Willow bark cordage

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Hi there,
Just wanted to ask you guuys a few questions about willow bark cordage. I am OK on producing nettle cordage but seeing as there are a few willow trees near me I thought I would give it a go. So... Does it matter what type of willow it is? Near me I have pussy willow and weeping willow so can they both be used?
Also, after boiling down the bark (courtesy of Ray Mear's 'Bushcraft' book) Is it strong enough to use out of the pan or does it need twisting/rolled into two ply cordage?

Thanks very much,
Woodwalker :) :)
 

John Fenna

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Oct 7, 2006
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I have had good results from good old Pussy Willow, both "raw" and bark tanned and have never done the "stream curing" bit. The tanned lasts better than the raw bark and it could well be that the stream cured lasts even better. I guess it all depends on how long you need a bit of cord to last - an overnight camps lashings, a seasons duration or for posterity. I tend to roll thin 2ply cord and then roll it again to give a thicker cord as nessessary.
John
 

torjusg

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Aug 10, 2005
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Patrick from Backwoods Survival School has told me that retting is completely unneccesary with willow bark. And as you have seen, his cordage is top notch.

He suggests only leeching it for two days in a stream. That is to remove the starch in it. Which, when dried, will make the string brittle.

Retting isn't only unneccesary, but harmful to the fibres. With lime (linden) I don't think he had found any way around using this method.
 
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Stew

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Nov 29, 2003
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torjusg said:
He suggests only leeching it for two days in a stream. That is to remove the starch in it. Which, when dried, will make the string brittle.

Superb! I have tried Willow cordage many a time and always been frustrated that it turned out poor.
I couldn't understand what was going wrong but as I got annoyed, I would always leave it alone for a while then forget what I had done before.

Hopefully now I can make something half decent! Thankyou!
 

torjusg

New Member
Aug 10, 2005
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Telemark, Norway
livingprimitively.com
Stew said:
Superb! I have tried Willow cordage many a time and always been frustrated that it turned out poor.
I couldn't understand what was going wrong but as I got annoyed, I would always leave it alone for a while then forget what I had done before.

Hopefully now I can make something half decent! Thankyou!

Glad to be of help. Another thing I forgot to add. Split off the coarse outer bark first. That will make the leeching more effective.
 

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