In a traditional hemp and sandbag rigging system the clew is used to join the several ropes which support the batten to a single control line. This control line is then tied to the belaying pin on the pin rail, or counterbalanced with sandbags.

The reason the clew is necessary is because older theatres often used wooden battens. On a wide stage several ropes were needed to support this batten. Without the clew to join ropes each rope would have to be individually sandbagged. Moving a single batten would require as many riggers as there are ropes. With a clew, one single rope can control the series of ropes,thus allowing the lineset to be operated by just one person.

Part of the Stage Rigging metanode

In sailing, the bottom corner of a sail opposite the end touching the mast.

Most sails have a grommet at their clew so they can be tied down to the boom. Usually a rope called an Outhaul is used to provide tension, stretching the sail. The tighter the sail, and less baggy, the more wind can skim off of it, giving more control for less power. This outhaul can be placed in a block or a cleat so it can be adjusted constantly during a race.

Clew (?), Clue, n. [OE. clewe, clowe, clue, AS. cleowen, cliwen, clywe ball of thread; akin to D. kluwen, OHG. chliwa, chliuwa, G. dim. kleuel, knauel, and perch. to L. gluma hull, husk, Skr. glaus sort of ball or tumor. Perch. akin to E. claw. 26. Cf. Knawel.]


A ball of thread, yarn, or cord; also, The thread itself.

Untwisting his deceitful clew. Spenser.


That which guides or directs one in anything of a doubtful or intricate nature; that which gives a hint in the solution of a mystery.

The clew, without which it was perilous to enter the vast and intricate maze of countinental politics, was in his hands. Macaulay.

3. Naut. (a.)

A lower corner of a square sail, or the after corner of a fore-and-aft sail.


A loop and thimbles at the corner of a sail.


A combination of lines or nettles by which a hammock is suspended.

Clew garnet Naut., one of the ropes by which the clews of the courses of square-rigged vessels are drawn up to the lower yards. -- Clew line Naut., a rope by which a clew of one of the smaller square sails, as topsail, topgallant sail, or royal, is run up to its yard. -- Clew-line block Naut., The block through which a clew line reeves. See Illust. of Block.


© Webster 1913.

Clew, v. t. [imp. & p. p. & vb. n. Clewing.] [Cf. D. kluwenen. See Clew, n.]


To direct; to guide, as by a thread.


Direct and clew me out the way to happiness. Beau. && Fl.

2. Naut.

To move of draw (a sail or yard) by means of the clew garnets, clew lines, etc.; esp. to draw up the clews of a square sail to the yard.

To clew down Naut., to force (a yard) down by hauling on the clew lines. -- To clew up Naut., to draw (a sail) up to the yard, as for furling.


© Webster 1913.

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