I first came across these in my childhood while I was at my first boy scout summer camp. The climbing tower instructors there would retire the worn out climbing ropes, but instead of discarding it, they took the time to re purpose them into these neat gifts for the merit badge participants. Although they are hand made, mine has lasted well over a decade with showing no signs of damage.
I never learned how to make the bracelet from the instructors themselves, but later in life taught myself how to create more of them.
You will find they are quite simple and in-expensive to make given some time and room for mistakes.
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Step 1: Materials
For this project you will need:
- Rock Climbing Rope: Although you can buy new rock climbing rope for this project, I would not recommend it due to its high price tag. Instead, find any local climbing gym or enthusiast nearby and ask them about taking an old rope off their hands. Most of the time you can get it for free or at a highly discounted price as compared to buying it new!
- Flame Source: To fuse the rope, you will need an open flame source. This could be a pit fire, lighter, or in my case, a portable camping stove. Regardless, I would also recommend a handheld lighter for making adjustments to the fusing.
- Cutting Tool: I recommend scissors, but a sharp knife would also work for this project.
- Disposable Throw: During the process of fusing the rope, some kind of throw should be used if working in a location where molten rope droplets should not be getting. I used a plastic bag to protect my floor.
Step 2: Gut the Rope
First, you must remove the inside core of the rope. This process may take a while depending of the length of rope you have purchased. Once removed, discard the core; the sheath is the only part of the rope that is needed for the bracelets.
- rock climbing rope
- cutting tool
1. Cut both ends of the rope, removing any fusing or wax used to prevent fraying.
2. Grab the core and begin working it out. If you have a longer rope, gloves are recommended to prevent blister from forming on your hands.
3. From here, use one hand to pull on core while other hand pulls the sheath in the opposite direction.
4. With longer ropes, you may need to push the bunched up sheath towards the other end of the from where you are pulling the core out.
5. Continue through steps 3-4 until core is completely removed.
Step 3: Preparing the Rope
- De-cored rope
- Cutting tool
- Optional measurement tool
- Marking tool (pen or other washable ink)
1. Remove any fraying from the rope end
2. Cut a roughly 3-4 inch piece and set aside for later
3. If you know your desired bracelet size, use measuring tool to cut a portion of rope for you bracelet. BE SUREto leave about 1 inch more rope than you measured. During fusing, the rope will shrink.
4. If unsure of needed length, simply wrap the rope end around your wrist and mark lightly where the end overlaps.BE SURE to give yourself an additional inch or so to account for the rope shrinking during the fusing process.
5. Use the the first rope piece you measured and cut to easily cut new rope pieces (you will likely mess up the first few you try to make).
Step 4: Fusing the Rope
This is process does not take long, however it can be tricky to make an appealing end product.
Safety & Advice:
- Always be aware of your surrounding and what may be potentially flammable.
- Do not inhale fumes from burning rope.
- Work in area with good ventilation.
- Be warned that the fumes from the fusing process do not smell good and can leave a residual smell.
- Be aware of smoke detectors while working inside.
- Be aware of objects underneath work area, as they may have molten rope dripped on them.
- De-cored rope
- Flame source
- Spare rope piece
- Disposable throw
1. Take the piece of rope cut to desired length and hold vertically over your open flame. You will see the rope ends beginning to melt and fuse together.
2. Monitor closely as the rope will quickly catch fire if held to close (this is wanted, but may take you by surprise)
3. Once the end does catch fire stably, turn the rope so that the fire is upright.
4. Allow rope end to burn and thick (1/4 to 1/2 inch) black molten rope builds up on the end.
5. Blow out the flame on the end of the rope and bring non burn end and press together.
6. Hold the two ends of the rope together and allow to set. It is unlikely that the bracelet will hold at this point or look good.
7. Take 3 - 4 inch rope from last step and allow the end to catch fire so the rope melts into coating around the end.
8. To make adjustments to bracelet fusing, take small lighter and hold below portion of fusing that needs to be adjusted.
9. Once portion catches fire, remove flame and turn bracelet so portion faces upwards. Allow to burn for ten second or so.
10. Once flame is blown out, quickly take 3 - 4 inch piece and wipe molten rope across the junction and smooth.
11. Repeat steps 8 - 10 until satisfied with junction quality. Let cool for 2 minutes before putting the bracelet on.
You can clean up the junction by using a pair of scissors to cut off protruding bumps of cooled molten rope.
Don't worry to retry this step a number of times until you get it right. Be sure to wait a few minutes before trying on the bracelet and the junction is still fragile during this time. After it has cooled though, you will find it very difficult to break.
Hope you enjoyed the tutorial!