This website is devoted to making common laid (twist) rope with hand operated rope machines. The process is essentially the same for making three, four, or six strand rope.
|The Practical Ropemaker (Book)|
|Book List - Coming|
Title: Making Rope with a Hand Operated Rope Machine, Second Edition, by Greg Davis, now 107 pages in 8.5 by 5.5 inch format, 59 figures, 5 tables. Softbound. More on ordering lower down the page.
This is Second Edition! Thirty five percent more pages than the first edition. This book explains the process for making common lay three or four strand twist rope with a hand operated rope machine. Different style rope machines are described, along with the rope tool, and traveler hook needed to make a working set up for making a rope. Separate chapters are now devoted to the rope tool, and traveler options. Other chapters focus on design considerations for the rope and how to form it. New material has been added to the chapter detailing how to lay up the yarn (string, twine, etc.) to form the strands of the rope. The lay up process has been extended to detail how to incorporate a ring or link into the end of the rope during the lay up process.
This book identifies the rest of the parts needed in conjunction with the rope machine for making rope. Many parts you already may have. It all depends on the rope length and diameter you are interested in making. Scale your operation up or down as desired. Whether using thread to make scale cordage for model boats, or heavy yarns to make inch thick rope, this book describes the process to make the rope.
Before the early 1800's, all rope was made per the methods shown in this book. Rope making gave way to machinery as the Industrial Revolution developed. The farmers in the American Midwest used these machines to make replacement rope for their barn's hay hoist. The farmer and his family could use a rope machine to convert available binder twine and make a new 140 foot, or longer, inch diameter rope in less time than one might ride horseback to town to acquire a replacement rope.
A reproduction of the Martin Meyer (patent of 1924) four strand hook rope machine. This machine is non-geared, The strand hook and attached arms are cast in aluminum versus the original steel. The arms are set about three inches apart in the hardwood (Ash/Maple/hickory/oak/etc) frame. Two wooden rope wrenches are supplied with the machine. This machine can be used for making three or four strand rope.
This unit is non-geared, so one turn of the handle is one turn of the strand hooks. So the turning becomes more controlled, and the yarns (string, twine, etc) forming the strands are less like to jump around as with the Bucklin (patented 1901) geared rope machine. (Price also less than half that of a good quality Bucklin).
All rope machines of the early 1900s vintage need to be attached to a table, sawhorse, or column for operation. For this reproduction Meyer machine, I use a specific purpose sawhorse that I put ballast on a shelf in the bottom section. Suggestions are included with the kit instructions about attaching the machine to a base. When working on slick floors, the sawhorse may need 60+ pounds of ballast when making ropes 3/4th inch or larger in diameter, to keep the sawhorse from being drug across the floor while making rope, else set the sawhorse on a rubber mat. Working on driveways or yards, the ballast requirement drops significantly, because of the increased surface friction.
The machine can be adapted to different mounting options such as mounting to a fence rail. This has been a particular concern for museum groups. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your requirements.
The M2K Rope machine kit is composed of the rope machine, two cross shaped rope tools, and the pulley traveler kit. Shipping weight is about six pounds. See Parts Ordering Page for ordering information.
Rope tools or wrenches are the lesser known partner to the rope machines. The tools are necessary to make decent rope with the rope machine. This tool can be very simple, like a forked stick for three strand rope, or two pieces of wood attached together into a cross (shown in above photo) for making four strand rope. There must be one strand guideway for each strand of the rope being made. Each strand guideway must be smooth to allow the twisted strand to slide past. I recommend having at least two rope tools available for each rope machine.
Rope tools can be made of almost any firm material. Many if the antique rope tools make in the American Midwest were cast iron. Broken cast iron tools are often found at auction. I prefer hardwood, such as Ash, White Oak, Hickory, Mesquite, etc, for making rope tools. Wooden tools are much lighter (even for hardwoods) than the metallic counterparts. The hand grip must be large enough to fit comfortably within your hand. The wooden tools in picture to right are ones I use regularly. The 3 strand tools are made from plywood. The cross is made of Fir. The metal tools happen to be smaller. The left one was cut from 3/8" steel with a plasma cutter. The one on the right is an antique with broken strand guide.
Click HERE for a .pdf file that details making a round headed rope tool, called the lollipop. It starts with a round piece of wood for the head, with slots cut in for the number of necessary strand guideways. A handle is then attached to the head. The handle can then be attached in a radial manner, or angled out to the side, per user desire. Another version incorporates the handle into the piece of material between two of the strand guideways. Make several tools once set up to make one. Spare tools are good to have available when making rope.
Fancy crafted rope tools don't necessarily work any better than plain tools. It's all in the eye of the user.
Cones and tops are are essentially thicker rope tools that aren't always hand held. Some even self travel down the rope. Email email@example.com to for further discussion on the matter. These aren't for the novice rope maker.
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This site developed and maintained by Greg Davis. ©Copyright 2009.