with knots and splices, you can make a rope into a handy tool
Practically anyone who uses ropes will have occasion to use knots for such purposes as hauling, hoisting and towing, as for tying two ropes together.
They are indispensable as a means of making your rope a valuable tool capable of performing a wide variety of jobs.
However, when two ropes are to be joined permanently, a splice is superior to knots which genuinely have only about 50% of the full strength of the rope. This is due to the sharp bends in a knot which put extra stress on the fibres, thus impairing the rope’s efficiency.
The majority of the knots are classified as either binding knots, loops, hitches or bends.
Some of those mostly commonly used are the…
Figure Eight Knot
Easier to untie and stronger than the common overhand knot, it is the best knot for stopping a fall that would otherwise run out of a davit or tackle.
To tie: Make an overhand loop. Bring the end around and under the standing part. Draw end through loop and tighten.
Reef or Square Knot
Used aboard ship to secure rope ends. It unties easily if either end is jerked.
To tie: Loop the left end over and under the right end, loop the right end over the left standing part and end. Draw back through right loop and tighten.
Often used to secure a mooring line to a post, it never jams or slips.
To tie: Make an overhand loop. Bring end under and up through loop, then under and around standing part. Draw end back through loop and tighten.
For light or medium ropes, it is a popular knot aboard ship. Resembling
a bowline, its end is tied to the bight* of another rope, instead of its
To tie: Make an overhand loop. Draw the end of the second rope through the loop, under and around the first rope’s standing part and back through the loop.
*A bight is the middle part of a rope, as distinguished from the ends.
Used for tying heavy ropes or hawser together, it is one of the strongest knots. Under load, it tightens – an important feature because large ropes cannot be tightened by hand.
To tie: Make an underhand loop with end and standing part facing the same direction. Draw second rope end down through the loop, under the first end and over the first standing part. Bring the second end up through the first loop, over its own standing part and down through loop.
Fastens an object quickly for a right angle pull.
To tie: Pass the end around the object and tie an overhand knot loosely.
Slip the end under the rope turn.
For lashing a line around a post or spar.
To tie: Wrap end around the object. Make a second loop around the object and draw the end under the standing part.
For joining rope ends permanently, a Splice is much stronger than a knot.
Three important Splices (for 3-strand ropes)…
A Short Splice, having up to 95% of the strength of the rope itself, gives the strongest coupling. However, it doubles the rope size and is not suitable where rope must run through pulleys or sheaves in a block.
For such purposes, a Long Splice, with up to 90% strength efficiency, is used.
For special purposes, other splices are used such as an Eye Splice and several Transmission-of-Power Splices.
A Short Splice
1 Untwist the strands from the rope ends to a distance of about 10 times the rope diameter. Bring unravelled strands of each rope together and place them in alternate positions.
2 Tie down rope A’s strands temporarily. With any free strand, tuck it over and under one strand of rope B.
3 Splice against the lay of the rope. The free strand will go over one rope strand, under the second and out between the second and third.
4 The same operation is repeated with the other 2 free strands.
5 Free the tied down strands and repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 with them on rope A. Three tucks are made by each of the 6 strands.
6 Roll the splice vigorously on a hard surface for the finished appearance. Don’t cut the loose ends too short.
A Long Splice
1 Unlay the rope ends about 15 turns and alternate the strands together as in the Short Splice.
2 Untwist a strand from rope A and replace it with the opposite strand from rope B. Repeat with another pair but in the opposite direction.
3 Tie each opposing pair together with an overhand knot. Tuck each strand twice as in the Short Splice. Remove 1/3 of the yarn from each strand and tuck once. Remove 1/2 of each strand and make the last tuck.
4 Roll and pound the splice and cut loose strands close to the rope.
An Eye Splice
The Eye Splice is made in the same way as the Short Splice, except that after the end is unlaid, it is brought around to form an eye and spliced into its own standing part.
How to Eye Splice a hollow plait Poly rope…
1 Burn and seal the end of
2 Insert the sealed end into the hollow of the rope.
3 Put pressure on the join for about 6 minutes.
How to whip rope ends
Rope in continuous use has a tendency to unravel at the ends. It then becomes difficult to work with the rope, particularly when tying knots. Binding the rope ends or ‘whipping’ is the best method to prevent unravelling.
Using a short length of twine or yarn, rope ends can be whipped simply and quickly by the following method…
1 Form a bight in the end of a piece of twine and lay it parallel to the end of the rope so that part of the short side of the bight is extending beyond the end of the rope.
2 Take a wrap around the end of the rope. Hold the bight and the wrap in place with the thumb and forefinger. Pull wrap tight.
3 When the length of the whipping is equal to the diameter of the rope, reeve the end of the twine through the eye of the bight.
4 Pull on the end of the twine that is extending beyond the end of the rope until a bight of the free end of the twine is pulled under and to the mid point of the wrappings.
5 Pull wrappings tight.
6 Finish the whipping by cutting off the ends of the twine.
Important info to know, when using a rope, where personal safety or possible damage to
property is involved…
Avoid using rope that shows signs of ageing or wear.
Avoid overloading. Do not exceed safe working load.
Avoid abrasion. Worn rope is weakened.
Avoid sudden strain. Shock loads can exceed breaking strength.
Avoid kinks and sharp angles. Rope is threatened at these points.
Avoid chemicals. Natural fibre rocks such as manila and sisal are severely damaged by chemicals. Synthetic ropes are less affected. For added safety, keep all rope free of chemicals.
Avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. Nylon, Poly and Polyester rope is severely weakened by prolonged exposure to the ultraviolet rays of sunlight.
Keep rope clean. Wash with clean water to maintain longer life and maximum strength.
Store rope clean, dry, out of direct sunlight and away from extreme heat to prevent rotting,
mildew and drying out, thus becoming brittle. Rope is weakest at knots. Join rope by splicing
Use proper size pulleys. Rope will wear excessively when used with pulleys that are too small.
Consult the manufacturer for information on safety.
This page is dedicated to my late father, Tobe (RIP 2001), on whose altar I found a little leaflet on 'knots and splices'.
See also www.animatedknots.com/knotlist