Picture of Line Tensioners Made From Bottle Tops
Line tensioners make setting up a tent much easier than tying off rope, and they're incredibly easy to make. Here are a couple I made from the screw-on lids from soda and juice bottles. The only tools you need are a drill with about an 1/8" bit and a sharp utility knife. I also used some channel-lock pliers to hold the lids while drilling.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1:

Picture of
Drill the holes similar to this. Precise placement is not necessary. You want two holes on opposite side of the lid, another hole near one of those first two holes, and the last hole about 90 degrees off from the first two holes.

Step 2:

Picture of
Use your sharp utility knife to join these two holes, forming a rough oval. Perfection is not required.

Step 3:

Picture of
Wrap some packing tape around your paracord. Cut through the tape, which will leave a relatively clean edge. This will help in the next step.

Step 4:

Picture of
Begin threading the paracord through the holes. First, in one side and out the other.

Step 5:

Picture of
Then around the outside and up through the same hole from the bottom.

Step 6:

Picture of
Down through the last hole.

Step 7:

Picture of
Then back up again from the bottom through the oval hole.

Step 8:

Picture of
Remove the tape from the end of the paracord and put a simple knot in it. Tighten up the paracord around the tensioner, removing any unnecessary slack, and viola! A simple line tensioner. This should be plenty strong for tents and such.

Step 9: In Action

Picture of In Action
Here's a shot of a bottle top tension in action. In this pic you see the yellow tent, the aluminum pole supporting the peak, the orange of the paracord I used, and the blue bottle top. The paracord line loops over the top of the pole, then goes down through the top of the bottle top. It then goes back through the bottle top and down to the stake in the ground. This is where you slip the tensioner over the line to adjust the length of the line.

We just spent a weekend camping with two of these holding up our tent. They held the lines very taut and didn't slip at all.
Dagger681 year ago
not bad. a bit complicated for the simple task its performing.
BokChoy5 years ago
I just made one with some paracord and a bottle lid I had sitting around. it's a neat trick, but I think learning to tie a proper tautline hitch is easier. YMMV, of course.
ch55 years ago
A hackish yet effective trick, just as I like them.
jeffharbert (author)  ch55 years ago
ch5 jeffharbert5 years ago
Just got enough spare  time to try out one of those in a real application...
They work amazingly well and hold tight ,even tied on my inapropriately thin and silk piece of string!

This is really worth knowing to help all your not so knotting enclined friends  ;)
Moreover, it's easyly done on the field with just a spare cap and your favorite knife, which will most likely be both aviable at the time.
All a clever trick needs.

rimar20005 years ago
I am a bit silly, I need some explanation about how it is used. It cost me understand step 5, so imagine.
jeffharbert (author)  rimar20005 years ago
I added an additional step, Step 9, with a picture and explanation that should help you understand how they work.
Thanks, Jeff.
shepard15 years ago
Nice ible! You should however, put the disclaimer that this is for people who cannot tie the tautline hitch.
jeffharbert (author)  shepard15 years ago
Tensioners like this are a convenience. They're for anyone who either doesn't know how to or doesn't want to bother with tying knots. If you'd prefer a tautline hitch, by all means use one. To each his own.
l8nite5 years ago
great idea, I dont understand how its easier than tying a knot though. I have to say Ive never been happy with tensioners and usually discard them in favor of a truckers knot and half hitch which very seldon ever loosen until you want them to. This is a well done ible. One note that might be easier, instead of cutting between the 2 holes, if you angle your drill you can "cut" a slot avoiding 2 or 3 steps