Instructables

Reuse old printer ribbons and video tape to make rope!

Reuse old printer ribbons and video tape to make rope!
no im not talking about dot matrix ink ribbons{although they will
work it would just be messy} im referring to the
one you get from those little photo printers like the canon selphy
or the kodak printerdock also the standalone printer kiosks at walmarts
across the continent have the same system.
im going to show you how to make a machine to do this
 
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Step 1: Parts list


material list:
wood/mdf
section of broom handle or dowel
coat hangers
a swivel{like from a dogs chain}
some stringlike material,
printer ribbon, video tape,yarn, sphagetti{well maybe not spaghetti}

Step 2: Why

why indeed.
the inspiration to make rope from printer ribbons came to me one day at work.
we had just printed a large pile of school id cards{i work in the photo industry} and had a bunch of ribbons left over that were used and therefore garbage.
one of the bosses kids came in pulled one out of the trash and proceeded to run around stringing it everywhere.
well after the little bugg...... err i mean little darling left i proceeded to tidy up.
the ribbon tape was twisted around everything and there were hundreds of feet of the stuff.
i gave up trying to roll it up and started tearing it{its normally very delicate} but wherever it was twisted it was much stronger.
it got me thinking and that gets me experimenting.
i looked up ropemaking on the net and found this site
http://www.rope-maker.com/makingrope.html
and looking at this inspired me to make a quick and dirty rope making machine of my own.
since then i have tried many different materials
in this picture we have cotton strip cut from a t shirt{the seamless kind},
the id printer ribbon,and a larger ribbon from a kodak g3 kiosk printer{the kind you put your camera card into and get instant prints ]
layasera1 year ago
This is what I've been looking for to create braided plastics from discarded shopping bags! Thank you so much for sharing!
book worm2 years ago
my local scout troop used this technique to make "toilet paper"rope then took three lengths and twisted them together.
they then pulled a car across the car park with it
toilet paper is stronger than it looks just dont get it wet lol
waynemov2 years ago
im keen to make some really strong rope for water ski line, using dyneema fishing line and many strands ( probably 100lb line and 3 sets of 3 strands wound together). Problem is i want about 25m (80ft ) in one piece if possible. have you ever made really long ropes with this method?
sharlston4 years ago
i just made some from a old casette just stretch it until it was thin then plat 3 together and more until its very strong this really helped with my school project for recycling thanks
dbade5 years ago
I have a box of old string for a rug loom of various colors. This instructable allowed me to make some great "Christmas" twine.
lennyb (author)  dbade5 years ago
im glad it was of use to you.
Braeburn5 years ago
use regular yarn
you could also use a belt to drive the hooks, then you could drive he belt by, say, a plug in drill... another source of materials would be plastic shopping bags. you'd have to attach them togeather though. tieing them would be easy but ugly. how did the old folk get thier strings? if you twist fibers togeather in a continuious process you can make a short fibers into something as long as you like. i read a bit about this earlier... the fact that they refur to the strings as yarns suggests to me that something like a spinning wheel might be the answer...
lennyb (author)  dominic.tarr6 years ago
you have hit pretty close to the truth here . the old time rope walk had one section that spun up the yarn from jute or hemp into a long strand.{ the wheel this was done on was turned by a small boy usually}.i made a drop spindle which is a very primitive spinning wheel maybe ill make another one up and post it . a belt drive could be used but when the tension comes on it there may be too much slippage but then maybee not, ill have to try that and see. i have tried shopping bags just cut them into rings and tie them together[not very strong though} thanks for the comment :)
cheers. yeah, i had a look into that last night, blithwrapped a drop spindle out of a beer bottle, and then a more powerfull and manly one in the end of a drill. was going to post a instructable... if you don't beat me to it, that is.
carpespasm7 years ago
any idea how much 150ft of nylon rope would make with this tool?
lennyb (author)  carpespasm7 years ago
each rope laid up this way uses 6 strands so six 25 foot strands will make approx 20 feet of rope as it loses a bit in the twisting. it takes ridiculous amounts of yarn to make heavy rope as for your other question about 2 strand. yes you could just string up two and make twine. then you could thread up again with the twine and and make even heavier rope.
thanks for the reply. I tried to make a rope maker, and it worked with small twine, but when i tried it with a heavier nylon with several runs, it broke the base with the swivel, then i moved the swivel to a tree and twisted some more. After a while the base of the twister broke as well, i wound up just braiding about 10ft of rope. Lesson learned: don't use soft pine to make a rope twister, and don't skimp on screws.
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lennyb (author)  carpespasm7 years ago
that looks like some nice rope. with this machine overbuild it always good policy. my next one i`m going to use welding rods for hooks or i may make a 2 part mold and cast them from zinc or aluminum. some thing i should mention also is to let the machines get closer together as it twists up expect to lose up to 1/3 the overall length in twist. that may be why your machine broke.
