Introduction: Adjustable Tree Saver From Seat Belts (sewing Optional).

Picture of Adjustable Tree Saver From Seat Belts (sewing Optional).

Introduction:
This Instructable will present a way to make a tree saver from a seat belt. I tried to come up with a way that did not require sewing. I will add sewing to this Instructable at a later time as an alternative to tying belts. 

A tree saver is a wide belt or strap that is used to tie onto a tree. Due to its width it will not dig into the bark of the tree when pressure is applied to it.

Seat belts are ideal for tying up hammocks since they are wide and will not stretch when weight is applied to them.

Tools:
Screwdrivers (to remove car panels)
Wrenches      (to detach seat belts)
Hack saw      (to remove hardware on belt)
Scissors        (for trimming belt)
Lighter           (to seal edges)

Materials:
Quick links     (to create tightening loops)
Seat belts.

Optional Tools and materials:
Fishing line, 20lb test, (for sewing belts together)
Needle

Miscellaneous information  :
From what I have researched online, a seat belt will have a tensile strength of greater than 3000lbs, some are more like 6000lbs. Reducing the width of the belt will not effect it's ability to support your weight.
Seat belts are sometimes made of polyester and sometimes of nylon. The newer belts are polyester. The longer belts I have are from a vehicle that was 25 years old. I noticed that they have a tendency to fray easier than the newer belts.

Step 1: Find Seat Belts

One of the cheapest and easiest places to get seat belts would be at a self pick junkyard. Ask what the yard charges for a belt before you cut or remove one. If you cut it off instead of unbolting it they may make you take it, so confirm the price first. Take a sharp scissors or knife, screwdrivers and wrenches to remove the belts.

I had seat belts from a pickup truck that I had scrapped a few years earlier. I did not need to visit a junk yard because of this. Visiting a scrap yard is always fun and I recommend it for any hacker!

To detach belts from the front of a vehicle you will often need to remove interior panels. The panels are generally screwed in. To remove belts from the rear of a vehicle you will probably need to remove the bottom seat cushion. Seat cushions sometimes clip into place without screws or bolts.

I had two belts that were 8 feet long and I also had some shorter belts that were unbolted from vehicles. I used these together to have two straps approximately 11 feet in length (335cm). I would suggest taking a tape measure to the junk yard so you can compare belts from different vehicles.

Step 2: Cutting a Belt.

If you need to remove hardware from a belt It is best to use a hack saw and cut the hardware. If on the other hand you decide to cut the belt, cut it perpendicular to the edges and then seal the end by melting it with a lighter. Continue reading to learn how to remove hardware from a seat belt.



Step 3: Remove a Stop Button

Picture of Remove a Stop Button

Some belts have a little plastic button on them to stop the latch from going beyond that point.

To remove this button, very carefully work a scissors between one side of the button and the belt. I emphasize, BE VERY CAREFUL! The idea is to get between the layers so the button can be pried apart.

Step 4: Removing a Sliding Latch

Picture of Removing a Sliding Latch

A sliding latch will have a metal bar in the middle of it that moves.

The numbers on the picture correspond to the numbers below.
1) Pull the latch as close to the end of the belt as it will go.
2) Push the metal bar that the belt is wrapped around towards the longer side of the belt.
3) Shimmy the short end of the belt into the latch.
4) Push the metal bar away from the belt.
5) Pull the belt out of the latch.

Step 5: Removing a Bolt Connector

Picture of Removing a Bolt Connector

I don't know the proper name for this metal piece. For purposes of this Instructable I am calling it a  bolt connector , or just connector. This is the component that is used to bolt a belt to the car.  

- Secure the connector in a vice or attach it to something solid using C-clamps. You may also hold the connector with a locking wrench or in your hand if you do not have another way to hold it still. Take appropriate care if you choose to saw the component while holding it in your hand.
- Slide the belt away from the end of the component that you will saw.
- Make one slice into the component.
- Make a second slice into the component so that a small section of metal can be removed.
- Slide the belt off of the metal component

You now have loop of belt that can be used to attach things to.

