Introduction: Basic Knots Guide

Picture of Basic Knots Guide


Step 1: Thumb Knot

Picture of Thumb Knot

The most simple knot.Used as a stopper and prevent ropes from fraying .

Step 2: Reef Knot

Picture of Reef Knot

Used to tie two ropes of equal thickness together.It is pretty easy to tie and untie but under tention,it may be diffcult to untie.It is also not sutible for smooth ropes.(eg.nylon ropes)

Step 3: Figure of Eight

Picture of Figure of Eight

used as a stopper,prevent ropes from fraying and its more secure than tumb knot. it's is also used to tie Caribinas to ropes and is often used in rock climbing.

Step 4: Timber Hitch

Picture of Timber Hitch

used for pulling logs.

Step 5: Clove Hitch

Picture of Clove Hitch

Used to tie a rope onto a pole or log.
The pole must be round.
The pole lust be thicker then the rope itself.

(greatly used during pioneering)

Step 6: Sheet Band

Picture of Sheet Band

used to tie ropes of different thickness together.(works on same thickness of ropes too.)

Step 7: Sheep Shank

Picture of Sheep Shank

To shorten Ropes
To prevent middle fraying.

Step 8: Slip Knot

Picture of Slip Knot

Used as a grip for pulling things.(when tied on a stick or small pole)(marlin spike hitch)


Kozz (author)2008-04-29

Very good! Some brief comments and suggestions: #1. aka "Overhand knot" #2. I think you meant "Reef Knot" (aka square knot) #4. For the beginner, it can be easy to mistakenly twist in the wrong direction (like a multi-turn overhand knot). The thing to remember is that the free end doubles back and wraps on itself. #6. aka "Sheet Bend" #7. aka "Sheep Shank" I must admit to never knowing about #8, what you're calling a Marlin Spike. I've tied these when needing something like an overhand knot but with the advantage of easily being undone. Which parts of the knot are under tension? Just the free ends, or also the bight? Can you explain further when you might use it? Nice work!

Kiteman (author)Kozz2008-04-29

All that, plus: A marlin spike isn't a knot - it's the pointed tool used to knot and splice ropes. What you have drawn is a simple slip-knot - an over-hand knot with a draw loop; the working end has not been pulled all the way through.

loy266 (author)Kiteman2009-09-11

i am a scout and you are WRONG!!!

Kiteman (author)loy2662009-09-11

I am a Leader, and have the manners not to shout at people I don't know, as well as the sense to check my facts before I look foolish in public:

wldcrd (author)Kiteman2016-04-10

not to be ignorant, but Wikipedia is not the end all of references.

Kiteman (author)wldcrd2016-04-11

True, but in this case it did the trick.

Unless you think the article is wrong?

loy266 (author)Kiteman2010-10-05

i am sorry for shouting but there is a knot called a marlinspike hitch

Kiteman (author)loy2662010-10-06

Correct. Marlin spike hitch, not marlin spike.

It's used for temporarily fastening a marlin spike to a rope.

FenrisLokison (author)Kiteman2011-09-26

Definitely correct kiteman,
as a professional fisherman (one of my trades) I can
confirm that there is a Marlin Hitch ( sometimes referred to as a Marlin spike hitch)
which is used to provide a temporary anchor point for a Marlin Spike in order to provide a firm anchor point for someone to haul on the rope.

But technically the hitch doesn't fasten the spike to the rope, rather the spike actually holds the hitch in place and once removed the hitch unknots leaving the rope clear to run through pulley's etc.

For some more good info on ropework check out the International Guild of Knot Tyers and their founder Des Pawson.

PS before the invention of the truck the knot we now know as the truckie (truckers) knot was known as the waggoner's hitch ( sorry love trivia, check out the story of the Matthew Walker Knot as well )

Kiteman (author)FenrisLokison2011-09-26

Would that be the same Des Pawson that wrote the Dorling Kindersley Handbook of Knots?

I met him at a Scout leader training day a couple of years ago. Very nice chap.

