Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Palm and Needle Whipping.

Yesterday, I posted up notes on how to whip a rope.  I mentioned though that common whipping has its limitations, basically it can come undone and if it frays, through usage and friction, the whole whipping can unravel. To make a more permanent job you’ll need a fairly large sail maker’s needle. They’re cheap enough and you can purchase them from most chandleries. They are triangular in section and thicker closer to the point. Professional sail markers drive them through rope and canvass using a ‘palm’ a sort of thimble which sits on the palm of your hand. For whipping small ropes you can probably get away without needing to purchase the palm.

Begin this whipping by threading the needle with a doubled length of twine and then driving the needle and twine clear through the centre of the rope. Then add the whipping turns around the rope making sure to capture and bury the loose ends of the twine under the whipping turns.

Work the turns along the rope until your whipping is long enough. 

Then drive the needle through one strand of the rope making sure the point emerges in the ‘contline’ between the strands. Getting technical here, the best way to understand the contline is to imagine a three stranded rope. The contline is the groove between each of the strands.


Now pass the twine up and over the whipping diagonally in line with the contline and stitch back through the next strand emerging in the next contline.

Continue working your way right around the rope. Technically speaking this part of the process is known as ‘worming’. If you want a Rolls Royce product, go around a second time. To secure the end, drive the needle straight through the rope and cut the twine as close to the rope as you can get.

The end result should look like this. 

This whipping is probably the best there is. It won’t shake loose or come off even if a number of the whipping strands are cut or chaffed through. Whip your rope ends in this way and you’ll be looking after your ship in a proper fashion and although it may seem rather subtle you’ll be amazed by the number of people who notice and admire your handiwork. I once sold a boat on the strength of my whipping. The purchaser took the view that such care and attention to detail with ropes was probably reflected in the way I had looked after the rest of the boat so he bought her without haggling.