Bell Rope Making

Ships Bell Polished

Ships Bell Needing a Bell Rope

I have always wanted to make a bell rope, but in my mind the biggest setback was not having a bell to hang the rope from. For many months, leading to years, I had been searching for the ideal ships bell. The trouble was that the bigger the bell the greater the cost. Then if the bell had a name on it, it would be well out of my budget.

However every so often I would check eBay to see what was on offer. Then one-day I got lucky! Somebody had posted an very sad looking old bell on-line, with a buy it now price. So I leapt at the chance and purchased the bell. It had a rather rough exterior with a George V marking, it also still had the original clacker.

Even though I had the bell, I still could not make a rope for it till I had cleaned it up! So two good weekends were spent getting it polished to a high shine.

Ships BellShips Bell Polished

How to Make a Bell Rope

My first issue was which rope to use when making the bell rope? I decided that I Cockscombingwould use polished hemp that I had previously bought from Des Pawson.

The first thing I did was to find a piece of rope that would fit snugly around a stainless steel rope thimble that I already had. I then began to cover it with a very fine polished hemp that I had. This particular section was covered with Cockscombing.

Cockscombing Video

After I had covered the rope I then let the two ends of the rope hang down and tied them off at the base of the thimble with a constrictor knot.

I then got a thin wooden dowel and ran it between the two lengths of rope, so as to ensure that the finished bell rope would be true and stiff.

What is Puddening

PuddeningI understand that when one uses strands of rope to make the core of the bell rope thicker this is sometimes called Puddening? However I see very few references of this on-line.

Anyway what I did was lay multiple strand of cord along the length of my bell rope till I had achieved the overall desired thickness. I then added an additional layer at the end where the bell rope would be most handled. The picture here does not show the additional layer.

Crown Sennit or Continues Crowning

Now that I had the guts of my bell rope in place, it was time to make it look pretty. This is where my polished hemp came into play. I evenly placed 12 strands around the bell rope, I then began to Crown Sennit along the length of the core.

Crown Sennit Bell RopeCrowning Video

Turks Head & Globe Knots

Now that I had the basic bell rope made, I just needed to make it look nautical and something that also looked good enough from my bell. I then decorated the bell rope with some Turks Head Knots and Globe Knots, but also left a clear area so that the Crown Sennit would show.

Bell RopeThe Marriage?

OK so now that I have a polished ships bell and a bell rope, why are they not married? Well, I have now created another problem, due to the size and weight of the bell, I am still searching for a good place to hang it. Not only that I think the bell needs a summer and winter HQ. So I am now thinking about where to hang it outside for the summer and then where indoors for the winter. The trouble is that I also have to deal with C-in-C NagHome (wife).

Once I have done this I will post more photos here.

To view the pictures in full size, click on them.

Bell & Bell Rope Marriage

At long last I have had my beam made up and also now with a bit of sunshine, I have now managed to hang the bell outside with the bell rope.

Ships Bell and Bell Rope

Herzogin Cecilie Bell Rope

Herzogin Cecilie Ships Bell

 Click on Images to view full size.

Pollux Bell Rope

I recently had a short stay in Amsterdam and luckily my hotel (Botel) was next to the Pollux. Not only did they serve excellent food on board, but there was the added bonus of there being some rope work, including this bell rope.

Pollux Bell Rope

Also it is worth remembering that a cat of nine tails or ditty bag handle can be made in the same way as a bell rope.

HMS Cavalier Bell Rope

Here is a more decorative example of a bell rope that is on HMS Cavalier

Knotting Book Recommendations

Ashley Book of Knot (ABoK) This really is the bible of all knots, consisting of over 600 pages and over 3000 diagrams Rating:
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Knot Craft and Rope Mats: 60 Ropework Projects Including 20 Mat Designs by Des Pawson Rating:
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The Marlinspike Sailor by Harvey Garret Smith If you are starting to build a collection of knotting books, then this is a great one to have in your library. Rating:
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A Practical Guide to Tying Knots by Geoffrey Budworth This book contains 75 bends, hitches, knots, bindings, loops, mats, plaits, rings and slings. Rating:
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Bell Rope Making — 20 Comments

  1. I too am ready to attempt another bell rope – 20 years since the last one I did. A couple of questions:

    1. What did you use to achieve such a great shine on your bell?
    2. How long were the strands used on the crown sennit?
    3. Does the globe knot cover the bottom?

