Stair rope with eye splice and turks head whipping from Stairropes.com UK
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Knots for Rope Handrails & Bannister Ropes

3 ply manrope knot in cotton handrail rope and satin fitting

Choose between two ply and the larger three ply Manrope knots, sailor's Eye splices, crown plaits or decorative tassels - all available to order as an attractive endings for our bannister ropes and rope handrails.

The Manrope knot is named from the stopper knot used on the manropes (rope hand rails) which traditionally would line stairways and walkways as safety holds and supports on board ship. Manrope knots are tied by hand using the unlaid strands of the rope; the 2 ply configuration of the Manrope knot is compact and neat, the 3 ply knot is one-third larger, and more complex and ornate in structure. See how this knot is tied on our Working with Ropes page.

The Sailor's Eye Splice is another option to finish a bannister rope and has the advantage of staying within the profile of the bracket ring. Alternatively, choose from a range of decorative plaits and tassels, again made from the strands of the same rope as the handrail. See below for more details.

2 and 3 ply Manrope knots

2-ply & 3ply Manrope Knots in 24 & 32mm Hemp

Manrope Stopper Knots

The security of a rope bannister is dependent on the end knot being made from the strands of the same length of rope. An integral knot is the key to a safe and durable bannister rope, and a handsome feature.

Black Rope handrail with 2 ply manrope knot and satin fittings

2-ply Manrope Knot in Black POSH rope

The terms "two ply" and "three ply" refer to the number of times the pattern of the knot is followed around. Both versions are completely secure - constructed by unlaying the component strands of the rope and re-forming them into a permanent locking knot.

The image of the four knots above made in two diameters of Hemp rope shows the two types of Manrope Knot available; from left to right: 2 ply knot in 24mm rope, 3ply knot in 24mm rope, 2ply knot in 32mm rope, 3 ply knot in 32mm rope.

2 ply manrope knot in green rope with brass fitting

2-ply Manrope Knot in Green POSH

A two ply manrope knot which is tied into a 24mm diameter rope sits about 5cm outside the end bracket, and is approximately 7cm high, or about the size of a tennis ball. For a 32mm diameter rope, the Two-ply knot is approximately 7cm x 9cm.

The larger three ply manrope knot measures approximately 6cm by 8cm on a 24mm bannister rope. A "super-sized" three-ply knot in 32mm rope comes to about 8cm long and 11cm high - the size of a large grapefruit!

24mm and 32mm hemp ropes with 2 ply end knots

2-ply Manrope Knots in Hemp 24 & 32mm Ropes

The Eye Splice

An eye splice is a nice looking knot which can also fit neatly into a tricky place. It has the advantage of allowing the rope to be run in any direction from the wall or fitting. We can supply rope handrails with a basic Sailor's eye splice tied in one or both ends, with optional Decorative Turk's head whippings. A tapered eye splice is another option.

Eye splice with Turks Head whipping in Hemp

Eye splice with Turks Head whipping in Hemp

The Eye splice with Turks Head whipping in hemp is shown atop a grab rail rope as a solution for a tight space. A purpose made fitting has the eye ring welded directly to the base plate - i.e. with no post. See the fittings page for our specially adapted rope handrail brackets.

You can use an Eye splice as a secure alternative rope ending on a handrail in several situations where it is not possible to use the manrope end knot - for example, where the edge of the wall is too close, or if a bannister rope needs to be run between the inside edges of newel posts.

Basic Eye splice in Hemp Rope

Basic Eye splice in Hemp Rope

The Sailor's Eye splice is a loop made in the same length of rope and joined to itself: the strands at the rope end are unlaid and tucked over and under each other back along the length of the rope. At the same time they are pulled through and worked tidily along the lay.

An Eye Splice is one of the strongest and most efficient of knots, and it is proper practice to leave the strands a little proud of the rope in case the splice draws. This area can be covered with a Turk's head whipping to give a neat and decorative finish.

The basic Eye splice shown here is tied into the end of a 24mm natural hemp rope around a wrought iron fitting, with the cut strands left visible. The strength of the splice relies on the skill of the knotter in the working of these strands, which when under tension will lock together and absorb any movement in the rope. For more information and images on Eye splices and knots see our Working with ropes page.

In the Tapered splice each strand is split and cut after every tuck, thus reducing the proportion of the rope diameter along the splice which creates an attractive tapered effect. The whole is then served over with a hard bound whipping.

Basic Eye splice in Hemp Rope

Tapered Eye splice in Hemp rope and cord

handrail rope in cotton showing eye splice

Eye splice with Turks Head whipping in Cotton

The Turk's Head Weave

The Turks Head is a traditional sailor's knot used here as a decorative whipping or sleeve to cover the cut ends of the splice. Formed from a single length of cord, the turks head is woven and gradually worked tight to form a secure binding.

