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Rope

Rope has been one of the handiest tools known to mankind. Traditionally, rope was made from tough, stringy plant fibers, but today most ropes are made from synthetic products that are far stronger. The number of rope choices, however, has made selecting the right one for the job somewhat confusing. Use our guide to help you pick the right one.

Construction

Rope is made three different ways:

  • Braided rope is made by braiding the fibers together to create a strong, kink resistant rope that is slow to unravel. Braided rope is either hollow or solid. Hollow braid strands can be spliced together; solid braid cannot. Braided rope is not good for holding knots.
  • Three strand rope is made by twisting the fibers in one direction into strands, then twisting them around each other in the opposite direction. This method produces a rope that resists abrasion, holds knots well, and is easy to splice. It is likely to kink, untwist, and stretch and the ends will also unravel.
  • Composite ropes are made by weaving a hollow braid around a separate core of fibers. The core can be braided, twisted or laid out straight. The outer layer of these ropes protects the core from damage due to sun and abrasion. Composite ropes are extremely strong, and they can be spliced. However, it can be difficult to detect weaknesses in the covered core.

Material


Ropes are made from both natural and synthetic fibers. These fibers will determine the rope’s strength, durability, flexibility, and how much it will stretch.

  • Sisal is a natural fiber that is inexpensive, resists sun rot, and holds knots well. Its limited strength makes it good for light duty use.
  • Hemp is also a natural fiber that is heavy and stiff. It is strong and does not stretch, but it can shrink and mildew. Hemp is good for all round heavy use.
  • Polypropylene rope is inexpensive. It is lightweight, does not stretch, and can float. It will sun rot, and too much friction can cause it to deteriorate. It is often used for recreational marine activities such as water skiing.
  • Nylon is strong and shock absorbent. It is not good for making knots and loses strength when it gets wet. It will stretch under a constant load.
  • Polyester is strong and resists stretching, sun rot, and abrasion. It does not absorb shocks well. It is particularly good for tying down loads.

There are also a variety of specialty fibers that are lightweight, strong, and do not stretch, but they usually cost more and can sun rot and abrade. They are a good choice for highly specific jobs such as climbing and salt water boating.

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