Rope Rings




Make versitile rope rings that can be used for camp games, decorative carrying applications, or as rugged accents.

A continuous, perfectly round, rope ring can be made by unwinding and rewinding individual strands of a rope without the need for a bulky knot or splice.

Whether you use them to secure your Nalgene water bottle to your pack or slip them over your lantern's propane tanks to keep them from banging into each other: Rope Rings can be made on-site and are a nice addition to your camp gear portfolio.

I'll bet you didn't know that a diamond tennis bracelet would make a nice Valentine's day gift. Subtle hints from my significant other brought that to my attention as soon as we entered this February season.  It was those little hints that inspired the seed of this Instructable.

Who wouldn't rather receive a rustic biodegradable rope bracelet rather than a cold gold one?  Don't answer that...

But this Instructable is not about bracelets... 

It's a resourceful project that shows how to turn an essential  wilderness staple,  rope, into a functional outdoor gadget.

Step 1: Wilderness Games

Does this camping senerio sound familiar?

The morning camp activities have drawn to a close.  Lunch has been prep'ed, cook, and consumed.  
Everyone starts to settle in around the campfire to relax.  
Suddenly, there is the "SNAP" of a twig...there's rustling  in the woods.  
The peacefulness of camp has been broken.  Wildlife is on the prowl.  

Instantly the camp is full of restless wild things.
The air is filled with the dreaded howl of:   "W E E E R  B O R E D D...We don't have anything to do!"

The two game pieces made from the rope rings in this Instructable will entertained even the most stubborn youth determined not have a good time.  

See the last two Steps for more info on these play things.

Step 2: Natural Fiber Twist Wound Rope

Choose a three strand twisted rope for this project.  

Natural fiber ropes work well, however some Polypropylene or Nylon ropes can also be used. They must be a three strand twist rope, not the woven construction; common in synthetic ropes.

Cut a length of rope according to the desired ring diameter. The length of the rope to start with depends on the circumference of the ring. The formula for finding the circumference of a circle is the diameter multiplied by PI (the value of PI,  3.14... can be rounded to 3 to make the math easier for estimation purposes)

When forming a ring, a single strand is wrapped around 3 times (duplicating the original 3 strand construction); therefore the formaula for determining the length of rope required is:
3 x Diameter x PI

For example, a 4 inch diamter ring has a circomference of: ~(4x3) = 12 x 3 passes =36 inches. Add an inch or so (due to the rounding down of PI and to have some extra length to work with when tucking the ends).  So, 38 inches would be good. it is always better to estimate long and trim the extra length of the ends when complete.

Step 3: Three Rope Strands

Separate the length of rope into its three strands.  

Note: Each length of rope will produce enough material for three rings. (one from each strand)

Be careful to unwind the three strands gently. The goal is to preserve the twist of each strand.  
To maintain the tight twist of each strand's individual fibers; allow the strand to twirl while unwinding it from the original rope.  
Do not grab a strand and pull it like shucking corn;  the fibers will seperate.  Each strand needs to be unwound from the main rope rather than pulled apart.

Step 4: Strand Twist Preserved

Use the original winding shapes as the path for rewinding.

Each strand maintains the "memory" of its winding from the original rope.
It is these corkscrew undulations, or Wind Intervals that will provide the guide for re-winding the strand onto itself.

Step 5: Initial Crossover

The initial crossover will set the diameter of the ring.

Start at the middle of a single strand and cross over equal lengths of the strand ends to form a loop.   Pass one end through the loop; forming the start of a simple overhand knot. 
Pull the ends until the loop decreases to the desired diameter of the finished Ring.

Make sure to line-up the cork screw twists of the overlaped ends of the strand so that they naturally "interlock" and fall into their Wind Intervals.

Note:  A right handed or left handed overhand knot may be needed to make sure the crossover is in the correct direction to match the original wind orientation of each strand.  The Wind Intervals should interlock naturally without any deformation of the strands original shape.

Step 6: First Winding Pass

Continue wrapping each end of the strand through the center hole.  

Each wrap should fall in place with the original wind shape and the strand should intertwine naturally with the original Wind Interval as a twisted pair.

The first pass of windings is shown below.

Note:  While rewinding the ends; it is a good idea to occationally roll the working ends of the strand between your fingers in the direction that tightens the individual fibers in the strand.  This will keep the strand tight so that the finished product will look the the originally wound rope.

Step 7: Second Winding Pass

When the ends cross, continue wrapping  the strands for a second winding pass.

 Again, be sure that the windings fall into the natural Wind Intervals.

Two passes of wrapping on the original strand, will form the same construction as the original three strand rope.

Step 8: Tucked Ends

When the Strand ends meet after the second pass, tuck them under an existing wrap.

Trim the excess length.

Note: At this point a quick pass of the ring over an open flame (i.e. stove burner) will flash off any stray fibers.  

