Introduction: Basic Knots for Beginners

Picture of Basic Knots for Beginners

As an Eagle Scout I have had to teach knots to people with varying levels of experience. I have always enjoyed the outdoors, and knots have been apart of that joy. Knots are useful things to know. Make camp doodads, hang up tarps, pitch a canvas tent. Knots are still useful in day to day life, not just when you are camping or spending time outdoors. Tie strings around packages or presents, tying your shoes, and sewing. This guide will teach some of these basic knots so that you can use them whenever the need arises. I have also included how I feel is the easiest way to untie each knot, which can be a hassle, pulling on the wrong part of the knot can tangle the rope as you untie the knot. If you have hands that work, I will teach you how to tie these knots with them. In order to tie these knots and practice them, you will need:

Materials

  • Rope that is a decent diameter to practice with. I do not suggest practicing with string. String is small and can be hard to untie. Also do not use rope that has a large diameter (thick), this kind of rope is stiff, which makes the knots hard to tie.
  • A rod or pole to tie the clove hitch around. This can be a walking stick, a straight branch from a tree, leg of a chair or table, a friends arm or leg if they are willing to let you tie knots around it. The rod does not have to be round, it can be square, but round is easier to tie knots around.

Note: I have also included a complete glossary at the end of this Instructable to help reference what each term means and what it looks like.

Note: Try to tie the knots loosely and slowly. Know the steps for each knot well, before you try to tie the knot quickly. I have included pictures of each of the steps for each knot, along with what the finished knot looks like. This should clarify if you become confused by the wording of the steps.

Step 1: Square Knot

Picture of Square Knot

This is one of the most basic and simple knots, yet it is still very useful. The square knot can be used to tie up a tarp, hang up a hammock, and other similar tasks. The purpose of the square knot is to join two ends of rope. The square knot works best when both ends of rope are similar in size, if the rope is too different in size, then the knot will "knot" hold.

Note: The Square Knot is also known as a Reefer Knot

Steps:

  1. Hold one end of rope in each hand.
  2. Cross the right working end over then under the left standing end.
    It should look like the start of tying shoelaces. The ends should have switched hands.
  3. Now do the same action, but backwards. Cross the left working end over then under the right standing end.
  4. Pull tight and you are done.

Note: The way to tie this knot is commonly remembered with the saying:
"Right over left and tuck under, left over right and tuck under". The knot can be tied in the opposite direction, i.e
"Left over right and tuck under, right over left and tuck under". As long as the ends that are going over reverse; left over right, then right over left. If you do not reverse directions; i.e left over right, then left over right, you will tie a "Granny Knot" which can bind and come untied randomly.

To untie a Square Knot easily, just pull at the two bends on the left and right side of the knot. After the knot has been loosened, pull apart.

GLOSSARY:

  • Working/Running end: The end of the knot that you manipulate to tie the knot.
  • Standing end: The part of the rope that just stands there and doesn't move to tie the knot.

Step 2: Surgeon Knot

Picture of Surgeon Knot

The Surgeon Knot is a variant of the Square knot used when tension needs to be kept in the rope while the knot is being tied. If you are hanging a hammock and one side is already hanging, then you can use a surgeon knot to tie the other other side and keep tension in the rope without having to hold up the hammock. You could use the Surgeon Knot to tie any two pieces of rope that are under tension, or whenever you would use a Square Knot, but want to make sure the knot will not come untied.

Steps:

  1. Start the same as the Square Knot, but do an additional cross. Cross the right working end over, then under the left standing end twice. Switch the hands the ends are held in.
  2. Finish the same as a Square Knot. Cross the left working end over then under the right standing end.
  3. Pull tight and you are done.

Untie a Surgeon Knot the same way you would a Square Knot. Simply pull on the two bights. In the reference pictures, these are on the left (white rope) and right (green rope) turn back on themselves making a bight.

Note: The extra twist in the first step increases the friction on the rope so the knot doesn't pull apart as you are finishing the knot, and helps keep the knot from coming untied

GLOSSARY

  • Bight: A 180 degree hairpin bend in a rope. This is often used in the creation of loops.

Step 3: Figure Eight Knot

Picture of Figure Eight Knot

The Figure Eight Knot is a stopper knot; it is used to keep a rope from pulling out of a threaded hole, such as a hoodie draw string. This knot is also good for us use in sewing, keep the thread from pulling out of the needle's eye. The Figure Eight Knot will not bind after having a load placed on it, this means that it can be easily untied.

