Splicing Instructions

I provide these splicing instructions as a resource that I wish I’d had when building Ganymede, when core-dependent braids were new and Dyneema only came in one flavor.  Instructions for splicing back then were hard to find and incomplete.  We now have endless video feeds to instruct in any sort of thing desired, but I find them hard to sort through and harder to watch.  So I’ve put up here a method I prefer, since my mind can actually keep up with it: the captioned slideshow.

These directions are born out of a lifetime of seafaring and splicing rope, the last four years of which have been spent splicing yacht ropes professionally–as of this posting, it’s how I make my living.  And though It’s now my work, as a diehard DIY guy, I hope other resourceful cruisers will find this useful in their quest to save money and time without compromising quality.

Before we start cutting, though, let’s have a short discourse on tools.  There’s lots of different fids and fid sets out there, and those who swear by each, and even those who can do nearly any splice with a paper clip and a piece of masking tape.

I began with the Samson fid set sold at West Marine, and it’s sufficient for most DIY sailors.  Its disadvantage is that not being anodized, the fids tend to get a surface crust of oxidation when in the damp of a boat, and they don’t glide through the rope as easily.

My favorite fid set is the Yale kit in the picture:

Splicing rope, yale ropes, splice
The Yale professional splicing kit.

It contains all the fids you’ll need to splice most rope up to 1″, and with these fids I routinely splice up to two-inch double braid dockline.  The kit also contains a handy chart of fid lengths:

fid lengths for splicing
Fid specs chart. One fid=21Xrope diameter

But a set of fids is not enough. The picture below shows some other necessaries:

tools for splicing rope
Splicing tools

You’ll see a nylon hammer for beating on splices; a palm, markers, needle, electrical tape, and ruler, which need no explanation. The pliers are Manley fishing pliers, with a parallel, non marring jaw system that excels at pulling needles through.  The pull fid is essential: I have a whole variety of them made cheaply out of folded welding rod or stainless steel leader wire in different thicknesses.  The little hardwood pin is for inserting in knots so they don’t tighten up too much to undo: any sort of pin will do, and various sizes are nice, but it’s best for them to be wood so they don’t mar the bench.

The little aluminum fid is the smallest of the Samson fids–I like it for separating cover strands because it has a finer point than the smallest Yale fid.  It’s shiny because I use it every day.  Last of all there’s scissors and a knife. When near civilization, disposable ceramic knives are great–they last a couple weeks of hard use, and get retired to the paring knife drawer.  For long-term use, I have a steel knife I keep finely honed, and tune up the edge every day or so.  The scissors are micro-serrated: very important.  The world is full of option for these sorts: my favorite are these Clauss Titanium 5″ shears.  Basically any shears designed to cut Kevlar cloth will do, though.

With these basic tools, you can do just about any everyday splice. By the time you get to extraordinary splicing, you’ll be able to make the things you need out of common household materials.  I once made a fid out of a broomstick and a cut-off length of one-inch cover.  But that doesn’t happen often…..

Happy splicing, and keep your eyes open for new instructions that I’ll post as I have leisure.

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