Introduction: Rope/Cord Maker
I needed a specific diameter cotton Rope/Cord so I built a Rope/Cord maker. More about this later. See step 11
Here are a few photos of what I came up with and some samples of Rope/Cord.
- Look at all the photos very closely there is a lot of information in them that is probably not in the text.
- Eye bolt length, I am referring to the thread length.
- Bolt length, I am referring to the over all length of the bolt.
- Check out the knots in photos above (try them out before you begin tension assemble). Half hitch is in second to last photo and bowline is in the last photo.
- I used 1/4 flat washers on the 5/16 bolt, carriage bolts and eye bolt. They fit better.
- Some of the bolts, eye bolts and hooks may have to be cut to length as require. Watch for note to make a cut.
- When drilling holes in the wood it is best to use a drill press. If you don't have a drill press, wobble the holes all around. this allows the bolts to be tightened square to the wood.
- Jamb nuts are used to allow a bolt or hook to spin free but not come loose. I some times use a nylock nut in combination with a standard nut. Be sure to check photos. Most of the time two standard nuts will work fine.
If you have any questions let me know and I will try to answer them and up date the instructions.
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Step 1: Tools, Hardware and Wood Pieces
You will need a hand full of tools that are already cluttering your work space, If it is like mine.
- Battery drill/Screw driver
- Driver Bit to match screw head. Phillips, star, etc. which ever type you use.
- 5/16 drill bit
- 3/4 forstner drill bit
- 1/4 drill bit
- Tape measure
- Small square
- Ratchet with 1/2 in. (13 mm) socket
- Crescent wrench
- Markers, pencil and sharpie
- Small ratchet with 3/32 allen bit or 3/32 allen wrench
- Screwdrivers, strait and phillips
- An awl
- 1/2 in. (13 mm) box/open end wrench
- 1/2 in. (13 mm) open/ratchet end wrench
- Couple of clamps
- Hack saw (not in photo)
Add tools that you fell would work best and that I might have not mension.
All hardware is off the shelf from a hardware store, Home Depot or Amazon.
Square tubing is 1 in. X 1 in. with 3/8 holes 1 in. on center.
Chain #25H Heavy Duty Chain 3 FT with 1 Connecting Link
Sprockets 25BS14-5/16" Bore 14 Tooth Sprocket for #25 Roller Chain
Full Links Koch 7535040 Roller Chain Connector Link, 4-Pack
1/2 Link Koch 7635040 Roller Chain Offset Link, 4-Pack
As Shown in 3rd Photo Above
- 2-5/16 4 in. bolts with 2-washers and 1-nut
- 1-5/16 4 in. bolt with 4-washers and 3-nuts
- 3-5/16 eye bolt with washer, nut, and T-nut
- 1-5/16 eye bolt with 2-washers and 2-nuts
- 4-5/16 carriage bolts 2-washers and 2-nuts
- 2-5/16 hook bolts with 3-washers, 2-nylock nuts and 1-jamb nut
- 1-5/16 hook bolts with 2-washers, 2-nylock nuts and 2-jamb nuts
- 1-5/16 hook bolt with 3-washers, 2-nylock nuts, 2-jamb nuts and 1- coupler
- 2-1/4 screw eyes
- 8-2 in. screws
- 2-1 1/4 in. screws
- 27-link chain (including connector link)
- 1/4 in. 'L" 4 in. X 4 in.
- 1-9 in. square tube (cut length and grind edges to remove burrs)
- 1-11 in. square tube (cut length and grind edges to remove burrs)
- 1-13 in. square tube (cut length and grind edges to remove burrs)
- 1-12 in. 1/2 in. EMT (thin wall conduit) or 5/8 wood dowel
- 1-3/4 PVC spacers cut to length as required (or block of wood with hole, card board tubing, pex tubing, etc.). I used what I had on hand,
Total of Each Item
- 3- 4 in, 5/16 bolts
- 5- 2 1/2 in. 5/16 eye bolts
- 1-1 in. 5/16 eye bolts
- 4- 3 1/2 in. carriage bolts
- 3- 4 in. 5/16 hook bolts
- 1- 3 in. 5/16 hook bolt
- 1- 2 1/2 in. 5/16 hook bolt
- 1- #2 screw eye
- 7- #208 screw eyes
- 8- 2 in. screws (GRK R4 multi-purpose #9-2 in.) or equivalent.
- 2- 1 /14 in. screws (GRK R4 multi-purpose #8-1 1/4) or equivalent.
