what kind of rope to buy (and where)

topic posted Thu, April 17, 2008 - 6:41 PM by  Christophe
Hey, I want to know what kind of rope to buy and where for use in low level rope bondage (rope harnesses, other bindings, but nothing particularly fancy like suspension). i've heard a lot of talk like "just go to the hardware store and get it", but there's a LOT of variety there. Some recommendations of length would be nice too, as I'm starting out and want to experiment a bit with various knots and configurations.

the cotton rope i got from goodvibes, while comfy, is hard really do anything but a very basic knot with and is a bit too stretchy.
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SF Bay Area
  • Re: what kind of rope to buy (and where)

    Thu, April 17, 2008 - 7:55 PM
    twisted monk . com, very highly reccomended by a lot of people, very good rope at good prices.
    • Re: what kind of rope to buy (and where)

      Thu, April 17, 2008 - 8:54 PM
      Personally, I love hemp. And I really want to get some silk rope from Madame Butterfly. Her rope ROCKS. And it's just so sexy. I also like cotton rope, but you need to "break it in" a bit before it's really good. And of course, I tie up my teddy bears mostly with nylon.

      The usual lengths of rope are 50', 25' and 12 (or 12 1/2') for doing shibari. You can use a 100' piece for a body harness, but it's HELL working with until you use the first 50' up.

      • Re: what kind of rope to buy (and where)

        Thu, April 17, 2008 - 10:18 PM
        Yes, I have exactly 1 piece of 100 foot rope and it's much more trouble then it's worth, Even doubled up for Japanese based stuff it's still fifty feet you have to pull thru that one loop, your arms just get tired.

        I don't even like 50 footers. I stick with all 30 footers, you can always add on more in a body harness. 12 or 15 footers are mainly used for just ankles or wrists and still leave enough to attach them to something. I try to avoid them because I often mistake the 15 footers for 30 footers when I'm grabbing them out of the bag, I just not organized enough to keep them nicely marked and separated. I'm lucky if they get back into the bag let alone all wrapped up nicely during a busy night.

        Domina- Lets talk at Imsl, I'm sure we can work out a trade.
        • Re: what kind of rope to buy (and where)

          Fri, April 18, 2008 - 12:05 AM
          I just processed and dyed a bunch of hemp. One of the things that I did was to dye each length a different color. All of the colors coordinate, but I can glance at a pile and grab a piece that's exactly the length I want without having to guess.

          If you don't want to dye your rope, you could do the same thing by whipping the ends with different colors.
  • Re: what kind of rope to buy (and where)

    Thu, April 17, 2008 - 9:27 PM
    Hemp rope is nice but expensive-- processed hemp costs a dollar a foot. Nylon rope from the hardware store is much cheaper, and a bit more suitable for beginners.

    You want 1/4" or 3/8" diameter nylon rope. Cut it into lengths of 10, 25, and 50 feet and finish the ends somehow-- this can be as easy as wrapping it with masking tape before cutting it, or as fancy as whipping the ends. I tend to like thicker stuff for actual bondage and thinner for decorative work, but it's entirely up to you.
  • Re: what kind of rope to buy (and where)

    Fri, April 18, 2008 - 12:33 AM
    Different people like different things. It also depends on what you want to do with it.

    Personally, i don't much like hemp or sisal. I do like nylon and soft cottons. I don't much like scratchy hard plastic, but I do have some lovely hard scratchy plastic because it's glow-in-the-dark which works amazingly under black lights. I usually get my rope at hardware stores and/or camping stores. Usually. I some locally made silk and cotton too. :).
  • Re: what kind of rope to buy (and where)

    Fri, April 18, 2008 - 8:42 AM
    I like the look and feel of natural me there is something much sexier about the way they look compared to the kind of sheen that goes with the synthetics.

    I don't have any hemp rope yet but I do have some of Madame Butterfly's silk rope and I have been very pleased with it. It grips beautifully, feels nice on the skin, and is relatively easy to tie (easier in my opinion than nylon or other synthetics). And it just sounds cool to tie someone up with silk rope. The whole silk thing is very hot in my opinion.
  • Re: what kind of rope to buy (and where)

    Fri, April 18, 2008 - 9:11 AM
    You can buy cotton rope from Orchard Supply.

    I recommend buying raw hemp rope and finishing it yourself. Just don't drench it in oil. You only need to get a pair of cotton gloves oily, and run the rope through them, once it's otherwise finished. No need to goop the stuff on. No one likes to be tied up with oily rope.

    And I finish my hemp in the dryer. I just keep it on top of the dryer and run it with my dryer loads. I sometimes put it in with a couple of pairs of sneakers and just let them pound the living daylights out of it on air dry. It's not a fast method, but it makes for nice, not scratchy rope. Then you work it with your hands a little bit and finally barely oil it. Slow, but raw hemp rope is not very expensive. Finished hemp IS.

    • Re: what kind of rope to buy (and where)

      Fri, April 18, 2008 - 9:12 AM
      Oh, just a thought. Keep your rope in a lingerie bag. You'll wreck your washer or dryer if you just dump it in. It will wind around the parts and jam them up.

      • Re: what kind of rope to buy (and where)

        Fri, April 18, 2008 - 11:07 AM
        nylon rope sounds like the easiest and most economical starter for now, considering that I can get 100ft for less than $20. thanks for all the advice.
        • Re: what kind of rope to buy (and where)

          Fri, April 18, 2008 - 2:44 PM
          Just keep in mind that different ropes act differently. If you try something out with the nylon and have a lot of trouble with it, don't give up, it's not necessarily you.

