loading
Picture of Boat Fender, DIY
Boat fenders are one of the many great arts in seamanship.  They are designed to protect the boat from hitting the dock, other moorings, and other boats.  In this modern, disposable culture, there are many fenders that are cheap and readily available, usually made from plastic.  Far from being a way to enhance your sea-going vessel, these cheap, plastic fenders are offensive to traditional seamanship.  

This instructable will show you how to make a nice fender, that if treated with a preservative, such as Stockholm tar, could conceivably last a lifetime, and look really nice in the process.

There are many complex ways to make a fender to protect your boat, but this one is simple and low-cost.  Based on the crown knot, all that is really needed is a few basic tools, some decent rope, and a little whipping twine, and pride.

This is my first instructable, so please let me know how to improve!  Thanks!
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: What you will need

Picture of What you will need
1.  Rope.  3/4" hemp or manilla rope should work fine.  Other ropes will work, but these are most authentic and hold up well to sunlight.

2.  Sharp knife to cut the rope.

3.  Whipping twine.  If this is not available, it's OK.  Some sort of strong twine will work fine, because it will be buried inside the fender anyway.

4.  Fid or marline spike.  If either of these is unavailable, then you can use a large tent stake, the rigid plastic kind will do perfectly.

Step 2: Making the core

Picture of Making the core
IMGP1772.jpg
The core of the fender is an important part.  Some fender designs get pretty complex here, but as this fender is for smaller boats, the core need not be too elaborate.

1.  Start by taking 15 feet of rope and folding it in half.  

2.  3-4 inches below the bight (loop) that is formed, tightly and securely bind the rope together using the twine.  There are several methods of doing this.  The method I used is a standard seizing.  Again, as long as it is secure and very tight, you should be fine.  

3.  Approximately 12-14 inches below the first seizing, apply another one in exactly the same manner.

You have now formed the core of the fender.

Step 3: Beginning the Crown

Picture of Beginning the Crown
IMGP1775.jpg
IMGP1780.jpg
IMGP1778.jpg
Now you have the two pieces of rope side by side.  Unlay the rope so that you have six strands.  

Using either tape or the twine, whip the ends of the strands so that working with them is easy.  

This fender is based on a basic crown knot.  When tied one after the other, a crown sennit is formed, and it makes a beautiful pattern.

Forming a crown is simple.  Start with any strand.

1.  Holding the fledgling fender in front of you, take any strand and form a small open loop, or bight, with the "elbow" pointing left.

2.  With the next strand to the right, bring it front of the previous strand, and make a loop that "cradles" the previous strand.  See picture.

3.  Repeat this all the way around.

4.  The last strand should neatly go into the first loop you formed!

5.  Pull tight.  Work around, one strand at a time, and pull until all the slack it out and the loops are tight.

You have formed your first Six strand crown!

In the pictures, you can see the first fully formed crown.  


Step 4: Working down the core

Picture of Working down the core
IMGP1783.jpg
Continue adding more crowns until the seizings have been covered.  As you add crowns, you will see the characteristic pattern emerge. 

Work this pattern until you are about 2-3 inches below the loop/bight.

At this point, you can work the ends into the fender, and bury them, or you can make another layer of crowns for a beefier fender.

This is where the fid (or tent stake) comes in.  In order to properly secure the ends, you need to slip the fid (or tent stake) under one of the bights in a previous crown.  It takes considerable force to pry that thing loose.

To tuck:

1.  Where you have stopped, slip the fid in and open the loop below and to left of the end that you would like to tuck.

2.  Once you have the loop open, stuff the end that you are securing into that loop, and pull tight.  Repeat for all ends.

3.  If you are stopping, tuck once more in the crown below, following steps 1 and 2.

4.  OPTIONALLY:  After you have tucked all ends once, continue making crowns until you are about 3 crowns from the bottom.  Then, perform the same tucking procedure above.  When you have tucked down and left for all ends, then tuck back up and right.  This will ensure a secure ending to your fender.


Step 5: Finishing

Picture of Finishing
This is where the fid (or tent stake) comes in. In order to properly secure the ends, you need to slip the fid (or tent stake) under one of the bights in a previous crown. It takes considerable force to pry that thing loose.
To tuck:
1. Where you have stopped, slip the fid in and open the loop below and to left of the end that you would like to tuck.

2. Once you have the loop open, stuff the end that you are securing into that loop, and pull tight. Repeat for all ends.

3. If you are stopping, tuck once more in the crown below, following steps 1 and 2.

4. OPTIONALLY: After you have tucked all ends once, continue making crowns until you are about 3 crowns from the bottom. Then, perform the same tucking procedure above. When you have tucked down and left for all ends, then tuck back up and right. This will ensure a secure ending to your fender.


The second image in step 4 is really the final product, should you only decide to apply one layer of crown knots.  If you have a larger boat, you can make this longer and add another layer of crowns for additional protection.

dwittschutte10 months ago

This is a small scale fender, but works just the same way. Enjoy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEcavQ0jqoU

RingoWild1 year ago
This is stunning! Hey, do you know if there is a YouTube video showing this technique? Sometimes watching the actual process makes it easier. I would love to try it, but I feel a little overwhelmed with the process. Thanks! -- Lori
RangerJ2 years ago
Wow - that is a great Instructable!
cwith6c4810 (author)  RangerJ2 years ago
Thanks!
cwith6c4810 (author) 2 years ago
I am sorry that I have not responded to a few posts. I've been inactive here for a while. If there are questions, now, please let me know.
mharris173 years ago
I made this fender out of 1/2 inch poly rope. I used three 15 foot pieces folded in half. I kept one piece one hands width above the others and tied them off and then followed your directions until I got to the end. Where you said to tuck it under previous coils, I did. I also did this all the way back to the bottom. It took out any excess slack I had. Poly rope is hard to keep taut. It looks great. Thanks.
Rope Bumper.jpg
cwith6c4810 (author)  mharris172 years ago
That looks really, really nice. Great work!
Sappl22 years ago
Hi, the fender looks fabulous. I am trying to make some for daughters narrow boat. I cannot get the initial crown knots correct. I have looked on other sites but their crown knots seem to use 4 strands and all of the illustrations use the same colour for each strand. I am sure I am being really stupid but could someone show me the method for this fender's crown knot in more detail please. I am a beginner at knots !!
Many thanks
awhitecat4 years ago
Did you get an answer, zedzed? Like you, the description wasn't full enough for me!

Anybody like to elaborate?

Thanks.
sjb3214 years ago
what kin of rope did you use for your fender
The rope shown looks like a natural fibre called HEMP.
Ferrite4 years ago
Nice knotwork! I like the turk's heads on the handle of the pliers and on the fid too.
Heringhaus4 years ago
you lost me on this step can you expand your pictures here like form a loop then whats next do you put the next cord into the loop you just made???
sjb3214 years ago
Just finished mine it looks really good. awsome instructable!!!
how do you perserve it in stockholm tar? do you just dip it in there... and what is stockholm tar (pardon my ignorence)
cwith6c4810 (author)  naruto the ninja135 years ago
Yes. It's some messy stuff, but yes. You might even let it soak for a little while, too. As long as you keep the fender out of direct light, rinse it out with fresh water from time to time, and use good, quality rope, it should still last for a long time. Let me know if you have any other questions :-D
I've been thinking about building a small sail boat or catamaran using only tools and stuff that it would have when the art of shipmaking was first refined but do you know what would be the best way to go about doing this?
Oak, big screws and no powertools.