Introduction: How to Cut a Rope With Itself

Picture of How to Cut a Rope With Itself

If you not have a knife or scissors just use this lifehack and cut a rope where ever you want. This also usable in emergency or on a camping trip!

Step 1: Watch the Video

Thin is easy thick is hard but works ;)

Step 2: #1

Picture of #1

Take the rope and step on each sides. Leave it loose between your legs. The cutting point will be on the middle between your legs.

Step 3: #2

Picture of #2

Take the other end of the rope under the loose part between your legs and start pulling the upper part of the rope alternately. That was a nearly half inches or 12 mm rope so it's sweaty :)

Step 4: The End

Picture of The End

It was interesting to try this solution and saw this really working. In case of emergency or just want to do some exercise give it a try ;)

That's the Shiftyway

Step 5: Don't Forget to Check Out the Video

As always thanks for your support


vincent7520 (author)2015-08-21


An answer to those who urge not to follow this and use a knife, or a lighter as it should be done.

True, in activities such as sailing or camping one should always have a knife / lighter with him / her.

But after 50 years of sailing in various boats, in all four seasons, and in different types of weather on difficult seas (North Sea, Channel, Irish Sea, North Atlantic, the Med...) I can tell you dozens of stories in which a knife should have been at hand but wasn't.

Myself I got trapped solo sailing with the string of my oilies' hood stuck in a closed hatch that could be only opened from the inside of the boat : teeth did the job but it took a long time stuck in the cockpit with the wind piping and plenty of rope at hand and the knife gently hanging out of reach by only 50cm or so in the companionway... Ridiculous, but real. I do not see why someone shouldn't get off a situation because it ridiculous, it shouldn't have happened and he made a fool of himself.

Moreover the Instructable tells how to cut rope with the same, not to use the cutting part of the rope that must be pretty chaffed by then, on the outside and / in it's core. So there is no point to blame the guy who wrote the Inst' for that.

To be honest I am somewhat wary of people who ask for failfree behaviors at all times... It reminds me of an inexperienced crew who spent 28 hours telling us what to do (ie. as learned in books) while the rest of the us struggled with odds and ends to make the boat float and sail in a force 8/9 wind off the coast of Holland, without having much care about doing things the right way on deck nor the mess inside the boat where sleeping bags eerily mixed with bacon, wet charts, apricot jam, salt water, dirty socks and boots and ... vomit ...

Therefore I often suspect that faith in the rules by those who know it all is inversely proportionaĺ to their real experience.

I hope I am wrong on this point but we all know of accidents that happened to top experienced profesionals because they lacked a 10 cents piece of equipment at a crucial time.

In which case a quick and dirty solution as the one displayed here may have done the job.

Therefore I do not see the point of discarding a solution just because it is contrary to the elementary rules of safety that we all follow most of the time. The important word being "most of the time" : at all times is utopia. Safety experts all know this : in the direst situations inventivity is crucial even when contrary to regulations and safety precautions and equipment.

Sorry for being so long, but yes I do feel this Instructable is worth keeping in mind despite it's obvious limitations which are not discarded by the autor.

Thanks again to him.

zguenther (author)vincent75202016-08-25

One very unfortunate situation from my hometown in my youth.. I grew up by a beautiful lake, it was a class A reservoir, approx 3mi x 11mi, glacierally carved and completely spring fed... Just gorgeous. We were good friends with the captain of the local tour boat (in fact he was the one who married us!) and one Summer's day a VERY tragic scene unfolded in front of him and his crew when a tornado touched down..

Lake Sunapee's yacht club is home to star boat racing, so you do get world class sailors, even on such a small lake.. The gentleman in question was am America's Cup racer.. And a paraplegic. That day he did something you are NOT supposed to do.. He lashed his legs to the deck. When the tornado touched down and capsized the boat, he was trapped... And one could easily imagine that during a tornado and a boat capsize, your knife may well be knocked away from its proper place, or that it was out of reach and he assumed his very minimal crew would be able to hand it to him if needed... My parents lived in that New Hampshire town for upwards of 25 years, and while several hurricanes came through over the years, I think that was the ONLY tornado I ever heard about it was a freak storm. I'm sure you've guessed by now the fate of that sailor.. Fatalities were VERY rare on Lake Sunapee, but we had one that year. The aforementioned tour boat spotted them in distress and was able to save the rest of the crew.. But not him, tied to the deck. It particularly hit the young mates pretty hard to watch someone drown in front of them... But Cap'n Dave had a VERY hard and fast rule that unless you are trained in lifesaving, you never EVER jump in after a drowning person.. In their panic, they will do everything they possibly can to attempt to *climb on top of your head*, pulling you down with them. Unless you've been specifically trained in it, all you do is raise the casualties from one person to two people.. But it still really shook them up to have to witness it. Maybe if he had had an alternative way to cut through the rope he could have gotten loose and survived.

