Here is a quick and easy way to
extract the long, white fibers from Whipple’s Yucca (Yucca
Here are the tools I will use: smooth pounders and blunt
scrapers. My favorite pounder (the black one at the top) is a 23
million year old piece of fossilized burnt wood that I found on the
beach in WA. The pounder at the bottom is a slightly modified piece
of Jeffrey Pine branch. The scrapers are slate and silver sheen
obsidian (with the scraping edge ground on sandstone to blunt it)
Lightly pounding the yucca leaf will
result in the fibers loosening from the epidermis and flesh of the
leaf. As shown, that leaf resembles some ancient yucca paintbrushes
that have been found at archaeological sites in southern CA.
Having pounded the front and the back
of the entire leaf, I will now scrape with moderate pressure (make
sure the scraping edge is blunt or you will destroy the fibers) and
remove some of the skin and flesh of the leaf.
Results of the first scraping. Now I
will wash the saponins (soap) and fleshy debris from the fibers and
scrape them a second time. Removing as much of the chaff from the
fibers as possible makes future cordage easier to make and somewhat
These yucca fibers have endured a
third scraping with my fingernail and have been separated. They are
ready to be made into fine cordage.
Here is ten feet of 4mm-thick,
leg-rolled yucca cordage made from fibers that were scraped twice.
Rope can be made from rough-processed fibers—you don’t need to
remove all of the chaff (especially for large-diameter rope). This
ten feet took about 15 minutes to leg-roll.