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Rope Making 101

Knowing how to make rope is a great skill to have in an emergency. You might be able to find weaker materials like twine, string, yarn, plant fibers or even plastic bags but they won’t be able to hold anything strong until they are bound together as rope.

Making rope is a great skill to know and very easy to do. Below, we’ve listed some instructions on how you can make a simple rope design. Keep in mind that there are multiple ways to make a rope and many materials you can use.

For this design, you’ll need:
• Twine or string
• Two sticks

First Spin
1. Attach the twine to one stick using a bowline knot. Make the loop large enough to slip off of the stick, if you don’t, it will get too tight and you’ll have to cut the line instead.

Rope Making First Spin

2. Stretch the twine to ensure all the yarns are of equal tension and begin spinning clockwise. As it becomes more difficult to spin while the strand is under moderate tension, you’re probably  finished. (For very long strands, use a spinner at each end to speed up the process.)

Rope Making First Spin

3. Once the strand is tightly spun, it must be folded to make rope. This is the tricky part for first-timers, since the individual segments must be kept tight at all times to prevent kinks. With two additional helpers placed at “thirds” on opposite sides of the strand, have each back up while holding his or her segment.

These bends are then looped over the spinner and the anchor stick, respectively, making the rope one-third its original length. (This can be done with only two people by looping the strand over something like a trailer hitch ball or a sturdy fence post.)

Second Spin
1. Once the line has been folded into thirds, stretch the three strands until they are even lengths. Continue to spin the rope but this time, do it in the opposite direction (counterclockwise) until the rope is tight.

2. Over-tighten the rope and quickly tug on the rope to set it in place.

3. Slide the rope off the sticks and let it relax a bit. Splice the ends to make sure the rope doesn’t come undone.

Rope Making

Your Advice?
Have you made rope before? How did it go? Comment below to share your advice and tips.

28 thoughts on “Rope Making 101”

  • Dennis Heard

    The Great articles you come up with like rope 101 & how to make your own vinger and countless other self-help. It would be really great if you published a book with all this great information in it ? Just a Thought keep up the great work that you do.

  • Stan Wagner

    I agree with Dennis, if there was book that had all of these tips and tricks, I believe I would buy it. I am in the process of developing a 'Quick Guide' for my family and it is time consuming, to say the least, especially since I have to document, cite and the works!
    But don't stop giving us these tips!

  • Jack Russell

    Yes, I've made rope and this article doesn't resemble the way I was taught. I built a rope twister. Its a simple machine that takes three strands of twine or even rags and twists each strand individually. This action causes the three individual strands to wind around one another, exactly like a factory made rope and maintain a natural tension that holds the integrity of the rope. I built mine 30 years ago and it looks similar to a pingpong paddle with three shafts protruding through the front to attach each strand to. The back side of the 'ping pong paddle' has a plate that twists each of the shafts in sync by rotating the plate similar to this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4myZ8rajxPc The linear design of the machine in the video makes it much less wield than mine, but its accomplishing the same purpose. Do a youtube search for 'rope machine' and you'll get quite an education on the better method of making rope from multiple strands.

  • Ruby

    Thank you for these great 'how to' articles. I haven't tried making the vinegar yet but plan to do so as soon as I've got enough frozen apple peelings saved up. Now I want to try your 'Rope Making 101' too. I'll be watching for yarn, or balls of string to be on sale for this one. Please keep supplying great artices like these.

  • Leonard

    I want a copy of the book when it is written!

  • Guest

    To speed things up, you can chuck a paint stirrer into a power drill and use that to spin your thread quickly and efficiently

  • Marlene Lauder
    Marlene Lauder March 2, 2013 at 3:33 am

    Great How-To articles! I always learn so much. Is there a link on your website to all these articles?
    Please keep them coming.

  • Candace B.

    I second the book making idea! I love reading these articles and while i will remember it now, it sure would be nice to have all this info in a book to reference or take with me in an emergency, just in case my memory doesn't serve me well.

  • Sherri

    I love these articles! I save them to my laptop to access when my memory fails me. It worked the other day when our power was out for 11 hours and I looked up how to stay warm without power. But I REALLY would love to have a book too!