ThomasK19 (author)zguenther2016-08-27

I doubt this would have worked. When the rope is wet, the water will take away most of the energy you put in when rubbing one rope over the other. So that was probably his fate. There's also a good rule to check the weather forecast before you go out for a sail.

Pierceb1 (author)vincent75202016-08-25

what type of boat do you sail, I'm only 11 years old and I still sail OPTi s I hope I never come into that sort of situation but I'm glad that I've read this and I'm glad that there somebody else who sails and sees how this could be useful !

RickyW12 (author)vincent75202016-08-25

Super well put.

cienciario (author)vincent75202016-08-25

I agree...

agraham19 (author)vincent75202016-01-18

Well said!

TeresaM7 (author)vincent75202015-12-30

I agree, Vincent7520. Goodness knows, I've had to make something up on the fly often enough. You never know what situation you're going to be in when you, in fact, go out and DO. Sometimes, "by the book" just goes out the window. I'd rather have the ability to improvise than wait for someone with "the book" to rescue me.

Wolframite (author)vincent75202015-09-24

Not knocking the 'ible, but why didn't you just come out of the oilskin?

VeronikaW (author)vincent75202015-08-24

Thanks for sharing

Simply wonderful comment.

Do you have a blog? If not, could you start one please?

Thaikarl (author)vincent75202015-08-21

that was one of the most erudite comments i've seen in a while. I'd give more than a penny for to hear the conversation you had with yourself while you were chewing loose that oilies line

ShiftyTips (author)vincent75202015-08-21

Really thanks for your comment!!!

rondastonecipher (author)2016-08-27

Good job!

PauBrasil (author)2016-08-26

Great technique, i sugest for any doble brais rope, that you make a knot on each end ,so the core don't come out too much after cutting the cover.Cheers

andrefierens (author)2016-08-26

I like it ! Genius !

AyazM (author)2016-08-26

LOL. I remember using this trick as a kid while flying kites back in India. It sure does work. It will weaken the cutting rope a bit (from the friction) but it sure does work. Great reminder.

WhiteWolf McBride (author)2016-08-26

Being a Hobbyist (R/C models) I've carried a pen-knife even in HS when I shouldn't have. I have ~never~ pulled it on anyone, even in my own defence. I checked the law locally, so the one I carried was within regulations.

That said, within the law, one should always have a small multitool with a blade on their person (avoiding using a brand name here). Most multitools are legal where a knife alone would not be. And if possible, have it on a lanyard & carabiner so it stays with you unless you detach it purposefully! I also carry a lighter even though I do not smoke because it can be used to cut/seal cord-ends, and in a pinch defeat tye-wrap cuffs or even tape (not that I've ever been cuffed/arrested)

In an emergency, I used a lit laptop screen as an area light to find a friends' knife. I often use my phone's screen now as a 'soft-light' instead of its flashlight mode (that uses the camera flash and is distractingly bright) Thinking out of the box is often very helpful.

I agree, This 'ible has a place here, but only to be used if there are no other methods available. In reading the various incidents, I read how a hood-cord tied one down - why not let it slip out? I NEVER let cord-ends prevent a hoodie cord from slipping loose - if grabbed/caught, it pulls out instead of dragging me along. Safety First. The cord can always easily be replaced, your life can't.

WhiteWolf McBride

51 years and still alive.

GrowleyMonster (author)2015-08-21

Don't do this! Use a knife! Really, why would you be ANYWHERE without a knife, unless you were on an airplane or in jail or maybe a courtroom? Be serious here. I am a seaman and rope, whether fiber or wire, is something I deal with daily, even hourly or minutely. The line used for cutting is now useless. The two new bitter ends still need whipping or at least taping. Actually they still need cutting. HAVE a knife, and USE THAT.