This rope handrail in 24mm cotton, with gunmetal finished iron fittings has the eye splice finished using a turks head whipping in 4mm cotton cord.

Detail of an Eye splice below, tied into a 24mm manila bannister rope, and attached to a customised brushed steel fitting. The Turks Head whipping was made using 3mm hemp cord.

Eye splice in Manila with Turks Head whipping in Hemp

Eye splice in Manila with Turks Head whipping in Hemp

Knots - dimensions

Knots for 24mm rope

  • 2 ply manrope knot: 5cm(l) x 7cm(h)
  • 3 ply manrope knot: 6cm(l) x 8cm(h)
  • Eye splice: Approx. 25cm long

Knots for 32mm rope

  • 2 ply manrope knot: 7cm(l) x 9cm(h)
  • 3 ply manrope knot: 8cm(l) x 11cm(h)
  • Eye splice: Approx. 30cm long


Decorative endings for Handrail Ropes

Crown and Wall Plaiting

Crown and Wall Plaiting

In addition, we offer a series of decorative endings - all are integral to the ropes they finish i.e. they are made with the strands of the same rope and therefore are much more durable and secure than screw-on, sewn or glued fixings.

It should be noted that decorative rope endings are generally less suitable for rope bannisters in heavy or constant use. Even although the rope will always be locked at the end bracket by a cross screw (with all the fittings we provide), it is the end of a bannister rope that takes the most wear, so a Manrope stopper knot or Eye splice loop will reduce the stress on the rope end at this point to a much greater extent than a more flexible arrangement such as a loosely hanging crown plait or extended rope tassel. The one exception to this is the Matthew Walker Knot Tassel which, when positioned right against the end fitting (see below) is as secure as a Manrope knot.

The Crown Plait

Crown and Wall End Plait with Manrope Knot Endings

Crown and Wall End Plait with Manrope Knot Endings

A crown plait is made by carefully building up a series of crown knots with the four unlaid strands of the rope. The plait drops down from an end bracket and makes a striking decorative feature.

The usual crown plait measurement on our stair ropes is approximately 450mm (18 inches), comprising 80mm (3 inches) of plain rope and 380mm (15 inches) of plaiting or braiding, including the 2 ply manrope knot, although we can also make to your requirement.

Originally, the idea for the crown plait as an ending for a bannister rope came from a request for us to copy an old photograph for a chateau restoration. You can see some images of our crown plaits in situ here used as endings on the rope handrails we provided for the refurbishment of the Cromarty Historic Parish Church in Scotland.

Decorative Tassels

Matthew Walker knot tassle in cotton

Matthew Walker knot tassel in cotton

A tassel tied into the end of a bannister rope is usually allowed to drop down beyond the end bracket fixing, after a short section of plain rope. The loose strands can then be teased out, combed or plaited. In the case of the Matthew Walker knot, it can be set snug up against the end fitting and in this positioning, is a very secure rope ending indeed. The knot is actually very simple in structure, being made from a series of overhand knots tied into each other, but to produce one neat and tight is an acquired skill.

The Matthew Walker is one of the few knots that has the distinction of being named after a person - the story goes that a sailor was offered a reprieve from his death sentence if he could show the judge a knot that the judge himself ( a former sailor) could neither tie or untie!

The image shows a Matthew Walker Knot tassel in cotton rope with unlaid strands - the end bracket is positioned around 20cm (8 inches) from the knot end.

Ball tassel in wormed cotton with Turk's head whipping

Ball tassel in wormed cotton
with hemp Turk's head ring whipping

Ball tassel in cotton rope with Turk's head whipping

Ball tassel in cotton
with cotton Turk's head ring whipping

The two images above show:
1. A Ball tassel with a Turk's head ring woven in hemp tied into a cotton rope wound with hemp - this wormed rope version includes a flash of the hemp winding cord in the tassel (optional). The strands of cotton have been unlaid and the threads smoothly combed out.

2. A Ball tassel in cotton rope with a cotton cord Turk's head ring whipping around the unlaid and teased out strands.

Plain tassel in P.O.S.H rope with Turk's head whipping

Plain tassel in P.O.S.H
with polyester Turk's head ring whipping

Matthew Walker knot tassel in hemp with plaited ends

Matthew Walker knot tassel in hemp
with ends plaited

The two images above show:
1. A Plain tassel in 32mm natural colour POSH polyester rope with a Turk's head ring whipping and unlaid end strands gently teased out. Also available in 24mm POSH green.

2. A Matthew Walker knot with plaited tassel ends in hemp, with the knot positioned snug up to the end bracket. Plaited tassels, each plait stopped /tied off with a small twine constrictor knot are available as an extra (see below).

Plain tassel in hemp rope with unlaid ends

Plain tassel in hemp
with unlaid teased out ends

Plain tassel in hemp with plaited ends

Plain tassel in hemp
with ends plaited

The two images above show:
1. A Plain tassel in hemp with a Turk's head ring whipping and strands unlaid.

