I started thinking about rope recently after Mr. Balleng posted his rope making instructable.   I also remembered this old instructable in which they made a rope from shopping bags using a giant twisting device made out of bicycle parts.  Then I thought, why do you need to twist it?  I think twisting makes sense if you are using a very fibrous material so the fibers can kind of grab together and get intermeshed.  But plastic shopping bags aren't really fibrous, so maybe you don't need to bother with the twisting.

So I came up with this way to make a very strong rope.  The cool thing about it is you don't need *any* tools to make it.

Step 1: materials

plastic grocery bags - lots of them.  You can get a lot by asking on freecycle.org.  I posted a message asking for them and got enough plastic bags to make 150 feet of rope!

Figure on approximately 2 bags per foot of rope

optional: scissors

That is awesome! Now i can use all my grocery bags and I want to try and test its strength! Awesome idea! :)
I did this in a grocery store, when I was bored out of my mind. You sure brought it to a higher level. Nice 'ible
WTG --- Get Job.... For your weight testing I might suggest taking a 3 ft piece of threaded rod bending it over to from an eye on one end and then get a nut, a washer, and a piece of some material (Block of wood) big enough to hold everyday weights on the threaded rod... Then hang the rope from whatever you want, attach the eye hook and build up the weight's until it breaks.... Just a thought ... Good Luck....
Thank you for the positive feedback! And yes, I do need to get a job - heehee
LOL...I am sorry I dont know where the word &quot;GET&quot; came from...<br>It was supposed to be &quot;Great&quot;....<br>Like in WTG --- Great Job....<br><br>Again I thought it was a Job Well Done and I am sorry for the type-o <br><br>Good Luck I hope the weight testting works out for you....
I've always liked recycle/reuse projects. Thanks for posting.
thank you for the positive feedback
Wow! Good idea! Now I know what to do with that 5 year collection of poly bags that I just couldn't throw out! And yes, got to watch out for excess exposure to sunlite.
glad to help
This is a great idea! You did a great job and it's a perfect idea! Its a great way to recycle and it's just plain awesome. Really good job.
Thank you. Your comment is 100% positive and I really appreciate that.
<p>Awesome work. Had a tiny bit trouble following the braiding steps (Mental/Visually) but I completely understand it. As for the whole &quot;don't leave in the SUN&quot; problem, out of most I have to say it would make great rope for water. Since Natural/Classic rope made of technically dead plants from their fiber, this is at least a cheaper and recyclable improv-ment. </p>
<p>As for test wise: Try it on other set of test first before you put your own self at risk.</p><p>Challenge not just a few but every condition you can. I.E.: Weather, Temp, Moisture, Reliability, Chemical Reactions (In case of some Chems. that can/will dissolve it), Stress, and Durability,(I know some of you will say aren't the two the same but I mean by strength on how well it can just be pull straight out, and How well it will handle Gimmicks like multiple pulleys and puling over corners.) </p>
<p>P.S. Safety First. ^ ^</p><p>&quot;Smarter must be better than dead Donkey.&quot;</p>
<p>Great idea. I've done rope using stretched stripes of plastic, I opted for stretching because by doing it the molecule chains in the plastic straighten out and asume a parallel configuration along the axis of the strain. In my tests a strip of plastic increases in length between 5 and 7 times, depending on the type/quality of the plastic. The gain in stregth is enormous.</p>
<p>I like it.</p>
<p>hello i Think is an amazing idea, i got exited and jumped the gun and didn't finish reading the instructable and started doing a three strand braid do you think it will be a problem</p>
that's cool that you were excited! I'm sure a three strand braid will be very strong as well
i will try this now!
As many people have mentioned all plastics are degraded eventually by sunlight and/or oxygen. The degradation is usually limited by UV absorbers and antioxidants in plastics used outdoors. Plastic bags are expected to breakdown quickly in the environment so little or no protection is added. In fact we have in Australia some starch based bags that break down very quickly. Depending how you use the ropes and where you leave them tied in the environment it might not be a bad thing. <br>As this site has a global audience I should mention that the polymers used to make plastic bags varies considerably throughout the world and in different applications. HDPE, LLDPE, LDPE, starch etc etc each plastic has a different modulus (stretchiness). The plastic in the picture appears to be HDPE so it is quite rigid. <br>The reason the bags used tear easily in one direction indicates that the blow up ratio wasn't balanced when the bags were made. It is a manufacturing defect that might not be consistent with different bags.
Thanks for this information I found that I was able to do the bag tearing trick with several different varieties of bags from different stores. So maybe it's a defect, but it is a common one.
It is a common defect, even our older polymer banknotes here in Australia can develop linear splits in use. It is more difficult to perfectly balance the blow up ratio in rigid plastics. Ultimately the desire to maximize production wins out and the film ends up orientated in the machine (take off) direction. Therefore I would expect that the easiest way to tear is mostly from top to bottom (or bottom to top) but not across the bag.
