Rope Making for Bondage Use/Printable version

Rope Making for Bondage Use

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irregular rope
jute rope, decorated with thin rayon yarns in two differed green-tones

Well, given the necessary expertise, tools and material, you can make the rope you want! And that is, besides it being cheap, actually the best reason why you would want to make rope!

Traditionally Shibari practitioners prefer three strand twisted rope made from jute or hemp, that is 6 mm thick and 7 - 8 meters long. For special purposes, like tying toes, there is need for thinner (4mm) and shorter (2m) rope, and you might find other natural fibers interesting, like silk, linen and bamboo.

Making a Sample Rope


If you aren't sure about the properties of the rope you are about to produce, it is a very good idea to make a sample, like half a meter. You can look at it, measure the diameter, do some stress test with it, and also test your future conditioning methods. Making a sample is recommended for all kind of doubts, like how many yarns to take, which way around, and how much to twist.


Natural fibers


Natural fibers such hemp and jute are preferred for three reasons: softness (in comparison to a coarser fiber like manilla); tooth or the ability to hold a knot; lack of stretch under tension (in contrast to cotton) and less risk of rope burn (superficial and very nasty injury emerged by heat development if the rope is moved quickly over the skin). Jute has the additional benefit of being light.

Hemp, jute, linen


Flexible, rough texture, high friction, low stretch, moderate durability, good strength.

Very popular with rope enthusiasts, these fibers have great grip and are very easy to tie with. Hemp is widely available and has a unique scent. Jute is smoother and lighter than hemp, and compresses more easily. Linen (flax) is the softest of this group.



Flexible, soft texture, moderate friction, moderate stretch, low durability, low to moderate strength.

Often marketed as clothesline, cotton rope can be found priced as low as 50' for $1, though higher quality cottons are stronger, more durable, and less stretchy. Its price, availability, and ease of tying make it great for beginners. Cotton is usually not recommended for suspension, with the exception of higher quality cotton with a rated breaking strength of at least 400 lbs or so.

Silk, bamboo


Flexible, soft texture, moderate friction, low stretch, moderate durability, good strength.

These luxury ropes combine all the best characteristics of natural and synthetic fibers, but are considerably more expensive. Silk has good grip and is somewhat similar to cotton, while bamboo has less grip but also natural anti-bacterial properties and a shine like nylon.

Manila, sisal, coir


Stiff, harsh texture, moderate friction, low stretch, moderate durability, moderate strength.

Seldom recommended for bondage since they're stiff and splinter easily, but they're very inexpensive and sometimes enjoyed by those looking for a very sadomasochistic experience from their rope. Higher quality coir (coconut) is the most usable of this group since it’s more flexible, but it’s also more stretchy and is not considered strong enough for suspension.

Reinforced Rope


To get a rope that has the texture of a natural fiber, but is stronger, you might attempt mixing materials. Tested as working well so far is jute with rayon, nylon seems to stretch too much to be mixed with jute, topics of present research are jute-spectra and jute-dacron.



before and after twisting individual strands
twisting one strand of jute yarns and one rayon yarn, using an electric drill
one strand in a hand drill, two strands untwisted on the floor
using a hand drill to twist a strand of jute yarns
joining strands on the hook of the drill and twisting them together to a rope

Essentially twisting works like this: you twist your strands in one direction, put them together, and twist the whole rope into the other direction. Make knots at the ends - you have a rope.

There are two fundamentally different approaches to producing twisted rope: you can either use a method that at the same time twists the strands in one direction, puts them together, and you get out rope (this is how machines make rope), or you can twist all your whole strands into one direction, using for instance a hand drill or an electric drill, put them together, and twist them all together the other way around.

Twisting individual strands first


If you want to twist the whole strands first, you do the following:

