Rope Whipping Techniques

Updated March 21, 2017

There are several methods to prevent the ends of a rope from becoming frayed and unravelled. Some of these methods include heating nylon and polyester ropes, and whipping, which uses a thinner piece of twine or string to tie the strands at a rope's end and hold the rope end together. Several techniques can be used to whip a rope, such as the sailmaker's whipping, west country whipping and sailor's whipping.

Sailmaker's Whipping

Although it is the most durable and secure whipping technique, the sailmaker's whipping is also the most complicated and time consuming of the three commonly used whipping methods. According to Animated Knots, the sailmaker's whipping can be best applied to three-strand ropes in such a way that each frapping turn follows the twist of each rope strand. However, the sailmaker's whipping can also be used for braided or kernmantle ropes. The sailmaker's whipping is typically finished off with a stack of multiple square knots which are buried underneath the whipping. Burning the end of the rope finished with a sailmaker's whipping will provide additional protection

West Country Whipping

The west country whipping technique is the easiest of the whipping methods to learn because it is only a series of half knots on the front and back side of the rope end. However, the whipping can slowly fail as the final part of the whipping, a square knot, can work loose. Once the square knot works loose, each succeeding half knot can also become loose, eventually causing the whipping to either slide off the rope end, or allow the rope strands or braids to fray and become unwrapped.

Sailor's Whipping

According to Animated Knots, the sailor's whipping is one of the most widely known and used techniques for whipping rope ends. Variations of the sailor's whipping may use a bight of twine formed by the first half of the whipping's short end, around which the second half of the whipping can be wrapped and pulled through for the finish. Alternatively, round turns can be inserted between the twine ends, which separates the exit points for the ends of the twine, allowing easier concealment.


Nearly all ropes should be burnt in addition to being whipped; however, there are special considerations for ropes made of aramid fibres such as Kevlar. Aramid fibres should have the core of the rope trimmed shorter than the outer sheath so that when the end is heated, the sheath closes over and seals the inner core. Failing to whip the ends of a rope and relying only on melted plastic rope ends can lead to fraying and unravelling as the rope is compressed, stretched or otherwise abused.

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About the Author

David McGuffin is a writer from Asheville, N.C. and began writing professionally in 2009. He has Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of North Carolina, Asheville and Montreat College in history and music, and a Bachelor of Science in outdoor education. McGuffin is recognized as an Undergraduate Research Scholar for publishing original research on postmodern music theory and analysis.