Whipping knot

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When rope is cut, there is a natural tendency for the cut end to fray. Applying a whipping knot very near the cut end is one way to try to prevent this. A whipping is a kind of binding where multiple turns of small stuff are pulled tightly around the rope, near the cut end, and made neat and permanent by tying it off or sewing it through the rope.

When doing this to thick sailing-ship-type rope, the "small stuff" used was sometimes whipcord, whence the word usage.

A constrictor knot or a turn of self-adhesive plastic tape can be used temporarily to hold the fibres of a cut line until a final whipping can be applied.

Common whipping knot

takes time and some skill to apply, probably needs specialist equipment (palm, needle etc).
neat, soft, aesthetic, permanent.
Most suitable for
Whipping is suitable for synthetic and natural ropes and lines. It is suitable for both stranded and braided ropes, lines and cables (3-strand rope, 4-strand cable and 8-strand multiplait as well as concentric and braided constructions).

Types of whipping knots

Alternatives to whipping


The cut fibres at the end of synthetic ropes or lines can be melted together either with a hot metal rope cutter or with the cool (transparent) part of a butane lighter flame.

Cannot be done on wet rope and often untidy when done on used or dirty rope. The melted end will be hard and can cause injury for example if flicked in the face. With age, use and ultraviolet damage, the hard end will crack and the sharp edges so produced can cut the hands in use, especially if the end runs through the palms. The melting process can easily be overheated causing an unsightly, rough, blackened end, especially if a hot flame is used. Difficult to do outdoors in any breeze and, if the rope is overheated or catches fire, can produce toxic fumes in an enclosed space. Fire or injury risk on a boat, especially if the fibres catch fire and molten, burning plastic begins to drip. Not applicable to natural fibre ropes and lines.
Quick to apply, no great skill to learn.
Most suitable for
Many believe that melting the ends is most appropriate for finishing small-stuff, but is not recommended for working ropes and lines.


A back splice can be applied to the end of any rope, especially stranded ropes.

Adds extra thickness to the end so that it will no longer pull through blocks and sheaves. Takes time and skill to apply. Needs special equipment (fid and small-stuff or self-adhesive tape while working). To be truly robust and permanent, the ends of the strands may still need whipping, or the whole splice serving after the back-splice is finished as this work will not be held in permanent tension, and may tend to unravel if banged around in use.
The extra thickness may be seen as an advantage as it allows the user to feel the end of the rope coming into the hand, for example on a bucket lanyard when fetching water from a river bank or from the deck of a boat.
Most suitable for
Bucket ropes and other lanyards

See also

External links