What is a cleat?
In simple terms a cleat is a device for securing a line, the term was first applied to pieces of metal or wood with projecting arms on which a rope could be wound, thus securing the load on the rope, for example to fix in place the halyard used to hoist a flag or a sail. Modern cleats have become considerably more complex and sophisticated and are manufactured in various different shapes and sizes bearing no resemblance to a simple cleat on a flagpole, but their purpose remains the same, to secure a line.
Where cleats are used
The most common use of cleats is wherever a line needs to be temporarily secured. Cleats enable the line to be tightened or loosened in order to raise, lower or release a load, the line is then re-secured when the required tension is achieved.
Some cleats, such as cable cleats, are used as permanent fixtures.
Typical industry sectors
- Horn cleats – these are of the traditional design with two arms round which a rope is wound
- Cam cleat – these consist of two spring-loaded cams which clamp the rope between them. They allow for easy adjustment and quick release when under load.
- Clamcleat® – so called because the two halves through which the rope is threaded resemble two halves of a clam shell, although these are more compact than cam cleats, it is less easy to release a rope under load.
- Jam cleat – a variation of the Clamcleat® where the rope is pinched into a V-shaped slot, also a compact cleat.
Nautical cleats are available in many different materials, those made from advanced composite plastics are popular as they are light, strong, durable and provide superior performance.
These are single hold fixing devices that are essential for securing cables in an electrical installation, the cables must be secured in such a way as to be able to withstand the forces they generate, including the force generated by a short circuit. The cleats used for such installations must be specified carefully and should contain short circuit protection devices.
These are tradition cleats with two arms, different designs are available such as those with curved arms as opposed to straight. They are manufactured in different materials such as nylon, aluminum or steel.
Sizing and typical range of sizes
There are a vast number of cleat sizes, all types are available in many sizes, ranging from very small jam cleats used to secure guy lines on tents, to huge docking cleats used to anchor cruise liners to the dockside.
The size of cleat used will depend entirely upon the size of line it is securing and the weight of the load on that line.
- Eye straps – to keep the line in place above the jaws of the cleat.
- Fairleads – similar to eye straps in that they hold the line close to the cleat, and to stop the line going anywhere when it is released, they can also be mounted in such a way as to guide the line.
- Cam caps – colored caps that fit over the standard cleat cap, available in a variety of colors to color-code the cleats.
- Cam cleat swivel bases – to allow the cleat to swivel for easier cleating and releasing from any angle.
- Risers and Angle bases – to raise or angle the cleat so it is mounted in the optimum position for cleating.