This website focuses on making twist rope with hand-operated rope machines. This is how most rope and cordage was made two hundred years ago before machinery was developed during the Industrial Revolution for commercially making rope.
The hand-operated rope machines that appeared in the American Midwest in the late 1800s were in answer to farmers' need to make replacement hoist rope for lifting harvested hay into the upper floors of the barn for storage. When the hoist rope broke, all hay harvesting stopped. The existing hoist rope could be un-made with the hand-operated rope machine, allowing the yarns to be salvaged for re-laying into the replacement rope. This, combined with sisal baler twine that entered the scene about 1880, allowed the farmers and helpers to lay up and make a new hoist rope in less time than a person could be sent to the nearest town by horseback to purchase replacement rope at the general store. This replacement rope would last long enough to get the harvest completed and defer the purchase of a new hoist rope.
The book Making Rope With a Hand Operated Rope Machine presents the knowledge needed to make three or four-strand twist-style rope with these rope machines.
A replica of the non-geared Meyer rope machine is available for sale on this site.
While the rope machine is the center of attention for making rope, there are additional tools and pieces of equipment needed when making rope. These are presented on separate pages.
There are times when additional people are not available to assist you in making rope. Rather than run back and forth between the machine hand crank and the rope tool, use electrically driven rope machines; these are also available on a custom-made basis. This allows the ropemaker to control the drive motor while managing the rope tool. Inquire via the Contact Us page.
Rope making was a guild craft in the Middle Ages for a good reason. There are many factors that influence the quality of the rope being produced. Hands-on training helps put the book information into perspective. Greg Davis does a number of museum-sponsored rope-making classes and demonstrations each year. Use the contact form to reach him to inquire about classes, demonstrations, and locations.