Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How to make rope

This is a machine that can be used to make rope for models and a larger version can be used to make full scale rope.  It is called a "rope walk" and works on the principle that if you take three strands and wind them up individually in one direction, they will then release their tension by winding around each other in the opposite direction and the two forces will cancel each other out and the result is stable rope.  This is what the machine that I use looks like.  Turning the crank on the machine on the left causes all three strands to be spun at the same time.
Here is the machine in action.  The three strands are attached to the machines and are spun by the machine on the right.  A wooden egg with three grooves cut in it serves a the bobbin and holds the strand apart as they spun.  Once the proper amount of tension is built up, the machine on the left is turned in the opposite direction and the result is shown below..

Here you can see the finished rope used in a model.  It looks very realistic in scale and can be made to whatever diameter is needed.  By putting multiple "ropes" on the machine, larger hawsers and cables can be made for anchors and such.


  1. I have been trying to make one of these out of lego to show Cub Scouts how to make rope. You explanation is very helpful. I was trying to counter-rotate three bobbins whilst twisting them in the opposite direction, but it was not working. your method is clearly the way to do it.

    1. I once made a rope walk out of Legos and it worked well. As you can see in the photos, the gears are Lego parts.