First try at natural cordage

Discussion in 'Other Skills' started by bmatt, May 30, 2012.

  1. bmatt

    bmatt Guide

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2008
    Messages:
    1,949
    Likes Received:
    68
    Location:
    US/Finland
    Well, I finally got around to trying my hand at making natural cordage. First, I located a willow shoot.

    [​IMG]

    Then I made a slit through the inner and outer bark, down to the wood.

    [​IMG]

    I carefully peeled off the bark.

    [​IMG]

    Then I separated the inner and outer bark.

    [​IMG]

    This was followed by cutting the inner bark into strips.

    [​IMG]

    The next step was to twist one of these strips over its entire length, until it wanted to kink (forgot to take a picture of this). I allowed it to kink (which became the end of the cord), while continuing to twist the two strands. The way I did this was to roll the strands on my leg with my fingers and palm.

    [​IMG]

    When I was finished making the short piece of cord, I tied off the end. It's not long, but I think it's OK for a first try.

    [​IMG]

    I tested its strength by pulling on it until it broke. It was surprisingly strong. Later on, I made a slightly longer piece.

    [​IMG]

    I was happy to find that making cordage like this is really easy. I don't think it will replace my paracord anytime soon, though. ;)
     
  2. stronghorse

    stronghorse Guide

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    1,025
    Likes Received:
    41
    Location:
    Coastlands of Virginia
    Nice job!
     
    Jim L. likes this.
  3. saintnick001

    saintnick001 Guide

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2010
    Messages:
    1,409
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Riverview, FL
    Well done. I've been practicing this at home for a while with a bag of raffia.
     
    Jim L. likes this.
  4. Pict

    Pict Qualified to attempt things at home Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2008
    Messages:
    3,164
    Likes Received:
    5,259
    Location:
    Grand Rapids MI
    Good on you for starting with this important skill! IMO this is something that everyone not only needs to learn but master. Your cordage looks great. Next is to learn how to splice until you can make as long a cord as you need. Thigh rolling is the way to go. Sometimes it helps to pre-roll the lengths of material on your thigh to get them going in the right direction, it really speeds things up with flat material like bark.
     
    Jim L. and rsnurkle like this.
  5. Longbeard

    Longbeard Continental Drifter Bushclass III

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Messages:
    6,216
    Likes Received:
    3,653
    Location:
    Iowa
    Not bad for your first time.
     
  6. bmatt

    bmatt Guide

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2008
    Messages:
    1,949
    Likes Received:
    68
    Location:
    US/Finland
    Thanks, Mac! Actually, there are splices in both of those lengths of cordage. :)
     
  7. GKiT

    GKiT Supporter Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    3,934
    Likes Received:
    8,206
    Location:
    rural America but not as far out as I would like
    That looks good. I find soaking the strips of willow bark in a tub of water for a few days helps to limber them up for breaking down into smaller strips. The soaked cordage will have less stray "hairs" to remove and it seems to tighten up when it dries. If you take a willow bark cord like you have made and twist it with another one you will not believe how strong of a rope it makes...takes a good while to make though.
     
  8. GeorgeHedgepeth

    GeorgeHedgepeth Tracker

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2012
    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Michigan
    If you shred your material instead of leaving it in wide ribbons, it will actually be stronger. The wider pieces tend to tear from the edge when twisted.
     
  9. roamer1000

    roamer1000 Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Messages:
    520
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Tifton Ga
    good job, now go catch a fish on it.
     
  10. Spider

    Spider Tracker

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    131
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I've heard that willow can be strengthened by boiling in water high in tannins like maybe try Chaga tea water.
     
  11. Thaddius Bickerton

    Thaddius Bickerton Guide

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2011
    Messages:
    1,143
    Likes Received:
    42
    Location:
    Southern Appalachian Foothills
    Looks good for simple cordage.

    Keep working. If you have nothing else to practice with grab some knitting yarn as it is good to work with or you could try to twist / spin some out of cotton balls.

    If you have like dog shed fur or other small fibers a drop spindle can turn this into usable yarn to make a decent cord out of. A simple "drop spindle" can be made using a dowel, a bent straight pin, and a plastic lid off of a jar like a peanut butter jar or a old CD or 3 glued together. Just google fu drop spindle for pics and youtubes on how to make and use them.

    I use twisting cordage and any other cordage tricks I can learn to help my fingers learn to work since my stroke.

    My friend taught me how to twist cordage and I know words are not as good as seeing with someone looking at your work to learn the fancy stuff but I want to try to share some things I do to help make more faster better cords.




    A small step up from just twisting with hands or rolling on your thighs.

    take your fibers and two sticks (about the size of those fat first grade pencils we used to use is about right but what ever suits you would be fine.)

    Cut a couple small splits a couple inches into the ends of them (might want to wrap it with tape or some cord etc. and "pinch the fiber in each one kind of like a cloths pin.

    there are fancier ways where the fibers can be rolled onto the sticks and simple small wire hooks used to hold the fibers. But these sticks can be field improvised and speed thing up to make making a set worth while if you need a long piece of cordage or a lot of shorter ones.

    Now place both sticks together and roll them down your thigh while holding the ends or tie them to something, even your toe works if you don't mind going barefoot to make your cordage.

    As the cordage gets longer I like to make a third stick and wind it up on that and just jab it into the ground to help it give me some extra tension while spinning the twist into the fibers. Also it stores the cord out of the way till I am ready to use it.

    by reversing the twist on made cordage the other direction you can double the thickness but you loose a bit more than half the length.

    Each time you double the cordage you reverse the direction of the twist.

    This will twist them and you can hold the sticks between your knees while you let your fingers let the cord twist up.

    Then just slip the fibers on down in the sticks so more fiber to twist the next segment of your line are ready and roll em again.

    For me it speeds things up once you get used to it.

    ***

    Remember to splice in more fibers do not do both sets at the same point on your cordage.

    Just lay some new fibers next to the ones already started into the cordage and twist them so they hold together.

    As you pass the two sets of fibers into the twist you add a new length.

    Then do this for the other set of fibers at another place in the cordage.

    This makes it stronger than both splices at the same point in the cordage and allows you to make as long a cord as you need or have fibers for.

    ***

    Well I probably just confused things, but IMHO cordage is second after a knife for someone who is making things out in the woods. given just a sharp rock and some cordage you make up you can haft the rock to a stick for a hoko knife, then make a stone axe and keep improving your tools.

    Glad you found joy and success in the effort.

    I often just sit with some old string of any type I have found, or even just strips of cloth from the rag bag and twist up cordage. It helps me learn to use my body again, and there is no such thing as to much string.

    Thad.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012
    OrienM likes this.
  12. LarryB

    LarryB Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    Messages:
    365
    Likes Received:
    1,210
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Wow! Just had to bump this. Too easy! Too cool! I'll be try'n this out real soon. Thanks for showing us this neat skill @bmatt :) lb
     
    rsnurkle likes this.
  13. ugar-6

    ugar-6 Supporter Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2016
    Messages:
    817
    Likes Received:
    4,056
    Location:
    Georgia
    Well done sir!
     
  14. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2013
    Messages:
    1,976
    Likes Received:
    7,630
    Location:
    Gila, NM
    Nice job!
     

Share This Page