Restringing Crystal Pleat Shades

Restringing Graber Crystal Pleat or Bali Diamond Cell style shades is a fairly straightforward process with a few simple tools.  Besides a good quality 1.2 mm cord, the tools needed include a phillips and flat head screw drivers and a mattress needle or wire loop (to pull the cord through the shade).  If the cord lock is grooved, you'll also need a new one (new style cord locks will not fit in the hole occupied by the originals as they were smaller) and a sharpie marker as well as a small triangle file to cut the hole wider to fit the new cord lock.  If the shade was made with plastic cord guides in the header instead of just brass grommets then those also sometimes need to be replaced instead of just rotated.  Having a couple of wide clamps to hold the shade material or shade closed at appropriate times also is a life saver - especially for shades that have been open a long time and whose pleats a don't want to cooperate.  

Taking Apart the Shade:

Remove the set screw usually on the top of the header opposite the cord lock or near the middle of the shade.

Remove all the end caps and loosen the cord so that you can slide the fabric out the header on the end away from the cord lock.  On smaller shades remove the lower rail - or just slide it from side to side far enough to reveal the cord knots in the lower rail.

When removing parts it is a good idea to have an organized system of placing the parts in the same place, pile or a handy container so time is not wasted looking for stray pieces that get knocked onto the floor or so they don't end up under the shade fabric where they might cause damage.

If the old cord lock is grooved, it can be removed without bending the header by pushing in the side tabs using a flat blade or by jaming a flat blade screw driver into the back of the cord lock and twisting to separate it into two sections for easier removal.  Be careful not to bent or scratch the head rail.



Using a mattress needle run a 1.2 mm cord through the shade (don't push against any resistance as you may have an inverted cell or the hole in the upper or lower stiffener plastic may not be lined up with the hole in the shade fabric).  Pull the cord over to the end of the shade with the cord lock and then measure an additional length equal to the shade's drop plus a bit extra.  Then run the bottom end of the cord through the washer or metal anchor piece and fold it over and knot it once or twice to create a large enough knot to prevent it from being pulled up through the washer into the shade.

Pull the cord through the cord guide in the top and insert it firmly into the top of the fabric after rotating (or replacing it entirely) so that any worn or grooved edges are not under the cord's route. 

Pull new cords for the rest of the shade in the same manner.  Being sure not to leave any twists or tangles.



Slide the bottom rail back onto the shade after pulling all cords up through the shade and insuring the original weights are back in place as you slide the rail along the shade.  Be careful to lift the rail so that its leading edges don't snag the fabric.  If you feel any resistance, back up and free up the fabric or change the angle.  Pinching the fabric stiffener in front of the rail as you slide it along sometimes helps if it is a tight fit.

Springs Honeycomb Clutch File Retrofit W100 2094If you are replacing the cord lock with a new one, you must carefully cut the opening slightly higher and a good bit wider to accomodate the large hole required by the new cord locks.  This is easily done with firm short strokes of a small triangle file.  Use short firm strokes to file off the edges without lifting the end of the file out of the hole to avoid scratching the paint on the face of the header.  Using a sharpie marker to edge the top and side away from the end and then filing off the colored area helps one assess progress.  First file the long edges to widen the opening so the new cord lock slides into the hole without binding, then work on the side of the opening.  Stop and test the hole as you work so that you don't go beyond the point at which the new cord lock will almost fit into the hole - resting about a quarter inch higher than the face of the header - so that when you push it in firmly it will be locked into place as desired.

Slide the top rail onto the shade staring on the end away from the cord lock and insuring that as you move across the shade all cords are laying along the top of the guides and rail without any twists.  Slide the rail just past the end so that you can pull the cords through the hole where the cord lock will go, then slide it back into place and reinstall the set screw once you are sure the fabric is lined up on the ends (you can see the dark dot in the screw hole from its original position).

Run the cord through the side of the cord lock and then thread it through the cord lock to the front (using a wire loop inserted from the front helps with this step).  Pull all the loose cord through the cord lock (insuring what will be left inside the head rail is not twisted) before inserting the cord lock back into position in the header.

Tug each cord firmly and thread the cords through the top half of the cord condensor and a washer before measuring and and knotting to the desired length.  Trim the cord below the knot (not too close so the knot can't slip out) and add the lower section of the condensor and drop cord to finish the job. Inspect to be sure all the end caps are back on and the cords move freely.  Open and close the shade and check the length as well as the cord lock's operation.  Add any stickers or labels documenting your repair and the shade is ready to clean or be returned to the client.


{Article still under construction - pictures etc.  Comments Appreciated! 11/1/2012}


FileDescriptionFile size
Download this file (Graber Joiner Ball Color Chart.pdf)Graber Joiner Ball Color Chart 536 kB
Download this file (Graber Rail and Plastic Component Color Chart.pdf)Graber Rail and Plastic Component Color Chart.pdf 579 kB

Restringing Guarantees & Cord Guides

If you are going to guarantee your work when restringing blinds - take a few minutes to check all the friction points as the cord travels through the shade.  While it may have taken a few years for the cord to break the first time, if you just pull a new cord it will probably break within weeks, if not days, if you neglect to address grooves worn into various friction points as the cord travels through the blind. 


The two most common problem areas are in the cord lock itself and in the header where the cords rub the edge of any parts they travel over - especially when they change direction around a corner.  Often there is a piece of plastic or a metal grommet  one can simply rotate.  Occassionally one needs replacing or was perhaps forgotten when the shade was made.  You want to be sure that the new cord has a smooth pathway over which to travel with minimal friction.  If it takes inserting a metal liner in an obsolete part or replacing a worn part with a new one to insure that you can confidently stand behind your repairs, don't cut corners.  Finally, don’t forget to tie big knots below your washers, and as mentioned earlier, replace worn or grooved cord locks while you have the shade apart.


Simply pulling a new cord only fixes the problem when the cat was to blame.

Improved Hunter Douglas Cord Locks

Several years ago, Hunter Douglas improved upon their standard cord lock for their standard honeycomb and pleated shades.  In the newer improved version (in both sizes—only the smaller 3/8 version is pictured here), a metal insert has been added on top of the plastic at the end of the cord run as it drops down through the cord lock.  This piece protects two vital plastic edges from grooves that form as the cord wears the plastic, and eventually leads to the cord fraying or breaking.  On large shades, a couple of abusive yanks may be all it takes to "burn out" the old plastic cord locks, especially with Hunter Douglas' tougher cord.

   When restringing one of these shades, you should always check for wear on this part.  If a significant groove is observed, this worn edge likely contributed to the fraying and eventual breaking of the cord.  It is wise to replace worn parts, especially the cord locks and cord guides in the headrail, in order to prevent worn edges from quickly wearing out the new cord.

   If you do many repairs, you might consider really emphasizing to clients the advantages of this upgrade, and the benefit of paying to replace this part while doing the restring.  This new cord lock is probably part of the reason Hunter Douglas has had the confidence to extended the length of their cord replacement warranty on their new shades in recent years.

Copyright © 2020 All Rights Reserved.