Common whipping

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Common whipping
NamesCommon whipping, Plain whipping, Ordinary whipping, Wolf whipping
Category Whipping
ABoK #3442

The common whipping is the simplest type of whipping knot, a series of knots intended to stop a rope from unravelling. As it can slip off the rope easily, the common whipping should not be used for rope ends that will be handled. This whipping knot is also called 'wolf' whipping in some parts of the world. The 'Hangman's knot' is a variation of this whipping knot.

A whipping knot or whipping is a binding of marline twine or whipcord around the end of a rope to prevent its natural tendency to fray. The whipping can be made neat and permanent by tying it off or sewing the ends of the twine through the rope. According to The Ashley Book of Knots, "The purpose of a whipping is to prevent the end of a rope from fraying...A whipping should be, in width, about equal to the diameter of the rope on which it is put...[Two sailmaker's whippings], a short distance apart, are put in the ends of every reef point, where the constant "whipping" against the sail makes the wear excessive; this is said to be the source of the name whipping." The other type of stopping knot is a seizing knot.

Rope linear collection of plies, yarns or strands which are twisted or braided together

A rope is a group of yarns, plies, fibers or strands that are twisted or braided together into a larger and stronger form. Ropes have tensile strength and so can be used for dragging and lifting. Rope is thicker and stronger than similarly constructed cord, string, and twine.

Hangmans knot

The hangman's knot or hangman's noose is a knot most often associated with its use in hanging a person. For a hanging, the knot of the rope is typically placed under or just behind the left ear, although the most effective position is just ahead of the ear, beneath the angle of the left lower jaw. The pull on the knot at the end of the drop levers the jaw and head violently up and to the right, which combines with the jerk of the rope becoming taut to wrench the upper neck vertebrae apart. This produces very rapid death, whereas the traditional position beneath the ear was intended to result in the mass of the knot crushing closed (occluding) the neck arteries, causing cessation of brain circulation. The knot is non-jamming but tends to resist attempts to loosen it.


The benefit of a common whipping is that no tools are necessary and the rope does not need to be unlaid. The problem is that it will slide off the end of the rope with little provocation. Other whippings avoid this by interleaving the whipping with the strands of the rope and creating friction with the strands to avoid slipping.

Normally a natural fibre rope is whipped with twine. The size of the rope dictates the size of the twine. Any twine can be used, but tarred two strand hemp (marline) is preferred. Artificial-fibre ropes should have their ends fused by heat rather than whipped to prevent unravelling.

Common, plain or ordinary whipping is tied by laying a loop along the rope and then making a series of turns over it. The working end is finally stuck through this loop and the end hauled back out of sight. Both ends are then trimmed short.



The rope should be whipped a short distance (One and a half times the diameter) from its end.


Lay the head of the twine along the rope, make a bight back along the rope


Begin wrapping the twine around the rope and bight of twine securely.

Wrap until the whipping is one and a half times wider than the rope is thick


Slip the working end of the twine through the bight. Carefully pull on the standing end of the twine until the bight and working end are pulled under the whipping (Note: It is normally necessary to maintain tension on the working end to prevent the bight from being dragged completely through and so destroying the whipping)


Cut the twine flush with the edges of the whipping and the rope end not less than half its width from the whipping to give the rope end a finished look

See also

Related Research Articles

Knot method of fastening or securing linear material, such as rope, by tying or interweaving

A knot is an intentional complication in cordage which may be useful or decorative. Practical knots may be classified as hitches, bends, splices, or knots. A hitch fastens a rope to another object; a bend unites two rope ends; a splice is a multi-strand bend or loop. A knot in the strictest sense serves as a stopper or knob at the end of a rope to keep that end from slipping through a grommet or eye. Knots have excited interest since ancient times for their practical uses, as well as their topological intricacy, studied in the area of mathematics known as knot theory.

Overhand knot type of knot

The overhand knot is one of the most fundamental knots, and it forms the basis of many others, including the simple noose, overhand loop, angler's loop, reef knot, fisherman's knot, and water knot. The overhand knot is a stopper, especially when used alone, and hence it is very secure, to the point of jamming badly. It should be used if the knot is intended to be permanent. It is often used to prevent the end of a rope from unraveling. An overhand knot becomes a trefoil knot, a true knot in the mathematical sense, by joining the ends.

