In Equipment

December 27, 2009

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Lincoln Brigham spends about 15 bucks at the hardware store and braids his way to a 15-foot climbing rope.

Climbing a rope is a tremendously functional way to challenge the grip and pulling muscles, and ropes have long been a staple of CrossFit and military training programs.

Despite the obvious benefits of thick rope work, many CrossFit gyms do not have climbing ropes. In some gyms that do, I’ve heard complaints about the cost and reliability of the equipment. In many CrossFit affiliates, the owners have spliced their own ropes with mixed results. The main complaint with splicing the rope is that, besides the risk of an amateurish splice coming undone, the rope becomes increasingly thick at the top for an inconsistent and sometimes untenable gripping surface.

This article offers a cost-effective do-it-yourself (DIY) solution for making your own climbing rope—and we’ll avoid splicing altogether. The key to this project is taking readily available, inexpensive rope and braiding it into a thicker rope suitable for climbing. We’ll take four long strands of rope and use what is called an “eight-strand square braid.” The neat trick is that by doubling up the four strands, you create a loop at the top that can be used to secure the rope—no splice needed.

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27 Comments on “The Do-It-Yourself Climbing Rope”

1

wrote …

Interesting article, looks like a good low $ solution. It seems that it's a fairly time intensive process. Roughly how long are we talking about for a 15ft rope?

Thanks,
Lukas

2

wrote …

I'm going to Lowes today. I've got 2 or 3 guys to help me so hopefully a 15 foot rope won't take to long to make. Low cost alternatives like these are great! Keep up the good work.

3

wrote …

Hey-

I look forward to meeting Lincoln. He always has the best ideas.

-K

4

wrote …

Great method ive been looking to get a decent rope for ages thanks!

5

wrote …

That is fantastic. I had no idea. I love DIY. Thanks a ton.

6

wrote …

Lincoln-

200' x 3/8" = 3hours grip work

2 BudLites, cool rope.

-K

7

wrote …

Very cool; thanks for posting!

8

Richard Meurk wrote …

9

wrote …

I made a rope about 19 feet last night and it took about two hours with the help of my kids. It was easier than I thought it was going to be. I didn't get the forearm work out that was promised but I did seem to work up a sweat. I love home made equipment because I live in northern Alberta Canada and shipping kills on any equipment. My son is pretty excited because he is tired of the tow rope that we have been hanging from the pull up bar. I will test it out today.

10

wrote …

Does anyone understand if the internal rope is installed (the blue and white one shown in the article) is it looped through the ring? Or, is it just internal to the braiding?

Thanks!

11

wrote …

I went home last night and made what ended up being about an 18 foot rope out of the (2) 100ft rope lengths. Thanks for providing information on how to do this.


I was not able to braid the rope in the manner described. Obviously I'm challenged because others managed it. Instead I treated pairs of rope strands as single strands and then instead of trying to manage 8 strands I only had to deal with 4.


I used a similar technique where I wrapped the outer two strands from my left hand under the center 4 strands and then back out to the outside. I repeated with the right hand. I basically ended up using the inner 4 strands of rope as a core and braided the outer 4 strands around that.


I also added a 1/2 inch piece of manila rope in the center to fatten it a bit. It turned out great and I can't wait to mount it tonight so I can start climbing.


Thanks again.

12

wrote …

As soon as I read this, I went to Lowe's and the exact materials shown here were available. Took about 5 hours and two starbucks drinks to finish with a friend.

Forearm workout was there as promised.

Great rope though, works perfect.

As for tying the middle rope to the anchor. I would if I could. Just make sure no one pull on it from the top-end.

The second I showed it to my brother, he pulled on the middle rope from the top and I almost had a heart attack because he was pulling it out of the middle of the rope. Make sure you have enough at the end of the rope so that you can pull it back down with pliers in case someone does happen to pull at the top of it. Hope this helps.

13

wrote …

Made 2 separate ropes from 2 bundles of 100' x 3/8" Poly.

First rope was the standard braid which ended up about 9-10'. Need lots of chalk for poly ropes! Works great!
60 min. 1.25" thick.

Second rope I used a 3/4" core and braided very tight. Made a 7' rope. I would recommend securing the core rope by stitching it to the other ropes at the top, or leaving about a foot of extra rope at the top and bottom. Once the rope is made, stretch it out, then fold and tape the excess too the ends.
30 min. 1.5' thick.

Once you have the hang of it, listen to some fast music, and treat like a WOD.

14

wrote …

Nice idea!!

