Splicing Rope

Link to: Older Pamphlet InfoThe following text is by Adolph E. Peschke as presented in the 1998 printing of the 1993 edition of the Pioneering Merit Badge Pamphlet:

Making the proper splices in the proper places on your ropes is the benchmark of a skilled craftsman. Very often, the ability to do a neat job of splicing is placed on the top of the skills list of ropework. Making splices is not really all that hard to do. There are three basic types of splices that are typically made on three-strand twisted rope: an eye splice, a back splice, and a short splice. The basic process in all three splices is to unlay the strands at the end of the rope, then weave them over and under back into the rope to form the splice. In some cases the right knot could do the same job as each of these three splices: a bowline might be used instead of an eye splice; a square knot or carrick bend instead of  a short splice, and whipping could replace the back splice. Knots are bulkier than splices. Splices are neater and smaller and not likely to come untied in use. Splices in ropes make the rope secure and ready to go when needed.

There are a number of rather complicated splices. The eye splice, back splice and short splice are basic and well suited to the type of pioneering outlined (in this pamphlet.) The splices shown here can be made in any three strand rope (manila, sisal, poly, or nylon). Learning how to make the first tuck on each of the three strands is the key to splicing. The first tuck sets up the pattern for the following tucks and gives the splice a symmetrical appearance. Those first few tucks that you make might look a bit rough, but try to remember that neatness is one of the keys to a well-made splice. Try to prevent each strand from raveling while you’re working with it. Also, you should try to pull each set of tucks tight and with even tension. The rope should maintain approximately 80% of its strength if the splice is made with a series of three tucks on each of the three strands. If after making the first three tucks on all three strands, you reduce each strand to one-half of its fibers and make a fourth tuck, the splice will have a nice tapered look.

To learn the technique of splicing, it’s best to practice with a short piece of 1/4″ three strand manila rope. Avoid sisal and plastic rope until you have mastered splicing with manila rope. Even the best drawings of the steps for making a splice can look confusing. The best way to learn how to splice is to sit down one-on-one with someone who is familiar with the techniques and go over each step a few times until you get used to how the strands are woven together. Splicing is not one of those skills that you can do once and then never forget how to do it. It takes a lot of practice.

Back Splice

Back Splice

BACK SPLICE The back splice is made to prevent the end of the rope from raveling. It can be used instead of making a whipping. Of the three splices shown here, the back splice is the least used because its bulk at the working end of the rope makes tying some knots more difficult.

1. Unlay more than sufficient to make the splice and spread the strands evenly. 2. Make a crown knot by bending each end over its neighbor in turn, going the same way round as the lay of the rope. 3. Pull the crown knot into shape. 4. Tighten it on top of the rope.  5. Tuck each end in turn over the adjoining main strand and under the next. Draw tight close up to the crown knot. 6. Continue in this way over and under one in turn for at least three times. Draw tight after each round of tucks.

Back Splice Drawing


Simple Eye Splice


  • The eye splice creates a fixed loop at the end of the rope. These are some of the uses for an eye splice:
  • Splice a fixed loop onto the end of a guy line.
  • Splice a fixed loop with a thimble in a 10′ rope to form a strop (refer to the “Anchors” section).
  • Splice a rope into an eyebolt at the bow of a canoe.
  • Splice a rope into a tent or fly grommet.
  • Splice the throwing line into a ring buoy at the waterfront.
  • Splice the line into the block of a block and tackle.
  • Put eye splices into each end of a rope to be used as a sling.

A. Open more than enough for tucking. Place ends so two nearer eye are across the lay of the rope and the third is behind. B. Tuck strand 2 under a main strand. C. Tuck strand 1 under the next main strand going in where strand 2 comes out. D. Turn splice over and tuck strand 3 under the only main strand without an end under it, going the same way aound the rope as the other two tucks. E. There will now be one end projecting from each space in the rope. Pull the ends through to give an even tension and a close joint. F. Tuck strand 2 again, over and under one main strand. G. Do the same with the other ends. Pull to an even tension. H. Do this again for a total of three tucks in natural fiber rope and four in synthetic rope.

Eye Splice Drawing

Short Splice Used to Make a Rope Grommet

Short Splice Used to Make a Rope Grommet

SHORT SPLICE A short splice can be used in place of a knot to join to ropes or the ends of the same rope together. If two ropes are being joined with a short splice, they should be the same type of rope and have the same diameter. Some of the applications of a short splice follow:

  • Splice the ends of a long line that has been cut, or when a frayed or unsafe portion needs to be cut out.
  • Splice the ends of a short length of rope to form a grommet (fixed loop).
  • Use it on a 10′ length of rope to form a strop (fixed loop). (Refer to the “Anchors” section.)
Unlay the ropes, intertwine the strands, and tie a temporary whipping to hold the ropes together. Tie each strand with a constrictor knot to prevent raveling. Starting with one strand (A) of the left rope, take it over one of the strands (1) on the right rope, and tuck it under the next strand (2) on the right. Roll the rope towards you and take the next strand (B) in turn. Take it over the strand (2) on the right rope, and tuck it under the next strand (3). Roll the rope towards you again and tuck the third strand (C) over strand (3) and under the next strand on the right rope. At this point, three strands of the left rope should be tucked under three strands on the right rope. Continue by making another tuck with each strand. Continue the process until three tucks have been made with each strand. Remove the temporary whipping and splice the other left ends in the same way.

Short Splice Drawing

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6 thoughts on “Splicing Rope

  1. Pingback: Knot-Tying Terminology | SCOUT - PIONEERING

  2. Nice site – nice to see someone passing on history to people

    One the tucks – I have seen in different books the number of tucks at Three, Four or Five – the difference seems to be: Three tucks for natural fiber, Four tucks for Spun synthetic line (i.e. Dacron & Nylon) and Five for Continuous filament line. I do five all the time (almost all my splicing is now done in continuous filament Nylon line) and when I am teaching splicing I go over the differences that people will find in the count. Sorry for the nitpicking

    Since you are teaching knot tying skills you might find my instructions on how to tie a Bowline if you are left handed, there is also a link on the article for a printer friendly PDF version you can print and take with you or give to the left handed scouts.


    Keep up the good work

  3. Pingback: The Older Pioneering Merit Badge Pamphlet | SCOUT - PIONEERING

  4. Pingback: The Older Pioneering Merit Badge Pamphlet | SCOUT - PIONEERING

  5. Pingback: Introduction to Pioneering | SCOUT - PIONEERING

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