- 3- Sprockets 25BS14-5/16" Bore 14 Tooth Sprocket for #25 Roller Chain
- 27 links #25 chain
- 1- 1/4 in. steel rod 8 in. long. Bend 90 degrees at mid point. "L"
- 1- 36 in. 1 in. X 1 in. tubing with 5/16 in. holes 1 in. on center
- 1- 12 in. EMT conduit (or 5/8 wood dowel, any dowel that will fit in the I.D. of 5/16 eye bolt)
- 2- spacers for spool holder cut to length as required.
- 26- stander 5/16 nuts
- 12- nylock 5/16 nuts
- 1- 5/16 coupler
- 36- 1/4 flat washers
- 2- 1/4 fender washers
I think this is a complete list of the hardware you will need to complete this project, but....?
The last photo
- Piece in the back is the rail
- The two pieces on the left are the sides of the Tail Stock
- The two pieces in the middle are the spacers for the Tail Stock
- The two pieces in the front are for the thread/twine spool holder
Step 2: Assembling the Rail
The Rail is made of two pieces of wood. The base piece is a 1 X 6 (.75 " X 5.5 " actual) and the rail is 2 X 6 (1.5" X 5.5" Actual).
Cut the 1 X 6 and 2 X 6 to 51 inches in length.
Drill the 5/16 in. holes in the 2 X 6 as shown in the measured drawing. Chamfer the left end front corner and cut 2 in. X 2 in. off the upper right corner as shown in the first drawing.
Center the 1 X 6 on the bottom of the 2 X 6 and screw together with 2" screws.
- When drilling the hole in the wood it is best to use a drill press. If you don't have drill press, wobble the holes all around. This allows the bolts to be tighten square to the wood.
- This set up will make a 24 in. Rope/Cord. You can make a rail as long as like, 4, 8, 10 feet. With a longer set up you will need an assistant to crank while you control the Strand Group Guide and tension.
Step 3: Assemble the Head Stock
Ordered list of photos
- The layout of the bolt holes. The holes are offset by 1/2 in. so the sprocket layout will work together better.
- Place two 5/16 bolts in upper pair of holes. Upper hole with threads to front and lower with threads to the back.
- Place two 5/16 bolts in lower pair of holes. Upper hole with threads to front and lower with threads to the back.
- Place a 1/4 flat washer (I use 1/4 washers instead of 5/16, they fit better) and a 5/16 nut on each bolt, then tighten.
- Place a 1/4 flat washer on each bolt then place the 11 in. 1 X 1 square tubing on the front side bolts and the 13 in. 1 X 1 square tubing on the back side bolts.
- Place a 1/4 flat washer and 5/16 nut each bolt and hand tighten.
- Cut a spindle hook to 3 in. thread length. This is the drive spindle hook.
- Place the drive spindle hook with two jamb nuts and a washer in the top hole of the front square tube.
- Place a 1/4 flat washer, sprocket, 1/4 flat washer and 5/16 nut. Tighten the nut until the hook turns but does not wobble.
- Add a 5/16 coupler and use as jamb nut with the first nut. Make sure the drive spindle hook still turns freely.
- Cut a 5/16 eye bolt to 1 in. thread length.
- Add the 5/16 eye bolt with a jamb nut and jamb the coupler in place.
- Hang the 27 link (including the connector link) chain on the sprocket.
- Place a spindle hook with two jamb nuts and a washer in the 4th hole of the back square tube.
- Place a 1/4 flat washer, sprocket, 1/4 flat washer and 5/16 nut. Tighten the nut until the hook turns but does not wobble.
- Add a jamb nut and tighten. Make sure the spindle hook still turns freely.
- Hang the chain over the sprocket.
- Place a spindle hook with two jamb nuts and a 1/4 washer in the top hole of the back square tube.
- Place 1/4 washer on the threads. Place the sprocket in the chain and lift to align with the spindle. Slowly pull the spindle out until you can slide the sprocket on. Once on place a flat washer and nut on spindle thread.
- Tighten the nut until the hook turns but does not wobble. Add a jamb nut and tighten. Make sure the spindle hook still turns freely
- Rotate so the spindle hooks point in the same direction. See photo.
- Tighten the set screws on the sprockets with an allen wrench.
- Tighten the four nuts holding the tubes in place.
Step 4: Assemble the Tail Stock
The Tail Stock a is hook spindle that hold all the strand in one group at one end of the Rope/Cord.
