How to Tie Knots

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					How to Tie Knots
What We Do
As a Venturer Crew we take a high adventure trip every summer. Trips have included canoeing,
backpacking and white water rafting as mentioned elsewhere in this web site. This means a variety
of knot tying needs. Knowing the right knots at the right time makes life in the wilderness more

Purpose for This Knot Page
The concept behind this knot page is to teach a minimal number of knots that are enough to handle
all the requirements we face in our diverse high adventure trips. Ten knots is all we need. Studying
a knot book can be downright intimidating, with a bewildering number of knots. We provide a site
that can be visited as often as needed so you can practice when you want, and find examples of
where these knots are actually applied.

Tying knots in itself is a fulfilling hobby and can become a lifetime study. This knot page will not
delve into these depths. Once you have a working knowledge of these ten knots, though, you may
be drawn to pursue a deeper understanding of knots, their history and their applications.

General Comments:
You won't learn these knots all in one visit. Take your time. Repetition is required. Pick one or two
knots and tie them over and over. Then come back another time and do it again. Then tie them
without looking. Tie them with different sized cords and ropes, as each will feel different. Over
time you will see progress.

Practice with different types of ropes. All knots do not work in all types of rope. The hardware
store and the outdoor supply store have a wide variety. Some won't work well at all in a wilderness
setting. Kern mantle rope (nylon braid core in a woven sheath), as sold in outdoor supply stores, is
the most broadly useful for our Venturer activities, but is the most expensive. Nylon braid rope is
cheaper, available in hardware stores, and works well in many applications, but can be slippery and
contact with tree bark or rocks can snag it and pull at its fibers. Parachute cord is very versatile, too,
and affordable. Experience will teach you what to use.

If you had only one knot to learn, make it the bowline. It's versatile, easy to untie and the rope
retains most of its strength.

If you had one knot to avoid using, it's the square knot. It is not stable and the remaining strength
of the rope is cut to only 45% of its original strength.
Knot Tying FAQs
Can I get bit from a bight? (some common terms)

Working End - This is the end that you are usually tying the knot.

Standing End - This is the part of the rope not being used to tie the knot.

Bight - This is a loop or curve in the rope between the Working End and the Standing End.

Stopper Knot - This is tied at the end of a rope to keep it from unraveling or to keep a knot more

Slipped Knot - This is the variation of a knot that, by looping the working end a special way,
makes the knot easier to untie. The standard knot to tie a shoe is a double slipped square knot.

What's a hitch - or a bend - or a loop?
Knots can be grouped into 3 main categories by the function each knot serves:
a hitch, bend, or loop.

           Knot                     Hitch                     Bend                    Loop
                              Attaches a rope to       Joins two pieces of    An enclosed circle tied
                                  an object.                  rope.                with a rope.
                                 Application               Application              Application
Bowline                     Tent guyline to tree.   Make a long rope.         Hang an object from a
                            Hammock to tree.                                  branch.
                            Guyline to grommet.
Figure 8                    Tent guyline to tree.   Make a long rope.         Hang an object from a
                            Hammock to tree.                                  branch.
                            Climbing harness.
                            Guyline to grommet.
Sheet Bend                  Join various ropes.     Tie sandles to pack.
                                                    Join dissimiliar ropes.
Clove Hitch                 Hang object from a
                            Close a bear bag.
Square Knot (Reef)          Hang object from a      Make a long rope.
                            branch.                 Tie your shoes.
Cow Hitch (Lark's Head) Dining fly pole.

Taut-line Hitch                                                               Tent guying.

Noose                                                                         Tie firewood together.
                                                                              Hang coat up to dry.
                                                                              Tie gear to pack.
Round Turn &                Tent guyline to tree.
Half Hitches                Hammock to tree.
                            Hang object from a
Fisherman's Knot                                    Make a long rope.
                                   The Bowline is a great knot to know and involves tying a
                                  loop in the working end of a rope or cord. It has many uses.
                                  Though primarily a loop, it can also join a rope to an object
                                  (hitch) or to join two ropes (bend). It can be untied when
                                  done with it and is stable and strong, retaining 60% of the
                                  rope’s strength. If extra stability is needed, the working end
                                  can be finished with a stopper knot or half hitch.