Steps:

  1. Make a bight in the rope near the end of the rope.
  2. While holding the bight in your non-dominate hand, take the short end and move the rope around the back of the standing end (move away from you), then back to the front (move towards you).
  3. Take the working end and thread through the loop that you are holding.(The loop was made from the bight)
  4. Pull the knot tight and you are done.

To untie a Figure Eight Knot, push the round ends of the knot apart to loosen and then pull apart. These are located at the top and bottom of the knot, near the working end and standing end respectively.

Note: This knot works much better than the most common knot, the overhand knot, which binds and becomes hard to untie. The Figure Eight knot is used for the same purpose as the overhand knot, to keep a rope from pulling out of a threaded hole such as a hoodie string.

GLOSSARY:

  • Bight: A 180 degree hairpin bend in a rope. This is often used in the creation of loops.

Step 4: Bowline Knot

Picture of Bowline Knot

The Bowline is a knot that creates a loop in the rope. Can be used to hang something by a rope, tie a loop around a tree or pole, attach a rope to a harness for rock climbing or repelling, or any other task that needs a loop. The important thing about the Bowline is that it is easily untied after a heavy load has been placed on the loop, like hanging from the rope when rock climbing or repelling.

Steps:

  1. Create an overhand loop in the rope.
    Note: Leave some rope after the loop to be the working end. Move the Overhand Loop away from the Working end is you thing you wont have enough rope to work with to tie the rest of the knot.
  2. Take the working end and thread through the loop made in step one.
    Note: Don't pull all of the slack out, the slack becomes the loop when the knot is finished. Be sure to leave some rope. Reference the pictures if you need a visual of what I mean here.
  3. Pass the working end around the back of the standing end.
  4. Thread the working end through the top of the loop created in step one.
  5. Hold onto to loop and the working end, then pull tight to finish the knot.

To untie this knot; if the loop is hanging, push the top of the knot away from the loop to loosen the knot. Pull apart and the knot is united. The top is opposite the loop. Using the back of the knot (The last picture) can make this easier.

GLOSSARY:

  • Overhand Loop: A loop where the working end has crossed over the standing end.
  • Loop: A loop is where a the rope completes a 360 degree turn. There are two types of loops, Overhand Loops and Underhand Loops.

Step 5: Clove Hitch

Picture of Clove Hitch

The Clove Hitch is a knot that is used to secure things to rods or poles. Such as tying a hammock line to a tree, start and end lashings, making a a ladder out of sticks, and any other task that you would need to secure a rope to a pole or rod. This knot is most often used when starting and ending lashings, but it can be used in other circumstances as I described.

Steps:

  1. Loop the working end around the rod one turn.
    Note: Give yourself some rope to work with, have some rope left over after the loop.
  2. Loop around the rod again, but this time in the opposite direction of the loop in step one.
  3. Thread the working end of the rope under the crossing made by going from the first loop to the second.
  4. Pull tight and the knot is finished.

To untie this knot; move the two loops away from each other to loosen the knot. Now pull the knot apart and the Clove Hitch is untied. Another way to do this is to widen the "X" until the knot is loose enough to pull apart.

GLOSSARY

  • Turn: One complete loop around a rod or pole. The working end is on the opposite side of the rod from the standing end, after the turn.

Step 6: Back Matter

Picture of Back Matter

This is where I have placed a complete glossary of terms used in this Instructable. In case you want to reference these terms independent of the knots that they are used in. The picture for this step will show you what each of these terms looks like.

GLOSSARY

  • Standing end: The end of the rope that you are not currently using to tie the knot, the part of the rope that is just standing/sitting there. This can be in the middle of the rope, it does not have to be just the end.
  • Running/Working end: The end of the rope that you are manipulating to tie the knot. This is always the actual end of the rope.
  • Bight: A 180 degree hairpin bend in a rope. This is often used in the creation of loops.
  • Loop: A loop is where a the rope completes a 360 degree turn. There are two types of loops, Overhand Loops and Underhand Loops.
  • Overhand Loop: A loop in the rope where the working end lays over the standing end.
  • Underhand Loop: A loop in the rope where the working end lays under the standing end.
  • Turn: One complete loop around a rod or pole. The working end is on the opposite side of the rod from the standing end, after the turn.

Comments

3366carlos (author)2017-10-29

nice

tomatoskins (author)2017-10-25

Great information on how to tie these important knots! You sure know your stuff!

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