Check out an easier way to whip a rope that holds much better!

Preventing the ends of rope from fraying is a process referred to as “whipping.” Learning how to whip the ends of a rope is one of the early requirements on the Scouts BSA advancement trail.

Indeed there are many approaches to whipping a rope, but the one that’s used for the hundreds of lashing ropes in the pioneering area at national jamborees, as well as the 2019 World Jamboree, is known as the West Country Whipping. What’s so special about this whipping? The answer is simple. It’s easy to teach and easy to tie, and most importantly, it’s easy to make tight! Hence, Scouts learn it more quickly and like it much better.

1. Start by tying a half knot, the way you would start a square knot, near the rope’s end.

2. Continue by carrying the two ends of the whipping cord around the back of the rope, away from you, and tie another half knot identical to the first.

3. Keep repeating the half knots, front and back, pulling each one tight.

4. Form each half knot the same way, either right over left, or left over right, so they interlock neatly together, and snug against the previous half knot.

5. Continue the process until the whipping is as wide as the rope’s diameter.

6. Finish off with a tight square knot.

7. Finally, the excess cord is trimmed. VIEW THE HOW-TO VIDEO

—> Sailmaker’s Whipping (stays put even under hard use)

6 thoughts on “Check out an easier way to whip a rope that holds much better!”

    1. Yes. A series of half hitches works well for whipping and also can readily be used as a round lashing is the same way the West Country configuration of half knots forms the West Country round lashing. https://scoutpioneering.com/videos/lashing-videos/west-country-round-lashing/ Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see what can be called a Half Hitch Round Lashing: https://scoutpioneering.com/2014/01/27/four-different-lashings-to-extend-the-length-of-a-spar/

  1. The virtue of the American Whipping is that you can tie it much more quickly than the West Country Whipping. I make sure to tie it tightly (as mentioned above), and I also fluff out the rope fibers above the whipping. If you color code your rope lengths with paint, then the paint will also secure the whipping to the rope. I have several dozen painted and American Whipped lashing ropes that have been in service for over 10 years now without any problems.

    That said, time adds up quick when you have to whip a lot of rope. At our camp (https://www.campsomers.org/year-round/backwoods-engineering), we now use hog rings for all of our 1/4″ rope and the Sailmakers’ Whipping for 1/2″ and bigger lines. With a good pair of hog ring pliers (https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/dewalt-hog-ring-pliers-kit or similar) it only takes about 10 seconds to secure each rope end.

    -Carl

  2. Jim Keller, the director of the Pioneering area at the 2013, 2017 national jamborees and for the 2019 World Jamboree, provided the following account and explanation on FaceBook: “As to the “failure” of the American whipping, I find that, more often than not, the cause of the failure is that the whipping pulls off the end. This is avoided if the initial whipping is made tight enough to compress the rope such that the whipping becomes too small to slide off the end. However, where the line is subjected to wear, if the whipping line is worn and breaks in one place, the entire whipping fails immediately. Not so with the West Country. I learned this the hard way. At the 1985 National Scout Jamboree, as a new Pioneering staffer, I had whipped the ends of several lengths of polypropylene rope using the American whipping. Adolph Peschke, may he rest in peace, the Dean of American Pioneering, was the Director of the Action Center where I was working. Of course, Adolp inspected these lines, saw my American whipping, and publicly insisted that I redo them as they would slip off. I challenged him to pull the whippings off. He tugged and tugged, but I had done them so tight, they would not budge. THAT’s when he explained about the wearing issue. He tossed me the lines, and, of course, I wound up doing it Adolph’s way after all.”

  3. A better practice is to begin this whipping with a “Constrictor” knot. It will secure the whipping even if the rest of the overhand knots fail. You can tie a square (reef) knot every 3 or 4 overhand knots to further isolate the overhand knots should there be a partial failure.

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