melt rubber on it caution it will smell
This very nice, but remember these bags do degrade in sunlight. can take years or months, don't depend on your life with one. A Hammock can fail and smack you head first on hard earth! <br> <br>just a thought
sobering advice taken thanks
Your welcome! I just happen to notice the bags did that. Relatively fast depending on quality of plastic, type of plastic, color, biodegradability as per manufacturer. <br><br>They will degrade indoors as well, just much slower. The theory is in a land fill they break down, sad part is they really need sunlight to do it fast enough to be useful in a landfill.
To test if it will hold your weight, you can tie a loop in one end and tie a length to a rafter/tree branch/etc. so that the loop only hangs 6&quot; or so off the ground, then stand in the loop. I suspect it would hold your weight with no problem, as the tensile strength of those bags is pretty impressive, though I agree that I certainly wouldn't use it in a situation where life and limb were at stake. I also would not use it outside for a long time, as UV light would degrade the material. could be really great for a lot of applications around the house though! Excellent re-use of materials, and very creative!
this is a good suggestion thank you
It is a hard-learned suggestion. A couple good buttock bruises will make a fellow devise some solid risk-management skills.
This is cool<br>
Hi Nice work !! <br>One Error , quote in your bio is by Mahatma Gandhi (not ghandi) <br>&quot;Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.&quot; - Gandhi <br> <br>
thanks for noticing
Try Freegle.org in the UK to get hold of loads of plastic bags. Freecycle is dead in the water over here but networks like Freegle and Freeworld-Recycling have filled the void and gone even better. <br> <br>Excellent 'ible', well done. You could also use this rope as a bird scarer in a garden. Just snip some bit off the sides so that they flat around in the breeze and string it around your plants that you don't want the birds getting at...
good suggestions, thank you
Cool idea, thanks for posting this! :)
yw thx
I always love a simple ible. The video clip was quick and effective. Had I been left to interpret the still photo I would have been lost...
glad the video was clear!
Very impressive... Does it stretch much? Also, for testing, you could tie some milk gallon jugs and slowly pour in water till it breaks. Just a thought for you!
It does stretch to a point, but once stretched it tends to stay stretched out. That's an interesting idea. I'm thinking a 5 gallon bucket, attach the rope the handle, hang it high from a tree, add water till it fills up, see how long it can stay there. Good suggestion, I think I will try it.
Neat idea. I started braiding a rope this morning and the kids took over. <br> <br>Not sure about your testing scheme...5 gallons of water is only about 43 pounds. I think we'll just tie the &quot;rope&quot; to the cross bar on the swing set and use it to suspend a plywood disc about a foot from the ground. I'll sit on the disc and then the kids will pile on too and if it breaks, we will all fall in the sand and have a good laugh. <br> <br>Be aware that plastic grocery bags photo-degrade pretty quickly, so if you use them to weave the rigging of your desert island escape raft, be sure to collect spare bags for repairs!
well, I meant to imply multiples of 5 gallon buckets. We don't drink milk around here, so ... gallon jugs are hard to accumulate. cheers
Use it to hang several buckets filled to the same weight in different locations. Hang one outside in direct sunlight, one or more in varying amounts of shade and then another as a control subject hung inside where it will get little or preferably no light. Then you just have to check them periodically to see how long it takes each to break. <br> <br>
Thanks for the info, hope that your testing goes well for you! I might try messing around with this one.
The reason rope is twisted and not braided is to keep it from unraveling when cut. There is a neat little instructible with a video I encountered about making twine from grass that explains why. I'm sure if you search grass twine you can find it.
My experience with most twisted ropes is that they unravel readily when cut. Especially the synthetic ones. That is why their ends have to be tied off or whipped or melted. I prefer braided rope as it requires some effort to unravel it and does not fray. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rope#Styles_of_rope_construction
@hdmotorc - yes valid point ROPE is usually twisted instead of braided and it would be interesting to see if this works with plastic. But I believe they are twisted in SAME not different directions. Just thought I would mention that.
You can see an example of <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Rope-made-from-plastic-shopping-bags/" rel="nofollow">rope made with twisted shopping bags</a> here: &nbsp;http://www.instructables.com/id/Rope-made-from-plastic-shopping-bags/<br> <br> of course it requires a machine most people won't have access to, but there you go
In the 1940s I used to make rope like this from vines to swing from in the little woodsy edge to our local park. i didn't understand about twisting the strands at that time, so I braided. <br> <br>With shopping bags, however, your rope will be short-lived. Plastic shopping bags deteriorate dramatically in only a few months. I'd hate to be swinging over a precipice at that moment.

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