Splicing a Steel Wire


How does a boatswain splice a steel wire?

Diagram 1
An eye is to be formed in a steel cable, to serve for example as a mooring cable. The size of the eye is determined such that the cable can be passed smoothly over a bollard or mooring post but also in a way that there is not too much play so as to avoid the loop coming free in an uncontrolled way. The boatswains have the equipment required for this. All of the required cables and requisites are present on board. To achieve the required breaking strength and safety the splice will have five tucks.

We shall first look at the equipment that a boat builder uses for this and in the second part the splicing will be explained in successive steps.

Tools and implements for splicing a steel cable

A fid is used to create a gap between two strands.

Whipping material for the ends
Twine, tape or fine steel wire can be used for whipping the ends of the strands.

Axe or saw
The strands are cut to length preferably using a hacksaw but if one is not available then a sharp axe can be used.

This hard fat is used to grease the cable and the fid to ensure smoother insertion through the strands.


Successive operations to splice a metal eye

  • Determine the size of the eye. The size of a bollard or cleat for example is used to determine the size of the eye.

  • Apply whipping approximately 3 ½ turns from the end. The whipping is applied such that the cable can be unwound over a length of approximately three to four turns. The whipping will prevent the strands from fraying further after they have been unwound.

  • Unwind the strands up to the whipping

  • Each individual strand was whipped in advance.

  • After determining the size, there are three strands on either side of the standing part. The closest strand on the right-hand side is pushed transversely through the steel cable. In other words, there will be three strands on both sides. This is done with the assistance of a fid.

  • The closest strand on the right-hand side is now pushed under two strands.

  • The third strand is pushed under the remaining free strand on the right-hand side.

  • Now to the left-hand side. The fourth strand that is taken is the furthest strand on the left-hand side. This is pulled under two strands of the standing part. This fourth strand that is pushed through is the first as it were. The fifth and the sixth strands are spliced in the same way.

  • All strands are now pulled tight and hammered down using a hammer or heavy "spike".

  • The splice is now continued by continuously turning around its own strand in a spiral, always working with the twist of the cable. This operation is repeated five times.

  • The splice is ended by "depleting" the splice. Every second strand is spliced once more. The ends are then whipped using the serving mallet.

  • The ends are then axed off, or ground or sawn off. The end of the splice is covered with parcelling and whipping.
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Tools Required

  • Fat
  • Fid
  • Saw
  • Spun twine
  • Whipping twine

Materials Required

None applicable

Training Instruction

 Click to download training lesson plan:

Splicing a Steel Wire

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