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.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Chapter 5 - Shortening, Gromments, and Selvagees


In many cases a rope may prove too long for our use or the free ends may be awkward, or in the way. At such times a knowledge of "shortenings" is valuable. There are quite a variety of these useful knots, nearly all of which are rather handsome and ornamental, in fact a number of them are in constant use aboard ship merely for ornament.

Illustration: FIG. 67.—Twofold shortening (making).

The simplest form of shortening, shown in Fig. 67, is a variation of the common and simple overhand knot already described and illustrated.

Illustration: FIG. 68.—Twofold shortening (taut).

These knots are formed by passing the end of a rope twice or more times through the loop of the simple knot and then drawing it tight (Fig. 68). They are known as "Double," "Treble," "Fourfold," or "Sixfold" knots and are used to prevent a rope from passing through a ring or block as well as for shortening.

Illustration: FIG. 69.—Three- and fivefold shortening.

All gradations from the double to the sixfold are shown in Fig. 69, both in process of making and as they appear when drawn taut.

Illustration: FIG. 70.—Single plait or monkey chain (making).

Another very simple form of shortening is shown in Fig. 70 and is known as the "Single Plait," or "Chain Knot." To make this shortening, make a running loop (A, Fig. 70), then draw a bight of the rope through this loop, as shown at B, draw another bight through this, as at C to D, and continue in this way until the rope is shortened to the desired length; the free end should then be fastened by passing a bit of stick through the last loop, F, or by running the free end through the last loop, as at E.

Illustration: FIG. 70 <i>F</i>.—Monkey chain or single plait (complete).

To undo this shortening, it is only necessary to slip out the free end, or the bit of wood, and pull on the end, when the entire knot will quickly unravel.

Illustration: FIG. 71.—Twist braid (making).

The "Twist," or "Double Chain," is made in a similar manner but is commenced In a different way (A, Fig. 71). It may also be made with three separate pieces of line, as shown in B, Fig. 71.

Illustration: FIG. 72.—Twist braid (complete).

Hold the double loop in the left hand; the part A is then brought over B; with a half turn B is crossed over to A, and then proceed as in the ordinary three-strand plait until the end of loop is reached, when the loose end is fastened by passing through the bight and the completed shortening appears as in Fig. 72.

Illustration: FIG. 73.—Leather cut to braid.

This same process is often used by Mexicans and Westerners in making bridles, headstalls, etc., of leather. The leather to be used is slit lengthwise from near one end to near the other, as shown in Fig. 73, and the braid is formed as described.

Illustration: FIG. 74.—Leather braid (complete).

The result appears as in Fig. 74, and in this way the ends of the leather strap remain uncut, and thus much stronger and neater than they would be were three separate strips used.

Illustration: FIG. 75.—Open chain.

Another handsome knot for shortening is the more highly ornamental "Open Chain" (Fig. 75). Make the first loop of the rope secure by a twist of the rope and then pass the loose end through the preceding loop, to right and left alternately, until the knot is complete.

Illustration: FIG. 76.—Seized shortening.

The simplest of all shortenings consists of a loop taken in the rope with the bights seized to the standing part (Fig. 76). This is particularly well adapted to heavy rope or where a shortening must be made quickly.

Illustration: FIG. 77.—Bow shortening.

Fig. 77 shows another very simple shortening, which requires no description. This will not withstand a very great strain but is secure from untying by accident and is very useful for taking up spare rope of lashings on bundles or baggage.

"Sheepshanks," or "Dogshanks," are widely used for shortening rope, especially where both ends are fast, as they can be readily made in the centre of a tied rope. There are several forms of these useful knots.

Illustration: FIG. 78.—Sheepshank.

The best and most secure form is shown in Fig. 78. A simple running knot is first made; a bend is pushed through the loop, which is then drawn taut; the other end of the bend is fastened in a similar manner and the shortening is complete.

Illustration: FIG. 79.—Another sheepshank.

A much simpler form is shown in Fig. 79, but this can hardly be depended upon unless the ends are seized, as shown in Fig. 80.

