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Three strand soft shackle - How to tie

Soft shackles are all the rage these days as the strength of modern ropes start overtaking steel. While the classic Telstra rope (or any ubiquitous three-strand rope) may not boast the same strength, the convenience of being able to whip up something to temporarily attach two things together with common rope is a handy capability.


The concept of a soft shackle is simply to make a piece of rope that opens and closes, kind of like a user-friendly version of tieing a knot. While these creations normally use modern braided rope the Cheif Marshal Charlie didn't earn his Marlin Spike by being tied to modern concepts.


Too fast? Click the three dots for an option to slow the movie down.


The star of this article is a sliding splice. A splice is the joining of two ropes often used to put a loop on the end of a rope that is called an eye. A sliding splice still holds two ropes together but one rope is able to slide against the other when pushed but sticks under tension.


To make the sliding splice select where the join will be on the non-sliding rope and grip with two hands so they are separated by about 4 twists of the rope. Twist the rope against itself by turning both hands in the opposite direction and then move them together as the rope opens up.


Each strand of the rope will form a small twisted loop which can then be moved around to line up with each other. The twists will occasionally need some coercion to twist up properly, if you can't get the twist to form then the rope needs more twisting in the first place.


Feed the sliding side of the rope into the sequence of twists that you've made and you're done. A fid can be very handy with any rope work as you see in this video but it's not essential. If you are without fid and can't feed the rope through the sequence of twists, twist the rope further against itself while pushing the hands together.



To make a three-strand soft shackle the sliding splice is used with a regular eye splice to hold a stopper knot. To release or contain the stopper knot the sliding splice is pushed to open or close the eye splice.


We haven't detailed how to form the eye splice or stopper knot as these deserve their own explanation and are more common knowledge than the sliding splice. There are plenty of people who do a great job of explaining these knots so feel free to google these bits if you need more help.


Ever been stuck without a belt? Maybe you had some common old three-strand rope lying around... use a couple of sliding splices in this instance.

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