How to Braid Hammock Support Ropes and Connect them to a Hammock

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The finished hammock support ropes
The finished hammock support ropes (Image: All photos by Aupoet)

These braided, hammock support ropes are sized for a main hammock bed some 3 to 4 ft. across, with 22 connecting loops. They are not hard to make and a set of two takes less than an hour to put together. These hammock support ropes are used with hammock spreaders for a rope hammock that lays wide open to relax in and enjoy.

Things You'll Need

  • Hammock Cord
  • Large plastic Cup
  • Nails, 6 and 4 inch
  • Hammer
  • Two Metal Rings
  • Measuring tape
  • Soldering iron or other means to melt rope ends

Gather the needed supplies for making the hammock support ropes. The two 2 1/2 to 3 inch rings should be heavy galvanized metal so they won't rust if used for an outdoor hammock. Marine hardware store are the best place to find such rings or try an internet search. The plastic cup needs to be large enough that the rings will slip over the bottom but only go about halfway down the cup. For the large rope hammock body described in the article, "How to Weave a Rope Hammock, the Main Body", eleven pieces of 5/16 inch hammock cord, each 127 inches long, will be needed, for each one of the supports. Melt the end of each cut if using synthetic cord, but don't tie hard knots in the ends and don't make the melted blobs on the ends too large. They will need to pass through the spreader holes. For the nails, one some 6 inches long and two shorter 4 inch ones are needed.

The type of Ring needed for the hammock supports
The type of Ring needed for the hammock supports

Find a place to work and make the hammock supportropes. The place needs to be where the nails can be hammered in, so the larger one is at a good work height and between the two smaller nails, which are hammered in about 10 inches on either side of it. Don't hammer them in too far as the cup will need to sit over the center nail and the excess hammock ropes will hang over the smaller nails. Angle the nails so they slant upward slightly to keep things from sliding off. Look at the picture to see how to space the nails.

How to space the nails
How to space the nails

Place eleven of the hammock ropes through one of the rings and center them so the rope ends are even. Space the ropes in a single row in the ring and hold them in place while sliding the ring over the cup and wedging the ropes between the ring and the cup tightly. Place the cup over the center nail and notice that there is a back row of 11 ropes and a front row of 11 ropes. Starting at the right side move the far right front hammock rope to the rear and the first right side back rope to the front. Slide the right hand between the two ropes. palm facing frontward and hold the rope moved to the front, between the thumb and palm. Repeat this process with all the hammock ropes from right to left loading up the right hand while moving each back rope to the front. It help to repeatedly say "front to back, front to back" when moving the ropes and to watch so that it is a front rope going to the back each time. Keep the hammock ropes in the same order, not letting any of them cross over others, and push the row up tight against the ring. When completing each row run a hand down the length of the ropes to take out any tangles. When all the ropes are moved take the far right side rope, cross it behind the new front ropes in the right hand and in front of the new back ropes, then drape it over the left side nail. Do the same with the far left rope and drape it over the right side nail.

Ropes secured in ring, Moved ropes placed in right hand
Ropes secured in ring, Moved ropes placed in right hand

Now there are 20 hammock ropes hanging in the middle. Do the same thing again, from right to left, moving the front ropes to the back and the back ones to the front. Pass the far left and right side ropes between the front and back sets of ropes and drape them over the nails on the sides they come out of. Be careful to keep the hammock ropes in order and straight as to which go to the back and which come to the front each time. Push each row up tight against the one done before it and pull on the ropes draped to the side to tighten the braid. Each pass there will be two less ropes to switch back to front till only two remain. Tie these two ropes together in a square knot up against the last row. Look at the upper picture to see what the finished support should look like. Now these hammock support ropes can be taken off the cup and the second hammock rope support can be made in the same way.

Far ropes are passed between front and back rows and draped over side nails
Far ropes are passed between front and back rows and draped over side nails

Attach the hammock rope supports to the spreaders. The hammock spreaders have to be finished for this part as the ropes will go through them. Listed below under resources is the article, "How to Make and finish Spreaders for Hammocks" that tell how to prepare hammock spreaders. Take one of the finished hammock rope supports and hang it by the ring from a strong support at a good working height. Pass each of its 22 ropes through the correct holes on one of the hammock spreaders. Tie simple hard knots some 12 inches from the ends of both the first and last ropes so they can't slip back through the spreader, then tie similar knots in the other ropes. Press down on the spreader to see that all the ropes have some tension in them and if not, move the knots till they do. Repeat with the other rope hammock support and spreader being sure that the hammock spreaders hang straight and that each rope has at least 12 inches hanging free below the knots. If the hammock spreaders are bowed be sure they both face the same direction.

Top row -a sailor's knot, Bottom row -a simple hard knot
Top row -a sailor's knot, Bottom row -a simple hard knot

Connect the hammock rope supports to the rope hammock body. This is one of the most important parts of making a good hammock and one of the easiest to mess up. Read over the instructions till fully understood and then set aside a time and place to do the job. It is not a good idea to have to move everything once started or be called away losing track of the process. Laying the hammock main body on a bed with the spreader and support rope lying next to one of the ends, works well. Look at the hammock loops on the stick, take the securing rope off, and check that they are in the correct order. Take a chain loop off the stick and tie it to the first support rope by making the sailor's knot as shown in the drawing. Cross the support rope over itself making a loop close to the simple knot already in the rope. Hold the loop in the right hand and pass the free end of the rope through the chain loop, back up and through the loop in the hand. Pass the free end around the upper rope between the loop held in the hand and the simple knot and back down the loop in your hand. Pull the knot tight and tie a simple knot in the rope near the knot so it won't slip back through. The bottom loop of the support rope knot needs to be about 2 inches in diameter so the hammock loops can move freely in it. Take the next two hammock loops off the stick and tie them to the next support rope with another sailor's knot. Repeat this process across being sure to keep the ropes and loops in order, and to count any of the hammock tie-on and tie-off loops as one loop when tying. Only take the loops off the stick that you are going to tie right then. One way to check the number of loops for the 22 ropes is to use short pieces of string to pass through each set of loops that will be tied together and then count the sets. If there are too many loops just work in the extra by tying three to a support rope. The last chain loop, like the first will be tied to the last support rope by itself. Don't cut off any of the long extra tails on any of the ropes yet. After using the hammock for a while there might be some adjustments to make in some of the lengths. Repeat the process on the other end of the hammock and the job is done. Under resources below are links to my other hammock articles. Please rate this article and any others you check out, thank you. All content and photos copyrighted by Aupoet

The hammock support connected to the spreader
The hammock support connected to the spreader

Tips & Warnings

  • A hammock will last longer if kept out of the sun as much as possible.
  • Be careful when melting the rope ends as it is easy to burn your fingers
  • Hammocks are not safe around young children. They can fall or get caught in the cord and be hung.
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