Learn how to make improvised rope including detailed instructions on making rope from plants and animals.
Rope (cord, string, etc.) is extremely useful and can be improvised from many different materials, e.g., fabric, fishing line, shoelaces.
The information in this post has been taken from Emergency Roping and Bouldering by Sam Fury.
How to Make Improvised Rope
When there is no other material available (or you are not willing to sacrifice it) then other common materials can be made into rope.
Suitable materials include:
- Animal hair.
- Inner Bark (Cedar, Chestnut, Elm, Hickory, Linden, Mulberry and White Oak work well). Shred the plant fibers from the inner bark.
- Fibrous stems (Honeysuckle and Stinging Nettles work well).
- Sinew (dry tendons of large game).
- Vines (strong vines can be used without any other preparation, but plant fibers spun together will be more durable).
Making Rope from Plant Material
When you think you have a suitable plant material see if it can withstand the following tests.
Note: Stiff fibers can be softened by steaming or soaking them in water.
- Pull the ends in opposite directions.
- Twist and roll it between your fingers.
- Tie an overhand knot.
To turn the material into rope you will twine it together.
Collect a small pile of your material. Divide it in half and rotate one-half before recombining them. This ensures an even consistency in your rope.
Get a bunch of the material depending on how thick you want your cordage/rope.
Knot the material together at one end.
Divide the remaining side of the bundle into two even sections and twist them both clockwise to create two strands.
Next, twist one of the strands around the other in a counter-clockwise direction. Tie the end to prevent it unraveling.
You can join shorter lengths together by splicing them. Do so by twisting the ends of their strands together, i.e., while they are in two strands, before the counter-clockwise twisting. Twist one small bunch on each side (for each of the strands) and then just continue to twist as before. You can do this as much as you want until you get the desired length of rope you need.
Thicker ropes can be made by using larger bundles of grass or by twisting multiple ropes together.
Making Rope from Animals
In a survival situation you may be fortunate enough to capture game. Waste nothing.
Sinew is an excellent material for small lashings.
Remove the tendons from game animals and dry them.
Once they are completely dry hammer them until they are fibrous.
Add some moisture so you can twist the fibers together. You could also braid them together which will be stronger.
Sinew is sticky when wet and hardens when dry. You can lash small items together (while the sinew is wet) and since it dries hard the actual use of knots is not necessary.
When the job is too big for sinew, rawhide can be used.
Skin any medium to large game and clean it (the skin) very well – no fat or meat. Hair/Fur is okay.
Dry it completely. If there are folds that will capture moisture you will need to stretch the skin out.
Once dry cut it into a continuous 5mm to 10mm wide length. The best way to do this is to begin in the middle of the skin and cut circularly out, expanding the spiral as you go.
To use the rawhide soak it until soft. This usually takes two to four hours. Use it wet and stretch it as much as you can as you do so. Leave to dry.
LEARN MORE survival roping skills in Emergency Roping and Bouldering by Sam Fury.
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