    • Hello Cam

      Many thanks for leaving a comment on our site.

      1. In order to create the shine on my bell, I contacted a small engineering company that sold polishing mops and various abrasives. I explained to the owner what I wanted to do and from our conversation they sent me the relevant mops and abrasive that I would need. I then used the mops, abrasive and my electric drill as instructed by the information sheet that they sent me.

      It took nearly a day to polish, even though I did it outside, I was filthy dirty by the end of it!!

      3. If I recall correctly for the crown sennit, I made each strand about three times as long as the actual bell rope. I do recall that when I first started, it was a bit of a nightmare trying to weave with all the excess rope hanging down. By using this amount I did not end up with too much waste. I do realise that sometimes the rope you are using is precious and costly, but it is better to have too much left over than not to be able to complete the job.

      3. Yes the globe know is used to cover all the loose strands that were left from crowning. I think if I did it again I would tie a small star knot and lock it in place with the globe knot, just to add to the decoration.

      Should you create another bell rope, in fact anything of interest, please do send us a picture to add to this site.

      Regards John

        • Mmmm, I am rather old school and I personally believe that a bell should be polished every morning watch!! To be honest, I polish mine once a week.

  2. You should really add your name because your bell and bellrope will be much admired. I could use your name here but I don,t wish to embarrass you.

  3. Hi there

    I was looking around the web for information on bell ropes as I am currently doing my own and came across yours and although the last post was a few months back I thought I would leave a msg as I thought you had done a really nice looking bell rope and to say how great it looks on the bell nice one

  4. Hello Darren

    Many thanks for your kind comment. When you have completed yours, please send a picture so that we can show it off on this site.

    Kind regards

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  6. Greetings from the Philippines. I was an early member of the the IGKT when I lived in Hong Kong. I now live in the Philippines. My community has recently installed a small bell tower and it’s crying out for a proper bell rope. Unfortunately, I’m not able to make one, but I’m wondering if there is an IGKT member in the Southampton area, who could make a simple one for me so I can present it ti the local community. I’ll be spending Christmas in Southampton so I can easily collect it. Many thanks, Robert Harland

    • Many thanks for your comment, I have now passed on your request to members of the Solent branch. Regards, John.

  7. Hello, lovely bell rope! I have a large bell that needs a sturdy rope and wondered if anybody in your group was able to make one for me? I have a rough sketch of what I’m looking for – it needs to be approx 18inches long. Many thanks, Phil

    • What country are you in Phil? I will then see if I can get someone near you to make your bell look smart!

      • Thanks, I am based in South London and would really like a bell rope made in the UK if possible – most of the ones I have seen for sale are from the US!

  8. I really enjoy your videos, your explanations are very clear. I just started working with line as a hobby, self gratification. Years ago (63/64) I was stationed on the USS Constitution in Boston as a tour guide and done some ships line work but never really got into it. Spent thirty years in the Navy but not working with line. Now at 74 I want to learn again. Thanks for the inspiration to work with line.

    • Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I too spent a long time in the Royal Navy, but only got interested in ropework many years after leaving. If you are getting into it and enjoying it (also at times hating it through frustration), may I suggest you get the book by Des Pawson, as it is packed with many knotting projects, and not only shows you how to do it, but also how much line you will need.

  9. beautiful bell rope. i am looking for more detailed information on making globe knots. i have done well with crown sinnet and turks head designs but the only globe knot demonstrations are for small ones and i am struggling with the differences in the design parameters for larger (more facets) globe knots. any suggestions?

    • The only thing that I can suggest is trying to find a copy of the Globe Knot Cookbook, by Don Burhus. If you do a google search you will find a few results, trouble is that the actual book and kit is very rare. You may have to make your own mandrel, an internet search for “globe knot mandrel” should also bring up some good results for you. Kind regards, John.

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  11. Thank you for you your you tube .I was ask to make a bell rope the RFS at Tuross Head for there bell it had to be 800mm long so not having made a bell rope, so i got onto your you tube .I now have finish the bell rope it looks real good thanks to your you tube .I would like to send you a photo of it but i do not have a email to send it to.
    Regards John Gibson.

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