Three-strand Eye Splice

Here are directions for the most basic splice: the three-strand eye splice. While mankind has largely moved beyond 3-strand rope, it’s still often the most affordable, and thus popular for ground tackle and docklines. It’s also used a lot by those who affect the classic look on their boats, and for decorative work.

Start by putting a seizing to stop the strands unlaying too far. You don’t need to unlay too much rope for this splice. Here a 3/8″ rope gets about 8″
Unlay the strands back to the whipping and put a wrap of tape around each one. With newer Nylon ropes, it’s good to make sure the strand is twisted tight into shape or it’ll get all floppy.
With the line coming in from the right, bend the tail around counter-clockwise to form the eye. It’s critical that the line bend counter-clockwise, otherwise the strands will want to go along the lay instead of across it. Look at the difference in the next frame.
See? While you can splice this way, it’s a different sort of splice for a different reason, one which no one ever needs to use, because it’s not elegant. Now go back and do it right.
Here we go. Choose a strand to go first, and tuck it under a strand in the standing part.
Pull it up snug so it looks like this.
The second tuck goes over the strand that’s been gone under to go under the next. It’s going to make a pretty pattern of over/under that will be symmetrical.
Here’s where most people fall off the bus. They naturally want to tuck the third strand, but it’s really hard to figure out where. Instead, tuck the first strand a second time. Now you’ll be able to see where the third strand wants to go.
Flip the splice over, and the spot to tuck the third strand is immediately visible. It’s under that standing strand that the first strand will go over on the next tuck.
It’ll look curly as you put it in, and as though it’s too far around to reach, but once you pull it snug it’ll be awesome.
See? I told ya.
Now, with the first strand tucked twice and the second and third once each, you’ve got symmetry in the way the strands stick out. All you have to do is tuck each one in turn, round and round, until you have five tucks with each strand.
You can even do less with grippy ropes like this: five tucks is good for slippy stuff like nylon. But if you do more it just looks silly. Besides, there’s still the taper.
You can taper several ways, but I prefer the ‘Frisco taper, which may not be it’s actual name, since splicing existed long before San Francisco, and this is the easiest and best taper. Just tuck one strand an extra time, and another two extra times.
Easy-peasy. What a nice taper.
Cut off the tails close to the body, and it’s done. If it looks lumpy, you can roll it violently against the bench with your palm, and it’ll tidy up.
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