2. Plain tassels in 32mm hemp rope with Turk's head ring whippings and plaited threads, one knot positioned snug up to the end bracket and one approximately 10cm (4 inches) from the whipping. Each plait is stopped /tied off with a small twine constrictor knot.

The finest of combed tassels are made from cotton rope as the fibres of this material are long and can be worked to produce the best results. The P.O.S.H. rope can be combed to almost the same degree of smoothness. Hemp fibres are much shorter and their threads do not stand such a level of combing, instead they will tend to break up and come adrift. For the same reason, since the Ball tassel has to be combed it cannot be formed to a good standard using the hemp rope.

With the above in mind, tassels are available for rope handrails in hemp, cotton or P.O.S.H. with either the end strands unlaid and teased out to threads, or with the threads plaited. In the cotton and P.O.S.H fibre ropes we can also offer the ends combed out finely to the yarns.

Plaiting the individual threads creates a unique look but the work - although relatively straightforward, takes many hours. If you would like to plait these ends yourself (or comb them out) please order the unlaid strands version.

Tassels - configurations

Cotton & P.O.S.H. ropes

  • Plain tassel with Turk's head ring whipping
  • Ball tassel with Turk's head ring whipping
  • Matthew Walker Knot tassel
  • Unlaid, Combed or Plaited ends

Hemp ropes

  • Plain tassel with Turk's head ring whipping
  • Matthew Walker Knot tassel
  • Unlaid or Plaited ends

∗ Standard tassel supplied with unlaid strands teased out to threads.

Knots: installation notes

We take the total length measurement of a rope bannister or handrail to be the distance between the centres of the end brackets, with the two knots sitting outside this: for a two ply knot this would add approx 50mm (2 inches) at each end - for the three ply knot, 80mm (3 inches) each end.

Note that the manrope end knot is incompatible with a stemless fitting, because the knot sits outside the ring of the bracket and takes up a greater width than is available between the fitting and the wall; the minimum requirement for the 2-ply manrope knot is a short stem, and for the 3-ply manrope knot, a full stem. The eye splice ending works with any of the fittings.

When installing a stair rope in a restricted space where short stemmed or stemless fittings are required, consider that if using a manrope knot to tie in at the end of the rope, part of this knot will sit proud of the bracket ring, adding a further 15mm (for 24mm rope) or 25mm (for 32mm rope) to the overall protrusion from the wall (into the stair well).

The brackets need to be fixed in position on the rope by means of retaining screws, to prevent the bannister rope from slipping and/or chafing. We usually fix these screws in the end brackets, and - if you are sure of exactly where the centre bracket/s will fit to your wall - we can put this/these in too, at centre or given measurements. If you prefer, we can supply the screw/s separately with instructions, to be fitted during installation. To measure up for a stair rope, and further advice on installation, see our guidelines on the Measure page.

Eye splice ends with Turks head whippings on short hemp handrail

Eye splice ends with Turks head whippings on a short hemp handrail

Knots prices

In 24mm ropes

  • Two ply Manrope Knot - £26.00
  • Three ply Manrope knot - £36.00
  • Basic Eye splice
    (without whipping) - £26.00
  • Tapered Eye splice
    with plain whipping - £36.00
  • Eye splice with Turk's head
    sleeve whipping - £49.00
  • Crown Plait
    and Manrope knot - £49.00
  • Plain tassel with Turk's head
    ring whipping - £26.00
  • Ball tassel with Turk's head
    ring whipping - £36.00
  • Matthew Walker tassel - £36.00
  • Finely combed ends - £10.00
  • Plaited threads - £30.00

In 32mm ropes

  • Two ply Manrope Knot - £33.00
  • Three ply Manrope Knot - £42.00
  • Basic Eye splice
    (without whipping) - £33.00
  • Tapered Eye splice
    with plain whipping - £42.00
  • Eye splice with Turk's head
    Sleeve whipping - £58.00
  • Crown Plait
    and Manrope knot - £58.00
  • Plain tassel with Turk's head
    ring whipping - £33.00
  • Ball tassel with Turk's head
    ring whipping - £42.00
  • Matthew Walker tassel - £42.00
  • Finely combed ends - £15.00
  • Plaited threads - £45.00

∗ Ball tassel not available in hemp.

∗ Combed ends not available in hemp.

∗ Tassels supplied with end strands unlaid and teased out.

∗ Complete Stair ropes price list on the order page

Contact Stair Ropes.com

For more advice or information about our bannister ropes and hand rails, you can contact James Watson directly. Full details on our contact page.


Bannister rope with gun metal wrought iron fitting and 2 ply Manrope knot

Two ply manrope knot in hemp bannister rope with gunmetal fitting



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