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Fid

A fid is a conical tool traditionally made of wood or bone. It is used to work with rope and canvas in marlinespike seamanship. A fid differs from a marlinspike in material and purpose. A marlinespike is used in working with wire rope, may be used to open shackles, and is made of metal. A fid is used to hold open knots and holes in canvas, and to separate the "lays" (or strands) of synthetic or natural rope for splicing. A variation of the fid, the gripfid, is used for ply-split braiding. It adds a jamming cleat to pull a cord back through the cord split by the fid's point.

Modern fids are typically made of aluminum, steel, or plastic. In addition to holding rope open to assist the creation of a rope splice, modern push fids have markings for precise measurements in a variety of sizes of rope. The length of these fids is typically 21 or 22 times the diameter of rope to be spliced. A half-inch diameter rope would have any accompanying fid 10.5-11" in length with hash-marks denoting the long and short fid measurements. A short fid is a fid length and a long fid is the overall fid length.

Modern major rope manufacturers such as Yale Cordage, New England Ropes, and Samson Rope Technologies each have full sets of published splicing directions available on their websites. Typically, all splice directions measurements use fid-length as the unit of measurement.

Below is a chart that shows exact measurements of full fid lengths, short fid lengths, and long fid lengths, using 21 times the diameter of the rope.

Rope
Diameter (in.)

Rope
Circ. (in.)

Short Fid
(in.)

Long Fid
(in.)

Full Fid
(in.)

3/32"

9/32"

2/3"

1⅓"

2

1/8"

3/8"

7/8"

1¾"

2⅝"

5/32"

15/32"

1

2-1/5"

3-2/7"

3/16"

9/16"

1⅓"

2⅝"

4"

7/32"

21/32"

1½"

3"

4-3/5"

1/4"

3/4"

1¾"

3½"

5¼"

9/32"

27/32"

2"

4"

6"

5/16"

1"

2-1/5"

4⅜"

6-4/7"

3/8"

1⅛"

2⅝"

5¼"

7⅞"

7/16"

1¼"

3"

6⅛"

9-1/5"

1/2"

1½"

3½"

7"

10½"

9-16"

1¾"

4"

7⅞"

11-4/5"

5/8"

2"

4⅜"

8¾"

13⅛"

11/16"

2¼"

4-4/5"

9⅝"

14-4/9"

3/4"

2¼"

5¼"

10½"

15¾"

7/8"

2¾"

6⅛"

12¼"

18⅜"

1"

3"

7"

14"

21"

1⅛"

3½"

7⅞"

15¾"

23⅝"

1¼"

3¾"

8¾"

17½"

23¼"

1-5/16"

4"

9-1/5"

18⅜"

27-4/7"

1½"

4½"

10½"

21"

31½"

1⅝"

5"

11⅜"

22¾"

34⅛"

1¾"

5½"

12¼"

24½"

36¾"

2"

6"

14"

28"

42"

2⅛"

6¼"

14⅞"

29¾"

44⅝"

2¼"

7"

15¾"

31½"

47¼"

2½"

7½"

17½"

35"

52½"

2⅝"

8"

18⅜"

36¾"

55⅛"

2¾"

8½"

19¼"

38½"

57¾"

3"

9"

21"

42"

63"

3¼"

10"

22¾"

45½"

68¼"

A fid is also a small, pointed tool, with a bulbous hand-grip, used in the tape-and-solder method of building stained glass. In this method, copper foil tape is adhered to the edges of the cut glass. The fid is then used to press the tape, thereby assuring adherence. The taped glass pieces are then soldered together to create the desired artwork.

Wiktionary

fid

n. 1 (context nautical English) A pointed tool without any sharp edges, used in weaving or knotwork to tighten and form up weaves or complex knots; used in sailing ships to open the strands of a rope before splicing. Compare marlinespike. 2 (context nautical English) A square bar of wood or iron, with a shoulder at one end, to support the weight of the topmast (on a ship). 3 A plug of oakum for the vent of a gun. 4 A small thick piece of anything. 5 A wooden or metal bar or pin, used to support or steady anything. 6 A naval euphemism for "penis", derived from the similarity of each of the above to the male reproductive organ. vb. To support a topmast using a fid.

The Collaborative International Dictionary

Fid

Fid \Fid\, n. [Prov. E. fid a small, thick lump.]

  1. (Naut.) A square bar of wood or iron, used to support the topmast, being passed through a hole or mortise at its heel, and resting on the trestle trees.

  2. A wooden or metal bar or pin, used to support or steady anything.

  3. A pin of hard wood, tapering to a point, used to open the strands of a rope in splicing.

    Note: There are hand fids and standing fids (which are larger than the others, and stand upon a flat base). An iron implement for this purpose is called a marline spike.

  4. (Mil.) A block of wood used in mounting and dismounting heavy guns.

Usage examples of "fid".

This he did from the top-maul to the fid, fid-plate, bolster and chock.

They found Rossi making up a set of footropes for the maintopsail yard, and he hurriedly dropped his fid and gave Sarah a courtly bow.

There was a suspicion that this Fid had poisoned Yang, for his talent related to alchemy, and he could make potions do sinister things.

Stafford were squatting on the gangway, splicing rigging, and they put down their fids and stood up when Sarah came along.

It was his first voyage on such a vessel, although he had fished upon deep water since childhood, and knew a marlinspike from a hickory fid before he was six.

He hastily dressed, strapped on his jingling belt of knives, fids, awls and other implements, ran downstairs, woke a vetturino at the hotel's cab rank and had himself galloped out to the park.

We sway it up from below and fix it to the lower mast, rather like a marine clapping a bayonet on to his musket: it comes up through the trestletrees, and when it is high enough, so that the hole in the bottom of it is clear, we ram a fid through, banging it home with the top-maul, which is this hammer you were asking about, and we sing out "Launch ho!