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I'm not sure this is the place to ask, but our troop has a couple bucket of mish-mosh lenghts of rope. We want to do some more lashing activity and cut some specific lengths of rope for lashing practice so I've been tasked with getting the rope and some putting together some lashing poles.. Any recommendation on what type of rope, what diameter and where to get it.





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Sisal is good rope for most lashings. Check your hardware store or farm-supply and see if they'll give a bulk discount for scouts.


Diameter really depends on the size of the spars and what you're building. The poineering merit badge book will have suggestions. If your boys really want to learn rope making, you start with a thinner diameter and build up.


The best poles are ones the boys have to harvest themselves. Rough cut timber holds pretty well. Ask your scout families if anybody has cleared some brush. You might even call state game lands and national forests. In well maintained forests, the trees are often harvested, leaving plenty of downed tops.


The holy grail would be a weekend (or two) campout on some land that was recently harvested for timber and the owner needs the tree-tops cleared, someone with block and tackle to help move limbs.and willing to part with their rope in the end is a real plus, and a safe place with for a really big fire to burn the scraps.

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I was going to suggest to stay away from sisal or jute twine.

while cheap and sufficient for the task, I find it difficult to work with, impossible to untie, nearly impossible to coil, and just plain frustrating.  Not the kind of thing you want to put a young scout through, who is trying to learn a new knot.


But that being said, I think it a great idea to have a pretty good variety of different types of line, and sizes too.... so that the scouts can try out and learn the differences.


Personally, I don't like working with twisted lines, manila, or poly.....

and I prefer a smooth braided nylon for practicing most knots

550 cord (and similar) makes nice practice cordage in my opinion

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I did spend a bit of time looking at this, and sadly a bit of money, before finding I'd got the "wrong" stuff. Well, I was so close, we had some 3-4" diameter spars, far too smooth. 12mm hemp rope was a bit too thick and stiff for that diameter wood. The length you cut the rope also depends on generally what size wood you'll be using. The answer is then, it depends.


Sorry for mixing metric and imperial. Hope that's not too scary.


What I did enjoy, and some of my explorers enjoyed, was learning the sailmaker's whipping, and whipping all the ends properly. One of those oddly satisfying skills.


If you get into it, I'm told the John Thurman books are the very thing. Here's one...



I found a really good resource on the irish scouts webpage too. That was a while ago though.

Hmm, this looks like links to it, http://www.pioneeringprojects.org/resources/

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Just my 2 cents:


For 3-4" I'd likely use 1/4 to 3/8" rope. I've bought spools of rope online. It's much cheaper than going to the local store. Before you buy a spool get 100' and try it out.


I prefer natural fiber rope as it holds better. The biggest challenge with the scouts is getting them to tie the lashings tight enough to, say, hold up a tower they want to climb on. I tell the scouts they have to pull on the rope until it creaks, for nearly every wrap and frap. With natural fiber there's enough friction that after every pull it will tend to stay in place. The plastic ropes are much slicker and tend to start loosening up as soon as you let off the tension.


The down side to natural fiber is that it is harder on the hands when doing all that pulling (use gloves) and whipping the ends takes a bunch of time. I learned the hard way that there is good whipping twine and everything else, get waxed whipping twine.

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Manilla over Sisal for anything you really care about.  I don't have it in front of me, but I believe the pioneering Merit Badge pamphlet has a list for what would constitute a good standing Pioneering kit including number, size, and lengths of both rope and poles.

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To determine the length of rope needed for a lashing, add the diameters (in inches) of the two spars at the point the lashing is being made. If one spar is 2-1/2 inches in diameter and the other is 3-1/2 inches in diameter, the total equals 6 inches. Multiply by 3 feet to get the length of the rope needed for lashing.




In most cases, 1/4-inch diameter manila rope should take care of lashing two spars together as long as the combined diameter of both spars is 6″ or less. When the combined diameter is over 6 inches, use 3/8-inch diameter rope.


Frapping removes the slack from a lashing.  Wrapping simply needs to be neat, not tight.

Edited by TAHAWK
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