Braided Line Eye Splice
by David Seidman
(Excerpted from Small Boat Journal - Sept. 1990)

If braided line is less likely to kink, resists twisting under load so it is less prone to stretching, flattens to gain friction when put under strain on a winch, and comes in nifty designer colors, then why do I always buy three-strand laid line instead?

Ill tell you why. There's just not that much you can do with braided line except use it.

Laid line is made up of three friendly strands that beg your hands to weave them into hundreds of satisfying shapes. The braided stuff looks impenetrable, requires an arsenal of equipment, and worst of all, whatever you do with it looks as if a machine could have done it better.

Like many of you. I'm intimidated by braided line, especially when it comes to eye splices. The problem is that all the important workings—in fact, the whole splice—is hidden. You can't look at one you did last year and copy it. So you have to go back to the instructions that came with the splicing kit and figure it out all over again.

Well, maybe I can help. I'm not going to explain how to make the splice. You'll get that with the instructions when you buy a splicing kit (which you must have). I will tell you some things they don't, and try to give you a better picture of what's really going on. Hopefully, this will reduce the intimidation factor and let you get more out ofbraided line.

An Insider's View

Double braided line is actually two ropes in one. There is a braided center (or core) that provides the rope's primary strength, and a braided cover (also called ajacket or sleeve) that protects the center.

You may find that some lines look as if they are double braided, but they have a center of continuous parallel fibers, or no center at all. These require very specialized splicing techniques. The most common braided line is the standard double, and that's what we'll deal with here.

Although a braided eye splice may resemble two snakes trying to swallow each other, it is not quite the paradox it seems. The concept is deceptively simple: (see illustration)

1) Separate the center from the cover.
2) Put the cover into the center.
3) Put the center into the cover.
4) Feed the eye into the cover of the standing part so that the point where the cover and center cross disappears.

click to enlarge

Naturally, there's more to it than that, but the big picture is here in these four steps. So maybe now youll feel more in control, rather than like an automaton following orders. For those of you who still don't get it, I've also provided an over-simplified cutaway view of the finished splice.

Things They Didn't Tell You

Here are some hints that might make the process a lot easier:

Don't be tempted by quickie splicing alternatives. If regular splicing seems too much for you, use a seizing (BJ #72). It will be faster than any of the quickie splices and just as strong. Remember, a good splice retains 90 percent of the line's strength. Nothing else comes close.

If you can't get a splicing kit at your local store, order one from any rope manufacturer. Solid, rather than hollow fids, work better for smaller lines. These are like large needles that pull the line through. As they do this, they stretch the line out to its smallest diameter, making it easier to pull through.

Use a grease pencil (China Marker) to mark the first spot for the splice. Any marker will do for the other spots. This rubs off when you're through. On dark rope, where a felt tip marker won't show up, mark your spots with small pieces of fine white thread around a strand or two.

The finished appearance of your splice is largely dependent on the care you take in the initial withdrawing of the center from the cover. Be careful separating the strands of the cover. Never cut the strands.

If a piece of old rope is too tight to work, let it soak in water and knead it every once in a while.

Never cut line with a hot knife. To do so will bond the cover to the center, making it impossible to separate the two. Use one turn of tape to seal the ends.

On line over 3/4 inch in diameter, an overhand knot may not be enough to keep the cover and center aligned. Instead, insert a large pin, like a nail or a knitting needle.

Taper the cover before trying to stuff it into the center. You'll have to do it eventually, and this way it makes the stuffing a little easier.

Put the line and eye under strain before cutting off the remaining center. If not done, there is a chance of getting a hollow in the neck of the eye. This may not compromise strength, but it definitely looks unprofessional.

Finish off the eyes with a common whipping, or palm-and-needle whipping.