Here is my first instructable. How to make rope/cord from a VHS Tape.

(back story) I saved a bunch of recordable VHS tapes from the dumpster. I, like most people, consider VHS to be out-dated and poor quality. So in-turn I wanted to repurpose these tapes. One of my ideas was to make rope / cord from the magnetic tape inside. I was amazed to find no one else has done this (or maybe I didn't look hard enough). Thus starts the instructable.

Supplies used:

  • 1/8" metal rod (could probably use coat hangers)
  • Couple pieces of scrap wood
  • VHS tape (of course)

Tools used:

  • Drill
  • Drill bits (size of your metal rod)
  • Screwdriver (to open the VHS tape)
  • Razorblade or scissors
  • Gloves (important as always)
  • Pliers (I used linesman pliers)

Step 1: Open Your VHS Tape

This step can vary depending on the way you want to open it up. You can unscrew the screws holding it together and it should come right apart (depending on stickers covering where it separates).

Technically you could just try to smash it open if you don't have a screwdriver. However I found these VHS tapes are rather tough to break.

So it is now open and you have the tape. Hopefully the tape is completely on one spool [Be Kind Please Rewind]. If it is not, manually wind it on to one spool. And cut to separate from the other spool.

<p>SAFETY ALERT: VHS tapes are covered in a very thin layer of heavy metals, which makes them TOXIC to touch. The metals can absorb through your skin. The metals allow them to be magnetized. This is why they are not recyclable. THEY SHOULD NEVER BE HANDLED WITH BARE HANDS FOR ANY REASON. Making a usable item such as a rope by hand is (unfortunately) a terrible idea. </p>
<p>Thank you for your &quot;Safety Alert&quot;. (knowing my response may cause other <br>responses, here we go) Yes VHS tapes have a layer of metals on the Mylar<br> tape. Like (If you are old enough to remember) 8-Tracks and audio <br>cassette tapes. Every day we touch &quot;acceptable level toxic items&quot; Our <br>drinking water has &quot;Heavy metals&quot; in it. Some of which our bodies <br>actually need. There is more of a toxicity &quot;safety alert&quot; for changing <br>the toner in your laser jet printer. Thank you your attention to a <br>possible issue (if not wearing gloves)(and don't eat the rope). <br>&quot;Terrible ideas&quot; are how inventions are made......(Random quote ) &quot;We <br>are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams&quot;</p>
<p>FYI, VHS tape is usually made of mylar, which is why it's so strong.</p><p>However as plastic without UV protection it will probably break down in the sun over time.</p>
<p>tell that to all the cassettes and videotape's I've seen stranded on the side of the street.</p>
Great idea :)
<p>Do you know the breaking strength of your rope?</p>
<p>The rope I made (18 strings) held at 150 pounds.</p>
<p>So cool! I made a crochet bracelet a while ago, using VHS tape <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/VHS-Tape-Bracelet/" rel="nofollow">https://www.instructables.com/id/VHS-Tape-Bracelet/</a></p><p>I must try to make this rope too, it's definitely much more useful than a bracelet :D</p>
<p>Thank you. I like your bracelet. I have also made chainmaille bracelets that are similar in design.</p>
<p>Thank you, I'm glad you like it :)</p>
<p>the jig could likely work for cut up shopping bag loops as well. Great idea for the VHS tape!</p>
<p>SO INTERESTING and usefull tip to recycle that, why dont you upload a video showing how much weight have yoou charged with it? seem so good to know how strong is that rope . also, a single vhs tape how much meters yields of rope ? </p><p>congratulations and regards from mexico </p>
<p>I got about 200 meters of &quot;string&quot; and didn't use the whole tape. So a guess, per tape, would be anywhere from 300-450 meters.</p>
<p>great idea! i will try that for my next victim! lol. j/k</p>
<p>Whenever your in a &quot;bind&quot;....muwuha ha ha ;)</p>
<p>I like the rope making jig better than the actual VHS rope!</p>
<p>Thanks. I probably could have made two mini instructables. :)</p>
<p>I think one can at least approximate larger breaking point weights with a simple lever, e.g., your 150 lb test on the short side of a 1:2 lever would equate to 300 lb, assuming negligible friction at the fulcrum.</p>
<p>Any word on how well it weathers? Any tests on it's breaking strength for three strings? Six? More?</p>
<p>Not as of yet. I need to come up with a more precise way of testing the breaking point. I can create a rig for smaller weight. However I am hung up on testing over 150 pounds. Any ideas? Without spending lots on equipment.</p>
<p>Yeah nice one, thanks, do you need any more tapes ?</p>
<p>Thank you. I do not need any more tapes at this time. :-) I have about 60-100. </p>
<p>My favorite part of this instructable was the rope making jig. I never saw a simple one like that; just the complex ones for commercial use... The cord reminds me of a makeshift bowstring; I wonder if it could be strong enough for that in a pinch?</p>
<p>Perhaps it could be used as a bowstring. Hunting in a survival situation, &quot;in a pinch&quot; I would like to see it done, or perhaps I will take it on at some point. As of now I have never made a bow. Thanks for the comment.</p>
Hi everyone. <br>I made a similar machine a while back to make rope with my cub pack and we tried allot of different materials cotton threads,wool,sash cord and plastic bags too if you want to make dog leads I suggest wool and one thicker coord like sash coord for added strength. I made a dog lead out of rope I made out of wool I took 6 seperate lengths of rope and braided them in a twin string flat plaite. I still use the lead to this day and it takes the full force of two Staffordshire bull terriers pulling me to the local field. Well done with the instrucable. Good to see people reusing rather than landfill.. :0)
<p>great idea....double plus good.....</p>
<p>Perhaps if you put a tape spool on an axle, and a much larger spool on an axle, and ganged them together, you could automatically stretch the tape into string. The larger spool would force the tape to stretch as it revolved the same number of times as the tape dispenser.</p>
<p>I have been thinking of ways to automatically stretch the tape. I found so far, the tape doesn't always stretch at the same point. I am assuming it is because they are used tapes. However it could be the way I am pulling(speed, force direction, variables,etc.) I am interested in your scenario. where would the tension come into play? Wouldn't the larger wheel just make the smaller wheel spin faster? </p>
Presumably, if they were linked together, they would turn at the same rate, but the tape would have to go further on the bigger spool, thus stretching it.<br><br>I expect that you could check out some articles about &quot;plarn&quot; and spindles for other ideas.
Tom Hanks made this once ;-) Castaway
<p>Very creative and well detailed process! </p>
<p>VERY INTERESTING. Surely that rope is very strong.</p><p>What if you put the spools in the hooks of the machine, instead of the ends of the strings? On the other end, you go spooling the finished rope. That way you can proceed an almost serie production, until the spools peter out.</p>
<p>I was just thinking of doing something like this a few days ago. I have a bunch of old tapes that I had recorded shows on, now they all can be found online. The only time The only time I've ever seen vhs tapes use as cordage was in &quot;Cast Away&quot; with Tom Hanks. Your version looks much stronger then what he did in the movie.</p>
<p>Thanks for the post. I hope you make some rope. I just did an unoffical weight test. My weight machine only goes up to 150lbs...And it held it!! Take that Cast away :)</p>
<p>This is by far one of the coolest repurposing projects I've seen. How much does the rope hold?</p>
<p>Thank you. I will post with my strength test reults soon.</p>

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Bio: I work residential-commercial maintenance. My job makes me come up with solutions on my own, most of the time. The more things I know how ... More »
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