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Message started by JudoP on Mar 12th, 2020 at 6:35pm

Title: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by JudoP on Mar 12th, 2020 at 6:35pm
I have purchased a bunch of different cords and rope with the purpose of experimenting and observing (possibly quantifying) the difference between these when braided as fibre or otherwise, with and without water soaking. Given the amount of slings I've made, mostly of the same sisal cord and hardware store jute, this is something I should have done quite a while ago. I mean, I've nearly done through 1.5km of sisal at this point in two 750m massive balls. The sisal is good stuff but needs a lot of hassle to maximise it's quality, jute I've always liked working with, but the durability does not impress me.

So, I've purchased-
-Linen cord 1.5mm (40m) I've actually used this before once, its very soft and lovely. I've nearly finished a rockman with this which I'll post when I'm done.
-Sisal rope 6mm (1m) Because generating fibre bundles from cord is time consuming, fiddly and requires a lot of pruning for high quality. I want to try rope.
-Hemp rope 6mm (20m) This is actually the first time I've worked with hemp, despite it's popularity and good rep on here. It's a massive pain to find here for some reason, it seems 99% of ebay and amazon listings are jute falsely advertised as hemp.
-Manila/abaca rope ~15mm (1m) Never seen or used this before, it's very tough stuff, makes sisal even seem a bit soft...
-I've also got some Hempex on the way which is synthetic hemp rope, hopefully it has the feel of natural cord but can withstand whipcracks. It's made from polypropylene.
-Not a natural cord for sure but I also bought some kevlar for whip crack reinforcement which I'm integrating into a few slings† 8-) My only concern so far is that it is quite slippery which might be where the hempex comes in.

Observations after soaking and initial work:
-Linen is so great to work with, I'm using fibre but it hasn't been soaked (95% sure it's all natural anyway). It's so damn soft it's hard to believe it's durable. It even smells lovely!
-Getting smooth lovely sisal fibre from the rope is a lot easier than the cord I've been using, this is definitely a new standard for me providing the fibre is equally good.
-Manila feels tough as nails by default, but after a soak it separates so easily into flexible thick fibres, I'm very optimistic about this stuff for sling braiding. It's super fast to produce fibres and they look real good stuff.
-The hemp and linen don't take as well to water, I'm pretty sure both are all natural in any case but they don't so much split into fibres as fibre bundles. The hemp smells pretty crappy but I think that's normal.

All in all I can't wait to get some braided samples made up and compared. The best cord I make currently is sisal fibre soaked/pruned, dried totally, braided, soaked again then dried... this takes a while.

The process I think I'll follow is non-soaked fibre vs soaked fibre braids, then I can soak each of the completed braids after to see if it makes a difference (probably soak just half for comparison sake). I'll then report on how flexible the resultant braids are and try to have a guess at wear resistance† :D
Here are some pictures of the first steps:
cords_ropes.jpg (84 KB | 6 )
various.jpg (89 KB | 4 )
manila_abaca.jpg (90 KB | 5 )

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by Kick on Mar 13th, 2020 at 4:17am
Awesome! Can't wait to see what you come up with.

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by Way of the Sling on Mar 13th, 2020 at 3:18pm
I've never worked with manilla, I wonder how it compares to sisal.
Interesting post.

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by joe_meadmaker on Mar 13th, 2020 at 10:30pm
I'm also looking forward to seeing your results.

This makes me think of the sling I'm currently working on.† I have some new types of cordage and rather than making individual slings with them, I'm working on a sling made from four different fibers.† It's a braid of hemp, linen, nettle, and tussah silk.† I've used linen and hemp many times, but the nettle and silk are new for me.

Obviously a sling made from all of these won't show me how they behave individually, but it's more of test run just to see what it's like to braid with them.† I think it also looks cool.† Slings made from these fibers individually will come later.† The sling isn't done, but here's some early images.




Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by Rat Man on Mar 14th, 2020 at 2:09pm
   Many of my slings and leashes are made of several materials.  Often you get the best of different worlds that way. Jute, hemp, cotton, nylon, yarn, polypropylene, lace,  etc..  This is something I've done from the beginning. 

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by joe_meadmaker on Mar 14th, 2020 at 2:17pm
@Rat Man - Do you have any favorite combinations?

