How to Make a Marlin Spike

Written by contributing writer
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A marlin spike is a metal pointed tool used in splicing rope and untying knots. It is usually a slender cone shape with a pointed but blunt end for inserting between strands of rope or to loosen knots. The term marlinspike refers to basic knowledge about nautical knots and splices. Marlin spikes are different lengths and thicknesses depending on the size and braid of rope you are working with. A lanyard is sometimes attached to a marlin spike.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Metal rod
  • Vice
  • File
  • Hammer
  • Polishing wheel

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  1. 1

    Get a metal rod. Stainless steel is the stiffest and least likely to bend, but aluminium is easier to work. For small boating ropes, a rod about 1/8 inch in diameter or slightly larger is adequate, about 6 to 12 inches long. If you are using a lathe, a larger diameter rod can be used.

  2. 2

    Stabilise the rod. Clamp the rod in a vice, leaving the end to be sharpened exposed to a length of about 1 to 2 inches.

  3. 3

    Sharpen one end. Use the file to sharpen the exposed end of the rod. Turn the rod in the vice to make the point symmetrical. The longer you taper the rod, the better it will be for splicing and untying knots. It is a matter of how much time you want to spend on filing the rod. You don't want the end to be a pin-point--it will catch in the rope fibres. It should be about as sharp as a well-used pencil.

  4. 4

    Curve the rod. Adding a slight curve to the rod makes the marlin spike easier to handle and to work into tight knots. Put a slight curve into the rod by hammering it in the middle and then out toward the tip. You can hammer the spike on top of an anvil or place the spike on a soft surface like carpet and hammer in the same way. Make sure you only hammer on one side of the spike to make a single curve, not a corkscrew.

  5. 5

    Polish the spike. Use a buffing wheel and polishing compound to clear out any scratches from filing. The smoother the surface, the easier it will be to use and to work into knots and between braids.

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