Step-by-Step: How to Make Palm Thatching

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Weave thatch from palm fronds.
Weave thatch from palm fronds. (Image: palm frond image by Adrian Hillman from Fotolia.com)

Palm thatching can be used to make a shelter in an emergency or as a cover for a play house or other structure. It is used around the world in tropical climates for everyday shelter. Although the fronds eventually die and turn brown, it’s important to use fresh, green coconut palm fronds when weaving thatch so that the leaflets are flexible and won’t break.

Things You'll Need

  • Live coconut palm frond
  • Sharp knife

Select a live coconut palm frond and split it lengthwise down the center of the spine with a sharp knife.

Notice which direction the leaflets are growing because you want to weave in the direction of the growth.

Count five leaflets up from the bottom of the frond (the bottom being the direction the leaflets are growing toward) and make a sideways bend in the leaflet close to the spine so that the leaflet is paralleling the spine of the frond.

Weave it over the top of leaflet number 4, under leaflet number 3, over leaflet number 2 and under leaflet number 1. Allow the end of leaflet number 5 to dangle out the end of the frond for the moment.

Count up to leaflet number 7 and weave it over top of leaflet number 6, under leaflet number 4, over leaflet number 3, under leaflet number 2 and over leaflet number 1.

Continue in this pattern until you have woven 8 leaflets. Take the fourth leaflet and bend it in half back in the direction it came from.

Bend down away from the spine the dangling leaflets 1 through 3 under leaflet number 4 and secure the fourth leaflet in place by back weaving it under one of the woven strands in just one place. This will keep the dangling edges from becoming unraveled. Do this every four leaflets or so to create a square-like thatch panel.

Tips & Warnings

  • When turning thatched palm into a roof, be sure to have the dull side of the frond facing outward to the sky.
  • Make sure each leaflet is open (not closed and folded in half lengthwise) before you weave it in order to ensure that your thatch will be tightly woven and waterproof.

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