Introduction: Money for Old Rope

As a climber, every so often I have to retire a rope. Be it from old age or wear, it's best to replace them every 3-5 years, or sooner if they're damaged. Our university climbing club has to retire all its ropes every three years too so every three years there's about 300m of rope laying around.

Rather than throwing them away, or leaving the ropes sitting in a corner of our equipment cupboard, I thought I'd put them to good use.

Here are all the uses we've thought of so far, with steps on how to make them:
  • Dog Toys
  • Skipping Ropes
  • Emergency Tow Rope
  • Hammock
  • Rope Ladder
  • Rope Swing
  • Tyre Swing

Step 1: Rope Ladder

To make a rope ladder you'll need two 4m lengths of rope and some 2x4. I used 9mm dynamic rope (which made my ladder bouncier than I would have liked) and the thicker support slats from a pallet cut in half.

Cut each of your slats to length. My pallet was 80cm wide so my rungs ended up being 40cm wide. Drill holes slightly larger than your rope 3cm from either end and then run some sand paper over each rung to stop them splintering your hands/feet while climbing it.

Tie an overhand knot near one end of each piece of rope. Thread the first step on from the other end. If you like you can tie a knot above the step as well but I didn't bother.

Tie another knot 30-40cm further along each rope and thread the rung to it as before. Repeat this until you're out of rope or rungs.

Leave at least 50cm of rope at the top end of the ladder and tie a loop into the end of each piece of rope. You can now use these loops to fasten the ropes to themselves over a tree branch.

Step 2: Rope Swing

For this you'll need ~60cm of 2x4 and a length of rope long enough to reach twice to a chosen tree branch plus 1m for knots.

Cut your 2x4 timber to size to make the swing seat.

Drill holes large enough to just pass your rope through. For 9mm rope I drilled an 12mm hole 3cm from each end.

Sling the rope over the branch.

Pass one end of the rope through one hole and the other end through the other. Secure underneath the seat with an overhand knot. Leave a 20cm tail so it doesn't roll undone and turf your rider off the swing!

Step 3: Dog Toy 1

Here are two ideas on how to make dog toys, virtually any knotted length of rope can be a bit of fun, but here are a couple just as examples.

The first is a tasselled one for a game of tug.
1) Cut a 40cm length of rope, don't seal the ends
2) Tie an overhand knot 15cm from each end
3) Fray from each end to each knot. This may take a little while so is best done while watching TV.

Step 4: Tyre Swing

For this you'll need a length of rope and a tyre. I got my tyre free from a local garage, they were more than happy to give me one since they have to pay to dispose of them.

Tie a loop in one end of the rope and sling it over your chosen tree branch. Pass the other end through the loop and pull it tight.

Pass the free end through the tyre and lift the tyre while tying a knot. I used a bowline.

You can cut the remaining rope if you like, or leave it on since it makes a good handle to pull the swing with from a safe distance.

User dzurn suggests cutting a hole in the bottom of the tyre so it doesn't fill up with water and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Step 5: Dog Toy 2

The second dog toy is suitable for throwing. It consists of a monkey's fist tied in the end of a 120cm piece of rope. The thicker your rope, the bigger the fist, I used 9mm dynamic rope which gave me a monkey's fist with a diameter of about 8cm.

Tie the monkey's fist then tighten it up good 'n' proper.

With a good swing on the tail you can throw this for your dog to chase.

Step 6: Skipping Rope

This one's easy. Cut a length of rope to the correct length. The recommended length for a skipping rope is from chest height, down to the floor and then back up again. Tie an overhand knot in each end to help you keep a hold on!

Step 7: Emergency Load/Tow Rope

Keeping a length of rope in your car can be a good idea to help in sticky situations.

While a dynamic rope doesn't make an ideal tow rope (it's stretchy after all) it's better than nothing for helping get someone out of a ditch.

And it's good and strong for tying down loads on roof racks or trailers.

Step 8: Hammock

Follow Tim Anderson's guide to making an instant hammock.

All credit to Tim for the following photo.

Step 9: User Submitted Ideas...

Got an idea?

Post in a comment below and I'll try make it and add a step with credit to you. Or take pictures if you can :D

Ideas I need to document:
  • woven fender for boats (thanks Kiteman)
  • rope bridges (thanks Tape-structable)
  • tug of war
  • giant 3d string art (thanks solo.card)
  • gear storage (thanks solo.card, I actually do this already, I'll take a photo of all my gear on it tomorrow)
  • woven hammock (thanks ironsmiter)
  • poi (thanks megziewoodles)
  • donate to Scouts for fun and games (thanks andy.clarke)
  • monkey fist door stops (thanks Mbeardsley)
  • plant hangers, bird feeders and other Macramé projects (thanks Websprinter)