Photo: Knotted Line The Knotted Line Customwork & Rigging

Photo: wheel.jpg

About Knotwork
Customwork & Rigging
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The Difference Shows
in the Details

As you walk down the dock please observe what makes one boat different from another. There are different boarding ladders, different colored fenders, different colored hulls and cabins. Sailboats have different sail plans.
But otherwise, on most boats, everything is about the same- except for the boat with distinctive covered handrails or distinctive rope-work on the tiller. Another boat has rope fenders hanging over the side. A third boat is using a rope boarding ladder.
If you stretch up tall you can see the intricate deck mat at the top of the gangway. The next boat has a beautiful bell lanyard hanging from the ship's Bell. Each detail, while small in itself, contributes greatly to the overall character and elegance of the boat.

Custom Knotwork on Your Boat
Now visualize all of these items on your boat. Would your boat be different? Could a few questions be asked about how some of this work was done? Below are some descriptions of some of the custom services we offer. If you don't see what you're looking for, call and ask us about it!
We do make house calls. We have a large supply of rope, twine, paint, and varnish; a head full of ideas for different coverings, and experience with everything from spit-and-polish runabouts to historic tall ship restorations. Custom work is estimated on a time and materials basis. An estimate of the cost of work will be given before we begin construction. Please see our How to Order page for details on placing custom orders.

Historical Rigging
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Dennis Armstrong has served as a historical consultant and rigger aboard the Zodiac, the Wawona, and the Columbus Foundation historical replica of the Nina. While some of the most important knotwork items on a historically accurate tall ship are items included in this catalog, there are many others too numerous to mention.
The sailors of old made use of the remarkable strength and flexibility of rope to solve many problems that only modern metal, fiberglass and plastics could replace. Any vessel relying on historical technology needs the advantage of every bit of the wisdom of the marlinespike artists of yore. If you run into a problem with your historical boat, chances are that centuries of sailors found a way to solve it- it's just a matter of finding the right solution.

Custom Fenders
flatfen.jpg Because of their many applications, fenders can be custom made in many different ways. Multiple eyes and lines can solve mounting in unusual situations, and service can handle special chafing or wearing situations.
Fenders on the bow can be very helpful when docking or pushing other vessels. We make bow fenders for all sizes of boat, from dinghies (that ram the transom of the larger boat when the large vessel slows) to bow fenders for larger boats and push boats- fenders that are on the order of feet in length, are made on chain. Please see our Catalog page for details on standard fenders. We also make custom fenders for your special application needs.

Served Fender Eyes
On the Heavy-duty fenders we sometimes serve the eyes. Service is a protective covering that helps prevent chaffing of the eye; in its true sense, it is a technique used to protect the standing rigging of the sailing ship.
There are three parts to service; the worming; the parceling; and the lying on of marline. Worming consists of filling the groove between the strands of the line with rope yarn or tarred marline. Then Pine Tar, that wonderful smelling stuff, is applied to the wormed line. Tarred canvas is then is laid on covering the rope. Then the canvas-covered rope is covered by winding marline over everything. The marline is wrapped around the rope with a serving mallet, which is a device that looks like a hammer with a grove that fits over the line being served. The marline is wrapped around the head of the mallet and up the handle which generates an even tension in the marline as it is applied.
Service forms a weather tight shield around the rope or cable that it covers. Today we use service to protect the eye of a large fender from chafe. Served Eyes are custom made for an additional charge. Service on fender eyes will cost about $10 per eye and is only applied to manila fenders. Please see our How to Order page for details on placing custom orders.

Multiple Fender Eyes
TKL fenders are normally designed to hang vertically. However, if it is desired to cover more area of the vessel, then fenders can be hung horizontally. To do this we would include a second eye at other end of the fender. The Canadian Boaters have a system of lifting their fenders form the cockpit. A second eye or ring is needed on the bottom of the fender to attach the lifting lines. Lines (whips) can be spliced to the top and bottom of the fender so that they can be hung horizontally giving extra coverage to the side of the boat. The second eye is difficult to retro-fit and should be specified at the time that the order is placed. Multiple Fender Eyes are custom made for an additional charge. Please see our How to Order page for details on placing custom orders.

