How to Make Stinging Nettle Cordage

AS ONE OF THE MOST ABUNDANT PLANTS IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST, NETTLES ARE OFTEN CONSIDERED A NUISANCE THANKS TO THEIR TENDENCY TO STING. BUT IF YOU CAN GET OVER A COUPLE OF UNCOMFORTABLE PRICKLES, THEY ARE ONE OF THE MOST USEFUL PLANTS AROUND. NOT ONLY ARE THEY INCREDIBLY NUTRITIOUS AND MEDICINAL, THEY’RE ALSO PACKED WITH STRONG FIBERS THAT ALLOW FOR THE CREATION OF SOME OF THE BEST NATURAL CORDAGE. WITH THE RIGHT CORDAGE YOU CAN BUILD SHELTER, MAKE TOOLS, FIRE, AND TACKLE A HOST OF OTHER SURVIVAL NECESSITIES. SO GET PICKIN’.

In this how-to, we show you the steps to make your own nettle cordage, a great alternative when standard cord is unavailable.

WARNING:
Nettles sting initially. However, after a combination of harvesting and drying, nettles will lose stinging effects and are fine to work with bare hands. We recommend using gloves.
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WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

OLDER GROWTH NETTLE (EARLY SUMMER)
TIME
PATIENCE
GLOVES (OPTIONAL BUT HIGHLY ENCOURAGED)

STEPS

1. HARVEST NETTLES, STRIP LEAVES.

2. DRY IN A WELL-VENTILATED SHADY SPOT

4. WHEN NETTLES ARE DRY ENOUGH TO CRACK, CRUSH FLAT THE ENTIRE LENGTH WITH FINGERS

5. ROLL OVER FINGERS TO CRACK CRUSHED STALK AND PEAL OUT PITH, LEAVING ONLY THE FIBER.

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6. ROLL FIBER BETWEEN FINGERS TO SOFTEN AND REMOVE HUSK

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7. DIVIDE FIBERS INTO A FEW EVENLY SIZED BUNDLES

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8. STARTING WITH ONE BUNDLE, FOLD IT IN HALF, AND START BY TWISTING HALF THE FIBER AWAY FROM YOU, AND THEN LAYING IT OVER THE OTHER HALF THE FIBER. REPEAT UNTIL YOU COME CLOSE TO THE END OF THE FIBERS IN HAND

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6. WITH A FEW INCHES LEFT, SPLICE IN A NEW BUNDLE BY FOLDING IN HALF, AND TWISTING WITH THE ORIGINAL BUNDLE AS YOU MAKE THE CORD

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7. CONTINUE UNTIL THE DESIRED LENGTH IS ACHIEVED. A STRONGER CORD MAY BE MADE BY TWISTING TOGETHER MULTIPLE STRANDS OF CORDAGE

8. FINISH WITH AN OVERHAND KNOT

9. THE CORDAGE MAY BE REFINED BY BURNING OFF ANY LOOSE FIBERS.

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With your new cord you can get to work making shelter, tools, traps, or fire.

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