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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Knots, Splices and Rope Work, by A. Hyatt Verrill

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Title: Knots, Splices and Rope Work Author: A. Hyatt Verrill Release Date: September 21, 2004 [eBook #13510] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 ***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK KNOTS, SPLICES AND ROPE WORK***

E-text prepared by Paul Hollander, Ronald Holder, and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team

'casualities' to 'casualties'
'Midshipmen's hitch' to 'Midshipman's hitch'

Transcriber's Notes:Corrected spellings

Illustration for Timber Hitch is Fig. 38, not Fig. 32 There is no Fig. 134.

The Project Gutenberg eBook, Knots, Splices and Rope Work, by A. Hyatt Verrill1

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Knots, Splices and Rope Work, by A. Hyatt Verrill E-text prepared by Paul Hollander, Ronald Holder,and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team2


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.

A. HYATT VERRILL Editor 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.

CHAPTER I CORDAGE Kinds of Rope. Construction of Rope. Strength of Ropes. Weight of Ropes. Material Used in Making Ropes.

Parts of Rope. Whipping and Seizing Rope. Loops. Cuckolds' Necks. Clinches. Overhand and Figure-eight Knots. Square and Reef Knots. Granny Knots. Open-hand and Fishermen's Knots. Ordinary Knots and Weavers' Knots. Garrick Bends and Hawser Hitches. Half-hitches.


Larks' Heads. Slippery and Half-hitches. Clove Hitches. Gunners' Knots and Timber Hitches. Twists, Catspaws, and Blackwall Hitches. Chain Hitch. Rolling and Magnus Hitches. Studding-sail and Gaff-topsail Halyard Bends. Roband and Fisherman's Hitches.

CHAPTER IV NOOSES, LOOPS, AND MOORING KNOTS Waterman's Knot. Larks' Heads with Nooses. Cleat and Wharf Ties. Bow-line Knots. Loops and Loop Knots.

Two-, Three-, and Fivefold Shortenings. Single Plaits and Monkey Chain. Twist Braids and Braiding Leather. Open Chains. Seized and Bow Shortenings. Sheepshanks and Dogshanks. Grommets. Selvagee Straps and Selvagee Boards. Flemish and Artificial Eyes. Throat Seizings. Lashed Splices.

Wedding Knots and Rose Lashings. Deadeye and Loop Lashings. Belaying-pin Splice. Necklace Ties. Close Bands and End Pointing. Ending Ropes. Short Splices. Long Splices. Eye and Cut Splices.

Single Crown Knots. Tucked Crowns. Single Wall Knots. Common and French Shroud Knots. Double Crown and Double Wall Knots. Crowning Wall Knots. Double Wall and Crown. Manrope Knots. Topsail-halyard Toggles. Matthew Walker and Stopper Knots. Turks' Heads and Turks' Caps. Worming, Parcelling, and Serving. Serving Mallet. Half-hitch Work. Four-strand and Crown Braids. Rope Buckles and Swivels. Slinging Casks and Barrels. Rope Belting.

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Knots, Splices and Rope Work, by A. Hyatt Verrill


The history of ropes and knots is so dim and ancient that really little is known of their origin. That earliest man used cordage of some kind and by his ingenuity succeeded in tying the material together, is indisputable, for the most ancient carvings and decorations of prehistoric man show knots in several forms. Doubtless the trailing vines and plants first suggested ropes to human beings; and it is quite probable that these same vines, in their various twistings and twinings, gave man his first idea of knots.

Since the earliest times knots have been everywhere interwoven with human affairs; jugglers have used them in their tricks; they have become almost a part of many occupations and trades, while in song and story they have become the symbol of steadfastness and strength.

Few realize the importance that knots and cordage have played in the world's history, but if it had not been for these simple and every-day things, which as a rule are given far too little consideration, the human race could never have developed beyond savages. Indeed, I am not sure but it would be safe to state that the real difference between civilized and savage man consists largely in the knowledge of knots and rope work. No cloth could be woven, no net or seine knitted, no bow strung and no craft sailed on lake or sea without numerous knots and proper lines or ropes; and Columbus himself would have been far more handicapped without knots than without a compass.