Illustration: FIG. 80.—Sheepshank with ends seized.  

Illustration: FIG. 81.—Sheepshank for free-ended rope.  

Illustration: FIG. 82.—Sheepshank for free-ended rope.

Figs. 81-82 illustrate two other forms of shortenings, but these can only be used where the end of the rope is free, and are intended for more permanent fastenings than the ordinary sheepshank; while Fig. 83 is particularly adapted to be cast loose at a moment's notice by jerking out the toggles, A, B.


Illustration: FIG. 83.—Sheepshank with toggle.

Grommets are round, endless rings of rope useful in a myriad ways aboard ship as well as ashore. They are often used as handles for chests, for rings with which to play quoits, to lengthen rope, and in many similar ways. The grommet is formed of a single strand of rope five times as long as the circumference of the grommet when complete.

Illustration: FIGS. 84, 85, and 86.—Grommet complete and making.

Take the strand and lay one end across the other at the size of loop required and with the long end follow the grooves or "lay" of the strand until back to where you started (Fig. 84), thus forming a two-stranded ring. Then continue twisting the free end between the turns already made until the three-strand ring is complete (Fig. 85). Now finish and secure the ends by making overhand knots, pass the ends underneath the nearest strands and trim ends off close (Fig. 86). If care is taken and you remember to keep a strong twist on the strand while "laying up" the grommet, the finished ring will be as firm and smooth and endless as the original rope.

Illustration: FIG. 87.—Selvagee strap.

A "Sevagee" or "Selvagee" strap is another kind of ring (Fig. 87).

Illustration: FIG. 88.—Selvagee board.

Illustration: FIG. 89.—Seizing a selvagee strap.

This is made by passing a number of strands or yarns around pins or nails set in a board (Fig. 88), and binding the whole together with a seizing of yarn or marline (Fig. 89). These are strong, durable straps much used for blocks aboard ship, for handles to boxes and chests, and in many similar ways.

Illustration: FIG. 90 <i>A</i>.—Making Flemish eye.

A "Flemish Eye" (Fig. 90) is an eye made in a manner much like that employed in forming the selvagee strap. Take a spar or piece of wood the size of the intended eye A. Around this wood lay a number of pieces of yarn or marline, B, B, B, and fasten them by tying with twine as at C. Whip the piece of rope in which eye is to be formed and unravel and open out the strands as at D. Lap the yarns over the wood and the stops B, and fasten together by overhand knots E, worm the free ends under and over and then bring up the ends of the stops B and tie around the strands of eye as shown.

Illustration: FIG. 90 <i>B</i>.—Flemish eye (complete).

The eye may be finished neatly by whipping all around with yarn or marline, and will then appear as in Fig. 90 B.

Illustration: FIG. 91.—Artificial eye.

An "Artificial Eye" (Fig. 91) is still another form of eye which will be found useful and in some ways easier and quicker to make than a spliced eye, besides being stronger.

Illustration: FIGS. 92 and 93.—Making artificial eye.

Take the end of a rope and unlay one strand; place the two remaining strands back alongside of the standing part (Fig. 92). Pass the loose strand which has been unlaid over the end, and follow around the spaces between the two strands and then around eye,—as in making a grommet,—until it returns down the standing part and lies under the eye with the strands (Fig. 93). Then divide the strands, taper them down, and whip the whole with yarn or marline (Fig. 94).

Illustration: FIGS. 92 and 93.—Making artificial eye.   Illustration: FIG. 94.—Artificial eye (whipped).

Illustration: FIG. 95.—Throat seizing.

Still another eye which at times will be useful is the "Throat Seizing," shown in Fig. 95. This is made by opening the end slightly and lashing it to the standing part as shown. Another ring sometimes used is illustrated in Fig. 96, and is easily and quickly made by lashing the two ends of a short rope to the standing part of another. Cuckolds' necks with lashings or "Clinches" are also used for the same purpose.

Illustration: FIG. 96.—Lashed cut-splice.
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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