- Cut the wood pieces and drill the 5/16 holes as shown in the measured drawings. Note the blocks have notched on there ends.
- Place a 5/16 bolt with a 1/4 flat washer in the top center hole of one of the side pieces.
- Add a 1/4 washer and nut and tighten.
- Place 6 in. 1 X 1 square tube on bolt (no washer). Add nut only and tighten util snug. Tube should move.
- Place a 1/4 flat washer on bolt. Place the other side piece on bolt. Add a 1/4 washer and nut and hand tighten.
- Place assembly on Rail and with two bolts and 1/4 washers align assembly with the two holes in the Rail. If holes do not align wobble the holes until they do.
- Place 1/4 washer and nut on bolt. Hand tighten.
- Place blocks as shown in photo. The one with the longer notch toward the tail end of the Rail and on the tail side of the square tube. The block with the single notch on the Head Stock side of the square tube.
- Align the blocks with the square tube by laying the tube flat on the small notches. Clamp in place and screw in place from both sides.
- Now tighten the thee nuts on far side.
- It may be necessary to adjust one of the nuts on either side of square tube, so the square tube will rotate freely. Tighten or loosen as required so the tube moves freely but does not wobble.
- Cut a 5/16 hook to 2 1/2 in. thread length. This is the Tail Stock spindle hook.
- Place the 5/16 Tail Stock spindle hook with two jamb nuts and 1/4 flat washer in top hole of Tail Stock square tube.
- Add a 1/4 washer and two jamb nut. Tighten until the hook spins but does not wobble. Jamb nuts so hook will not come loose.
- Place 5/16 eye bolt with nut and washer in second hole add nut and tighten. Make sure the eye lays side to side. See photo.
- Lay square tube on back block. Place 1/4 in. "L" rod in 4th hole and mark each side of rod on both side pieces.
- Thread a 1/4 in. #208 screw eyes in both marked space. Adjust eyes to align "L" rod with holes in square tube.
Step 5: Assembling the Tensioner
- Pre-drill hole perpendicular to notch at end of rail with 1/4 in. drill bit. Screw #2 screw eye into hole to top of threads.
- Cut 60 in. piece of rope/cord and tie to eye with 2-1/2 hitches on back side of tail spindle.
- Lock Tail Spindle in back position with 1/4 in "L" rod.
- Place 5/16 hook bolt with 1/4 flat washer and nut in hole just behind the Head Stock. Add 5/16 nut and 1/4 flat washer.
- Place 5-1/4 in. #208 screw eyes, centered at the front edge of the Tail Stock assembly.
- Hook 24 in. bungee in far left eye. Loop around hook near Head Stock. Loop rope/cord around bungee hook and pull to put tension on Tail Stock. Tie off with 2-1/2 hitches or make a loop using a bowline knot.
Step 6: Assemble the Spool Holder
Assemble the Spool Holder
- Drill 5/16 holes in 5.5 in. X 12 in. as shown in measured drawing.
- Place "T" nuts in two holes that are parallel to the long edge from below and seat them with a hammer.
- Place jamb nuts on two eye bolt and 1/4 flat washer.
- Thread eye bolts into "T" nuts until flush with bottom of "T" nuts. Set eyes perpendicular to long edge and tighten with jamb nus
- Place spool base on Tail Stock end of Rail and use as a guide to drill 5/16 in. hole in Rail Base.
- Place "T" nut in hole from below and seat in place with hammer.
- Place Spool base on Rail base.
- Place a jamb nut and 1/4 flat washer on 5/16 eye bolt.
- With Spool base in place thread eye bolt into "T" nut until flush with bottom of "T" nut.
- Place 12 in. piece of EMT conduit with strand spool on in the two eyes.
Step 7: Make the Strand Group Guide and Assemble the Crank
The Strand Group Guide
Cut out the guide from a 12 in. X 3/4 piece of wood.
- Drill 3-3/8 hole 3/4 in. from the center of the notches and wobble the holes parallel to the notches.
- Cut out the notches and sand to remove any burrs.
- Reduse the handle to 1 in. and sand to remove any burrs.
Assemble the Crank
- Cut a 3 in. piece of a 1 1/8 in, dowel.
- Drill a 3/4 in. X 1 1/2 hole in center of dowel.
- Drill a 5/16 in. hole through the remainder of the dowel.
- Wobble the 5/16 in. so it will turn freely.
