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How to Make Natural Cordage

How to Make Natural Cordage

We previously touched on some of our favorite types of mass-produced cordage HERE. While cordage is easy to carry, you might find yourself in a spot where you need it, and it isn't available. When that's the case, making cordage from natural materials is a great skill to have in your mental toolbox.

Hemp dogbane | Integrated Crop Management

There are a whole host of plants that are good options, but one of our favorites, dogsbane (Apocynum cannabinum), is often found in old farmlands, abandoned lots, and along roadsides. The fibers are relatively easy to process and harvest, and they make exceptionally strong cordage.

When harvesting the dogsbane look for taller plants with stems with no or minimal branches. Cut the stalks an inch or two above the ground, and unless you're trying to use every single fiber, you cut them again just below the first major branch. Next, smash and/or flatten the stems. Separate them into halves or quarters and peel the outer bark away from the inner fibers.

Once you have a decent supply of fibers, start your reverse two-strand twist with the amount of fibers needed to achieve the desired diameter for your cordage. Your initial twist is started by twisting this starter piece of fiber in opposite directions until it kinks twist together.

Then, bring the two twisted sections together, allowing them to wrap around each other in the opposite direction. For example, each bundle is twisted towards you and then twisted together away from you. This creates a cohesive, twisted cord. As you add more pieces to lengthen your cordage, strive to make them the same size and try to avoid adding two terminating sections at the same spot. Also, keep the tension consistent as you twist the two halves together.

Once you've reached the desired length, you can simply terminate it with an overhand knot. Then, if you want to add more at another point, it's easy to restart the reverse twist again.

While this cordage isn't as strong as a synthetic cordage of similar diameter, it is surprisingly capable, and you can twist up whatever diameter you need.

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