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You are here: Home > Wilderness Survival Articles > Primitive Cordage From Natural Material
How To Make Cordage From Natural Materials
I find natural cordage to be one of the most satisfying things to make when practicing survival skills. It is simple to construct and is one of the most important implements you can have in a survival situation. Its uses range from lashing shelter poles to making trap parts, fishing line, basketry, bowstrings, and so much more. Furthermore, it is a great way to spend an evening around the campfire because you can be productive and relax at the same time. After several minutes or hours of rolling cordage you may reach a calm mental space that is rarely found amidst the hustle of everyday life.
 

Raw Materials
For the sake of this article, we are using the Yucca plant for our cordage. Yucca is easily identifiable by its long spiky green leaves that grow outward in an orb-like fashion. It is most commonly found in the desert southwest, although some species thrive in climates further to the north. The technique you see here is applicable to cordage made from any type of material.

Harvesting
The wonderful thing about using the Yucca plant for cordage is that no part of the process requires a knife. To collect the leaves, simply reach into the base of the plant and tear them off... a small stone flake will make the process a bit easier. Be sure not to collect more than four or five leaves to begin with.

Separating the Leaves
For the next step we need to divide each leaf into smaller strands about an eighth of an inch wide. This is easily accomplished by piercing your thumbnail through the leaf and then splitting it along its long straight fibers.

The Reverse-Wrap Process
For the best description of the reverse wrap process, see the video at the top of this page. Basically you will twist the fibers in a manner that creates tension and causes those fibers to hold themselves in place. In this picture you can see the different stages from raw material to finished cordage.

The Finished Product
Here you can see a close up of how the fibers lay together as well as a completed ball of cordage. This technique takes some patience to master, but like any other skill, the reward is in the process of learning. Just like the bowdrill fire, do not stop after learning the basics... you must constantly push yourself to the next level by experimenting with different plants, barks, rootlets, etc. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me!
 

  Best always,
Paul Scheiter

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