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DIY Cordage | How to Make Your Own Rope

by Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Cordage, Lashing, twine, string… you never know how far a little bit of rope could get you until you need it most. This article will show you the steps you need to take in order to make your own.

Many times you’ve heard me say, “Knowledge is worth more than gear,” when I talk about the great outdoors.  Today I’d like to pass on a little knowledge on how to make your own cordage, which is very important if you’re in the woods and you don’t have any.

There are different methods of making cordage and different materials you can make it out of.  I’ll cover one method of making it and one or two different plants that make decent cordage.

diy cordage

First, where do we get the raw materials?  As you may or may not know there are no grocery stores where you can buy rope in the middle of the woods; however, there are several plants you can use.

A quick and dirty way to get cordage is to find a spruce or fir tree and dig into the ground underneath.  There you’ll find long ropy roots that make pretty good cordage.  You can take and split the roots thus giving yourself extra cordage for tying various things that need tying.  Birch bark canoes made by Indians used this type of cordage for tying gunwales and other birch bark items.

Another source for good strong cordage is milk weed.  Harvest the plant and let it dry for a bit.  Break up the stalk and pull long pieces off it and set them aside.

One of the best sources here in Maine for strong cordage is Dogsbane.  Harvested in much the same way as milkweed it makes a very strong cordage.

Another source is the inside bark from various trees such as a Maple tree or a Cedar.


Today I’m using leaves from nature’s shopping mall – the cattail.  The cattail has many uses in a survival situation and if you see a stand of them you have found food as well as other natural supplies.


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