  • Measure your yarns and put them on n (= number of future strands, probably 3) hooks on both sides. Your rope will be significantly shorter than the initial yarns. At some point your strands will break if you twist them too much, but until then it is up to your taste how much and which way around you want to have your rope twisted. The best way to find out is by making a short sample. If you really have no clue, test 80%.
  • All strands should be the same thickness, which means have the same number of yarns.
  • Both of your hooks-boards should be parallel.
  • It is a good thing if your hooks are arranged "evenly on a circle", in case of 3 hooks as an equilateral.
  • The yarns should really be the same length, which means when stretched they have the same tension.
  • Check your yarns whether there is still some "wood" in it and remove the wood. You might even find knots, then back to point one!
  • (Clean the floor.)
  • Put the end of one strand into the hook of your hand drill or electric drill and the others on the floor, in a way that you won't step on them.
  • Info: if you twist your strands, they will shrink.
  • Move your hooks-device (board) to where you want to drill your strands. It has to be fixed to something heavy (rather an armchair than a kitchen chair).
  • Both of your hooks-boards should be parallel.
  • Drill the first strand until you are at your hooks-board. Keep the strand under tension the whole time. Put it carefully from your drill to the hook-board.
  • Note: a twisted strand always has to stay under tension.
  • Put the second strand into the hook of your drill and do the same like with the first strand.
  • Put the third strand into the hook of your drill and drill it until you are on the same height as your hook-board.
  • All twisted strands should be the same length, which also means: be the same much twisted.
  • Bring strand number two and one back to the hook of your drill.
  • Drill it a few turns backwards.
  • Lay the drill down (or hang it over your armchair) and check your rope. Did it magically arrange itself in a triangular manner? If yes, congratulations. If no, go back a bit and make it evenly triangular!
  • Twist the rope "backwards". It will first stretch and then shrink again. Shrink it until about 10 cm before your hook-board.
  • Take your rope off the hook of your drill and make an overhand-knot to keep it from untwisting.
  • Stretch the rope by pulling hard. It will get like half a meter longer.
  • Take the rope off at the other side and finish it with an overhand-knot too!
  • Congratulations, you made a rope!

There are other ways to twist rope, please add them if you find them useful!


Stopper Knots

1. Overhand knot on twisted rope, 2. Overhand knot on untwisted rope, 3. Thistle knot, 4. Matthew-Walker-knot, 5. Two wall knots (f.l.t.r.) on 6mm jute rope
stopper knots for the end of bondage ropes, and thistle knot tutorial

At each end of the rope, you should tie a stopper knot. This not only prevents the rope from getting untwisted but also helps to make shibari style rope extensions. Knots typically used for this purpose are Overhand knot, Thistle knot, Matthew Walker knot and stacked Wall knots.

An Overhand knot is thicker and easier to open than the others, which also means that it can get undone unintentionally while tying. A good compromise is doing an Overhand knot on untwisted rope. That version is less likely to get undone unintentionally but you can still open it in case you want to repair the rope.

It is also possible to finish the rope with something non-stopping, but then you can't make shibari-style rope extensions with it.



singeing jute rope
rope, before and after singeing

This is about conditioning rope made out of natural fibers. Don't singe nylon ropes! ;)

Conditioning is done to give the rope properties like a particular softness and look, and more durability.



Directly after you made your rope, and also after washing, it is a good idea to stretch the rope. Adjust one end somewhere and pull at the other end as hard as you can! If you are stretching your rope after washing or dying, it is required stretching it for a couple of days. This is also referred to as "drying under load".

The purpose of that is to even out the forces in the rope, and the rope will stretch anyway, better it does not stretch too much when you have tied someone in it. If rope gets wet, especially hemp rope, it shrinks.



After you have twisted and stretched your rope, a good plausible next step would be singeing. That means holding it over a flame for a short moment to burn the little fibers that are sticking out.

The purpose of it is getting the rope "faster" because after singeing the rope is smoother and sticks less at itself and other things, like the clothing of your model. Furthermore it gets a nice shiny look without the little fibers looking out.

It is a very good idea to clean the soot away with a microfiber cloth afterwards.

polishing jute rope



Polishing rope is rubbing it at itself. To do it you fix a carabiner (or something else with a smooth surface) for instance at your balcony (outdoor is better), pull one end of your rope through and wrap it a few times around itself. Take the end of the rope in one hand and a rope piece about 40 cm away from the wrap-around-itself in the other. Pull alternately with your right and left hand. It will snow little rope pieces. Then you go a bit further on your rope and do the rub-at-itself with the whole rope.

Polishing rope means aging it artificially. If you would do 10 sessions with it, you would have the same effect (but more sweat). It makes the rope softer and prevents you from looking like you had a beige cat after your first ten rope sessions with you new rope.

To be added: boiling and waxing/oiling


You can also contribute to the wiki-book "Rope Making for Bondage Use" by asking questions! There is no guarantee that they will ever be answered, but someone might feel inspired about your topic. For instance:

Question: Can I make rope with other than three strands? Answer: Yes, you can, just do it!

  • How to make a stress test?
  • A picture of a Japanese rope
  • How to wash and sanitize any type of ropes?



You can also contribute to the wiki-book "Rope Making for Bondage Use" by asking questions! There is no guarantee that they will ever be answered, but someone might feel inspired about your topic. For instance:

Question: Can I make rope with other than three strands? Answer: Yes, you can, just do it!

  • How to make a stress test?
  • A picture of a Japanese rope
  • How to wash and sanitize any type of ropes?