                                   This knot can be used anywhere a loop is needed. This
                                  provides a way to attach a rope to a tree limb or object.
                                  Examples: tie a hammock to a tree trunk, attach a guy line
                                  to the grommet in a tarp, tie lashing cords to a pack frame or

 Examples of bowline
 on hammock

 Step 1                           Step 2                             Step 4

 Final Knot
                                  The Figure-Eight is another very diverse knot. When tied in
                                  the working end of a rope it becomes a stopper knot. It can be
                                  used to tie two ropes together (bend) or with retracing the
                                  knot a loop can be formed. Using the loop can be used to
                                  fasten the rope to an object (hitch). The knot is easy to
                                  recognize to verify it’s tied correctly.
 Example of a figure-eight         This knot can be used anywhere a bend or loop is needed.
 knot with retrace                This provides a way to connect two ropes or a rope to a tree
                                  limb or object. Examples: tie two similar ropes or cords
                                  together, tie a hammock to a tree trunk, attach a guy line to
                                  the grommet in a tarp, tie lashing cords to a pack frame or D-

 Step 1                           Step 2                            Final knot
                                  Sheet Bend
                                   The Sheet Bend is just that, a bend. Two ropes or cords can
                                  be tied together. This knot is unique, though, because the
                                  ropes or cords do not need to be of similar diameter. A large
                                  rope can be joined to a smaller one, though the difference
                                  cannot be extreme and the breaking strength decreases as the
                                  size difference increases. This knot is easy to tie slipped, for
 Example of a sheetbend           easy untying. This knot retains 55% of the rope’s strength.
 used to join two ropes
                                   This knot can be used as a bend to tie two cords together or
                                  tie two ends of the same cord together. Example: Wrap a
                                  cord around a sleeping bag and tie ends together. The slipped
                                  form is very handy here for easy untying. A loop tied in one
                                  end, such as a small bowline loop, is also handy. Cut the cord
                                  to a handy length for easy re-use.

 Step 1                           Step 2                             Step 3

 Final Knot
                                  Clove Hitch
                                   The Clove Hitch is an easy-to-tie hitch to fasten a rope to an
                                  object. It can work loose so it’s best used as a temporary or
                                  light-duty knot, or can have two half-hitches tied to secure it.
                                  This knot retains 75% of the rope’s strength.

                                   This knot can be used as a hitch. Examples: tie a rope to an
                                  overhead branch to hang a coat out to dry, close a bear bag, or
                                  tie a canoe’s bow line to a tree or dock.

 Example of a clove hitch
 to hang a lantern

 Step 1                            Step 2                            Step 3

 Final Knot
                                  Square Knot
                                   The Square Knot (or Reef Knot) is the one that most people
                                  know. Even the way we tie our shoes is a variation of the
                                  Square Knot (double slipped). However, it has limitations. A
                                  rope will retain only 45% of its original strength after this
                                  knot is tied. The knot will also capsize easily. For light duty
                                  this knot works. However, challenge yourself to tie other
                                  knots instead of the Square Knot. If you need a secure square
                                  knot, finish it off with a couple stopper knots. Cut the cord to
                                  a handy length for easy re-use.

 Example of a square knot
 used to hang a lantern

 Step 1                           Step 2                            Step 3

 Step 4                           Final Knot
                                 Cow Hitch (Lark's Head)
                                  This knot is the least useful of the ten knots. It is the least
                                 secure of the hitches. It’s easy to adjust the length of line but
                                 it doesn’t hold well. However, it shines when putting up a
                                 dining fly. Use it to temporarily secure a rope to an object.

                                  This knot can be used on a dining fly to secure a guy-line to
                                 the pole-top, and to secure the tension sticks to the ridgeline.

 Examples of a cow hitch knot
 on a dining fly

 Step 1                           Step 2                             Step 3

 Step 4                           Final Knot
                                   Taut-line Hitch
                                    The Taut-line Hitch is a friction knot used to form an
                                   adjustable loop in the guy line of a tent, dining fly or tarp.
                                   Some types of rope or cord don’t hold this knot well so try it
                                   before you need it. Nylon braid rope may be too slippery.
                                   Parachute cord and kern mantle rope work well. Because it
                                   has such a limited application, reference to it is scarce in
                                   literature or web sites.