ahh, that is very likely it, i had the twisting base C clamped to a picnic table and the swivel mounted to a tree. i used welding rods to make the twisting hooks and they held up pretty well until the tension was just too much for it. Under proper use it would probably work well though.
lennyb (author)  carpespasm7 years ago
you need to keep a steady 10 pounds or so in tension on the strands while they spin i think maybe some sort of rope and pulley system where the swivel is on the end of a rope that goes through a pulley to a weight and the tension is absorbed that way . id say make the rope 6 or seven feet long for a 25 foot rope and experiment with weights (10 - 15 pounds) i must make a diagram of this
One simple way would be to have 2 2x4 boards with a hole on either end of both. Tie one of the boards to a tree. Take a second piece of rope about four feet long or so. Tie a knot in one end, run it through one of the holes in the free board, through a hole in the other board, through the handle of a bucket, back through the other holes, and tie another knot. Make the same thing for the other cranking end, leaving enough room to work the crank. Add as much weight to the buckets as you want. (Everything else will work the same as the instructable.) Now you can make rope wherever you can find two trees the proper distance apart!
very cool, i was also thinking that you could make a two strand twister for making cordage.
klynslis6 years ago
This is awesome. Thanks so much. Now I'll be able to complete my art project.
Dyer136 years ago
I took my crack at making a rope machine. I used extra gears I had laying around from a robotics project I had two years ago. The material for the maker and separator is laminated faux hardwood floors, the type that snaps together with no tools. I have yet to try it with bigger stands. eventually I want to make 1" thick rope, I may have to build a bigger/beafier version for that. I wanted to learn to make rope because I made a rope tow in my back yard last winter, to pull you up the hill, and the rope kept breaking, and its expensive.... I don't suppose you don't know how to splice rope into one continuous piece, do you?
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lennyb (author)  Dyer136 years ago
very nice. you should have made an instructable about it. you could motorize that real easy too. as for continuous rope i think a splice is in order{try googling rope splicing} i dont know of any that dont leave a lump or thicker section in the rope at the join. so you would have to have a pulley system with extra wide wheels.
Dyer13 lennyb6 years ago
Thanks. I actually built it with a motor in mind. I have an old electric screwdriver/drill that I have. All I need to do is take the crank off, and attach the center bolt on the crank to the chuck on the drill. Then I just need a power supply/battery.
khaeotixs6 years ago
Great instructable. I really liked the level of detail in this, along with all the diagrams telling me how to do stuff. Congratulations on a first-rate instructable.
regomodo7 years ago
Very clear instructable. I've been to a proper rope making building in Plymouth's dockyard in England (now disused) and it's bloody huge! Can't see me doing this but always good to see something new.
lennyb (author)  regomodo7 years ago
i wish i had a large building to do this in cause the one time i tried to get a long printer ribbon rope outside the wind came up while i was stringing up and the ribbons inflated like a kite and the whole thingy tipped over what a tangle. theres a similar place in st johns newfoundland called ropewalk lane that was once a ropewalk in years gone by . no old buildings remain and now its just a street. thanks for the nice comment . you should try it though its simple to make and you never know when you may need some rope. :)
bacidath7 years ago
rock...i'm making rope next weekend
meddler7 years ago
Wow, that's neat! I was just wondering how to make rope the other day and here you are, thanks
lennyb (author) 7 years ago
i thank you all for the kind words. if any questions just ask.
HamO7 years ago
Very well done. Probably the best photgraphed Instructable yet. Thanks for sharing the machine. Nice!!
lennyb (author)  HamO7 years ago
i took 160 photos on two cameras so its taken me quite a while to lay this out . but lots of pictures are the only way to get the point across.
0.775volts7 years ago
Amazing, I remember doing this in boy scouts, and have always wanted my own jig. Great job. also, how strong is your crank? can you make heavier ropes (I have a mile spool of light nylon twine that I want to lay up two or three times.)
lennyb (author)  0.775volts7 years ago
well the rope i made there was only 6 strands of cotton and very light. the heaviest i made was 18 strands{3 passes} of jute twine and nothing bent. the 18 strand rope was 3/4 inch in diameter and very strong.
ewilhelm7 years ago
Nicely done! One of the artsy photos on the Squid Labs site is of a rope machine Dan made. I just took a few more pictures of it, and have included them here.

It's fun to imagine that there was a time when nearly everyone knew how to do this, because you couldn't just go and buy rope; you always had to make it.
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lennyb (author)  ewilhelm7 years ago
ooooh i like that. makes mine look like poo lol well it did only take 20 minutes to make mine
mje7 years ago
Now that is a first-rate Instructable, as well as a great example of building a machine to do a complex task from simple materials.
rimar20007 years ago
Excellent. Congratulations.
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