Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 3, Issue 4
March 2009
What Is It?

What Is It?

The use of rope has been recorded for over 20,000 years. The early use of vines and roots led to a more sophisticated weaving or braiding of other natural materials. Today's construction includes man-made fibers or metals that are used in manufacturing a cylindrical line of specified lengths. The unique aspect of rope is that it can be used only in tension, due to the flexibility of the fibers. Its tensile strength is dependent on both the type of material and its style of manufacture. Rope has a limited useful working life so constant monitoring of size and condition is important. In the case of a natural fiber rope, five years is considered its working life, after which it should be cut up into short non-usable pieces and discarded. Improper storage and exposure to moisture can cause rope to fail prematurely.

What Is It?

Rope is and has been made from natural materials such as hemp, sisal, cotton, grass or any other fibrous material that can be twisted or braided together. There is now a strong trend towards the use of synthetic materials such as nylon, polypropylene, Kevlar® and others. Lengths of material are twisted together into yarns, the yarns are re-twisted into larger lines called strands, and the strands are twisted together into a rope. Because twisted rope can unwind, strands can also be braided or plaited together for greater durability. Wire rope or cable is made in much the same manner from metal wires. Wire cables sometimes have synthetic or natural fiber cores to give them greater flexibility.

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