Splicing; getting out of a bind
A step-by-step guide to rope work
Approx. job time: 15 minutes
Skill level: Easy
Tools you will need: Knife, marlinespike, whipping twine
Splicing three-strand rope is a fairly straightforward process and a useful skill. Splicing joins together two ropes of equal diameter and does not weaken the rope to the same extent that tying a knot does. When done well, the finished product looks neat, though the extra bulk may prevent the rope from running through sheaves and around blocks. Practice on nylon rope that is soft and easy on the hands. For your first attempt, use a larger-diameter rope (3/4” is ideal); small-diameter ropes are harder. Using ropes of different colors for practice work makes it easier to spot mistakes and keep track of the developing splice. Aim to keep the splice tidy, and take your time—speed will come with practice.
1.Unlay about 12 times the diameter of the rope and tie a piece of whipping twine around the rope to prevent further unraveling. Place the two ends of the rope together, alternating the strands.
2. Working against the lay of the rope, tuck one end over an opposing strand and under the next strand.
3. Rotate the rope and continue to tuck over the first strand and under the next.
4. Continue with one rope until you have four complete tucks. Make sure to pull the ends up tight—a slack splice will kink and is more likely to fail. When you have finished with half the splice, repeat the procedure with the three strands of the other rope.
5. Don’t be in a rush to trim off protruding ends. Use firm hand pressure, or roll the rope under your foot, to get the tucks to sit comfortably.
6. Use a sharp knife to cut the temporary whipping from the center of the splice.
7. Trim the ends of the strands back flush to the rope. The splice is now complete.
A small marine spike is helpful for opening up the strands of small diameter traditional hemp or polypropylene rope prior to tucking. To prevent individual stands from unraveling, wrap a small piece of masking tape around each of the ends.
An eye splice is formed exactly the same way as a short splice except that the rope is spiced back on itself. This is a particularly useful splice for attaching fenders to lengths of rope.