Rope Making





Introduction: Rope Making

About: Awesome Gear I've designed myself.
Rope making has been around for a very long time. While there are more complicated ways to go about it, this set up is one of the simpler ways. All you really need is a few coat hangers and a couple scraps of wood.

The twine I’m using measures about 1/8”. Six lines of it made a 3/8” rope. Twelve lines made a 1/2” rope.

Step 1: Another Way to Use a Coat Hanger.

Cut 3 same size sections from a coat hanger. Use pliers to form a hook in the end of each. 

Step 2: Mark and Drill the Holes.

With a pencil and ruler I marked 3 holes on one of the scrap pieces of wood. I made them 1&1/2" apart. I then drilled out the holes while the scrap pieces were stacked on top of each other. Now both pieces had the same spaced holes. 

Step 3: Install the Rotating Hooks.

Place a hook through each hole. Use the pliers to make two 90 degree bends in each wire. It will look like the 7th picture. From here place the wires through the second piece of wood and make a final 90 degree bend to keep the handle in place. Trim off the excess wire so they don't interfere with each other during operation. 

Step 4: Set Up the Tension Side.

As you twist the strands they will eventually twist together. This makes the entire rope rotate. A fishing swivel allows this rotation. You just install it between the end of the rope and the tension weight. 

You also want the tension weight to be movable as the length of the rope will shorten from all the twisting. You could use a pulley but I found a simple rounded edge works just fine. I'm using a piece of 1/2" electrical conduit. 

Step 5: Setting Up the Jig.

Start by tying the twine to either the top or bottom hook. Run the twine back and forth between each hook and the anchor point. On the third run you should be back at the hook you started with. Tie it off again. Each hook should have 2 lines for a total of 6. If you want you can do another run for a total of 12 lines. It's important each line has the same amount of tension. The dangling weight helps make that happen. I'm using the break rotors to weigh down benches. 

Step 6: Keeping the Strands Separate.

You'll want to make this simple tool for two reasons. One, it keeps the strands separate while your twisting. Otherwise the fibers will get caught up with the others and begin to tangle. It also prevent the rope from rotating before it's ready. 

Step 7: Twisting.

Keep rotating the jig until the strands begin to twist together. I used a clockwise motion. Guide the rope together as you move along. When the entire length is done, whip the end and cut it free. You can see in the last two pictures how much the rope shortened from all the twisting. My guess is about 10" for this 10' piece of rope.  

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23 Discussions

This is a remarkable 'ible'. I want to try this just to get 'a feel'for how things were done in earlier times. (How did people work out these methods hundreds or thousands of years ago?)

What do you do with all of this rope? use it to make thicker rope?

Love this whole posting. It simply says, look to the wire hanger. We throw so many away! I would love to try the rope making.

wow i have been wanting to make a rope for aaaaages and now i know, thanks :)

Nicely done. The history of rope is facinating when you discover the essential role it played in history. Very few peeps nowadays appreciate just how important rope was in the evolution of society and the progress of mankind; continues to be today, come to that. Try to imagine a world with no strings attached... :-) You wouldn't even be able to tie your shoes!

1 reply

Unfortunately sir - that is no longer the case as I think MOST kids these days CAN'T tie their shoes, often because they no longer had shoelaces to tie with! Velcro rules and the nation is just a little but less self-sufficient! LOL

And yes - "excellent job" to the fellow who posted the instructable.
Lt. Greg

This is awesome thank you. I've always wondered though, why they twist rope - seems like if you let the end go it would all just unravel. I wonder if there is a way to use a mechanism to quickly braid the rope so it wouldn't unravel so easily? I feel like I've seen something like that but can't place it currently

1 reply

This method of rope making is primarily for natural fiber ropes. The fibers of one strand "bite" into the other strands, holding the rope together quite effectively. Any rope will have problems with unraveling if you don't tend to the end. You can fuse most synthetic ropes, but natural fiber ropes must be tied off or whipped. Even braiding would have its own faults with fraying.

I wonder if you could make a 'fabric rope' using this device...and strips of cloth cut on the bias (as you would for a braided rug). Hmmmm.

Very nicely done. Similar, though quite smaller in scale, than the rope walks I've seen at seaport museums where very large lines were made. Good job!

Cool! I was just looking up how to do this. I wanted to try it with yarn. Any chance you can put up a video of it in action?

2 replies

That's exceptionally impressive. Many instructables are poorly done and/or do not add greatly or at all to what can be easily found elsewhere. The good pictures and useful descriptions add nicely to this presentation of very olde technology implemented with coat-hangars and scraps of wood. Well done. - Russell McMahon

Just curious: what's the source and material of that twine? Any chance this process can be done completely from scratch?

1 reply

I bought the twine at the Home Depot. Absolutely you can do it from scratch. If you do an Internet search you'll find plenty of videos about it.

Very clear and well done! I did this as a Boy Scout 50 years ago, and we used the exact machine, so I guess it just shows that it's hard to beat a proven design. However, this technology tends to get lost in the rush of modern-ness. I'm glad you are keeping it alive for the next generation. Plus, it's hard to beat that feeling of using something that you made yourself. Again, well done!