Be careful! Natural fiber rope will burn!   Do not hold it in the flame for any more than a second or so.  This will be enough to "flame shave" the stray strands without igniting the body of the ring.

Step 9: Chain Gang

This is one of the possible uses for rope rings.  

String them together in a series to form a rope chain.  

Safety Note:  It is wise to assume that rings are not as strong as the original continuious rope.
The strength of any of rope rings made by the method in this Instructable is untested, and like most knots, will like likely compromise the the weight carrying capacity of the original rope.
The rings however, are sutible for light loads and retention purposes however, do not use them for any safety, or human lifting applications!

Step 10: Figure 8 Rings

Extra strand end lengths can be made into another ring.

A double ring figure 8 can be made by creating a second ring from the ends of a longer single strand (rather than tucking them and trimming them).  

Each loop could have a different diameter (i.e. a large ring around the water bottle and a smaller ring to attach a carabiner clip).

Step 11: Decorative Rings

Rope rings can be sized to slide over any size cylindrical objects.  

Here it is being used as an impromptu coaster to absorb sweat from a cold beverage glass.

Synthetic rope is also shown here.  Its can be used to add a decorative accent color.

Step 12: Rope Ring Ball

The shown ball was made by intertwining three rings together.  

After making the first ring, the second and third rings were wound such that a strand of each ring was spliced through the adjacent ring at the intersection points.

It makes an interesting ball that holds it shape but, is soft enough to collapses if fallen upon or bounced off the head of of a human target.  Kind of a pioneer version of a Nerf ball.

It also packs well in a backpack.!

This rope ball has served as an impromptu badminton birdie / soccer / whiffle / dodge ball / football, etc.  It is also somewhat indoor friendly!

Step 13: Ring on a Stick Game

A rope ring can be made into a  Ring-on-a-Stick game.
(Similar to the popular ball-in-a-cup set-up)

Make a ring with with a long trailing strand end.  Attach the strand end to the base of a stick to create a challenging ring toss game. 

The game is played by grasping the stick, and swinging the ring up in the air while attempting to catch it on a pin.

Branches (pins) of various diameter and length can be assigned different point values according to the difficulty of "pinning the ring".

The making, (and playing) of this game is an easy way to keep any camper entertained.



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    28 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Great Idea, if kids still bored can use spare rope to tie them up (out of earshot)


    5 years ago on Introduction

    They also make good handles on a blanket chest or wooden crate


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, I´m so using this with my troop, very easy to understand and clear photos.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Nice Instructable--good and helpful photographs. Will try making a rope ring this way to see if it is better than just splicing the intact rope together at the ends. Since the ends of the three pieces have to be tucked in, sort of like in a splice, would there be any difference in appearance and uniformity of rope diameter?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is brilliant! I'll definitely be using this in the future when valentines' day comes along. :P

    I've been doing the same thing for our cat.
    I use the paper covers from straws and twist it (like making twine, another instructable)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Great instructable, I do egg art and a customer wanted a rope stand. With your instructions I was able to complete this project. Thank you for posting this!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I've been making neckerchief slides for cub scouts out of these. They work great.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks so much for this Instructable. I've been sick at home for a couple of weeks and have been making these as a way to keep my mind off the sinkness and the side effects from the medicine. This has really been a great diversion. Cheers!


    8 years ago on Step 8

    If you can't use a razor blade to hide the cuts, then maybe consider using some electrical tape, duct tape, shrink tape, or perhaps some jeweler's wire?


    8 years ago on Step 13

    Thanks for the wonderful instructable. I love the wide variety of uses you've put the humble rope grommet to! Thanks for sharing.


    8 years ago on Step 10

    Oh, that's really clever. I'll have to try that out this weekend; I've always used the loop in a double-fisherman's knot, or maybe a miller's knot to hold onto my water bottles, but this is slick!


    8 years ago on Step 2

    Natural fiber ropes are a great choice for this; as noted in step 4 you really want the rope to have a fair bit of "memory" to guide you relaying the strands. Monofilament polypropylene has a lot of memory, but it's also the devil (my snobbery only comes out in camping equipment, really).

    In my experience nylon ropes have very low memory and you're more likely to end up with a mess of loose strands than a reasonable grommet unless you take immense care, so natural fiber really is the way to go. I personally like manila the best.


    8 years ago on Step 8

    Can you post pictures on where you put the ends of the rope? I can't find where to tuck it, I try, and then it always ends up looking weird.


    8 years ago on Step 8

    One of the techniques that I use when dealing with permanent loops in twist rope it to taper the ends back into the rope. This is done by tucking the ends back into the rope once, then trim about half the fibers out of the end and tuck again. do this until you hit the point of no return and then clip the rest off. All of this can be followed up with the trip through the fire as noted above.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Very clever! I think I have some natural rope in the shop and look forward to giving this a try in about... oh... now.