How to Splice a Rope

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Frugality was a way of life on the farm in our grandparents’ day.

Farmers did not have an unlimited source of income. They struggled to make ends meet. They lived by the old New England maxim: “Use it up, wear it out; make it do, or do without.”

For example, the farmer who broke a 150-foot length of 3/4- or 1-inch diameter rope while hoisting hay into his haymow could hardly afford to buy a new rope. Instead, he had to splice the rope. For him, that might not have been hard to do. But today, try to find someone who can splice a rope. That is another rope trick that has not been passed down through the generations.

The farmer mentioned above would need to make a so-called “short splice.” The short splice will be as strong as the original rope, but it will make a slight increase in the diameter of the rope. It can be used only in places where this increase in diameter will not seriously affect the operation of the rope. In most cases, that was not a problem with the hoisting hay rope as it traveled through the series of pulleys and sheaves as it does its work.

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Here’s a way to make a short splice:

1. Cut the rope ends evenly.

2. Untwist the strands at the end of the rope about six or seven turns (Figure 1).

3. Tie three or four turns of string around each rope where the strands begin separating.

4. To make them easier to braid, tie two or three turns of string around the end of each of the strands (Figure 2).

5. Pull back the strands of each rope so they do not cross each other. Push the rope ends together with the separate strands intermingled. Each strand of each end should be between two strands of the other end of the rope.

6. Tie the three loose ends of the left hand rope to the right rope to keep them together (Figure 3).

7. Cut the string binding off the left end of the rope. This leaves strands free for braiding.

8. Take a strand from the right rope and bring it up over the nearest strand on the left rope, down under the next strand, and back up again. It is easier to use an awl or some other device to lift the strands on the left rope to open a space to weave the strand from the right rope through it (Figure 4). Repeat the operation on each of the three strands. Give each strand at least two more tucks.

9. Now move to the right rope. Cut the string binding off that rope. Repeat step 8 for the right rope.

10. Cut off all loose ends and roll the splice on a hard surface to smooth it (Figure 5).

There: You’ve just spliced a rope. You have a nice, neat splice that will be as strong as the original rope — and it didn’t cost a dime. Now that you know how, practice just a bit with some old rope. Soon you too will be able to splice a rope just like Grandpa used to do. He would be proud of you.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment