Rope splicing

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Stages in splicing the end of a rope, from Scientific American, 1871 1871 illustration rope splices.png
Stages in splicing the end of a rope, from Scientific American , 1871

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. [1] Splices are preferred to knotted rope, since while a knot typically reduces the strength by 20–40%, [2] a splice is capable of attaining a rope's full strength. [3] 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.


Types of splices

Examples of splices in different stages of completion, from the Nordisk familjebok: a) long splice b) tapered short splice c) eye splice d) short splice Splitsar.png
Examples of splices in different stages of completion, from the Nordisk familjebok : a) long splice b) tapered short splice c) eye splice d) short splice
An unfinished cut splice Cut Splice.gif
An unfinished cut splice
A line eye-spliced to a snap shackle. Splice on snap shackle.jpg
A line eye-spliced to a snap shackle.
A short splice, with ends whipped Kurzspleiss.jpg
A short splice, with ends whipped

Splices are often tapered to make the thicker splice blend into the rest of the line. There are two main types of tapering, the standard and the "West Coast Taper".

Splicing tools

Eye splice, common whipping thread, fid and Swedish fid Oogsplitsen.jpg
Eye splice, common whipping thread, fid and Swedish fid

A fid is a hand tool made from wood, plastic, or bone and is used in the process of working with rope. A variety of fid diameters are available depending on the size of rope being used. Styles of fid designs include: [10]

A Marlinspike is a tool, usually made of steel and often part of a sailor's pocketknife, which is used to separate strands of rope from one another. They can range in size anywhere from 3 inches to 5 feet long, with a round or flattened point. [11]

A pulling fid is often used for smaller diameters of braided ropes. Also a Softfid is a great tool when dealing with tightly braided ropes.

See also

Related Research Articles

Knot Method of fastening or securing linear material

A knot is an intentional complication in cordage which may be practical or decorative, or both. Practical knots are classified by function, including hitches, bends, loop knots, and splices: a hitch fastens a rope to another object; a bend fastens two ends of a rope to each another; a loop knot is any knot creating a loop, and splice denotes any multi-strand knot, including bends and loops. A knot may also refer, in the strictest sense, to 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.

Butterfly loop Knot used to form a fixed loop in the middle of a rope

The butterfly loop, also known as lineman's loop, butterfly knot, alpine butterfly knot and lineman's rider, is a knot used to form a fixed loop in the middle of a rope. Tied in the bight, it can be made in a rope without access to either of the ends; this is a distinct advantage when working with long climbing ropes. The butterfly loop is an excellent mid-line rigging knot; it handles multi-directional loading well and has a symmetrical shape that makes it easy to inspect. In a climbing context it is also useful for traverse lines, some anchors, shortening rope slings, and for isolating damaged sections of rope.

Sheepshank Type of knot

A shank is a type of knot that is used to shorten a rope or take up slack, such as the sheepshank. The sheepshank knot is not stable. It will fall apart under too much load or too little load.

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.

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.

Figure-eight loop

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 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.

Timber hitch

The timber hitch is a knot used to attach a single length of rope to a cylindrical object. Secure while tension is maintained, it is easily untied even after heavy loading.

Zeppelin bend

A Zeppelin bend is an end-to-end joining knot formed by two symmetrically interlinked overhand knots. It is stable, secure, and highly resistant to jamming. It is also resistant to the effects of slack shaking and cyclic loading.

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.

Rope Linear combination 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.

Wall and crown knot

A wall and crown knot is a decorative kind of rope button. The original use of the knot was to put at the end of the ropes on either side of a gangway leading onto a ship as stoppers.

Kernmantle rope is rope constructed with its interior core protected by a woven exterior sheath designed to optimize strength, durability, and flexibility. The core fibers provide the tensile strength of the rope, while the sheath protects the core from abrasion during use.


A marlinspike is a tool used in marine ropework. Shaped in the form of a polished metal cone tapered to a rounded or flattened point, it is used in such tasks as unlaying rope for splicing, untying knots, drawing marline tight using a marlinspike hitch, and as a toggle joining ropes under tension in a belaying pin splice.

Wire rope

Wire rope is several strands of metal wire twisted into a helix forming a composite rope, in a pattern known as laid rope. Larger diameter wire rope consists of multiple strands of such laid rope in a pattern known as cable laid.


A fid is a conical tool traditionally made of wood or bone. It is used to work with rope and canvas in marlinespike seamanship. A fid differs from a marlinspike in material and purposes. A marlinspike is used in working with wire rope, natural and synthetic lines, may be used to open shackles, and is made of metal. A fid is used to hold open knots and holes in canvas, and to separate the "lays" of synthetic or natural rope for splicing. A variation of the fid, the gripfid, is used for ply-split braiding. The gripfid has a jamming cleat to pull a cord back through the cord split by the fid's point.

Eye splice

The eye splice is a method of creating a permanent loop in the end of a rope by means of rope splicing.

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.

Nicopress swaged sleeve

A nicopress swaged sleeve is a mechanically swaged connector used to make a mechanical or electro-mechanical connection. These sleeves join or terminate: wire rope, aircraft cable, synthetic cable, fibrous rope, or electrical conductor/cable.


  1. Beech, Frank (2005). Splicing Bell Ropes Illustrated (first ed.). Central Council of Church Bell Ringers. pp. 1–32. ISBN   0-900271-82-5.
  2. Neil Montgomery, Single Rope Techniques (Natl Speleological Society, June 1982), p. 1.
  3. Merry, Barbara (2001). The Splicing Handbook (second ed.). International Marine. p. 1. ISBN   0-07-135438-7.
  4. Merry, Barbara (2001). The Splicing Handbook (second ed.). International Marine. p. 31. ISBN   0-07-135438-7.
  5. William Falconer, Universal Dictionary of the Marine (London: Thomas Cadell, 1780), 1243.
  6. Merry, Barbara (2001). The Splicing Handbook (second ed.). International Marine. p. 27. ISBN   0-07-135438-7.
  7. Toss, Brion (1998). The Complete Rigger's Apprentice. International Marine. p. 89. ISBN   0-07-064840-9.
  8. Toss, Brion (1998). The Complete Rigger's Apprentice. International Marine. p. 94. ISBN   0-07-064840-9.
  9. Merry, Barbara (2001). The Splicing Handbook (second ed.). International Marine. p. 29. ISBN   0-07-135438-7.
  10. Merry, Barbara (2001). The Splicing Handbook (second ed.). International Marine. pp. 12–13. ISBN   0-07-135438-7.
  11. Merry, Barbara (2001). The Splicing Handbook (second ed.). International Marine. p. 13. ISBN   0-07-135438-7.