For big stuff, like a ship's mooring lines, it is acceptable to tape the part to be cut very tightly, and use a hacksaw. If you just have a little girl's knife or you never bothered to learn how to make it sharp, that is an option. A hammer, over the edge of a heavy piece of steel, is also good. For very small stuff, a lighter works fine. But camping? Really! Why would you not have a knife and a spare knife too? How do you cut stuff? What if you need to cut an extra tent peg or two in stormy weather? How do you cut your food? Even beanie weenies require that a can be opened. A swiss army knife or a multitool open cans, trim fingernails, tighten screws, pull splinters, cut fishhooks, AND CUT ROPE. Get a knife. This is the real world. Parlor tricks just for the sake of an ible are just parlor tricks for the sake of an ible.

Here in Ireland, it's illegal to have a blade of any kind with you. If you're found in possession of a knife, you'll just end up in the Garda Station, and that's only there you'll be asked to justify yourself.

I agree you should never use this to cut a rope you intend to use it afterwards, this "trick" destroys the rope, structurally. However, if you don't have a knife and you're in need to cut a rope, whatever size, it's likely:

- it's an emergency, you don't have much time to think,
- you don't have a hammer nor a lighter,
- the goal is actually to break the rope to free something or someone from it (applying Murphy's law, it usually happens underwater, your life is at stake too),
- you don't care too much about the ends.

I see this as an emergency life-saver, not something you should do on a regular basis. It's probably faster than grinding the rope with your teeth... Thank you for sharing this, I didn't know it worked.

Honest-to-goodness, GrowleyMonster? You can't even carry a pocket knife at all? Good grief! I'm staying right here. I'm a great-grandmother and I use my edc pocket knife countless times every day.

tecton47 (author)GrowleyMonster2015-08-25

@Growley. It seems that you, and several others here, are completely missing the point of this tip. It's to be used in case you don't have a knife, boxcutters, scissors etc. I always have a first-aid kit in my backpack (I ride a motorcycle so I always have my pack) but in an emergency a person could use a feminine napkin and duct tape to make a big bandage, or a paper towel and electrical tape for a small one. Telling people that they should always have a first-aid kit like I do isn't realistic. I LOVE all of these tips and hacks because you never know when you and your supplies might become separated and all you're left with is your knowledge and your MacGyver-like skills.

If you do want to make a small first-aid kit that takes up very little room, get a quality ziploc bag and put in a few band-aids of various sizes, ibuprofen or Tylenol, tweezers, alcohol pads, eye drops, throat lozenges, antacid and a few floss pics. You can add more stuff if you wish to. This small amount of prep work will come in handy if you, or a friend, gets hurt or just has a headache. I've helped dozens of people over the years and they are truly grateful.

Catley (author)tecton472016-08-25

Couldn't agree more with your comment. It can be a life-saver if you know how to improvise.

I do go around with a tiny first-aid kit such as you describe, plus folding scissors and a small bottle of a prescription med. I take--(just in case I am in an accident and hospitalized, because I understand that hospitals may charge a ridiculous amount for each Rx pill they supply you with. This habit saved me come money once, but note that the hospital pharmacist did insist on inspecting both the pills and the label. By the way, they made me feel that they were doing me a favor by letting me take my own medicine that was paid for by my insurance!).

DamnPigs (author)GrowleyMonster2015-08-24

what ya gonna do when you get trapped somewhere by a pool or on a sailboat or whatever with just your speedo on. Not everyone allways carries arround a knife man are you that ignorant. Bla bla bla my edc consists of a knife, a spork, 1 can of beer, a pocketsize refridgerator to keep keep my beer cool, 1 blowup sexdoll, .... lol
Even if you would allways carry a knife. Sometimes you just don't. I'm guessing your not taking your knife to bed or in the water swimming or whatever. Someday your gonna be thankfull to think about this technique when you do forget your knife and get in a real situation.

This technique can also be used to cut zipties and break free from restraint.
TIP: change your shoelaces with paracord.
Even when your hands are tied together you should be abled to get a shoelace out, then put 2 loops at the ends of your shoelace. you can create the friction by putting your feet in the loops and making a cycling-like motion.
Thanks for the video, i've seen this technique on scamschool or hacking the system

Catley (author)DamnPigs2016-08-25

Thanks for the ible and thanks to Damn Pigs as well.