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by Rat Man on Mar 17th, 2020 at 11:46am
My whipping is almost always jute. Cotton works well also. Jute and hemp make very pliable cords with just the right amount of softness and give.† Polypropylene and cotton can work well together. The polypropylene gives you strength and the cotton gives flex.† There† are a lot of variables involved that make picking the ideal combination difficult.† Quality, weave, thickness, etc.. It's fun to experiment. I rarely make a sling from just one material.

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by cram on Mar 17th, 2020 at 12:07pm
Manila shrinks when it gets wet

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by Morphy on Mar 17th, 2020 at 9:43pm
The sisal rope is a good idea. All of my experience with the hardware store sisal twine  tells me I donít have the patience to make sisal slings from it. If that makes it easier than I may have to try it again.

Flax is a wonderful fiber, too bad the highest quality linen cord is so expensive.

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by Jauke on Mar 18th, 2020 at 8:45am
I've stopped making slings of natural fibre. Never had any of them perform better than thin paracord slings. Eventually I purchased a Balearic sling of Luis Pons Livermore because I thought I was doing something wrong. Truth be told, while it is a fantastic work of art, it felt like one of the most sluggish slings I ever used. It feels like I get the same amount of power out of a thin paracord sling with much less effort going into the throw. Even after getting used to it, once I swap back to the thin paracord sling, it feels amazing how much easier it is to get power.

But this is my own personal experience. It might be different for others.

So when it comes to performance I no longer feel any reason to go natural fiber. There is still the aesthetic reason. But it's not high on my list. The only reason these days I would use natural fibre is if I had no alternative.

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by Kick on Mar 18th, 2020 at 9:16am
For me, the aesthetic reason is the main reason I like natural materials. I have and use both and I think they can be on par with synthetic if used correctly (might need some extra protection here and there), but really, I just prefer the look of a "natural" sling.

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by JudoP on Mar 18th, 2020 at 10:56am

Jauke wrote on Mar 18th, 2020 at 8:45am:
I've stopped making slings of natural fibre. Never had any of them perform better than thin paracord slings. Eventually I purchased a Balearic sling of Luis Pons Livermore because I thought I was doing something wrong. Truth be told, while it is a fantastic work of art, it felt like one of the most sluggish slings I ever used. It feels like I get the same amount of power out of a thin paracord sling with much less effort going into the throw. Even after getting used to it, once I swap back to the thin paracord sling, it feels amazing how much easier it is to get power.

But this is my own personal experience. It might be different for others.

So when it comes to performance I no longer feel any reason to go natural fiber. There is still the aesthetic reason. But it's not high on my list. The only reason these days I would use natural fibre is if I had no alternative.


Synthetics will always win if you prioritise throwing efficiency, it's a simple fact they can be stronger per cross sectional size and therefore can be made thinner and lighter than natural slings which directly reduces the energy wasted in the throw.

Some reasons I and many others prefer braided slings are probably similar reasons why you don't replace your paracord with 0.8mm dyneema line in all your slings. The overall feel, tangle resistance+easier loading, opening up many different pouch designs etc. Additionally, I feel an underappreciated advantage of thicker braided slings is that they are less liable to pouch roll and dumping larger ammo which I've found to happen a bit in paracord slings. Particularly if said large stones are also smooth and slippery. This is a direct result of paracord being very flexible and I've managed to somewhat subdue effects with more stable cord connection methods.

And of course, aesthetics but more so ergonomics can be very important.

I've heard claims that a well made braided sling can release cleaner and potentially more accurately than basic paracord, though both types of slings can achieve almost perfect releases in my experience. Paracord is so light and flexible it's unlikely to cause any poor effect on the projectile whilst braided tapered slings can snap open under their own weight.

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by JudoP on Mar 18th, 2020 at 11:08am
Thanks for the replies so far-

I've finished my linen rockman and will post pics when I get a chance. Also currently working on a manila balearic sling which is working out pretty nice. I was originally going to do cord samples but... I just ended up doing the whole sling in this case. I will post more information and pictures when I get time to do it properly.

