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Post Your Cordage Photos (Natural Cordage, Lashings, Improvised Cordage etc..)

Discussion in 'Other Skills' started by NWPrimate, Aug 16, 2016.

  1. melbolt65

    melbolt65 Guide Bushclass I

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    Fine strand corn husk cordage. I used a different method than my last corn husk cord and it payed off bigtime. One of the strongest natural cords I've ever made.

    to avoid double posting, you can view the write up here:

    https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/posts/3483601/
     
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  2. NWPrimate

    NWPrimate Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    After having a good experience using cedar withies, I've been curious what other branches I might be able to use for coarse cordage. These willows can take a lot of flex before breaking so they seemed like as good an option as any to try.

    [​IMG]

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    These don't split as nicely as the cedar branches so I was hoping that I could braid them together whole and get away with it. The tips braided beautiful but didn't inspire confidence in their strength, and the bottoms lacked flexibility, but the center section seemed like it could work.

    I got a bit lazy with this stuff and I should have used only those ideal center sections and spliced them in as needed, but instead I just braided from the skinny end down and didn't end up with much length in the goldilocks zone.

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]
     
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  3. NWPrimate

    NWPrimate Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I've mentioned a couple of times that months of dry weather seem to have made it tougher to pull bark from tree trunks, which has had me looking elsewhere for cordage lately. For example, in the spring, big leaf maple bark will pull right away from the tree, but when I tried recently it wasn't worth the effort and I had to gather thinner bark from suckers.

    I hadn't tried cottonwood bark in a long time and was curious if it would be an option this time of year. The bark didn't peel as easily as it does in the spring, but still came off and separated without too much trouble.

    [​IMG]

    We did get a lot of rain in the morning so that could have been a factor if the tree had recently pulled a lot of moisture up in to the bark. I got some really nice strips from a couple of trees and started pulling them apart.

    [​IMG]

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    I have the best results with bark by drying it first and then re-wetting it for flexibility. With everything soaked, grey skies, and occasional drizzle, the conditions were not great for this but I hung my strips up in the breeze for a while in hopes of driving off some of the sliminess.

    [​IMG]

    The pieces were still noticeably wet when I came back to them, so I soaked them in the river for a bit before braiding it up.

    [​IMG]

    I don't know if it is because of the lack of drying or the species, but this bark didn't want to twist into the braid as easily as I'm used to with maple. If I took it too far, the strips started tearing at the edges, so I gave each strand a slight twist just shy of that point before folding it over.

    The end result still felt strong and smooth enough for bow drill purposes.

    [​IMG]

    It worked great despite still being a bit slimy. It's nice to know that this resource is still viable this late in the year. Heads up to @plantedtao for another available option for late summer or early fall.

     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2017
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  4. NWPrimate

    NWPrimate Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I've been poking around trying to see what else I can make cordage out of. I noticed that the stalks of these first year burdock plants seemed pretty tough, so I tried them first.

    [​IMG]

    The cordage came out OK, but I was able to break it pretty easily with my hands so I decided that it probably wouldn't stand up to bow drill abuse. It might have been strong enough as 4-ply but I didn't have enough stems to double it over and still have enough length.

    [​IMG]

    I switched over to some semi-rotten big leaf maple bark.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    It peeled into nice thin strips pretty easily, but the individual strands didn't have much strength to them and were brittle unless I re-wet them every few minutes.

    [​IMG]

    I ended up with about six feet of braided cordage.

    [​IMG]

    The first part of this three minute video is of making the cordage...



    The set was a tricky one, so I broke the cordage twice, but eventually ended up with an ember. Here's the after shot.

    [​IMG]

    I think I'll be sticking to fresh bark in the future.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
  5. plantedtao

    plantedtao Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    My daughter and I headed to the neighborhood city park looking for stinging nettle. No dice... I was certain that I would find some. I really wanted to try to make some cordage, so on the way out grabbed some weeping willow branches.
    Worked great, but next time I need to grab more... and be more careful when trimming the weaved in portions. It went from 2' to 1' in a blink of an eye. :)

    Photo Sep 10, 3 22 20 PM.jpg
     
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  6. NWPrimate

    NWPrimate Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Nice work improvising with the willow @plantedtao ! The nettles around here are turning brownish purple and dropping their leaves already so they're getting harder to spot, but they'll still give good fibers if you can find them. I'll take some photos of dead nettles for you tomorrow so you know what to look for.
     
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  7. NWPrimate

    NWPrimate Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Some dying nettle shots for @plantedtao ...

