Knots, Splices and Rope Work

Author: A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954Editor Popular Science Dept., "American Boy Magazine."
Illustrated with 156 Original Cuts Showing How Each Knot, Tie or Splice is Formed and Its Appearance When Complete.

Giving Complete and Simple Directions for Making All the Most Useful and Ornamental Knots in Common Use, with Chapters on Splicing, Pointing, Seizing, Serving, etc. Adapted for the Use of Travellers, Campers, Yachtsmen, Boy Scouts, and All Others Having to Use or Handle Ropes for Any Purpose.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Chapter 1 - Cordage

Simple but effective way of making cordage from natural fibres

How to make rope, cordage, and twine from natural materials found in the wilderness.


Before taking up the matter of knots and splices in detail it may be well to give attention to cordage in general. Cordage, in its broadest sense, includes all forms and kinds of rope, string, twine, cable, etc., formed of braided or twisted strands.

Illustration: FIG. 1.—Construction of Rope.

In making a rope or line the fibres (A, Fig. 1) of hemp, jute, cotton, or other material are loosely twisted together to form what is technically known as a "yarn" (B, Fig. 1). When two or more yarns are twisted together they form a "strand" (C, Fig. 1). Three or more strands form a rope (D, Fig. 1), and three ropes form a cable (E, Fig. 1). To form a strand the yarns are twisted together in the opposite direction from that in which the original fibres were twisted; to form a rope the strands are twisted in the opposite direction from the yarns of the strands, and to form a cable each rope is twisted opposite from the twist of the strands. In this way the natural tendency for each yarn, strand, or rope to untwist serves to bind or hold the whole firmly together (Fig. 1).

Illustration: FIG. 2.—Bolt-Rope.

Rope is usually three-stranded and the strands turn from left to right or "with the sun," while cable is left-handed or twisted "against the sun" (E, Fig. 1). Certain ropes, such as "bolt-rope" and most cables, are laid around a "core" (F, Fig. 2) or central strand and in many cases are four-stranded (Fig. 2).

The strength of a rope depends largely upon the strength and length of the fibres from which it is made, but the amount each yarn and strand is twisted, as well as the method used in bleaching or preparing the fibres, has much to do with the strength of the finished line.

Roughly, the strength of ropes may be calculated by multiplying the circumference of the rope in inches by itself and the fifth part of the product will be the number of tons the rope will sustain. For example, if the rope is 5 inches in circumference, 5 X 5 = 25, one-fifth of which is 5, the number of tons that can safely be carried on a 5-inch rope. To ascertain the weight of ordinary "right hand" rope, multiply the circumference in inches by itself and multiply, the result by the length of rope in fathoms and divide the product by 3.75. For example, to find the weight of a 5-inch rope, 50 fathoms in length: 5 X 5 = 25; 25 x 50 = 1,250; 1,250 ÷ 3.75 = 333-1/3 lbs. These figures apply to Manila or hemp rope, which is the kind commonly used, but jute, sisal-flax, grass, and silk are also used considerably. Cotton rope is seldom used save for small hand-lines, clothes-lines, twine, etc., while wire rope is largely used nowadays for rigging vessels, derricks, winches, etc., but as splicing wire rope is different from the method employed in fibre rope, and as knots have no place in wire rigging, we will not consider it.

Knots, Splices and Rope Work

External links:
  • Wikipedia Knots - A knot is a method for fastening or securing linear material such as rope by tying or interweaving. It may consist of a length of one or more segments of rope, string, webbing, twine, strap, or even chain interwoven such that the line can bind to itself or to some other object—the "load". Knots have been the subject of interest for their ancient origins, their common uses, and the mathematical implications of knot theory.
  • Wikipedia List of Knots
  • The Eight Basic Boy Scout Knots
  • The Bowline is one of the most used loop knots. At the end of a rope, the bowline forms a strong loop that will not slip or jam. Most of the time however, the bowline is used when ever we have a competition on who can tie it the fastest around their waist. Which is always fun.
  • The Square Knot is probably the best known and most widely used knot. It serves to join the ends of two ropes, and has the advantage of strength and ease of tying and untying. It slips or jams only if pulled around a corner. People use square knots to tie packages and to fasten towing lines, it is also called the "first aid knot." Most people use a variation of the square knot to tie their shoes. An improperly tied square knot is called a granny knot. A granny knot may come loose under pressure and should not be used.
  • Two Half Hitches are used to fasten a rope temporarily to a post, hook, or ring. The Boy Scout book says this is a good not for tying your tent down, or for tying a clothes line to hang wet clothes and towels. This not is usually used because of it's slip feature. The knot slides with the greatest of ease, to make the loop bigger or smaller.
  • The Sheet Bend was a knot that the sailors used to tie on their ships. They tied the sails together, which were sheets. This is a good choice when tying two ropes together, especially when the ropes are different sizes.
  • The Taut-line Hitch. This is a remarkably useful knot; it's adjustable AND trustworthy. Anyone who uses a tent should know this knot. It is the best way to adjust your lines to the tent-poles. It is the most simple of the adjustable knot family.
  • The Clove Hitch. This is a very important knot, especially in your lashings. Make sure you work it up properly; pull lengthwise only at both ends. If you pull the knot at different angles, it's likely to become unreliable. If you use it be sure that both ends are pulled straight out.
  • The Timber Hitch is used to attach a rope to a log. This knot tightens under strain, but comes undone extremely easily when the rope is slack. So be sure to keep it tight. The timber hitch is very useful for dragging logs back to the camp fire, or clearing forest.
  • The Figure-Eight. This knot is larger, stronger and more easy to untie than the overhand knot. It does not harm your rope as much as the overhand knot does. So therefore sailors use this knot in most cases. Other than that, I see no use for it, other than impressing you board of review.
  • Boy Scout Knots
  • Animated Knots

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