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I am at the stage in my first build where I will be starting the standing rigging.  Throughout the build I have been confused as to what knot to use to tie lines to secure deadeyes or to secure lines to any other structure. In addition, what is the best way to whip a line and when to use whipping. I have attempted to use Half hitch, Fisherman’s knot, Blake’s hitch sailor’s whipping etc., etc., but nothing seems to be a good standard method that is easy to tie with small line and still look somewhat authentic.  Any help would be appreciated.






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I almost don't know how to answer this because I hesitate to suggest a path that you may find tedious or frustrating, but to my mind nothing looks better than the real thing.  Knots were never used to fasten anything on a ship.  There were bends, hitches, splices, seizings, lashings, etc.  You may want to reference a copy of something like The Art of Rigging by Steel to get an idea of what was used where.  For instance, deadeyes are turned in on the end of shrouds using a throat seizing and two round seizings.  Blocks were lashed to other lines through the eye of their strop or attached to a spar by a rose lashing.


Depending on the scale of your model these can be replicated, but to do so adds a bunch more work and time.  You may find that this is too much effort, but the results can add an amazing look of authenticity to your rigging.


As far as whipping goes, I would only do it on the larger lines like shrouds or stays.  It really wouldn't be very visible on smaller stuff.  I would combine the whipping with the end seizing by simply continuing to take 4 or 5 turns around the bitter end of the shroud finishing the whipping by passing the end under the last two turns or make a clove hitch.  A drop of white glue will secure the hitch and then trim the shroud above the whipping.


All that being said about no knots.  One of my best friends is the constrictor knot.  It is basically a clove hitch with an extra tuck under one of the turns.  When you pull it tight it will not loosen.  I have used it to start seizings, lashings, and servings.  The neat thing about it is you do not end up with a big unsightly knob of a knot.  (Try using the constrictor for the last two turns of the whipping. You might not even need any glue to secure it after that!).


Like I mentioned,  all that is a lot of extra effort.  There are a lot, lot, lot of modelers that will give you simple, easy, effective methods of fastening, but me being something of a rigging nerd, I thought I would put my two cents in.





Laissez le bon temps rouler ! 



Current Build:  Le Soleil Royal

Completed Build Amerigo Vespucci

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Find a 4 or 5 foot section of cotton rope, (clothesline rope), 1/4" will do 3/8" if you can find it and start tying the hitches and bends, you will have 2 ends so bends can be tied to see how they work. You can use broom handles, chair backs any number of thing around the house to learn your marlinespike seamanship, actually 3 or four different bends and hitches is all you really need. There are books and some sites on line that will show you how to make any knot, hitch, bend or splice you need, heck next month you may be trying monkey fists on the ends of heaving lines to hang around your model. Learning this stuff can be fun and some of us use much of it in real life, ashore or afloat.



Edited by jud
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I’m recommending the Constrictor knot too, it’s the perfect model building knot for tying around masts . But On smaller scale models I recommend the simple overhand knot for all the rest of the knots where a line terminates somewhere in the rig and the reason is it’s the least bulky knot. Real knots on small scale models are too bulky, they can’t be drawn down tight enough to shrink to a scale size. This problem intensifies the smaller you go.

A case in point is the Clove Hitch used on ratlins. On smaller models the rows and rows of clove-hitches on the shrouds give them a too bulky look, the knots are big round bulges sometimes taking up a significant percentage of the space between ratlines. They are technically correct but they can’t be tied in scale below a certain size.  

On larger scale models you SHOULD use actual Bowlins Fisherman’s Bends Sheet Bends, etc since they’d be big enough to see.

The trouble with the Overhand knot is that it’s so simple it won’t hold without a drop of glue. When I tie one I leave the tail long and clip a clothespin on this loose end to keep weight on it then I put a drop of white glue on the knot. Trim it flush afterwords when dry and the resulting tiny bump is a  comfortably realistic representation. 




 Niagara USS Constitution 


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The real problem with too bulky knots is that the thread used is to thick. One should carefully select the size according to scale.


When it would be descernible at the scale, I tend to use the actual prototype knot. Otherwise, I am using most frequently the clove hitch and half-hitch. I prefer the clove hitch over the constrictor knot, if there is a chance that I might need to untie it again.


Belaying would also follow prototype practice, if at all practicable.


Where splices were used, I would make false splices, i.e. I would draw the end through itself twice or three times with a needle.



panta rhei - Everything is in flux



M-et-M-72.jpg  Banner-AKHS-72.jpg  Banner-AAMM-72.jpg  ImagoOrbis-72.jpg
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