  • Vern Walters

    I have used candle wax at the ends of rope to hold the ends together and it seemed to work pretty good. Also you could heat up crayons and us them as most crayons have or are made of wax. For the ones asking for a book to be made why don't you just print out the subject matter then use a 3 hole punch to put holes in the sides of the papers and put them into a notbook and bing you have a book of the ideas. Thats what I am doing so I won't forget these great ideas.

  • Vern Walters

    Sherri you might want to print those out and do as I stated since if we loose power for long periods or for good you will still have them to read since it takes power to run the laptop. Just saying.

  • Don B

    This is a great device for it's simplicity and ease of use. A guy named Samuel has a YouTube video that shows how to make braided rope from plastic shopping bags. Bags with your device on a slightly larger scale might work. Search YouTube for- "Make Rope from Plastic Bags (without tools)".
    Thanks, be ready.

  • Jeanniec

    When I was getting my teaching degree, we learned to make belts almost this way with yarn. Only took 2 people - 3 strands, both twisting the opposite direction - at LEAST twice as long as you wanted it to end up to be. When it was tight, one of us would hold it in the center after tying a knot in the end - fold it to the other person - then let it go - the kids loved how it would twist around itself. Strong too!
    If I had a printer, I'd already have these in a book! Would love to see a book!

  • Roger

    I copy the informaton into MS Word, format it and categorized them. A book would be good. Maybe you could offer it as an customer loyal incentive hardcopy or PDF.

    I also copy the comments. They are almost as helpful as the articles.

  • Stan

    To Everyone that wishes for a compendium of information presented here, look under READYRESOURCES above.

  • Mike Ayala

    Hey Ruby,

    Try making wine, but be less than sterile in your procedure, and you will probably end with vinegar sooner or later. Not that I advocate drinking wine, but it is apparent in the New Testament that in the culture at that time wine was used medicinally and possibly as an antiseptic.

    Grace & blessings to you.

    Mike Ayala

  • Lori

    I believe all or most all of the past published info can be found at the top of the page under Ready Resources, Blog

  • Ctwalter

    Great Info on the rope making. I also like the book idea, but make sure to double and triple check the info. For instance, the article about chickens had some ideas presented that were less than effective. With an idea as huge and varried as chickens, there are as many different ideas as there are chickens and so on. But a book would be a great idea.

  • Joan

    I agree with printing out the lessons and putting in a three ring binder. I like the forum and reading the input from others. My ex husband and I made rope using hair form horses tails. you have to add strands of hair as you go to get the length but this is how it was done in the old days to make lariats.

  • Doug

    Mike, the Old and New Testaments spoke of wine, as in fermented grapes. Jesus and his 12 Apostles drank wine. He was accused of being a wine bibber, if you remember. Some say the wine being referred to is grape juice. If that is true, then how does one get drunk on grape juice?
    Making wine was how the grape juice was preserved.
    Enjoy some, without guilt, while you're twisting rope.

  • Jmc

    How about how to make cordage from the complete beginning. Then you can thicken to make different widths. You know complete survival on your own.

  • Trisha

    Folks, I know I'm just chiming in way after the fact but i wanted ton address the issue of this info being put into a book. And no o take away from this author but all this a much much more is already printed in a book. As a matter of fact it is a 10 volume set called the "Fox Fire Books". These book's have everything you want to know about survival. I bought my set the year before Y2K. Didn't need them then but still glad i have them. Check them out.

  • Prof Z

    Get a copy of the Boy Scout Handbook, Fieldbook, and the Pioneering Merit Badge booklet for many good outdoor tricks of the trade.

  • Michael

    Might have been nice if you had not assumed that all of your readers know how to make a bowline knot.

  • Jake

    Put all these survival ideas (how too's) in a book and advertise it well and it will sell like crazy!!!! Put me on the list for around four of them!

  • Dave Jones

    Stan and Dennis mentioned "if there was a book.......I'd buy it". The old Boy Scout Handbook and the old Boy Scout Fieldbook both had an enormous amount of this stuff in it. Never hurts to look to the Scouts and the military for handbooks on fieldcraft of all types.

  • Jack

    Great article. Any chance you could make a wee video?

  • Dennis Haggerty

    Your last illustration does not show a splice it shows the whipped end of a line. The material used to whip the end of a line (rope) is called serving. There is a splice that is designed to keep the line from unraveling called a backsplice, but it is much more complicated than whipping the line and will not allow the line to reeve through a pulley block.

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