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Processing Lime bark for cordage fibres

  In the Spring or Summer time Cut a long piece of Lime wood (sometimes called Basswood) about 2 - 4 inches thick at the base with as little knots and side branches as possible. The bark will be easier to remove at this time of year when the sap has risen.

Personally I wouldn't cut down a single lime tree (unless there were many together). This wood was taken from stool of coppiced Lime. Often there will be such shoots around where  large lime trees have fallen. Cut thought the base of the wood as cleanly as possible on a slant. (cutting at a slant will stop rain water etc resting on top of the cut and will reduce the chances of the stump rotting.)
  Stripping the bark

Cut thought the bark in a line down the length of the wood.
  Start to peel back the bark. It will probably be hard to do with just your fingers because the bark is so strong. Make a tool called a 'Spud' to help you (a chisel shaped piece of wood).
  Focus on loosening the bark from half way around the wood, then fully prise back the bark at one end and pull the bark away from the wood in one sheet.
  Retting the Bark

Once separated from the wood, put the bark it in a slow moving stream or lake. Use rocks or hooked sticks to
keep it totally submerged.
  In time the layers of bark will separate. Depending on the temperature of the water (and probably the natural bacteria levels too) it can take between 2 and 8 weeks for the bark to go from a solid structure to a soft fibrous sheet of many layers, this process is called retting. By the time it's ready the bark will stink too, but that's no bother. It will probably be covered in slime and various creatures may have made their home on the surface. Rub the slime off, then dunk and wring out the bark numerous times until clean.
  This is one layer of bark, the majority of these fibres will be extremely strong! Traditionally these fibres are often called 'Lime bast' and have been used throughout history for many tying and binding jobs. For our ancestors this would have been a very valuable resource.
  When the fibres dry they become nice and soft and are ideal for cordage making. Because the fibres are long you wont need to introduce new fibres as often when making cordage; which is rather helpful.

For a full article on cordage making techniques see here


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