Build a Zip Line Out of Reused or Recyled Materials.




Hi There! In this instructable, I will teach you how to make a zip line out of recycled materials. What is a zip-line? it's basically a rope between two trees with a seat that travels between them.

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY INJURIES OR DAMAGES OCCURRED DURING THIS PROJECT. That means try to be safe on the ladder, and try to be safe riding on the trolley.

OK let's get started!

Two trees
Rope long enough to stretch the length between the two trees you chosen
A plank for a seat (or an old swing set seat)
More rope for making a seat
A pulley
Winch or truck to pull the rope tight.

All of the materials I use in this project are reused/recycled, except the winch. It is recommended that you use recycled materials, too, but you don't have to.

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Step 1: Findin' Some Trees.

"This should be easy. Findin' trees isn't that hard, is it?" Well, it depends. if you have a big piece of property out in the country, it should be easy. But if you live in the city, your outta luck. An ideal spot for the trolley is between two trees that have nothing in between them. if anything is in the way, your trolley will run into it. Try to avoid that. Also, you will want lots of space between the trees. If they are too short, it will be a boring ride.

Step 2: Loop

Make sure your rope has a loop on it. If it doesn't, just grab the rope so there is a loop shape. now wrap the loop behind the rope and pull it through the circle it makes. It's easy to explain it in pictures, so look at the pictures below for a better explanation.

(I found the rope on the beach. Free is always better)

Step 3: Getting the Rope in the Tree

throw the loop over the a tall tree limb. Using the ladder here will help. then stick one end of the rope through the loop and pull until the rope is tight around the limb.

Step 4: Tightening the Rope

Before you do this you need to put the pulley on. (I found the pulley in a free pile. Score!) Then wrap the other end of the rope around the second tree. The tree doesn't have to be horizontal like mine. Then use the winch to tighten the rope. If you don't have a winch attach the rope to a truck and pull it tight with that. BE CAREFUL! the rope will be really tight and if it snaps it can be lethal. Just ask the Mythbusters. So please be careful.

Step 5: Nail It!

Go to the back of the tree where the rope is touching the tree. Then nail in lots of nails into the rope. The more you use the less likely it is to break so be generous. I used cable staples as well as nails but that is optional. When you are done release pressure on the winch and the rope should stay tight. if not try again and put more nails in.

Step 6: Making the Seat

Cut the plank so that it resembles a seat. Then find a piece of rope that is about 5 ft long that has a loop on each end. If it doesn't have loops than go back to step 2 to make some. then put the loops so that they are on the ends of the seat and nail em there. Finally make a small loop in the center of the rope. Hook the loop onto the pulley. Then tie a rope that is as long is the highest part of the zip line is to the seat. (this is so you can pull the seat back up to the top) Then you are done!

Step 7: Ride It!


I hope you have fun. Mine is short because i didn't tighten it enough. Don't make the same mistake. Thanks for reading my instructable. Please don't forget to vote! if i get a laser cutter i promise some cool instructables! Thanks to my dad, my grandpa, and Micah.
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    19 Discussions


    Tip 1 year ago

    NO NAILS IN TREES. Use a tow strap or something similar and wrap it several times around the tree. Then use a clevis to attach the rope to the strap. Use a prusik knot to pull tension on the rope. Then attach the rope to the tree using another tow strap and clevis. Nails will weaken the rope significantly. O


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Wow great instructible! I'd love to make one!
    Oh also, I noticed a lot of people in the comments warning you about safety.
    I agree with them but I think you get it! No need for them to repeat themselves!
    Thanks again!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Zip lines are great fun, but I’d urge anyone else wanting to build one to think very carefully about their safety- as Zsthorian has quite rightly pointed out they can be very dangerous. Key things you probably want to consider;

    Get a responsible adult to help you
    Use a rope of a known origin that you know the breaking strength of, and make sure it is adequate
    Use a pulley that has a closed eye- not an open hook, so that the seat can’t come off the hook. Make sure that the pulley is well rated for your weight- do not use ones without a weight rating or intended for things like clotheslines (try climbing shops or yacht chandlers)
    Learn suitable knots before you start
    When making the seat- make sure the support rope is very well secured to the plank- ideally feed through drilled holes
    Secure the access ladder to the tree so you have a safe access to the seat
    Think carefully about how you’ll stop- there are ways to add braking, and you don’t want to slam into a tree at the bottom end!
    To be kind to the trees- you will probably want to pad out under the rope. This will avoid damaging the bark- the living part of the tree is just below the surface. Slacken off the rope when not using it for a time.

    There is some very good information in the UK Scout Factsheet on how to do this safely;


    7 years ago on Step 5

    this looks hella unsafe.


    9 years ago on Step 5

    Just a FYI nailing into a rope that you found is not necessarily a good idea. Each nail breaks fibers on a tensioned rope and can cause the rope to fail under load. It may work in the mean time but your kind of exposing yourself to a bit of liability. A fall of greater then twice the height of a child can be fatal and if you add lateral motion to that there is a significant method of injury. Im not trying to be a downer on your fun but a metal cable that is properly anchored would be a better choice that is less likely to kill you.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    dude, this is dangerous... Anything like this should be made with new guaranteed materials, not found junk that has been decaying in some old bin...

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah but even with new stuff it's pretty dangerous. Hence the disclaimer ;)
    Oh, and... ...going down backwards is a bad idea.... ouch


    10 years ago on Step 4

    I got pulley and pipe straps (for securing easier) in a dumpster


    10 years ago on Step 2

    You could of spliced the two ropes together..


    10 years ago on Introduction

    i have one that you slip you foot into and hang and it goes all the across my yard but the pully is suckish so some has to pus you it used to be a dog leash thing so the dog could run around the yard being hooked to the pully but sadly my dog died and so did one of the trees so the other one keep growing and no its at an angle.