Survival Cordage and Lashings
(Adapted from the U.S. Army Survival Manual)
LASHING AND CORDAGE
Many materials are strong enough for use as lashing and cordage.
A number of natural and man-made materials are available in a
survival situation. For example, you can make a cotton web belt
much more useful by unraveling it. You can then use the string
for other purposes (fishing line, thread for sewing, and lashing).
Natural Cordage Selection
Before making cordage, there are a few simple tests you can
do to determine your materials suitability. First, pull
on a length of the material to test for strength. Next, twist
it between your fingers and roll the fibers together. If it withstands
this handling and does not snap apart, tie an overhand knot with
the fibers and gently tighten. If the knot does not break, the
material is usable. Figure 12-8 shows various methods of making
The best natural material for lashing small objects is sinew.
You can make sinew from the tendons of large game, such as deer.
Remove the tendons from the game and dry them completely. Smash
the dried tendons so that they separate into fibers. Moisten
the fibers and twist them into a continuous strand. If you need
stronger lashing material, you can braid the strands. When you
use sinew for small lashings, you do not need knots as the moistened
sinew is sticky and it hardens when dry.
You can shred and braid plant fibers from the inner bark of
some trees to make cord. You can use the linden, elm, hickory,
white oak, mulberry, chestnut, and red and white cedar trees.
After you make the cord, test it to be sure it is strong enough
for your purpose. You can make these materials stronger by braiding
several strands together.
You can use rawhide for larger lashing jobs. Make rawhide
from the skins of medium or large game. After skinning the animal,
remove any excess fat and any pieces of meat from the skin. Dry
the skin completely. You do not need to stretch it as long as
there are no folds to trap moisture. You do not have to remove
the hair from the skin.
Cut the skin while it is dry. Make cuts about 6 millimeters
wide. Start from the center of the hide and make one continuous
circular cut, working clockwise to the hides outer edge.
Soak the rawhide for 2 to 4 hours or until it is soft. Use it
wet, stretching it as much as possible while applying it. It
will be strong and durable when it dries.
Steve's Notes: For quick ropes and lashings in the desert,
peel yucca leaves into strips and braid them together, overlapping
the ends. It took thirty minutes for me to make a rope like this
that four of us couldn't break (two on each end).
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