15

wrote …

Great article. I have a hard time trying to do something by just reading it and got confused by the "over 5, back under 2", then realized "back under" meant reverse the direction.


Luckily my 8 and 10 year old boys were helping straighten the ends so it took maybe 1.5 hours to finish. Total cost for me was about $25 for 2x100' of rope and the anchor, with some cool blue and green patterned ropes.

16

wrote …

Great way to pass the time at the in-laws. I made a rope last night. Thanks for the article!

17

wrote …

If you have any rock or ice climbing friends, ask if they have an old 60-meter rope lying around, most do. Yesterday I used one of my retired 60m climbing ropes, cut it into four pieces and braided it as instructed in the article. The finished product is great.

Some hints:
*I draped the four stands over a flashlight handle to make a bigger loop at the top for hanging. It made a nice loop with even tension on all four lines.
*Try wrapping some string/twine around the top and through the ends of the holes so that the top wouldn't unravel after the flashlight is removed.
*I did this almost entirely by myself. To keep the strands in proper order when straightening the lines, try using one of those quick-grip clamps. Clamp to the inside two lines of the left side. This keeps tension on the braid and everything in place.
*Always pay attention. I found it nearly impossible to fix a mistake.
*I made mine in the basement, suspending the thing from the ceiling. As I progressed, I used a small sling girth-hitched around the rope and hanged from the ceiling to keep the work area at the proper height.

Thanks to the author for a fun project. Mine should be going up in my local gym soon.

18

wrote …

Is there any difference to the feel and climb of the rope whether it has the rope core or not?

19

wrote …

If the rope is braided tightly around the core, the only difference for "core vs. no core" should be in thickness. I prefer the thicker verion myself, but I have big hands and a strong grip.

The first version of this project I did some years ago using sisal. The feel was rough and harsh! But the grip was excellent and did not need chalk.

I suspect some folks are not braiding the rope as tightly as they should. I also think folks will have an easier time braiding tightly around a hard core such as manila as opposed to the softer nylon braid I used.

I did NOT leave any ends of the core hanging out. That should stop pesky relatives from trying to take the rope apart! If the rope is braided tightly the core should stay well in place due to simple friction anyway. I did not make it part of the loop; I buried it within the climbing part.

There's a million ways to skin this cat. I look forward to seeing how folks take different approaches to this project!

20

wrote …

Made 10' rope in 30 minutes (with 16 year old daughter).
Pretty easy except for the ending knot, just used duct tape.

21

wrote …

200' rope, 3.5 hrs later and I have a climbing rope about 18' long.

22

wrote …

I came across this article only after I ordered a manila rope. I was able to braid one of these as I am a complete do it yourselfer and enjoy the idea of creating my own equipment; however, if you don't have the time or inclination, I was able to purchase a 18.5' climbing length rope that was 1.5" Manila rope with a loop and whip on the tail end delivered for $52.00. The folks at Knots and Rope (www.knotandrope.com) were extremely helpful, friendly and eager to please. Now I have two ropes and will look into an indoor and outdoor climbing locations!

23

wrote …

Great idea 20 bucks and I have a rope. Did it a little different, started with a 4 strand braid in the middle. Started with 2 100ft ropes. Cut them to 50ft. Marked center of each and measured 6 inches from each mark. This is where I started the 4 strand braid. Looped finished braid around 2inch pipe and started the 8 strand braid. Ended up with a great finished loop to pass the rope through or caribiner.

24

wrote …

Robert, I assume you did the inner 4-strand braid using a "two over, one under" pattern. More work, but a clever idea.

25

wrote …

Can anyone tell me what the equivelent for a 15 ft rope climb to towel pullups would be?

26

wrote …

Can anyone estimate the weight of the ropes? Thinking of using for battling ropes?

27

wrote …

Just made a rope, solo, while watching the game. As everyone else said, great instructions made for straightforward work. My variation was one strand of 3/4" manila in the middle, and I whipped both the bottom (obvious reasons) and the top, to hold the braid at the top.

My finished product is 1 5/8" thick, but unfortunately much shorter than I anticipated- about 10' long from two packages of 100' poly rope cut into four 50' strands- the same spools pictured in the articles. When I looked closely at the pictures, my weave looks a little denser- and obviously my finished product is thicker because of the center rope. It doesn't feel loose, so hopefully I wove it tight enough- time and use will tell.

Bottom line, great project, and if you put a rope in the middle you may need more than a 3:1 ratio to ensure you don't run out of rope to weave.

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