As a traveller without money, I need a secure place to sleep. Sometimes a tent is a pain to set up and I am in an area with scorpions...... so as I have been riding on my trip, I started to notice a lot of scrap pieces of rope. And with a knowledge of rope, I thought... why knot. Lets take a look at how to make a hammock for free!
Step 1: Beginning With the Ends
To begin we need to find a way to secure your hammock to a few trees that have a good distance. Keep in mind you are making a hammock for yourself and possibly others, take this into consideration when choosing your space. I used some scrap wire, and some cow bones from Ribeyes to anchor mine while building. Later while sleeping on the hammock one of the bones broke so I switched to the Hammock Straps shown in the instructable here .
First we want to pick two of the best pieces of rope you have. Choose pieces about three feet (one meter) long. We will be tying two bowline knots in each of these ropes. One small and one with a very large loop. The small loop will connect to the tree and the large loop will connect to the long ropes (cords) of your hammock.
Tying a bowline:
1. Twist a loop into the rope a little more than twice the length of the loop you want to tie in the end.
2. Wrap the loose end of the rope around and tuck it under then through the loop
3. Wrap the loose end of the rope around the back of the body of the rope
4. Tuck the end of the rope through the loop again
5. Pull really hard and the knot will tighten up
About the bowline: Bowline knots are really secure. They are easy to untie, but will not come undone or slip if you do not want them to. It´s a great way to put a fixed loop in a piece of rope or string and is useful anywhere loops are needed.
Photos 2-5 are the bowline tying process, photo 6 is the desired end result.
Step 2: Anchors Away!
Now we want to secure these pieces of rope to whatever anchoring device you may have. I strongly suggest a heavy duty carabiner for the task. After you connect the ends lean back on them with all of your weight and be ready to fall. if the rope snaps, the piece wasn´t good enough. Once the ends you constructed in step one are secure, we can start building the cords (long ropes).
Since this hammock is being built from scrap ropes, I neither A. Have a spool of rope, or B. a piece of rope as long as my body. That being said, we want to select the longest and strongest pieces of the bunch for our cords. Once we have a decent selection of longer pieces of rope, on one end we want to attach the piece of rope to one of the end pieces (photo 1) using another bowline. The easiest way to do this is to loop the rope and then pass the free end of the rope through the large loop of your end piece (photo 3). Complete the bowline and pull tight. If your rope looks like the one in photo 5, you are well on your way to a new hammock and liberation from the ground.
Step 3: The Long Ones
Cords as we will call the long ropes (just because the word rope is in this instructable numerous times)! We will be tying an Ordinary Knot to join two lengths of rope at the ends.
Tying an Ordinary Knot:
1. Take the loose end of the cord you have started and start to tie a simple knot in the end (photo 2). This simple knot is probably one of the first you ever learned.
2. Once the knot will hold it's shape pick up another long piece of rope and begin feeding it through the knot that you have just made in the end of the cord.
3. Follow the cord with the free end of the rope, making sure it stays on the same side of the cord the whole way through (i.e. if you start with the cord on the bottom and the rope on the top, then the rope should be on top of the cord in every part of the knot) until you have a knot of the same size and shape started in the opposite direction (photos 3-5).
4. Now work the knot through pulling tight and making sure that you don't leave too much of either end sticking out. when you are done you should have a tight Ordinary Knot as in photo 6.
Once you have enough cord to make it to the other end piece, finish it off with another Bowline knot to connect the cord to the end piece (as in step 2) , and you now have your first long piece (cord).
Repeat this process as many times as you wish for your hammock, but keep in mind, with an odd number of ropes you will have a single rope holding you up across your spine, and with an even number you will be well supported by two ropes. For me, 4 was too few, 5 left a rope riding my back, and 6 was just fine. Once you have all of your cords, it is very important to sit on them. Make sure the hammock is connected very well to the trees, and slowly rest your weight on the cords. If they snap or break the rope was not strong enough or you did not tie the knots tight enough. Fix the damage. With the strength of a few good cords you should have no problem.
About the ordinary knot: The ordinary knot is a way to tie two ropes together so that they hang in a straight line ( not kinked) and will NOT pull apart if you apply pressure. Really durable and a great way to make a bunch of tiny ropes into long ropes.
Step 4: Connect the Cords
Now we are going to tie our cross sections. For the cross ropes we are going to be tying a series of hitches. We want to start on the outermost cord. We are going to tie a half hitch with a running noose on the outermost rope, the most secure hitch you could easily attach to this rope. For speed I skipped the durable half hitch with running noose shown in photo 1 (and further explained in step 5) for a faster messier yet stable approach. It´s your hammock, but I recommend only using the half hitch with running noose shown in step 5 when tying the end of a rope to a cord.
If you want you can start with a knot on the end of your rope, since my strand of rope had a large sturdily attached metal banding I didn´t even tie the knot in the end. (photo 2).
Tying a half hitch:
1. Lay the end of the rope over the cord.
2. Now pass the free end under the cord and over the first part of the rope (photo 4).
3. Now pass the free end under the cord and through the loop you have created.
4. Pull tight. With a knotted end this should hold extremely well.
Once the half hitch on the outside rope is completed we will tie the next cord in with a clove hitch. Clove hitches are extremely simple and hold tight but can easily be loosened for adjustments. Since we are making a hammock, the spacing in between the cords will need to be nearly the same on each section so an easily adjusted yet secure knot is very important.
Tying a clove hitch:
1. Throw the loose end of your rope over the next cord.
2. Loop the rope under the cord and then over the rope (photos 8 and 9).
3. Wrap the free end of the rope over the cord again and then through the loop you have created (photo 10).
4. Pull this tight making sure the rope does not bind too much, and you have secured the next cord with a clove hitch.
Continue this process until you reach the end of the rope and move on to the next step.
About Hitches: Hitches are not really knots as much as clever ways to use rope to strain against itself and the object you are tying it to. This makes them easy to untie since simply releasing the pressure will loosen them enough to work with. They are more than secure for our purposes.
Step 5: Wrapping It Up.
Now that we have reached the end of our rope (and hopefully the other side of the hammock without changing pieces of rope) we will want to complete the piece by tying a half hitch with a running noose. Tie the half hitch the using the same instructions in step 4,
Tying the running noose:
1. Wrap the loose end of the rope around the connecting piece of rope making a loop around the connecting rope (photo 7).
2. Now tuck the loose end through this loop and pull tight (Photo 8) thus completing the running noose!
You have started the webbing!!!! If a piece of rope is not long enough to make it across all of the cords, don't worry, just tie it off at the nearest cord and then start the next rope on the same cord. Just be sure that you space these breaks out. For example if you have a rope that breaks on the fourth out of 6 cords and on the next run ( a run being a rope that crosses all the cords from one side to the other) you find the same to be true, do NOT end the ropes on the same cord, start from the other side or from a different cord. Alternating where the ropes end from run to run will give you a strong build.
Have fun and keep bobbing and weaving!
Step 6: You Built It, You Deserve a Nap
Congratulations!! Enjoy your new hammock!!! If you are out in the wild like I am, you can also alternately use this as a net if need be. Be sure to dry it before you sleep on it. Mine has served me well on many nights, under the stars and in the wind. I found a lot of suspension cable from coax cable lines, and use that to hang a tarp over my hammock. It sheds water, keeps me high and dry, and bugfree, and blocks wind fairly well.
Ciao for now. Make this upcycled hammock hug a tree and catch your catnap. You've earned it!!!!
Runner Up in the
Summer Camping Challenge