A minimalist fitness package should not lack a jump rope and, as I was thinking to include one in my arsenal, I had to try first how it goes (as I have some lower back issues). I needed to build one from whatever materials I could find in my already minimal possessions. I had to source a few things from the local hardware store and had one ready the same day. I am not very handy or even talented with craft tools so a better version is always possible by a better craftsman. This version needs minimal tools and even those used can be replaced with something else by a resourceful person.
My idea was to create a skipping rope that resembles as much as possible the speed ropes on the market, because they have several advantages over the traditional "rope through handle" jump ropes: the ball-bearing permits the rotation of the cable attachment assembly with speed and low friction while the cable is not twisting around itself but revolves with the axle that goes through the bearing.
So my solution was a low-tech approach to a ball-head assembly made of a washer and a countersink bolt. The countersink portion of the bolt permits it to rotate to a certain degree around the handle axis while the whole bolt rotates around itself, together with the cable, being kept in place by the washer.
Note: Please check my other jump rope I've created since, it has slimmer handles, same bolt-washer just re-arranged, same cable perpendicular to the handle and a somehow nicer feeling when jumping with it (also a longer cable, this one was too short for me).
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Step 1: Materials and Tools
1. Effervescent Tablets Tube
2. Method to carve a round hole in the plastic bottom of the tube (I have here a multi-functional drill with a spade drill bit) but my first attempt was done with a cutter, just the hole wasn't very round or pretty)
3. M6x50 countersink bolt with two nuts and a 24mm washer per handle (<50mm length would work even better; the tube is almost 30mm in diameter and I didn't find a perfectly sized washer, which will be quieter with a snug fit - one could also superglue it to the bottom of the tube; also maybe a Teflon washer would be better but I didn't see one at the hardware store)
4. steel clothesline (this is 30m at about 6Eur and will accommodate many jump ropes and many replacements over time, especially if you jump on concrete floor). There are many ways to measure the length that is best for your own height, I cut mine a bit short and then I lost some length when I coiled the ends to loop over the bolt.
5. some sort of construction tape, I already had this, it's a bit rubbery and it stretches quite a bit. Also tennis racket handle grip would work if you already have a roll or it's cheap enough to be worth it.
6. Optional: a clamp and a hairdrier (missed it in the image above) to make the handle more ergonomic
Step 2: Drill Hole Slightly Smaller Than the Inner Diameter of the Washer
The plastic tube has a small leftover where the molding process has cut the feeding material. You will feel it if you put your finger on the bottom of the tube. That is precisely in the center and there is where you need to firmly press the drill bit so that the hole is centered.
After the whole is done, if you have a file or some sandpaper smooth the edges so it looks nice.
Step 3: Prepare the Plugs That Will Close the Tube and Dampen the Sound
You need two plugs (from the same type of recipient) for best results, one will stay very close to the bottom, near the washer and the other will close the tube at the open end, to prevent the horn effect of the tube.
You will use a cutter or knife to strip off the edge that goes over the lip of the tube and also the spiral part, just as you see in the picture, as well as take out the little paper plug that holds some hydrophobic pills (this will further ensure no extra sounds are leaving the handles).
Step 4: Insert the Washer and the Bolt
Step 5: Optional: Reshape the Handle Bottom for a More Ergonomic Grip
The plastic tube can be softened by heating with a hairdrier for 20-30 sec and then pressed between the jaws of an F-clamp. It is not fragile at this point and you can tighten it quite a bit. It's better to overdo it now as it will give some back after you remove the clamp.
You can repeat this process many times until you are satisfied with the grip (mainly the thumb position and feel).
Step 6: Put the Handle Together: Wrap With Tape, Insert Plugs, Trim Lip
I believe the images are self-explanatory. When you press the inner plug to the bottom of the tube, use something almost as thick as the hole and use a quick push to the end, as the plug will have to pass the narrow portion as vertical as possible, so it doesn't end up skewed at the end.
Step 7: Attach Cable to the Bolt Using the Two Nuts
This is quite a rudimentary approach and I am sure there are better solutions but it's the one I came up with at the time. If I think of new solutions as easy or as quick, I will update the tutorial.
Just insert one nut and force it snug at he beginning of the threading, loop the clothesline twice over the bolt and fix it with two zip ties. Cut the extra cable and cover with tape (shrink tube would be better). Then thread the second nut and turn it as tight as possible (don't worry, you will not damage the cable).