Not being a camper, my first thought was how to use it to break free from restraint. I hope I would never need it, but I am grateful for the suggestion about paracord as shoelaces. The world being what it is today, who knows when someone might need this hint.

stamatis66 (author)DamnPigs2015-09-15

That's really nice!!!

spylock (author)GrowleyMonster2015-12-29

Youre right I think everyone should carry at least one blade,I carry 3 as a part of my EDC,that way Im always sure to have at least 1,but sites like this as you know are here so we can get new ideas of different ways of doing things.If one gets to the campsite and dont have a knife,2 double fist sized round river rocks broken against each other will produce enough very sharp shards of different sizes to do any camping/survival cutting chore one would run into,as far as opening a can of bennie-wennies,you can rub the rim of the can with a rough rock and have it open in a few minutes,Im not trying to be a tool,but I was not born with this info,I have learned from people showing me,or reading things,like this dude cutting rope with rope,again not meaning to sound like a jerk,just trying to make a point.

Beanies weenies? They come with pull tab tops, says they guy who used it to cut 200 lb. Test fishing line with that pull top.

lbuser (author)GrowleyMonster2015-08-22

Really? "Don't do this" is all you have to say? I don't carry a knife. Period. And I really appreciate this quick and dirty trick to cut a rope in an emergency.

james14th (author)GrowleyMonster2015-08-21

Total Agreement..My bro
doesn't carry a knife because sharp objects scare him.. But he has me to help him..

JesperK (author)2016-08-25

Good trick! It is better to have the ability to do it and not need it, than need it and not have the ability to do it.

Greetings from Denmark

JudyT28 (author)2016-08-25

I always enjoy this site, but this particular topic was a little misleading. That isn't a rope, it's twine.

JesperK (author)JudyT282016-08-25

Yes it is not a rope, but it works also with rope.

ElectroFrank (author)2016-08-25

(Sorry but) another response to the "Always carry a knife" brigade !
Try taking your knife on the airplane ! You will be spending time in lockup !
Plane crash: you still have your paracord, now you can cut it, so this a useful Instructable !

ViolaUkeSuperDude (author)2016-08-25

Wow. That is very cool, but I don't think I am strong enough to do a thick one...thanks for sharing though! (make a good workout :P)

Pierceb1 (author)2016-08-25

and to all you people who are saying that you should always have an Nice on you some of the younger sailors such as me do not always have a rescue knife on the board of their small dinghies and by the way you can still be caught on and still die of strangle meant or anything like that this technique could be very very useful which is why

skiwolf9 (author)2016-08-25

That's string not rope. :)

skylane (author)2015-09-10

This is a great technique to know. Ideally, we'ed never have to use it. I learned this method of line cutting when taking my skydiving lessons. The technique was taught, not so much for how to cut a line, but for why the parachute should be properly packed. A line over the parachute or another line will cut right through.

I've used this method for cutting through plastic packing straps, hay bale twine, fishing line and several other things in the past.

Catley (author)skylane2016-08-25

"A line over the parachute or another line will cut right through." Also a good thing to know, though I never expect to go skydiving!

thepoisonivy (author)2016-08-25

I can't say it as well as vincent7520 but I think it's a great 'ible...I can happily ignore the (somewhat pointless) naysayer comments; how many times have I needed to do this or that (insert whatever task is at hand) and had absolutely NO TOOLS on hand to work with? Plenty. Thank you for sharing Shifty.

TimH13 (author)2015-12-29

Hardly a rope.

Catley (author)TimH132016-08-25

True, but the ible does say that it will work for thicker things, only taking more time. Would you want to spend who knows how much time watching a video of someone cutting a 1-cm-thick rope using this ible? LOL

didyahearme (author)2016-08-25

Word. Way to improvise!

Grunde (author)2016-08-25

What vincent7520 said!
Of course this isn't a perfect solution. It's a quick and dirty fix, and a way cool one as well..
Damn you pedantic, rule-obeying freeloaders! Let's see who survives the longest when the apocolpse comes and all your leathermans and survival gear are stolen by the sewer people.

Catley (author)Grunde2016-08-25


IsabelleP5 (author)2016-08-25


Fancylooks (author)2016-08-25

Excellent, totally excellent, this can be a lifesaver idea, thank you!

HitishG (author)Fancylooks2016-08-25

I can imagine what you get up to require such skills.

ChasS2 (author)2016-08-25

vincent7520 you nailed it . better to know than knot know

Rance (author)ChasS22016-08-25


About This Instructable




Bio: Hi my name is Daniel! I’m really that kind of DIY person I always want make or fix something. This place give me the ... More »
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