HandiGirl (author)loy2662015-01-19

Do we always have to be harsh to our fellow man/woman? This person is sharing his knowledge and we should be kind and gracious. I love these instructables with their diagrams and photos. We should be grateful. After, all this time has passed, I hope you are sorry for your actions!

sharlston (author)loy2662009-09-14

kitemans right your wrong haha!!!!

glorybe (author)Kiteman2010-10-07

Isn't there a type of wheel on older ships in which the hand holds plugged in and then were pulled back out in order for the very large wheel to clear the deck? I seem to recall that the "spikes" used in those wheels for hand holds were called Marlin spikes. Perhaps I am wrong but I think those marlin spikes were used as clubs when fights broke out aboard ship.

FenrisLokison (author)glorybe2011-09-26

Sorry glorybe, but Kiteman is right in his definition of a Marlin Spike and its use, in a lot of European its other name is a Fid. There is also a Swedish Fid which is basically the same as a Fid except it is grooved along one side in order to facilitate passing rope strand through the lay of a rope when splicing it.
As a professional fisherman and mariner I can recommend checking out the International Guild of Knot Tyers and the books by their founder Des Pawson for some good info.
I could also tell you the correct terminology for your "Marlin Spike Clubs" but that would deprive you of the pleasure of finding it out for yourself. Cheers matey

PS for a bit of fun check out International Talk Like a Pirate Day ( Sept. 19 ). "ARRGH Avast there Matey!!"

PPS The day after is International Talk Like a Parrot Day!

Kiteman (author)glorybe2010-10-07

I think you are thinking of these things used to anchor ropes.

The removable handles in capstans are bigger.

AOGutierrez (author)2012-04-01

The reef knot is basically a parcel knot and likely to capsize under strain, i.e. it will turn into a cow hitch sliding along the line being heaved on. The preferred knot for anything being lifted overhead or supporting body weight would be some form of the sheet bend or becket bend regardless of the relative sizes of the line.

Never use a reef knot(square knot) for lines under strain.

roscoluu (author)AOGutierrez2012-06-28

A great Instructable.
As a high steel rigger of twenty years, responsible for millions of pounds over tens of thousands of souls, the preferred knot, the "King" of knots, for overhead or most anything else, is the "Boline". The most common error in tying it results in a "Cow" knot. A very dangerous mistake.
Knots fall into three catagories, all of which most people just call knots. They are: Knots, Hitches, and Bends. The "Boline" is a knot. The "Clove", (the second most useful), is a hitch, and also mentioned in this article, the "Sheet Bend", is, just that, a bend. The venerable "Bow", and a variation of it called an "Opera knot", should not be discounted due to it's simplicity. It's a great knot.
THEE best knot site I've ever encountered online is one that a boy scout troup posted, but I don't recall the URL.
Thanks, Zorro!

axiesdad (author)2010-04-04

Thanks for the intro to knots.  One caveat though;  the reef or square knot (same knot, it just has two common names) should NEVER be used to "tie two ropes together."  It can spill under tension and turn into two half hitches in one rope that will slip right off the other.  It is a good knot for tying a rope around a bundle to hold it together.  The sheet bend is a much better choice for tying two ropes together, but some of the more slippery synthetics require more specialized handling.  If personal safety is going to depend on the knot (as in climbing trees or mountains) be sure you know what you are doing with your ropes.

The best "how to" for knots that I have found is:

except for Ashley of course : )

nutsandbolts_64 (author)2010-02-18

it's pretty confusing

lobo_pal (author)2009-02-16

What about a trucker hitch, bow line, or square knot, those are the most important ones for a scout.

loy266 (author)lobo_pal2009-09-11

the one i use most is figure 8 on a bite and they didnt even teach it to me

wizerd 745 (author)2009-06-07

your "reef knot" is actually called a square knot btw :-)

dutianyi321 (author)wizerd 7452009-09-05

It is called reef knot in Singapore

wizerd 745 (author)dutianyi3212009-09-07

And you are commenting on a 3 month old comment that has already been corrected why?

wizerd 745 (author)wizerd 7452009-06-07

also add two half hitches!

wizerd 745 (author)2009-07-24

I suppose so, I'm in America.

MegaMaker (author)2009-06-13

Show how to make the knots.