Bow Fenders
Fenders on the bow can be very helpful when docking or pushing other vessels. There are three types of bow fender that we make: the Pudding, the Bra, and the Moustache.
Photo: ladywash.jpg The Pudding is like a regular fender only it tapers down from the middle to both ends. We include a third point of attachment in the middle of larger fenders, so that it may be hung from the stem. This seems to be a popular bow fender for the smaller Tugboats. When making a bow pudding we start with a length of chain as the heart of the fender. Then build up a core with old rope to give it shape and substance. Puddings are usually held in place with a turn-buckle which creates the tension to hold the fender in place.
Photo: ladywash.jpg The Bra on the other hand is equipped with two eyes where the fender fits over the gunwale near the bow. The portion of the bra that fits over the fore deck provides the support around the stem and the eyes provide a point of attachment for a lashing. The lashing would tie off to a screw eye for instance, or some other point of attachment. In general terms the bra rests on the forward deck right behind the stem. It literally covers the area around the stem and a portion of the fore deck. As with the pudding style fender we need sketches and pictures to aid us in the construction of the fender.
We are often asked what can be done for dinghies that ram the transom of the larger boat when the large vessel slows. We suggest a bra type fender that fits over the bow of the dinghy. We also include two eyes to tie the fender to the boat.
Photo: ladywash.jpg The Moustache is constructed in the same way as the pudding in that it will have the same three places to attach the fender. The ends and in the middle. The pudding is then covered with rope yarns to give the pudding a shagy look. info on moustache goes here

Bow fenders are a custom item and are made to order. When ordering bow fenders please include a picture or sketch of the bow of your boat. We need to know if the stem is plumb and what is the degree of flair. Pictures are helpful in showing us the items on your deck that we will have to work around. Please see our How to Order page for details on placing custom orders.

Custom Fender Sizes & Shapes
We can custom build fenders to fit your needs. Custom work is charged on a time and materials basis. An estimate of the cost of item will be given before we begin construction. It must be remembered that it is an estimate of the cost to do the work. If you don't like the price have someone else make it for less. Please see our How to Order page for details on placing custom orders.

Photo: bigfen.jpg To date the largest fender that we have produced is one foot in diameter by three feet long. These fenders were sent to the historic replica of Christopher Columbus's original "Nina". We told the buyer that the fenders would be heavy, they weighted in at seventy pounds each when they were dry. Perhaps they would be more than he would care to lift when they were wet. He laughed and replied that he had a strong young crew and they could handle the heavy fenders.
A friend asked us to make a dozen fenders for his tug. We found out the tug was a 1:40 scale boat and the fenders were 3/8" in diameter by one inch long. So please, no small fenders- they are a one way trip to the asylum.

wheel.jpg Rope wrapping is used on a huge variety of areas on a boat, to beautify, to provide better grip, or to protect against chafing or wear. Everything from a captain's wheel to a mop handle may get this treatment, which above all displays the unique character and taste of the crew. There are a wide variety of ornamental knotwork patterns to dress up a simple winding and make even the humblest fixtures into a display of Marlinspike art.

Custom Matwork
Mats can be made in just about any size or shape. TKL makes rectangular mats for the cabin sole. We make cockpit mats for the runabouts. We will plait, Square Knot, weave mats close to the size that you require.
Plaited mats have specific patterns that are followed and make mats of a given size depending the on the number of passes, the number of 'bites' on the side of the mat. floormat.jpg Square Knot mats can be made to fit closer to your specific requirements, but here again the size is governed by the size of the line used to make the item. Larger line will use fewer knots and will be finished faster. The number of knots needed to fill the required space governs widths and lengths.
Another item to consider is mat thickness. In all mats the thickness of the mat is twice the thickness of the line used. Secondly the number of tucks in the case of plated mats and the number of knots used is a function of line thickness. A large mat made with small line will take more passes or knots to cover a given area than will larger line.

Please see our Catalog page for details and examples of mat types.

How To Order
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