 Example of taut-line hitch        Step 1
 on a dining fly

 Step 2                            Step 3                            Step 4

 Step 5                            Step 6                            Final Knot
                                   Traditionally the Noose knot is used to make snares to catch
                                  small animals. The harder you pull, the more it cinches down
                                  tight. In practice, it’s useful around camp as a hitch to tie a
                                  rope to an object. It’s a simple knot and doesn’t require much
                                  length of rope to tie. The overhand knot tends to come untied,
                                  so finish it with a stopper knot.
 Example of a noose used to
 gather firewood                  This knot can be used when gathering firewood to hold
                                  branches together to drag them back to camp.

 Step 1                           Step 2                            Step 3

 Step 4                            Final Knot
                                  Round Turn and half hitches
                                   The Round Turn and half hitches makes a good hitch when
                                  you need to tie a rope or cord to an object. It holds up well
                                  and is strong. This makes it a very useful knot around camp.
                                  This knot is easier to tie when the rope is under tension, such
                                  as tying up a full bear bag, because the two wraps around the
                                  tree take the pressure off the knot tying end of the rope,
                                  making it easier to finish off the two half hitches.

                                   This knot is used as a bend. Example: secure the bear bag
                                  rope once it is hauled up or tie a hammock to a tree.

 Examples of round turn and
 half hitches on a dining fly
                                  Step 1

 Step 2                           Step 3                            Step 4

 Step 5                           Step 6                             Final Knot
                                       Fisherman’s Knot
                                       The Fisherman’s Knot is used by fishermen to join two pieces
                                       of fishing line, but is just as useful tying small cordage and string
                                       together. They must be the same type and size cord. The knot is
                                       easy to recognize to verify it’s tied correctly. This knot retains
                                       75% of the rope’s strength.

                                       This knot is used as a bend. Example: use it to lengthen a
 Example of fisherman’s                guy-line by joining another cord to the end of the guy-line.
 knot joining two ropes.

 Step 1                            Step 2                             Step 3

 Step 4                            Step 5                             Step 6

 Step 7                            Step 8                             Step 9

 Step 10                           Final Knot
Many good books and websites exist that cover hundreds of knots to choose from. No single book
or web site has all the answers. Something can be learned from each one. New knot books are
released continuously, and they can all look alike. Here’s a couple worth having:

 "The Book Of Outdoor Knots", by Peter Owen. The Lyons Press.
If you only get one book, this is a good one. This book has a manageable number of knots and each
is discussed, usually with some history and some application notes. A list of knots by activity is
quite useful (essential outdoor, camping, climbing, fishing, sailing, etc.). The size of the paperback
makes it handy to pack along. Illustrations are line art.

"The Morrow Guide to Knots", by Mario & Guido Regazzoni, Quill Press.
This is more like a knot encyclopedia but is small enough to pack along. Plenty of information can
be found. Illustrations are photographs.

Internet Resources
Alan Folsom Knots
Knots and Knotting Resources of all sorts. Animations w/freeze frame option, tons of knots,
bibliography, links, knifes for knots, Boy Scouts, Sea Scouts, and more.

42nd Brighton (Saldean) Scout Group, UK
Animated Knots for Scouts. Great selection of knots.

Scouting Resources
Contains an A to Z of knots and information on the common knots and their uses. Knots may have
picture sequences, or a simple scanned image, or no image at all.

Net Knots
21 knots by activity; fishing, outdoor, paddling, boating. This is a commercial site that sells cards,

Ropers Knots Page
Knotting, bends, hitches and knotcraft. How to tie knots in rope. Knotting instructions for scouts,
climbers and sailors. Ropers Knots Page ( Nederlands).

Animated Knots by Grog
This site, as the name implies, provides animations of the knot being tied.

Disclaimer: Using knots for light duty can be very forgiving of errors. However, if the forces on
the rope or cordage are significant, great care must be taken in selecting the right cordage or rope
for the task, selecting the right knot, tying the knot, consideration of the environment the knot is
exposed to, etc. Because of all these variables no responsibility is accepted for incidents arising
from the use of this website material. Experience will lead you in the proper applications of knots.
Practice often. Learn from others. Be careful.

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