How to make a knotted rope boat fender

Rope, image by Peter Jarvis from

When docking a boat, fenders help protect the boat when it contacts a dock, which can cause scratches, dents or even structural damage. Rope can be used to make an efficient homemade boat fender. Rope is cut and tied to form cylinder shapes to apply space and protection between the boat and the dock.

Rope boat fenders also create an older, more traditional appearance. Rope boat fenders can also be made to take place of a fender that has been damaged or lost.

Cut a 14-foot piece of minila rope and fold it in half. Wrap a piece of duct tape around the looped piece of rope about 2 1/2 inches down to create an eye.

Cut eight pieces of rope about nine inches long, using a knife. Line the pieces around the folded manila rope. Use duct tape to tie the eight pieces to the manila rope. This will form the middle if the fender, giving it bulk.

Unravel the manila rope that is visible beneath the base of the fender. Spread and separate the unravelled rope pieces. Choose a strand to start with; wrap the strand outside and underneath the strand to its left. Leave a little slack to create a loop in the first strand. Follow the strands around the fender, continuing to the left, pulling all except the first strand tightly. Repeat until only one strand remains.

Slide the remaining strand through the loop of the first strand and pull tightly. This is called a crown knot. Continue tying crown knots until the fender bulk is covered two feet from the top. Tangles may occur, so be careful not to tie the wrong strand.

Take the strands of manila rope and group them into three separate pairs. Continue the crown knot but use the groups to tie the knot, not the individual strands.

Open the last knot at the top with a Swedish fid. This is a hollow spiked tool used to thread line through tight braids or smaller knots. Slide the rope into the loop created by the Swedish fid and tuck the rope inside the fender. Remove the Swedish fid from the knot. Repeat this step on the five remaining strands with the top five remaining rows.

Cut and remove any excess strands of rope using a knife.