The Easy Way to Make Rope

With the simple rope-making machine, you can quickly twist twine into a sturdy rope.

| November/December 1976

  • rope lead
    The rope machine in action on a ranch in Oregon.
  • rope2
    PHOTO 1: Side view of the Incredible Rope-Making Machine shows how the "throw" of each crank fits between two boards of machine. PHOTO 2: Here's how you "thread 'er up" before cranking out a rope. Distance between machine and Y-shaped holder can be as great as you want to make it (more than 100 feet, if you desire). PHOTO 3: Another view of rope-maker from the other side and the Y-holder
  • rope4
    PHOTO 4: The first rope was made of old bale twines square knotted together. The strings in second rope were braided together. Third rope was made of new binder twine and fourth rope is two strands of the third rope twisted together.
  • twine rope
    The finished rope-making machine.
  • rope3
    Assembly of the rope-making machine.

  • rope lead
  • rope2
  • rope4
  • twine rope
  • rope3

Click on Image Gallery for referenced figures and sketches.

Travis Brock, who recently joined the MOTHER EARTH NEWS research and editorial staff, certainly knows what to do with the mountains of baler twine that constantly pile up on farms and ranches from sea to shining sea.

"Turn that string into rope," says Travis. "It's easy to do—darn near automatic, in fact—once you've spent about an hour putting together the very simple, yet extremely effective, rope-making machine I saw working on a ranch near The Dalles, Oregon."

The Incredible Rope-Making Machine's Basic Principle

The secret of the Incredible Rope-Making Machine is nothing but a few hooks (we like three, but you can use as many or as few as you like) that can be turned at the same time, at the same speed and all in the same direction. This isn't nearly as difficult to accomplish as it might sound.

Scrounge up some 1/8-inch steel rod and cut off three pieces, each eight inches long. (NOTE: The specifications given in this article are for the three-hook machine shown in the accompanying black and white photos. You can change them—within reason—to match whatever materials you have on hand, however, without affecting the output of your rope-maker one bit.)  

Form the rods into three identical "Z's" that look like old-timey automobile cranks (see sketch). The dimensions shown in the image gallery are somewhat arbitrary. It really doesn't matter a great deal whether the central "throw" of the three cranks is 1-3/4" or 2-1/4". Nor does it matter if you eventually set those cranks into your machine's boards in the triangle pattern we used, in a straight line or in some completely random pattern.

12/9/2007 11:17:52 AM

Good instructions on old time scouting where making your own rope and caring for it is better than going out and buying another(disposible society).

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