History abounds with mention of knots, and in the eighth book of "Odyssey" Ulysses is represented as securing various articles of raiment by a rope fastened in a "knot closed with Circean art"; and as further proof of the prominence the ancients gave to knots the famous Gordian Knot may be mentioned. Probably no one will ever learn just how this fabulous knot was tied, and like many modern knots it was doubtless far easier for Alexander to cut it than to untie it.

The old sorcerers used knots in various ways, and the witches of Lapland sold sailors so-called "Wind Knots," which were untied by the sailors when they desired a particular wind. Even modern conjurors and wizards use knots extensively in their exhibitions and upon the accuracy and manner in which their knots are tied depends the success of their tricks.

In heraldry many knots have been used as symbols and badges and many old Coats of Arms bear intricate and handsome knots, or entwined ropes, emblazoned upon them.

As to the utility of knots and rope work there can be no question. A little knowledge of knots has saved many a life in storm and wreck, and if every one knew how to quickly and securely tie a knot there would be far fewer casualties in hotel and similar fires. In a thousand ways and times a knowledge of rope and knots is useful and many times necessary. Many an accident has occurred through a knot or splice being improperly formed, and even in tying an ordinary bundle or "roping" a trunk or box few people tie a knot that is secure and yet readily undone and quickly made. In a life of travel and adventure in out-of-the-way places, in yachting or boating, in hunting or fishing, and even in motoring, to command a number of good knots and splices is to make life safer, easier, and more enjoyable, aside from the real pleasure one may find in learning the interesting art of knot-tying.

Through countless ages the various forms of knots and fastenings for rope, cable, or cord have been developed; the best kinds being steadily improved and handed down from generation to generation, while the

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Knots, Splices and Rope Work, by A. Hyatt Verrill

INDEX 5 poor or inferior fastenings have been discarded by those whose callings required the use of cordage.

Gradually, too, each profession or trade has adopted the knots best suited to its requirements, and thus we find the Sailor's Knot; the Weaver's Knot; Fishermen's knots; Builders' knots; Butchers' knots; and many others which have taken their names from the use to which they are especially adapted.

In addition to these useful knots, there are many kinds of ornamental or fancy knots used in ornamenting the ends of ropes, decorating shrouds of vessels, railings, and similar objects; while certain braids or plaits, formed by a series of knots, are widely used aboard ship and on land.

In many cases ropes or cable must be joined in such a way that they present a smooth and even surface and for such purposes splices are used, while knots used merely as temporary fastenings and which must be readily and quickly tied and untied are commonly known as "bends" or "hitches." Oddly enough, it is far easier to tie a poor knot than a good one, and in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the tyro, when attempting to join two ropes together, will tie either a "slippery" or a "jamming" knot and will seldom succeed in making a recognized and "ship-shape" knot of any sort.

The number of knots, ties, bends, hitches, splices, and shortenings in use is almost unlimited and they are most confusing and bewildering to the uninitiated. The most useful and ornamental, as well as the most reliable, are comparatively few in number, and in reality each knot learned leads readily to another; in the following pages I have endeavored to describe them in such a manner that their construction may be readily understood and mastered.


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.

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Knots, Splices and Rope Work, by A. Hyatt Verrill


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).

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 = 3-1/3 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

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Knots, Splices and Rope Work, by A. Hyatt Verrill

CHAPTER I7 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.

For convenience in handling rope and learning the various knots, ties, and bends, we use the terms "standing part," "bight," and "end" (Fig. 3). The Standing Part is the principal portion or longest part of the rope; the Bight is the part curved or bent while working or handling; while the End is that part used in forming the knot or hitch. Before commencing work the loose ends or strands of a rope should be "whipped" or "seized" to prevent the rope from unravelling; and although an expert can readily tie almost any knot, make a splice, or in fact do pretty nearly anything with a loose-ended rope, yet it is a wise plan to invariably whip the end of every rope, cable, or hawser to be handled, while a marline-spike, fid, or pointed stick will also prove of great help in working rope.

To whip or seize a rope-end, take a piece of twine or string and lay it on the rope an inch or two from the end, pass the twine several times around the rope, keeping the ends of the twine under the first few turns to hold it in place; then make a large loop with the free end of twine; bring it back to the rope and continue winding for three or four turns around both rope and end of twine; and then finish by drawing the loop tight by pulling on the free end (Fig. 4).

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Knots, Splices and Rope Work, by A. Hyatt Verrill

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