Imagine you are on an airplane flying over the Pacific Ocean, when all of a sudden your plane starts to do a nose dive right into the ocean, and you black out. When you wake up you are laying on a beach. You need to build a shelter but you don’t have any rope to tie the sticks together. While this scenario may be one you’ll never encounter, knowing how to make rope may be a nice skill to have.

The knowledge of making rope has been around for thousands of years. Once people got past vines and other natural materials for binding objects, they discovered that fibers could be combined and twisted into great lengths by taking advantage of the tendency of materials to remember their natural condition.

As states:

The materials from which rope is made are found in distant lands around the world.  However, cotton, of which the United States produces 60% of the world supply, is used extensively in the manufacture of cords and lines. Cotton is perhaps the most flexible of the commercial materials and is sufficiently strong for the smaller cordage. Common hemp is superior, possessing the combination of strength, flexibility, and durability.

The principal rope materials are: common hemp, Manila hemp, sisal hemp, Phormium hemp, Sunn hemp, Jubbulpore hemp, jute, coir, flax, agave fiber, and cotton, all of which are vegetable.

Custom among sailors has decreed that the term "rope" indicates that the diameter is one inch or more. Other authorities agree that the diameter may be one-half inch or more. However, we hear cords of one-quarter inch diameter called "rope."

A rope is composed of a certain number of strands, the strand itself being made up of a number of single threads of yarn or fiber. A laid rope of three strands is a right hand lay which is the most often encountered form of laid rope. Laid ropes with the opposite twist pattern are said to be left hand laid. The lay of a rope is determined by examining the twist. If you look down the length of a rope and the primary strands spiral in a clockwise direction, it is right hand laid. Thus the twist in each operation is in a different direction from that of the preceding one. The yield of rope from a given length of yarn is about three-fourths of the length of the yarn composing it.

The material from which you make your rope is, for the purpose of learning, of less importance than the method employed. Almost any available fibrous material will serve your purpose. The young, inner bark of most shrubs and trees is very adaptable.

Making professional grade rope without any special tools requires hand dexterity that a few people possess. While the rope you make yourself may not be factory quality stuff, it is good to practice to better understand the principles involved.

By doing a search on the internet on “How To Make Rope” you can find some great sites and information along with videos. You can easily practice making rope at home but if you would like to do some hands on learning, Clint Goodwin will be offering a class on making rope using a variety of materials and tools on March 19, 2011. The location for this will be announced at a later date.

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