Constrictor knot

The constrictor knot is one of the most effective binding knots. Simple and secure, it is a harsh knot that can be difficult or impossible to untie once tightened. It is made similarly to a clove hitch but with one end passed under the other, forming an overhand knot under a riding turn. The double constrictor knot is an even more robust variation that features two riding turns.

Figure-eight knot type of stopper knot used in sailing and climbing

The figure-eight knot or figure-of-eight knot is a type of stopper knot. It is very important in both sailing and rock climbing as a method of stopping ropes from running out of retaining devices. Like the overhand knot, which will jam under strain, often requiring the rope to be cut, the figure-of-eight will also jam, but is usually more easily undone than the overhand knot.

The figure-eight or figure-of-eight knot is also called the Flemish knot. The name figure-of-eight knot appears in Lever's Sheet Anchor; or, a Key to Rigging. The word "of" is nowadays usually omitted. The knot is the sailor's common single-strand stopper knot and is tied in the ends of tackle falls and running rigging, unless the latter is fitted with monkey's tails. It is used about ship wherever a temporary stopper knot is required. The figure-eight is much easier to untie than the overhand, it does not have the same tendency to jam and so injure the fiber, and is larger, stronger, and equally secure.

Figure-eight loop type de nœud

A figure-eight loop is a type of knot created by a loop on the bight. It is used in climbing and caving where rope strains are light to moderate and for decorative purposes. The knot is commonly followed by tying a strangle knot or an overhand knot around the standing end.

The Flemish loop or figure-eight loop is perhaps stronger than the loop knot. Neither of these knots is used at sea, as they are hard to untie. In hooking a tackle to any of the loops, if the loop is long enough it is better to arrange the rope as a cat's paw.

Stopper knot knot that creates a fixed thicker point on an otherwise uniform thickness rope for the purpose of preventing unreeving

A stopper knot is a knot that creates a fixed thicker point on an otherwise-uniform thickness rope for the purpose of preventing unreeving: stopping the rope at that point from slipping out of a narrow passage. Stopper has three distinct meanings in the context of knotting and cordage. A decorative stopper knot may be referred to as a lanyard knot.

The single-strand stopper knot is...[one variety] of knob knots. Generally it is tied as a terminal knot in the end of a rope, where it forms a knob or bunch, the general purpose of which is to prevent unreeving. It is found in the ends of running rigging. It secures the end of a sewing thread; it provides a handhold or a foothold in bell ropes and footropes. It adds weight to the end of a heaving line, and it is often employed decoratively, but it should not be used to prevent unlaying and fraying except in small cord, twine, and the like, as a whipping is in every way preferable for large and valuable material.

Matthew Walker knot

A Matthew Walker knot is a decorative knot that is used to keep the end of a rope from fraying. It is tied by unraveling the strands of a twisted rope, knotting the strands together, then laying up the strands together again. It may also be tied using several separate cords, in which case it keeps the cords together in a bundle. The traditional use of the knot is to form a knob or "stopper" to prevent the end of the rope from passing through a hole, for instance in rigging the lanyards which tension the shrouds on older sailing ships with standing rigging of fiber cordage.

Rope splicing

Rope splicing in ropework is the forming of a semi-permanent joint between two ropes or two parts of the same rope by partly untwisting and then interweaving their strands. Splices can be used to form a stopper at the end of a line, to form a loop or an eye in a rope, or for joining two ropes together. Splices are preferred to knotted rope, since while a knot typically reduces the strength by 20–40%, a splice is capable of attaining a rope's full strength. However, splicing usually results in a thickening of the line and, if subsequently removed, leaves a distortion of the rope. Most types of splices are used on 3-strand rope, but some can be done on 12-strand or greater single-braided rope, as well as most double braids.
While a spliced 3-strand rope's strands are interwoven to create the splice, a braided rope's splice is constructed by simply pulling the rope into its jacket.

