Introduction: Grappling Hooks

About: I have always like building... now I have the skills and equipment to do some really cool stuff.

When I was a kid I wanted to be a ninja, spy, Batman, Superhero... someone with the cool gear. After my mom put the kibosh on anything dangerous, sharp or pointy... I still wanted a Grappling Hook!

A grappling hook that actually works, I can put in my backpack and actually will do what you think a grappling hook should. What should a grappling hook do? Don't know, don't care, just want!

So this is what I did...

Step 1: Ideas, Sketches and Design

The idea was to get a grappling hook that would fit in backpack and actually work. And by actually work, I mean hold some serious weight. Small, strong and you can put it in backpack... that's what I wanted. Yes there are other grappling hooks, but they are spendy and not what I wanted... so I did my own.

Part one: I did drawings and came up with more ideas than I care to share. This is the best way, draw more and more and more. Once you have drawn all you can... draw some more. This way you can suss out an idea and it usually leads in a direction... usually.

Step 2: Sketchup.

Part Two: You have to get your design into a format that the cutters (Waterjet, CNC or laser) can do something with. It's usually some ".dxf" file. If you don't know Sketchup it's the greatest (Free) program that you could ever want for designing parts to be laser, waterjet or CNC cut. 2D parts are amazingly easy and fun to design. If you don't know how to use it... then youtube it.

In all I did about 8 different versions of my hooks. Each version had about 10 variations. Yup, that's a lot! After a while I came up with something. I then decided to make it simple, what can I do to make it stronger and easier.

Try001 (See image) was an early attempt... not good

Try002 (See image) was another early attempt... not good

Try003 (See image) was heading in the right direction *(the holes at the top turned out to be bad when waterjet cut)

My Sketchup design process is to do one... then another... and another. Don't change or modify a previous design, unless it's really complicated, start fresh. This helps you get the dimensions right in your head and how things will fit. It also helps with the progression of the parts so you can go back to a previous version. I try to not delete things.

Once you get the one you like you have to get it ready to output to something that a cutting place can use. There is a plug-in. Google or Youtube it. You need to output your file, usually some ".dxf" file.

I got my design the way I wanted it and then upscaled it so I could have two sizes and sent it off to be cut.

Step 3: CNC Cutting

Part Three: First I contacted BigBlueSaw and had them waterjet cut my design. It was a learning experience. I ordered 10 and it was around $150.

When you send off your files... ask the experts that are going to cut it. This is particularly important if your parts need to fit inside each other... like mine do.
Cut inside the line?
Cut on the line?
Cut outside the line?

People at BigBlueSaw are great and will answer all your dumb questions.

I cut on the inside of my line... against their recommendations. I tried to out-think them and it didn't work. So just understand that you might screw up a couple jobs, your will screw up a couple jobs! I call it tuition and you need it to get everything right in the end. Don't jump into the final run or 100 or 1000. If you figure your first couple runs are going to be trash... then you are all good.

If you get it right... make sure they tell you what they did so you can do it again!

Just because it worked once, doesn't mean it will work the same way the next time. I did three jobs at one place, they screwed up five times. Even when you get it all set and you like the results... keep on top of it.

All three of these cost different amounts so shop around:
Waterjet cutting is easy, simple and cost effective. The problem I had was the thickness of the cut and the edge it created. It created a razor sharp edge, very sharp. They can tumble them to knock the edges off...
CNC cutting I couldn't do because the pieces were to small and it just wouldn't work.
Laser is very precise and worked the best, the edges are nice and straight and somewhat smooth. There is an issue with cutting inside the line, outside the line and one the line, just like waterjet cutting. I worked with a local company that had a rather steep learning curve (for me and them). Now things are pretty good. I also discovered media tumbling the parts after they are cut makes everything smooth and rounded.

Waterjet Image from:
Laser Image from:
CNC Image from:

Step 4: Kickstarter

Part Four: There are lots of things to know about Kickstarter. There are lots of tutorials... this is just a couple tips for people considering it.

The mostimportant thing is you need a really good story and a great video. Many people overlook the importance of a good video. If you show it to ten people and they all love it... ask a kid, under 10 years old, to watch it. If they like it you are heading in the right direction. People spend money on their Kickstarter campaigns, lots of money. It makes the process of crowdfunding unfair for the average person. If you want to do it yourself, great. But if you know anyone who is into videos, have them do it, or help.

The second thing and maybe more important is... most Kickstarter projects fail for some reason... that's okay.
The biggest issue isn't not meeting your funding goals, it's making your goal! When things work and you get funded, that's when things get complicated....

Here is my Kickstarter if you are interested. Here are some tips... this is just quick.

  1. People will contact you with offers, many offers, they will promote your campaign and make it a great success. Most will take a percentage of your funding... some want a fee... All in all it's not worth it. Most are scams. Some are real. Not really worth it.
  2. Kickstarter doesn't communicate well, they don't give enough support and it's all up to you when things start to get... tricky. Have a plan for things going wrong. Because something will.
  3. When you get your funding... that takes 30 days... Kickstarter takes roughly 8%. This is just an FYI
  4. Depending on what you are offering as rewards, you could have lots of shipping. This can make or break you. Shipping cost more than you think. I was meticulous with my calculations... but I still had lots of issues. Whatever you figure for shipping, double it to be safe.
  5. Shipping out of the US is more expensive than you think... just know this.
  6. Communicate your wins and your failures with backers, it makes things go so much better.
  7. People like stickers. They are a relatively cheap little bonus for your backers. Think about throwing one in your reward packages.

Step 5: Etsy and Social Media

Part Five: The thing that got my kickstarter funded, and I am immensely grateful for, was Without their "Mailbag" I don't think my campaign would have worked. I sent emails to anyone and everyone that I thought might like my Grappling Hooks. You have to get support from people that like your campaign and what you are trying to do, not from people trying to make a buck from your work.

After I sent all out the rewards to my supporters, I sold my hooks on my website, with limited success.

Then, I set up an Etsy store, and it's really great! It was really easy and they are great at helping you with questions. Highly recommend this! Selling is easy and they take care of everything.

Social media and advertising is so varied, costly and sometimes baffling. Doing social media is one of the most important things you can do, and probably the hardest.

  • You have to be interesting and consistent.
  • Keep things going day after day and week after week...
  • Request support and love from anyone and everyone that will like your stuff!
  • Don't bother with people that want to make money from you... and don't care about your creation.

Contact me with questions or comments. I would love to share my knowledge.