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by Sarosh on Mar 18th, 2020 at 1:09pm
Paracord's core is nylon which is stretchy. Nylon is the best substitute for sinew and is what is used in torsion engines today. Torsion engines can't work with rope which isn't elastic, like hemp linen etc
When slinging with single paracords energy is lost because of the elasticity. It feels smooth on release because if you jerk at the release the stretchiness absorbs it and creates a smooth feeling . I would like to test difference in range on a trebuchet where there is no human error.

For range slinging uhmwpe is the king of all fibers . linen and hemp are the king and queen of the natural fibers.

what I consider a big advantage of natural fibers is that they are not bad for the environment .

I recently bought paracord and have made a sling but w/ quarantine it's difficult to test it.( haven't used paracord but I have used nylon cords and monofilament fishing line before )

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by Jauke on Mar 18th, 2020 at 3:30pm

Sarosh wrote on Mar 18th, 2020 at 1:09pm:
Paracord's core is nylon which is stretchy. Nylon is the best substitute for sinew and is what is used in torsion engines today. Torsion engines can't work with rope which isn't elastic, like hemp linen etc
When slinging with single paracords energy is lost because of the elasticity. It feels smooth on release because if you jerk at the release the stretchiness absorbs it and creates a smooth feeling . I would like to test difference in range on a trebuchet where there is no human error.

For range slinging uhmwpe is the king of all fibers . linen and hemp are the king and queen of the natural fibers.

what I consider a big advantage of natural fibers is that they are not bad for the environment .

I recently bought paracord and have made a sling but w/ quarantine it's difficult to test it.( haven't used paracord but I have used nylon cords and monofilament fishing line before )


You'd have to braid extremely tight not to get any elasticity in natural braided cords, though

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by Rat Man on Mar 18th, 2020 at 4:20pm
   I have many slings made of paracord, regular nylon, polypropylene, etc...  I like synthetic slings a lot.Though synthetics will outlast slings made of natural fibers, there is something about the feel of a jute sling.  I'll always have and use them.

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by Morphy on Mar 18th, 2020 at 4:45pm
I use to be worried about paracord stretching, but itís rated at 550lbs so the force exerted on those two cords during the throw is very small and the stretch probably is as well. Iíve never noticed stretch on my paracord slings but I suppose itís possible.

@Jauke - You bring up a good point and itís something Iíve thought about a lot in weapon design. Anytime a person is getting into making weapons thereís always two paths to take- Efficacy or Aesthetics. Part of the fun of designing these primitive weapons is trying to make both of those a reality in the same weapon.

Iím like you, I look at the Balearic slings and marvel at their beauty but I just canít get into them. Too bulky for me. Paracord or some natural equivalent all the way.

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by JudoP on Mar 18th, 2020 at 5:30pm
Personally I've not experienced any significant stretch from paracord (maybe a little bit that sneaks in during peak forces). It does seem pretty stretch free at slinging force levels though.

I've used other nylon (masons line) which was genuinely stretchy so it has the potential. I think these things come down to construction of the particular cord in many cases.

In terms of natural material thinner cords especially may experience a small degree of stretch, but usually most materials feel inelastic. Water treating or loose braiding can increase flexibility but bring a degree of stretchiness. I always aim for a moderately flexible cord which has as little stretch as possible and solid abrasion resistance with no 'springyness'. That's how I arrived at twice soaked sisal fibre as my currently preferred material.

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by JudoP on Mar 18th, 2020 at 6:11pm
http://slinging.org/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1172017416/5700#5705

Here is the current progress on the abaca sling and the linen rockman. I decided not to post here and keep this as more of a discussion of the cord properties themselves.

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by Sarosh on Mar 18th, 2020 at 6:21pm

Jauke wrote on Mar 18th, 2020 at 3:30pm:
You'd have to braid extremely tight not to get any elasticity in natural braided cords, though

elasticity is a physical property of the fiber , plant fibers generally are not elastic, animal fibers generally are , synthetic fibers can be both. I am not talking about braid tightness


Morphy wrote on Mar 18th, 2020 at 4:45pm:
I use to be worried about paracord stretching, but itís rated at 550lbs so the force exerted on those two cords during the throw is very small and the stretch probably is as well. Iíve never noticed stretch on my paracord slings but I suppose itís possible.