    The patch I was in today wasn't really too far gone, but I hope this is helpful. From a distance, it is pretty easy to recognize the long bare stalks.

    [​IMG]

    You can also keep an eye out for these little dried flower clusters on the tops...

    [​IMG]


    And the ribs every foot or so along the stalk.

    [​IMG]

    I'll take some more as they get further along and start turning purple.
     
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  8. NWPrimate

    NWPrimate Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Cedar bark is traditionally harvested in the late spring and early summer when the sap is flowing and it makes it easier to remove from the tree. I was curious if it would still be a practical option this late in the year.

    It was definitely much tougher to get off of the tree and separate from the outer bark.

    [​IMG]

    It still didn't take long to get a handful of usable material, especially when compared to processing fibers from plants like nettles or fireweed.

    [​IMG]

    I braided it up into some cordage for bow drill and it passed the test with ease.

    [​IMG]

     
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  9. NWPrimate

    NWPrimate Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I made up a short length of cordage from the bark of some maple suckers today to use as thumb straps for a hand drill. I ended up ditching the strap, but the cordage seemed sound and I'll probably try it for bow drill in the next couple of days.

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. NWPrimate

    NWPrimate Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    More fun with trailing blackberry today.

    [​IMG]

    I lined up six strands in pairs, with one thick end and one thin end in each.

    [​IMG]

    Tying a knot in the top serves to hold everything in place and doubles as a split stick bow drill attachment.

    [​IMG]

    I like to start the braid holding it in my hands, but once it gets longer it is a lot more manageable if I tie it off to something.

    [​IMG]

    The finished product looked pretty but had a hidden weakness.

    [​IMG]

    A little way into braiding it, I got the idea to twist the two strands together thinking that it might make them grip even better. It only took a few laps before I realized I was actually weakening it. I could feel some of the fibers cracking so I immediately switched back to basic fold-overs.

    Unfortunately, the chain is only as strong as the weakest link, and the cordage failed at the spot that I had twisted when I tried bow drilling with it. Luckily, there was enough of it below the failure that I could break it off and use the tail end to get the ember.

     
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  11. Ullr-North

    Ullr-North Tracker

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    First natural cordage attempt. Stinging nettle. Only had time at lunch to strip and twist 2 stalks with one splice. Fun to do. I'll keep at it.

    IMG_1877.JPG IMG_1880.JPG

    IMG_1881.JPG IMG_1885.JPG
     
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  12. NWPrimate

    NWPrimate Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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  13. rsnurkle

    rsnurkle Supporter Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    Finally started working on a three-strand braided line of cattail with an eye spliced in.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The initial section passed the 5# strength test, but also supports the saying "when you think you have enough material, triple it." Hopefully my favorite cattail patch hasn't passed into fall mode just yet, otherwise it might be while before I finish 10' of this stuff.
     
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  14. NWPrimate

    NWPrimate Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    The thicker blackberry vines that I like using have gone brittle on me, so I tried braiding some thinner ones that were still flexible. They made great cordage and held up to quite a bit of abuse, but eventually snapped (repeatedly) under the strain of an especially difficult bow drill set.

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. bacpacjac

    bacpacjac Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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  16. NWPrimate

    NWPrimate Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I braided up some thick grass stalks for bow drill cordage today.

    [​IMG]

    It came out pretty nice and was strong enough that I couldn't break it with my hands.

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately, I paired it up with a very troublesome bow drill combination and wore it out through abrasion just trying to get the spindle moving, and broke it twice within a minute or two.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017
  17. NWPrimate

    NWPrimate Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I'm finding that bark is getting harder and harder to strip by hand. I had to resort to using a knife to peel it from these little maple saplings.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    In order to get long strips, I had to take a little bit of wood with the bark, but it wasn't much trouble separating the two once it was off the tree.

    [​IMG]

    It braided nicely and made strong cordage, but just like the grass from the other day, I paired it up with a difficult bow drill set that was too much for it.

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. NWPrimate

    NWPrimate Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Most of the stinging nettles are rotting away in the rain. When they are black like this, the fibers are incredibly easy to break.

    [​IMG]


    I did manage to find some in good condition though.

    [​IMG]


    Even some of the good ones were full of these little orange grubs.

    [​IMG]

    The sun was peeking out while I was harvesting them, but I knew the rain would be back and I wouldn't be able to dry them so I braided them in their raw state.

    [​IMG]


    The cordage came out a lot thicker than it would have if I dried them, but it was still strong and worked great for bow drill. I have a feeling that nettles aren't going to be a great option for much longer this year.

    [​IMG]

     

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