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Ratlines-What knot do you use on the ends? And how do you trim off the thread?

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ahoy Mates


I use a clove hitch for the ratlines except for the two ends. I have used an overhand knot,but should I just use the clovehitch on the ends also?


And how do you trim off the ends fluch with the shrouds on the outside?



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Keith depends on the scale and the modellers preference, or how real you want to keep it.  For smaller scales I simply use a clove hitch and trim the ends with nail clippers where the curve allows you to get close, then a dab of 'flat' varnish to hold the hitch.  For larger scales (1:48 and up) I might be tempted to form an eye and seize to the shroud at either end - but that is a lot of work and would depend on the level of actual practice you wish to achieve.


other modellers may have a different approach, especially if building to museum quality.





If at first you do not suceed, try, and then try again!
Current build: HMCSS Victoria (Scratch)

Next build: HMAS Vampire (3D printed resin, scratch 1:350)

Built:          Battle Station (Scratch) and HM Bark Endeavour 1768 (kit 1:64)

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I just use a clove hitch, and then use flat matte varnish to 'fix' it.  After the glue dries I use side cutters or fingernail clippers to trim the end off as close as possible.

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Think that a cow hitch is used on the outside schrods and clove hitches between, takes advantage of the natural lay of the hitches. Been looking at the constrictor knot, it might be the better knot for the ratlines, replacing the clove hitch. popeye2sea suggested the constrictor on another post, probably a knot used by grandad on the ears of grain sacks, to start and finish sewing the tops closed, a knot I haven't used but see some use for it.


Edited by jud
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That's certainly the right way to do it, but not my lazy way to do it. :P

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LOL - I wasn't recommending splices!  The Cow Hitch that Dan shows in the second sequence is actually pretty easy, and keeps the remaining loose tail of the line facing inwards rather than having small ends sticking out.

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I find the cow hitch for the outside knots works really well. Any slight ends that are not cut off flush are pointing back into the shrouds instead of pointing out of them, which I think makes them less noticeable. You do have to be a little more careful trimming them so you don't accidentally cut the ratline or worse, the shroud.

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Hi Keith;


I think you will find that in the days of sailing vessels a clove hitch was used where the ratlines crossed the inner shrouds,  but an eye-splice was formed in each end and this was seized to the outermost shrouds.


All the best,


Mark P

Previously built models (long ago, aged 18-25ish) POB construction. 32 gun frigate, scratch-built sailing model, Underhill plans.

2 masted topsail schooner, Underhill plans.


Started at around that time, but unfinished: 74 gun ship 'Bellona' NMM plans. POB 


On the drawing board: POF model of Royal Caroline 1749, part-planked with interior details. My own plans, based on Admiralty draughts and archival research.


Always on the go: Research into Royal Navy sailing warship design, construction and use, from Tudor times to 1790. 


Member of NRG, SNR, NRS, SMS

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I'm such a big fan of the Constrictor knot I put up a tutorial on it a while ago:  http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/4029-the-constrictor-knot/?hl=constrictor

Its a great knot to have in your bag of tricks. Its only drawback- if it is a drawback- is that once it is tied and pulled tight it is extraordinarily hard to untie, the smaller the line its tied in, the harder it is to untie. Its a tiny bit bulkier than the near cousin knot the Clove Hitch and this would give it a bigger lump if you were to use it to terminate a ratline.    

Edited by JerseyCity Frankie




 Niagara USS Constitution 


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