Rope is something everyone uses and as off roaders we use it more than most, while towing and recovery are obvious uses we have less obvious uses such as guy lines for tents, tying and lashing things to vehicles, or even tying a damaged vehicle together to get to help.
So what is rope? anything under 1/8th" (3mm) is called string, anything over 1/8th" (3mm) to 3/16th" (5mm) is called twine, so anything over 3/16th" to 6" (150mm) is called rope; anything over 6" is called cable, yet they are all made in exactly the same way.
All ropes begin as threads or yarns, these are the fine individual threads which can be of any diameter and of any number, these are wound together to make a strand, once strands are made the strands are wound together to make our rope or cable; strands can be of any size and the number of strands wound together to make any rope or cable can be of an infinite number, size, and of almost any material. If you have already made a rope you can also use the ropes as strands to make larger diameter ropes with a greater loading capacity.
Rope can be made from almost any material and sisal was the original mass production rope material for commercial production as it was cheap, easily manufactured into rope, and had a very high strength to weight ratio; but modern plastics have taken over from sisal as it is now cheaply manufactured and more durable; and can come from a number of varieties or types of plastics to give specific characteristics. Modern materials include Polypropylene, Nylon, Polyesters, Polyethylene, Aramids, and acrylics or mixtures of these materials called co-polymers, each has different characteristics such as flexibility, elasticity, or even durability under specific or general conditions.
Most ropes construction consists of winding them together and the type of material and number of winds or turns and winding tension dictates the strength of the rope strand, if they were all left flat and you had one shorter thread it would carry a disproportional amount of the weight and be prone to failure; and winding rope helps keep it together and stop it splaying apart. Strands can also be braided in single or double braids or even plaited for a flat rope as opposed to a round rope, and flat ropes still have a considerable market in certain industries.
Most modern ropes are the three strand type irrespective of their material type as this is the most cost effective type of rope to mass produce due to its lack of labour and cheaply available manufacturing equipment and being the easiest to splice to form things such as eyes in the ends, it can be made as massive drums hundreds of miles long called continual production and simply cut when a drum is filled and the cut end set onto a new drum without stopping production.
So how do I make my own rope? quite simply you make your own "ropewalk" which is basically a machine which is filled with threads and a handle is turned to produce multiple strands from any material in minutes, then the other end is turned to turn all the manufactured strands into a rope; a ropewalk is easily made by any DIYer and as the strands are made they tighten so one end must move.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VCzuj1EQ0Ahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaHQUvG8jzA
Now we have seen a commercial and home made rope making machine we can see just how easy it is to make your own rope, you can use different coloured threads to form a multi-coloured strand for toys such as skipping ropes, or use three different coloured strands to make a tri-coloured rope. Many of the materials are readily available and two of my preferred materials are the 2mm kite string bought on a large drum and as this is nylon it has a decent strength and a reasonable amount of stretch for shock absorbing; or Dacron for tow (recovery) ropes or securing ropes as this has a very high strength and no stretch until very long lengths are used and then its minimal. You could also buy ready made rope and use these as strands for a larger rope if you like, but you can make ropes to any diameter or length you want, you can make bridles to leave on an off road vehicle permanently to attach a recovery rope too, or even decorative ropes for children's toys.
Rope splicing is a lost art; yet its so easy to do as are some basic knots, learning to splice a rope takes only minutes and the skill lasts a lifetime; in the field you can repair a snapped recovery rope or just shorten a longer rope for a specific job, and a correctly spliced rope will last for years as the splice is the strongest bit; it may even save your life one day.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLox_ajDGLo