Portable Device to Turn Plastic Bottles Into Rope





Introduction: Portable Device to Turn Plastic Bottles Into Rope

Plastic PET bottles at the end of their shelf life usually face two options :

  • They are either thrown away at the landfills (which is a threat to the environment) or
  • they are recycled (better option than the landfill).

But there is a third option (far better in my humble opinion) which is reuse. These containers can be reused in a lot of fun and creative ways and I am sure that www.instructables.com already has many instructables for that.

One thing that you can make out of a plastic bottle is rope. This kind of rope is quite strong and has heat shrinking properties.

I tried making some contraptions in the past to cut pet bottles to produce string. The results were poor. Either the contraption was bulky and required a table or a vice to secure it in place or the string jammed somewhere during cutting and broke.

After many prototypes I made a device which is simple, efficient and portable. You can have it with you in a backpack, in your car or in your zombie apocalypse survival kit ;-).

Step 1: Gather Some Materials

For this instructable you need :

  • a rectangular piece of wood
  • a Phillips screwdriver
  • some metallic strapping tape (see above photo)
  • a paper cutter blade
  • 4 wood screws 1.5 cm in length
  • a hacksaw
  • resin paper

Choose a piece of wood that can easily fit in your hand. Mine is 4.5 x 4.5 x 17 cm.

Step 2: Assembly

You will have to make two slits as noted in the above photos. I used a hacksaw for that because it has a slim blade.

Continue, installing the metallic strapping tape pieces and fasten them at the wood with the screws. Their purpose is to hold the blade in place.

Step 3: Let's Make Some Rope!

Make a pilot cut at the bottom of the bottle and insert it in the device as shown in the picture.

Grab the protruding piece and pull it using your hands or pliers. Continue pulling until all the bottle is consumed.

The rope that comes out has width 0.5 cm. If you want, you can make multiple slits for multiple rope widths.

Step 4: Using Your Rope

You can use your rope in the garden or anywhere else you need to tie things up.

This material shrinks and hardens when heat is applied so you can fasten things extra tight.

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    Please add the step of how to insert or affix the blade in this device. It is not mentioned in the instructions, though the blade is referenced in the last sentence in step 3 (",,,installing the metallic strapping tape pieces and fasten them at the wood with the screws. Their purpose is to hold the blade in place.")

    Is the blade just slipped into the horizontal groove, or do you fix it in place somehow? Is the cutting edge towards the front or rear?

    Does anyone know of an adhesive a person could use to bond the plastic to itself?

    15 replies

    Thank you for your suggestions folks, but it seems no one knows of an adhesive I can use to bond the plastic to itself. Think of the ideas we could come up with if we had such an adhesive.

    This website offers adhesives and tips to join pop bottle type plastics. http://www.permabond.com/materials_bonded/4508/
    I hope this might be helpful. Have a good day.

    Fire from a lighter will meltit then you can stick it together.

    a torch!:-)

    I was thinking of using the thin strips with an antique rope maker to make a larger woven rope. I'd need to connect the ends for longer strands than one bottle might give me. Other than a torch, thank you GunGuru, is there an adhesive I might use to bond the plastic to itself? I've made rope with used plastic bags from the grocery store, but this looks like it may be even stronger, if I am able to connect the strands. Thank you.

    Rope Making Strand Separator 01.jpg

    E6000 you can buy it in USA at Wal-Mart.


    No need to glue or connect the ends of the smaller bits to make long bits. Simply overlap the ends of the shorter strands in the weave-just like it's done when using natural fiber ropes-to make the longer strands.

    You could try using two component epoxy glue. It makes very strong bonds. Before applying the glue, scratch the plastic to make it harsh. I don't know whether it will suffice but you could try it and share the results with the instructables community.

    A plastic welder may do the trick.

    E6000 will work. I clamp the joined pieces tightly together until dry.

    Mr. Sted, Thank you. i'll have to look into it.

    Grandson and I made rope just last week from old blue jeans. It worked beautifully. Hope to do the same with plastic.

    You take the strips you've made from the plastic bottles and weave them together. Now I found 2 ways of doing it. Actually, my grandfather used to make string out of plastic bottles then take that string and make rope. He used to use it for almost everything and even had a nice little business on the side selling lengths of it.

    1st method,He would braid 3 strands together then take those braided long strands and weave into rope of different lengths and thickness. He would then use a blow dryer and run it along the length while wrapping a single strand to make sure they would stay together, be strong and tight. He would wrap,pass hair dryer and quickly add cold water. Let me tell you, it was the strongest piece of plastic rope I've ever seen. On top of that it would also be loose, very loose. He had perfected his method so well you couldn't tell it was made from bottles.

    2nd method, actually this was his first method and this one he didn't like much (as he told me,because it took too much time,he was doing it alone, the method used was harmful and he didn't like getting burned.) Anyway, he would melt down all the same type of plastics together, i.e., soda bottles, detergent, milk,etc. Once melted he took a pieces of 2" x 4" drilled into the middle to hollow them out. He then cut them in half so as to have a top and bottom, he glued them together to make 6' long boards and then poured the hot plastics into them. When cooled he would separate and remove them. He would then use the hair dryer again to heat the now plastic poles and using some type of homemade clamp and pull machine, he would pull on it until it was to the length and diameter he wanted.

    I say the first method is best but I just cut my bottles and use the string. If it want to make the knot stronger I heat it up and let cool. All the best.

    Thanks. Very nice. Good information.

    The thing I am after is how to make the ends of the plastic string stick to each other while I am weaving them together. When I need to add another string to the braid, how do I get them to become one? Is the only alternative heat? Or is there an adhesive I can use?

    But thank you for your information. I'll try to let you know if I solve it some day.

    try splicing the strands part way up the rope and weaving the new strands into the existing rope....then apply heat....just a thought.

    There are plastic welders - I once saw them advertised at Harbor Freight, which also has an on-line business too-

    When braiding start with three different lenths, when you come to the end of one overlap and keep braiding. this way the join is in three different places and gluing etc. is not needed. when your rope is finished trim off the ends to the same length and melt together. Braid three ropes together and get a monster strong cable...UV will eventually degrade the PET check your rope often.

    You can make leather lace the same way. Start off with a disk shape, cut into it like with the bottle, and pull through steadily. Leather stretches, so an even pull is necessary for an even lace.

    1 reply

    I have a leather strap cutter that works a lot like this... I'm not sure where it is now so I can't check how thin or thick it goes. I think you can buy something like this if you don't feel like making the device, but DO feel like making your bottles into strings and ropes!