Ashleys stopper knot

Ashley's stopper knot, also known as the oysterman's stopper, is a knot developed by Clifford W. Ashley around 1910. It makes a well-balanced trefoil-faced stopper at the end of the rope, giving greater resistance to pulling through an opening than other common stoppers. Essentially, the knot is a common overhand noose, but with the end of the rope passing through the noose eye, which closes upon it. It may be multiplied to form a larger knot with more than three bights appearing around the knot. It is the result of implementing a double wall knot in one strand.

West Country whipping

The West Country whipping is a quick practical whipping knot, a method of using twine to secure the end of a rope to prevent it fraying. It has several advantages: it can be tied without a needle; it is simple to understand and remember; if the whipping fails, the loose ends can usually be re-tied to temporarily prevent the rope's end from fraying.

West Country whipping was the name given by Biddlecombe in 1848 to this particular practice, but most subsequent seamanship books, including the British Admiralty Manual of Semanship, have modified the name to West County whipping...I have not seen this whipping used but it has this advantage: if any part breaks it will be a very long while before the whole whipping lets go. The break will be evident and the whipping can be replaced in time.

Sailmakers whipping

The sailmaker's whipping is one of the most durable and stable of rope whippings known. According to The Ashley Book of Knots, "Palm-and-needle whipping, or sailmaker's whipping, is the most satisfactory of all."

Strangle knot

The strangle knot is a simple binding knot. Similar to the constrictor knot, it also features an overhand knot under a riding turn. A visible difference is that the ends emerge at the outside edges, rather than between the turns as for a constrictor. This knot is a rearranged double overhand knot and makes up each half of the double fisherman's knot.

The strangle knot starts with a round turn and the end is stuck under two parts. It may be used to tie up a roll. If required, a loop may be stuck instead of the end, which makes a slipped knot that is one of the best for tying up sacks and meal bags. With one or two additional turns the strangle knot makes an excellent temporary whipping for the end of a rope.

Fiador knot

The fiador knot is a decorative, symmetrical knot used in equine applications to create items such as rope halters, hobbles, and components of the fiador on some hackamore designs. As traditionally described, it is a four strand diamond knot in which six of the eight ends loop back into the knot, thus allowing it to be tied with a single line. While a specific knot is discussed in this article, the fiador knot has also been treated as an entire class of multi-strand knots similarly made with a single line.

Chain sinnet

A chain sinnet is a method of shortening a rope or other cable while in use or for storage. It is formed by making a series of simple crochet-like stitches in the line. It can also reduce tangling while a rope is being washed in a washing machine.


Seizings are a class of stopping knots used to semi-permanently bind together two ropes, two parts of the same rope, or rope and another object. Akin to lashings, they use string or small-stuff to produce friction and leverage to immobilize larger ropes. Seizings are not recommended for heavy loads for critical use as strain reduces the diameter of the main rope and can permit slippage even with proper construction. According to The Ashley Book of Knots, "A seizing holds several objects together." The other type of stopping knots are whipping knots.

A throat seizing is a seized round turn. It is used when turning in deadeyes, and has riding turns but no crossing turns. The end of the stay or shroud should first be stopped around the deadeye.

Reef knot type of knot

The reef knot, or square knot, is an ancient and simple binding knot used to secure a rope or line around an object. It is sometimes also referred to as a Hercules knot. The knot is formed by tying a left-handed overhand knot and then a right-handed overhand knot, or vice versa. A common mnemonic for this procedure is "right over left; left over right", which is often appended with the rhyming suffix "... makes a knot both tidy and tight". Two consecutive overhands of the same handedness will make a granny knot. The working ends of the reef knot must emerge both at the top or both at the bottom, otherwise a thief knot results.

The reef knot or square knot consists of two half knots, one left and one right, one being tied on top of the other, and either being tied first...The reef knot is unique in that it may be tied and tightened with both ends. It is universally used for parcels, rolls and bundles. At sea it is always employed in reefing and furling sails and stopping clothes for drying. But under no circumstances should it ever be tied as a bend, for if tied with two ends of unequal size, or if one end is stiffer or smoother than the other, the knot is almost bound to spill. Except for its true purpose of binding it is a knot to be shunned.


  1. Ashley, Clifford W. (1944). The Ashley Book of Knots, p.546. Doubleday. ISBN   0-385-04025-3.

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