          Some harnesses and ties just work better with one type of rope then another. There are things to can do with natural rope that you can't do with nylon and vice versa.
          • Re: what kind of rope to buy (and where)

            Fri, April 18, 2008 - 4:08 PM
            I used to buy my rope from twisted monk. I have sensitive skin and the conditioned hemp feels so nice and doesn't damage my skin. I wanted rope that was only used on me. I went for the hemp because there was no outlet for silk rope at the time.

            Then Madame Butterfly came on the scene and i jumped on her silk rope, hhmm and it comes in my color too :-)
            • Re: what kind of rope to buy (and where)

              Fri, April 18, 2008 - 4:41 PM
              ok, i thought hemp rope was much rougher than nylon or cotton. my experience with hemp is the terrible rough hemp clothing and hemp bags that are all over berkeley.

              $20 got my 100 feet of nice basic white nylon rope today (which is how much i spent on my crappy 12ft of cotton rope that sucks).

              now to get practicing :)
              • Re: what kind of rope to buy (and where)

                Fri, April 18, 2008 - 5:53 PM
                Hemp rope starts out much rougher than nylon or cotton, and while it can soften considerably I don't think it ever really winds up being quite as soft as nylon or cotton.

                The process of softening hemp involves a considerable workout either for you or for your wallet. I opted to buy raw hemp and finish it myself, partially because it was the only way to get the colors I wanted, and partially because I enjoy the process of creating things and then using them. Raw hemp is still more expensive than nylon, and I spent a LOT of time boiling and washing and stretching and knotting and all of the other things that are involved in conditioning hemp.

                Nylon rope is much easier-- you just cut it to length, do something to keep the ends from fraying, and use it. You can dye it if you want, and the colors can be much more vivid and interesting-- my favorite piece right now is variegated silver and royal blue. Here's part of my nylon rope collection:

                I really think nylon is better for beginners, since it's less of a financial commitment. Imagine spending a couple hundred bucks on conditioned hemp then not using it very much.
        • Re: what kind of rope to buy (and where)

          Sat, April 19, 2008 - 10:35 PM
          Just be aware that nylon is not the best for suspension. The knots can slide.

          Climbing rope stretches, so it's also not the best rope for suspension.

          • Re: what kind of rope to buy (and where)

            Sun, April 20, 2008 - 11:36 PM
            OTOH, hemp sucks in a hot tub.

            And knots that will slide on nylon will also slide on any other kind of rope as well. Better to tie non-sliding knots.

            And for the only suspension I've done, I used bungee. But I seriously can't imagine how basic nylon or tubular webbing could stretch to speak of after initial use. Nylon has a tensile strength greater than steel.
  • funny rope story

    Fri, April 18, 2008 - 1:24 PM
    after a really long weekend at an event we were cleaning up and found that the magicians had just been throwing their cut rope off the side of the stage. I went to go pick them up. After picking up the first piece I was so completely distracted that my friend had to come see why I had stopped. I had started fingering the rope with this really big grin on my face. The cotton rope that they were using for their magician tricks was an amazingly soft cotton rope. And it tied awesome knots. I played with an 8 inch piece for 3 hours. Whenever i got upset I just started fingering it again. My friend decided to tie it around my wrist and I just about died of pleasure. It was funny at the time.
  • Why not buy silk rope?

    Fri, April 18, 2008 - 4:32 PM
    I've been using rockclimbing rope for many years. And love the stuff for some things. But I have to say, there's nothing like using Madame Butterfly's silk rope. If you're starting out, trying to learn knots, shibari techniques, and all the varied ways of doing things, most of the slippery nylon or poly ropes can get you in trouble. I love the way silk rarely burns skin, even when the top is being careless (what, me??!!), and it's incredibly light to drag along in your bag, and grips wonderfully with basic simple knots and ties. It's also only vaguely more expensive than buying finished hemp from places like Twisted Monk (who also carries her silk rope.) It's well worth the investment, for what you'll learn, for just getting to say you're tying someone up with pure silk, and for the occasional compliments on how nice it feels.

    Considering you're gonna fork out $20 - 50 anyway for almost anything you acquire for a budding toybag, why not a rope that's such a pleasure to use, your hands start reaching for it on their own? A cheap ass flogger will cost that. Sorry, but I'm at the point in my life where I really understand why it's important to buy a good tool, especially if I'm starting out with something new. Something that pleasures my hands to use, WILL get used enough for me to learn skilled wielding. Something I buy just to have a cheap tool, won't get used. So paying $40 - 60 for a silk rope I'll be using a lot, that my subs will love used on them, doesn't seem extraordinary, especially when buying a lesser product isn't much cheaper.

    And it doesn't all have to be silk. When I'm using rope, I'll often use the silk for harness tying, and then 6 or 8 mm nylon for extremities. All of it's nice. And sometimes I'll use spongy, incredibly soft, incredibly thick yachting rope, up to even an inch thick. But the knotting you do will be VERY different nylon versus grippy rope, so your techniques will vary. So I come back to stumping for lovely silk...

    And speaking of stumping, if you don't buy the silk stuff from Monk, you can find it on Butterfly's page at

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