Frequently Asked Questions and Answers


Subject: Tugboat Fender Knot
Date: 11/29/2004 7:15:57 A.M. Mountain Standard Time

 I am building a 48 inch long model of a steam tugboat.  I am trying to find
 information on what is called a fender which was a huge knot attached to the
 bow of a tugboat.  Would you have any idea who to talk to about getting
 information on how to make such a knot?
                     Thank you,
                     Gordon French
                     Roseburg, Oregon


Good Morning Gordon French,

I have made a few fenders and puds from old gantlines and falls. Naturally there are many ways to tie one.  The easiest is basically a multi-strand crown knot or a multi-strand wall knot (those two knots are merely the same knot but reversed--like opposite sides of a coin).

(1) You make a core, which could be folded line seized together, or a chunk of wood, or even a commercial plastic fender. For your project you might not even need a core. You can go up to six working parts without a core.

(2) You choose your fender cover material.  It could be line or it could be strands.  I've unlaid hawsers to get a workable line. In your case, an appropriate sized seine twine might be the choice.

(3) You determine how many strands of working line you will need to cover your core.  You can either calculate it based on the length of one part of a crown knot divided into the circumference of your core, or you can figure it out by trial and error (the easy way).

(4) Start with an eye or becket and four or six working parts (two or three doubled). Start tying crown knots. Add working parts in pairs, expanding the circumference of your knot to the circumference of your core.  Cup your core into the knot you've made so far.

(5)  Continue tying crown knots the length of the core.

(6)  To terminate the fender: drop a pair (or more than one pair) of working parts, tie a set of crown knots; drop another pair, tie a set...... etc. Until you are down to four working parts.

(7)  Finish the fender with a decorative "Wall & Crown," a "Manrope Knot," or simply bury the working parts and cut them off inside the knot.  Or use your imagination to end the fender in some other decorative knot.

(8)  To make the fender more decorative without losing any of it's strength or durability, add a single wall knot, then return to crown knots in the other direction.  Or tie so many rows of walls then so many rows of crowns....  Have fun with it.

Additional Links:
International Guild of Knot Tyers:
About rope craft with - Knots Made Easy:
Ashley's Book of Knots:

Good luck with your fender and have fun.

Fair winds and following seas,
Captain Grey Chisholm
U.S. Merchant Marine

Updated: 29 November 2004