Our ancestors started using fibrous materials for cordage a really long time ago, and I often wonder if they would be jealous of the variety of materials that we have at our disposal today for improvised string, rope, and other fiber needs. Lucky for us, we still have all the heritage materials that our predecessors used, and we have a wonderful assortment of high-tech materials which can be twisted into cord as well. Here’s how you can turn a variety of materials into useful cordage under any circumstances.
One of the many things that duct tape can do is to turn into cordage. Twist it from a flat ribbon into a rounded strand. Many other types of tape can be twisted into cord as well.
Even crappy strips of old cloth can increase in strength when you twist them. These can even be twisted together into a two-ply rope for more than twice the strength.
Tree bark with good tensile strength and flexibility can come from many different species of tree. In the east, I favor basswood and mulberry for their great strength. I’ll also use tulip poplar for light-duty chores, as it’s plentiful and somewhat strong.
This is “rope” that ties muscle to bone, and it’s incredibly strong. Dried strips of tendon can be pounded with a rock to separate the fibrous sinew. This is spliced and twisted into very strong cord, but be careful. It will fall apart if it becomes soaked with water.
A strip of leather makes a great piece of cord, and you don’t even need a long piece of leather to cut it from. Take small chunks and random scraps of leather and cut them in a spiral pattern. Keep your remnant the same width and continue your spiral cut until you have the length of leather strip that you need.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve used for cordage before? Please tell us your findings by leaving a comment.