Step 6: Cut the Belt Lengthwise

Picture of Cut the Belt Lengthwise

There are two ways you can look at this.
1) You are concerned about weight
2) You are not concerned about weight.

If you are NOT concerned about the weight of your backpack then I would just use the seat belts as they are.

If you want a lighter pack I would use 3/5ths of a seat belt's width. I chose that dimension because it is wide enough to still protect the tree and the belts are often divided into fifths.

OK, now on to cutting the belt.
The belts I have are divided into sections. You can use these section as cutting guides.
Cut the full length of the belt, part way into the 4th section of the belt.
Pull off and trim excess threads until you are close to where the third belt width ends.




Step 7: Seal the Edges

Picture of Seal the Edges

Using a lighter or other heat source, melt the frayed edges of material. Try not to burn the material and make blobs that can break off and fray.

This may take a little practice. Try practicing on the shorter width material that was just cut off, before moving on to your strap.

Step 8: Add a Strap Tightener

Picture of Add a Strap Tightener

The hardware:
Rings and quick links can be found by the chains in hardware stores. I have included a picture for reference. The rings I found were rated for 200lbs a piece, and the quick links were rated for 220 lbs a piece. These were the strongest links I could find in the store. You may have to call a few places first to find stronger links. I am under that weight but I think this would be fine for most people since a person's entire weight shouldn't be on one end of a hammock.

Here are two easy ways a strap tightener can be added.

The first method (not shown) is to pull some strap through two rings and then tie the strap to itself. The strap could be sewn onto itself instead of tied.

The second method is to attach quick links to an already existing loop. That is what is demonstrated in this step.
1) Undo the nut on the quick links.
2) Slide the quick links through the strap loop.
3) Tighten the nuts
4) Tape the nuts so that they can not come loose and so they will not wear through the strap.
5) Spin the quick links around so the nuts are in the strap loop.

To use these tighteners.
Wrap the strap around the object you are attaching it to.
Put the loose end of the strap through BOTH rings.
Pull the strap tight.
Fold the strap back over the first ring and under the second ring.
The weight on the strap will pull the rings together and pinch tight.


I included a picture of the items on a scale for reference. I had the scale on fl oz when I took the pictures but it doesn't make much difference. A pair of quick links weighs 0.6 oz. and a pair of rings weigh 0.9 oz.

Step 9: How to Tie a Strap Knot

Picture of How to Tie a Strap Knot

This knot can be used to attach two lengths of strap together. I used it to attach two straps so I would have an overall length of around 11 feet.

Tie a loose overhand knot into the end of one strap.
Thread the second strap in from the short end of the first strap.
Follow along the first strap.
Tighten the knot.

An animation of this knot can be found at http://www.animatedknots.com/waterknot/

Step 10: The Finished Strap

Picture of The Finished Strap

The picture is of one of the finished straps. It consists of two lengths of seat belt tied together, and two quick links. It is a little longer than 11 feet and weighs 5.5 ounces.

Step 11: Attaching a Hammock

Picture of Attaching a Hammock

-Wrap the strap around the tree.

-Pass the strap through the ring on the end of your hammock. In the picture the strap is passing through a loop of 550 paracord.
You want to ensure that you pass the strap through a vertical facing loop. If you pass the strap through a loop that is turned horizontally your hammock may twist.

-Pass the end of strap through the tightener rings and close it as explained in the strap tightener step. I've added images of the tightener to this step.

-Repeat this process on the other end of the hammock but this time pull the strap taunt.

-When the hammock is in place add an overhand knot using the hanging part of your strap. After a restless night bouncing and jostling the hammock I discovered the strap connection can lower you slowly. The know solves this problem.


Note:
If your trees are far apart you can get extra length from a strap by:
Wrapping it around the tree and passing it through the rings.
Tightening the strap to the tree.
Then tying the end of the strap to the hammock.

Images:
The second image is of my sleeping bag system. I have a few things to finish on it before I can upload the Instructable.

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