang (1 cm or so, not shown in picture below) to make the tip of the handle feel less sharp against your palm when you push it through the dread.


Now the tool is ready.

Another way to make the handle is to bury the thread (this time red) in a lump of 2-component epoxy:

Alternative handle material: cotton thread + 2-component epoxy

When the epoxy has solidified, you can use sandpaper to get rid of any irregularities. I like this better than the shrink-wrap handle! I'm also making the tool a bit shorter now, so that it fits in my wallet. Make sure the end of the handle is round and smooth, with no metal sticking out, so it won't sting against your palm when you use it.


  1. Thank you for this tool, it is fabulous. I am able to maintaine my dreads in a wy I couldn’t before with the crotchet hook. Thank you againVXXX CarolX

    Comment by Carol — 2010-09-18 @ 19:26

  2. Thank you for posting this. I have been searching for a lock tool other than the crochet hook. I personally hate using that tool for tightening mine and others lock. I rather use it for crochet braids. This is cheaper than what others are selling this tool for. About to save this to my favorites, get me some wire from the music shop and gets to making me about four or five of these things. One for my purse, my bedroom, and for others..lol. Once again thank you

    Comment by Marlene Harvest — 2011-11-18 @ 15:38

  3. Glad to hear you people have found it useful!

    Comment by Olli Niemitalo — 2011-11-18 @ 18:21

  4. awesome :-bd thank you so much for this so useful

    Comment by Alireza — 2012-01-31 @ 20:16

  5. Hi, I made your tool and it works very well. Thank you very much and congratulations!

    Comment by Giorgio — 2013-10-10 @ 15:11

  6. What is the name of that tool?

    Comment by Pule mpokele — 2014-12-04 @ 16:23

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