Sunday, December 28, 2014

Rope Skills: Whipping Rope, Braided and Twisted Cordage

Rope Skills: Whipping Rope, Braided and Twisted Cordage

I have been getting several question concerning rope work and knots and decided to start working on a series this winter concerning this very subject. I will cover basic bushcraft knots you need for setting up shelters along with basic technical rescue knots and mechanical advantage systems used for rescue, boating, mountaineering, caving, etc.  
So before you take any advice from me on this matter what is my background? I have been involved in emergency response/technical rescue for over fifteen years and hold hundreds of state (WV, MD, VA) and national Certifications (see above a portion of my PROBOARD national certifications which contains Rope Rescue Technician). I'm an emergency response instructor for various agencies within the state of WV as well as three which operate nationally. I started the first swiftwater rescue team in Monongalia County and while Fire Chief of Triune-Halleck Fire Department was able to acquire the equipment essential to effect nearly any type of technical rescue.

Twisted Cordage: 

Why would I need to twist Cordage? The main purpose for twisting or braiding cordage is creating cordage in the field from the inner bark of a tree or for making a relatively weak piece of cord stronger. I use a good bit of cheap dollar store twine ($1.00 for 500') for demonstrations for the blog because it is white and shows up better in outdoor pictures and is so much cheaper to use at the volume I go through cordage. So what does that have to do with the price of a Chevy in China? That type of cord is generally too weak for heavy duty tasks such as shelter building and to continue to use this cordage for those heavier tasks I usually twist it when possible to avoid failure. So what are some materials you can use to make twisted cordage? Any inferior cord, the inner bark of a tree, long leaves (palm) and even some grasses. To make the cordage simply tie a knot in one end and continue to twist one side over the other once you reach the end of the rope see the instructions below on whipping rope.

Braided Cordage:

While braided cordage is strong I honestly prefer twisted cordage and in my personal testing have found twisted cordage to hold more weight. So why would I use braided cordage? Flat materials (gorilla tape above or palm) naturally braid easier than they twist so I will always use this method when using flat cordage. I also prefer to use this method when making a ridge-line for a shelter as I can simply braid in a eyelet instead of having a weaker hipped eyelet. So how does one braid material? 
Essentially you have three strands of material and begin my moving the far left over top the center and then the far right over center and continue with that process all the way down. So how do you braid a eyelet into a piece of cordage? The bushclass on Bushcraft USA has this skill as part of the basic class certification that I completed a few months ago.
Simple process (I'm not crafty at all), simply make a loop leaving a little over a foot and begin braiding as shown in the video above. This makes an extremely strong and efficient eyelet for use with a ridge-line. 

 Whipping Rope:

This method can be used for making an eyelet in cordage (above) or for making an improvised handle (below).
So how do you whip rope? It's quite a simple process to accomplish and is a great way to add cordage to any tool you may decide to carry in your kit.
1) Make a loop with one end with 1" beyond the end of the section you want whipped and the other section extending as far as you may need to wrap around your whipped section.
 2) Begin to wrap the longer portion of the rope around all sections of the rope that is laying on the material to be whipped. Try to keep this as tight as possible as it makes for a much better finished product.
3) Feed the longer cord through your loop.
4) Pull tension on both ends of the whipping rope and you have one whipped rope!


So why do I need to own these skills as a bushcrafter, woodman, prepper, outdoorsman, etc.? Making cordage is essential to long-term survival and without these skills making any kind of cordage would be next to impossible. While you may not put these skills to use on a regular basis when you need them it is not something that you want to have to look up a tutorial on as you more than likely will need the cordage in a rapid manner.

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