I believe there will be, it's rated 550lbs but it gets minimum elongation 30% , 10% elongation is enough to ruin the throw. compared to linen and UHMWPE which get ~3.5% at break

we can do a static experiment where we hang from the sling 10-20 kg and measure elongation but unless the result is a† big elongation we cannot know the result in slinging. Or we can do a dynamic experiment and use two materials linen vs paracord or dyneema vs paracord on a trebuchet and compare ranges while making sure there is no change in the release angle.

I bought paracord from ebay and also had a friend bring me some from the army , at first glance there is no difference but there is clear difference in the core yarns, army's look A+ quality.

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by walter on Mar 18th, 2020 at 7:45pm
I like pcord. I use it on seat belt slings. I like to braid hemp, jute and yucca. None of these noticeably stretch when I am slinging. Wool does unless it is plaited over another fiber.

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by Morphy on Mar 19th, 2020 at 7:09am

Sarosh wrote on Mar 18th, 2020 at 6:21pm:

Jauke wrote on Mar 18th, 2020 at 3:30pm:
You'd have to braid extremely tight not to get any elasticity in natural braided cords, though

elasticity is a physical property of the fiber , plant fibers generally are not elastic, animal fibers generally are , synthetic fibers can be both. I am not talking about braid tightness


Morphy wrote on Mar 18th, 2020 at 4:45pm:
I use to be worried about paracord stretching, but itís rated at 550lbs so the force exerted on those two cords during the throw is very small and the stretch probably is as well. Iíve never noticed stretch on my paracord slings but I suppose itís possible.

I believe there will be, it's rated 550lbs but it gets minimum elongation 30% , 10% elongation is enough to ruin the throw. compared to linen and UHMWPE which get ~3.5% at break

we can do a static experiment where we hang from the sling 10-20 kg and measure elongation but unless the result is a† big elongation we cannot know the result in slinging. Or we can do a dynamic experiment and use two materials linen vs paracord or dyneema vs paracord on a trebuchet and compare ranges while making sure there is no change in the release angle.

I bought paracord from ebay and also had a friend bring me some from the army , at first glance there is no difference but there is clear difference in the core yarns, army's look A+ quality.


Oh for sure, thereís a big difference between the cheap stuff and the really high quality paracord.

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by JudoP on Mar 21st, 2020 at 9:22pm
Manila sling is complete. Pic below.

I'm a big fan of this material so far. It's got a stiffness and feel similar to pre-soak sisal. It's fairly decent to braid with, the rope splits easily into fibres, though if you cut into longer fibres (~60cm) then these wont so easily split from bundles which can cause a bit of mess. The fibres themselves are pretty thick and very strong. I actually cut my hand trying to break one, so yeah, don't try that.

In total I used around 80% of 1m of 16mm diameter manila rope, so I got the perfect amount really... This cost about £2, so not a crazy expensive material. I've actually got 4m of 25mm rope on the way (about 10x as much material wise) for only ~£13 so (not planning to be bored during isolation!).

Sling observations:
-It is perhaps slightly rougher than sisal and I think long term use would mandate some sort of protection for the index finger (quick wrap of e-tape would do the job). It's possible that a post-braid soak will soften this up a bit.

-It's got a touch of elasticity to it, though it's not really noticeable unless you really try stretch it. It's nothing close to cotton for example. However, this might make it not particularly suited to thinner braided slings where the stretch could become more significant.

-It feels surprisingly light and quite fast to throw. This is a slightly lighter build than I've used for balearic slings in the past, though I'm sure the material is contributing most of this.

-I've tried a sample which was soaked post braiding, it seems to increase flexibility a fair amount and softens the braid a little, though it did increase the stretch factor. This sample was not dried under tension, so hopefully the increase in stretch can be avoided by using this. I will probably soak this sling partly as experiment, though its perfectly fine now if you like stiffer slings.


full_001.jpg (60 KB | 5 )

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by walter on Mar 21st, 2020 at 9:57pm
Nice! I think that sling will get more flexible through use ;)

Title: Re: Natural cords material experimentation
Post by Rat Man on Mar 22nd, 2020 at 7:21pm
Wool, synthetic yarn, and leather lace have way too much stretch to them, though they're OK in combination with other materials.  I haven't noticed significant stretch in other materials I've used. 

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