- Place a nylock nut backwards on a 5/16 eye bolt to the end of the threads. Add 1/4 flat washer.
- Place dowel, 5/16 in. hole first.
- Place 1/4 in. flat washer in 3/4 in. hole. Add 5/16 nylock nut tighten so handle will turn freely.
- Place nut on 5/16 hook and add fender washer.
- Place handle eye on hook.
- Place a fender washer on eye thread.
- Center the eye and tighten. Make sure the is perpendicular to the handle, as shown in photo.
You can make a reverse twist Rope/Cord (counter clock wise twist) by reversing the hook on the handle and cranking counter clock wise.
Step 8: Load the Spindles Hooks
This is a pretty straight forward step. I used 10 strand per hook of 10 lb. crochet yarn for this example. Maintain a consistent tension on the strand through out the loading.
- Lock the Tail Stock hook in back (left) position with the 1/4 in. "L" rod.
- Tie the first strand to the Tail Stock hook with a couple of half hitches.
- Have a piece of tape on hand in case you need to interrupt the loading. You can hold the current strand in place with the tape.
- Begin stringing by looping the first group of strands around the lower back Head Stock hook and the Tail Stock hook. Make 5 loops for 10 strands.
- Loop 2nd group of strands around the top back Head Stock hook and the Tail Stock hook. Make 5 loops for 10 strands.
- Loop 3rd group of strand around the front Head Stock hook and the Tail Stock hook. Make 5 loops for 10 strands.
- Tie off the last strand to the Tail Stock hook with a couple of half hitches.
- Make sure the tension bungee if hooked in the far left eye.
- Remove 1/4 in. "L" rod.
Step 9: Twist the Rope/Cord
Deep breath, you are ready to make Rope/Cord.
- Hook crank handle to the eye in the drive spindle and crank clock wise a dozen time.
- Check strand groups to see if they are twisting evenly.
- Insert the Strand Group Guide. Now as you turn the crank hold slight even pressure with the Strand Group Guide against the Rope/Cord as it twist together.
- Continue cranking clock wise and pause every once and a while to check the process.
- The twist may loosen on the Tail Stock end. You can rotate the Tail Stock hook clock wise by hand to tighten the twist on that end. The twist will even out when you tie off each end after you are finished.
- Continue to crank and check until Strand Group Guide is near the Head Stock. Don't over crank, the strands can break.
- Remove the Strand Group Guide
Step 10: Tie Off and Remove the Rope/Cord
Tie off the ends of the Rope/Cord
- Use at least a 10# strand thread.
- Tie off end of Rope/Cord near the Tail Stock hook. Start with a couple of 1/2 hitches.
- Wrap Rope/Cord toward the center 6 or 8 times.
- End with a couple of 1/2 hitches.
- Tie off end of Rope/Cord near the Head Stock end and where the strand group come together.
Remove the Rope/Cord
- Release the tension on the Tail Stock.
- Slowly slide the strand groups from the Head Stock.
- Remove the Rope/Cord from the Tail Stock.
I used 10 strands of 10# crotchet thread per spindle which made an 1/8 in. Rope/Cord.
Step 11: My Rope/Cord Project
I recently acquired a 1887 Wheeler Wilson W9 hand cranked sewing machine in an arched wood case. The original handle was made with cotton thread and was very deteriorated. The brass grommets in the case are approximately 3/8 in. and the cord had a leather sleeve to hold the end of the Rope/Cord together. The sleeve also provided reinforcement for screws and tacks to attach the handle on the inside of the case.
The original handle had 183 strand of cotton thread. I was able to make a finished Rope/Cord with leather sleeves exactly the same outer diameter as the original with 162 strand (54 per spindle group) of a hemp thread. The handle looks and fells like the original.
Wheeler Wilson stared making sewing machines in the mid 1850's. They eventually designed the rotating bobbin system that is used in all modern sewing machines. In the late 1800's Wheeler Wilson was the largest producer of sewing machines and was considered the best sewing machine available. In 1905 Singer bought Wheeler Wilson out and continued to sell a Singer version of the W9 for a few years. When the stock of existing Wheeler Wilson part ran out Singer dropped the line.
I also have a complete Wheeler Wilson W9 treadle machine, a Wheeler Wilson W9 treadle head only and a Singer version of the W9 treadle head only. They all sew great after 120 years of service.
With this simple Rope/Cord maker I can make museum quality Rope/Cord if I can get the original thread or strand material.
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