GreatSage (author)2009-06-05

Could you, like, maybe tell me how to make these knots?

a.nony.mouse (author)2009-05-22

that one's a bit hard to understand. could you make a clearer pic?

a.nony.mouse (author)2009-05-22

lets see... i use that one to connect my hair bands into a bracelet...

a.nony.mouse (author)2009-05-22

hey, i use that to tie my shoes! lol

gyve.munky1 (author)2009-05-07

sorry, forgot my manners. good instructable Thanks for your time.

gyve.munky1 (author)2009-05-07

scouts should study grammar a little more... but who cares? we're American!! "I'm a scout and knots is (should be are) one of ........"

trooster89 (author)2009-04-26

looks just like a square knot

tron1o7 (author)2008-09-14

Hey man, I see your a scout too. I am star rank, and i enjoy knot tying and the best in my patrol and i just stumbled onto your guide and relized you got the name of one of the knots wrong. The first knot is not called a thumb knot, its called a overhand knot. Ofther than that nice instructable even though it didnt help me it could sure help some of my patrol members... happy knoting!

zorro3355 (author)tron1o72008-09-15

cool....but most knot have a few name...for example,the reef knot is also called a scout knot and things like that...thx for enjoying it

lobo_pal (author)zorro33552009-02-16

So why not list those other names?

Carlos Marmo (author)2008-10-31

Because much few people still give to attention the so basic things. Without these bases, does not have as to have development in this art. In my Country, it is called Macrâmé. Thanks P.S. It pardons me for my precarious English

Carlos Marmo (author)2008-10-30

Wonderful Work! Congratulations!

zorro3355 (author)Carlos Marmo2008-10-31

thanks...but wat's the congratz for?

dchall8 (author)2008-04-29

Yes, all that, all that, and five more comments. 1. If you can find rope that is braided instead of twisted, your pictures will be easier to follow. Use 3/8 or larger rope. Find the macro button on your camera. Also if you have a background color different from the rope color it will be easier to see what you are doing. 2. If you can find two ropes of different colors your sheep shank knot will be easier to follow. 3. Spell check. I'm not sure what I'm reading. 4. As a sailor I am looking for your instructions on the bowline. I use three knots on my boat: the bowline, Figure 8, and the half hitch (often a slipped half hitch). If anyone ever ties an overhand or a reef knot on my boat, we stop what we're doing and have a little chat about ropes and knots. They waste far too much time for whatever minimal value you get from them. 5. Knots are very hard to make Instructables for. Thanks for trying. With a little tuning up this could be the definitive Instructable on knots.

stasterisk (author)dchall82008-07-06

Could you make an instructable on knots?

qwerty (author)dchall82008-07-01

If your a sailor and only use three knots I really hope you don't do it professionally.

smithy813 (author)dchall82008-05-08

if your a sailor, get yourself the encyclopedia of knots or something. half his names arn't right (it's an over hand, not a thumb knot" and the only was to untie a reef knot used to tie ropes together is with a knife (or a good marline spike IF your lucky). the reef knot (square knot) should only be used for REEFING, or closing a bag. NOT as a bend (thats tieing ropes together.) for that, i suggest a simple Simon over or under. i'll probably get an instructable on this out there soon.

I'm not only a blacksmith.

YummyPancakes (author)smithy8132008-05-16

it's an over hand, not a thumb knot
I always knew it as a square knot.

qwerty (author)2008-07-01

I'm also a scout and I'd like to clear this up for everybody. There is such a thing as a marlins spike knot. It is similar to a slip-knot it's more useful. It is used by tying it around a short handle of some sort on a piece of rope that is being pulled. A person can then just pull on the handle and not (haha it's a pun) hurt their hands with rope burn. When done the handle can be pulled out of the knot and the knot just magically disappears.

xboxteen01 (author)2008-04-29

nice. Eagle Scout?

Toxictom (author)xboxteen012008-04-29

All of these knots are a Tenderfoot requirement; or at least they were 35 years ago.

xboxteen01 (author)Toxictom2008-04-29

lol yeap they still are, and hopefully they will continue to be for another 35 years. i know scout just did or is celebrating their centennial soon.

TabLeft (author)2008-04-29

The important thing is getting the knots right so good work. However Kozz is right, nearly all of them are mislabeled. And as for # 8 a Marlin spike is a tool for tightening,loosening, and braiding knots(if you don't have one i recommend you get one, I love mine). whipping is the process of finishing a knots free end so it doesn't unravel, and the knot you have pictured for it is just a basic slip knot. They are all very useful knots so good work, but you might wanna talk to your scout master about the names he is giving you for these knots. But keep up the good work and thanks for the instructable.

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