Picture of VHS Rope

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)
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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.

psharp201 month ago
Great idea :)
LaGripe11 months ago

Do you know the breaking strength of your rope?

Schtaunkton (author)  LaGripe10 months ago

The rope I made (18 strings) held at 150 pounds.

lindarose9211 months ago

So cool! I made a crochet bracelet a while ago, using VHS tape

I must try to make this rope too, it's definitely much more useful than a bracelet :D

Schtaunkton (author)  lindarose9210 months ago

Thank you. I like your bracelet. I have also made chainmaille bracelets that are similar in design.

Thank you, I'm glad you like it :)

the jig could likely work for cut up shopping bag loops as well. Great idea for the VHS tape!

newbeatle11 months ago

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 ?

congratulations and regards from mexico

Schtaunkton (author)  newbeatle10 months ago

I got about 200 meters of "string" and didn't use the whole tape. So a guess, per tape, would be anywhere from 300-450 meters.

fixfireleo11 months ago

great idea! i will try that for my next victim! lol. j/k

Schtaunkton (author)  fixfireleo10 months ago

Whenever your in a "bind"....muwuha ha ha ;)

funnydan11 months ago

I like the rope making jig better than the actual VHS rope!

Schtaunkton (author)  funnydan10 months ago

Thanks. I probably could have made two mini instructables. :)

gerflash11 months ago

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.

gerflash11 months ago

Any word on how well it weathers? Any tests on it's breaking strength for three strings? Six? More?

Schtaunkton (author)  gerflash11 months ago

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.

omikeo11 months ago

Yeah nice one, thanks, do you need any more tapes ?

Schtaunkton (author)  omikeo11 months ago

Thank you. I do not need any more tapes at this time. :-) I have about 60-100.

grapenut11 months ago

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?

Schtaunkton (author)  grapenut11 months ago

Perhaps it could be used as a bowstring. Hunting in a survival situation, "in a pinch" 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.

msmart11 months ago
Hi everyone.
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)
Carmelite11 months ago

FYI, VHS tape is usually made of mylar, which is why it's so strong.

However as plastic without UV protection it will probably break down in the sun over time.

billbillt11 months ago

great idea....double plus good.....

jkimball11 months ago

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.

Schtaunkton (author)  jkimball11 months ago

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?

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.

I expect that you could check out some articles about "plarn" and spindles for other ideas.
joshwelch911 months ago
Tom Hanks made this once ;-) Castaway
bergerab11 months ago

Very creative and well detailed process!

rimar200011 months ago

VERY INTERESTING. Surely that rope is very strong.

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.

nnygamer11 months ago

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 "Cast Away" with Tom Hanks. Your version looks much stronger then what he did in the movie.

Schtaunkton (author)  nnygamer11 months ago

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 :)

ilpug11 months ago

This is by far one of the coolest repurposing projects I've seen. How much does the rope hold?

Schtaunkton (author)  ilpug11 months ago

Thank you. I will post with my strength test reults soon.