Rope Making

The art of rope making dates back to the days before the Egyptians. Although it has changed greatly throughout the years, the basic principles have remained the same. The four major stages of advancement in rope making technology are the original hand-twisting and braiding of fibers; the use of simple mechanical advantage tools; the use of compound mechanical tool; and the use of power machinery.

In the past, rope was commonly made of natural fibers such as cotton, sisal, coir, jute, hemp and flax. Today, however, rope is generally made of oil-based synthetic fibers such as nylon and polypropylene. Ropes made of natural fibers usually last longer than ropes made of man-made fibers in the heat and sun; however, man-made ropes ordinarily last longer in wet conditions.

The rope-walk was the process of rope making using a twisting machine with several revolving hooks and one fixed hook. The rope fibers were hooked between the two ends of the machine, which were then turned by hand or mechanically to bind the fibers together. Using the rope-walk process, ropes could be made up to approximately 300 meters in length. Ropes were made of all different lengths and thicknesses to best suit their purpose.

Today we use an antique rope machine from circa 1900 to twist a rope for each elementary group to take back to their classroom after their field trip.