Introduction: Monkey's Fist Floating Keychain

Picture of Monkey's Fist Floating Keychain

I live near the sea. I sail and fish and have more than once dropped my keys into the water. I find self inflating keychains, while successful, to be very expensive. Another solution is a cork from a champagne bottle or cork sphere attached to the keys but these are often unattractive. In this Instructable we are going to make use of a knot called a "Monkeys fist". It was used in days of old to store long lengths of surplus rope on ships and rebellious sailors would slip lead weights into the middle of this knot to make a weapon. By using floating rope to tie the knot, a large amount of floating material can be attached to your keys, thats a good thing!

Step 1: Get Some Rope.

Picture of Get Some Rope.

For a pocket sized keychain your going to need rope of diameter 4mm or less. The rope must be floating rope. Choose a colour you like, or whatever you have found/have lying around/recycled. Get a sizable length. It will surprise you how much rope is in this knot and about a meter is a sensible length. I found this black and red rope on the beach. It pays to shop around.

Step 2: Tie the Knot

Picture of Tie the Knot

I have included a long string of pictures to demonstrate the knot. However I am no master at this knot, it takes allot of practice. It is a good idea to try with thicker rope first. Basically you make 4 loops in the y direction, then 4 loops in the x direction on top of your previous 4, then 4 in the z dirction linking the two previous sets of loops. Then you slowly go from the end of your rope. Tuck the very end inside all the loops and slowly work around the knot tightening as you go. The following Instructables were very helpful when I was first attempting to tie a turk's head:
Cut off surplus rope, tie to your keyring using a knot of your choosing. I chose a figure of eight knot because I like its symmetry.

Step 3: Test

Picture of Test

Its not a good idea to drop your keys straight into the sea. Test in your sink first. Then be safe in the knowledge that they will get wet, but not lost.


tw0nst3r (author)2009-06-28

A figure 8 knot is good for the rope end, but a bowline will not slip and gives a nice loop to hold your keychain. Thanks for this idea - I'm going to try it!

Richie15 (author)tw0nst3r2009-10-14

You don't want to get a bowline wet though, it loosens it. A round turnand two half-hitches or a fisherman's bend (not actually a bend but ahitch) would be better.

SailorScout101 (author)Richie152015-09-26

I'm a bit late here, but you can tie a variation of a bowline for use SPECIFICALLY in water (water bowline). Just my two cents

rlagill (author)2013-01-04

I've tied Turk's Head knots with corks inside as key floaters. I'd use a ping-pong ball inside a Monkey's Fist as flotation and to give it shape. Ping-pong balls are virtually indestructible, and cheap.

pedla (author)2010-07-04

Why argue about if this knot was used as a weapon or not. A pen is not and has never been classed as a weapon, but if I stab someone in the eye with one then surely it has been used as a weapon. Same goes with this knot and many many other items. I know of one case where a woman lost an eye to her adversarries stiletto heel.

strmrnnr (author)2010-02-27

There seems to be a lot of dispute here over the monkey fist.

I am a ship's officer, and the fist was used to weight the end of a heaving line to throw ashore, especially in adverse weather with high winds were you may not get a second chance to throw a line, without a re-approach. It works best for throwing with a weight inside and then dunked in paint. The tail should be spliced into the main and the main should be cut to a length that a loop spliced in the end so as to form a eye. The fists can then be stored and used only when needed. You hitch the end of a heaving line to the eye of the fist and let her fly.

It gives new meaning to the phrase, "Grab your balls boys!"

By the way the unions here in Canada had them outlawed due to the shoremen getting unconscious by a dead-on deckhands.

They do make a nice weapon though. If I particularly like a bartender I will whip them up one out of a 1/2 inch nylon line. It will give you a nice soft ball about 5 inches in diameter. You put your hand through the eye and hang onto the main so that it can not be taken from you. It is soft enough that it will not knock you out, but good enough break a few bones in a thieving hand.

crapflinger (author)2009-06-19

hehe all the floating rope in the world won't save that thumb drive if it hits the water

Arbitror (author)crapflinger2009-06-25

Mines gone through the washing machine 5 times now, even without a case, and it still works!

Richie15 (author)Arbitror2009-10-14

But your washing machine doesn't use salt-water (I'm assuming...)

xZCodmaNZx (author)Richie152010-02-14


jokerlz (author)crapflinger2009-06-19

haha, you would be surprised though. It has been washed twice and dropped in the sea once and after a quick rinse in fresh water it was fine.

SicilianMafia (author)jokerlz2009-06-19

The use of a ping-pong ball as the core would pretty much ensure that it'll float. Just my 2 cents....

temp (author)SicilianMafia2009-07-11

That might make it too bulky though, however ensuring it would float seems more important to me than space.

chi chi chippy (author)2009-06-29

ur reasoning for the monkeys fist is wrong they didnt use them as weapons they used it by putting a thin rope on it and tied it to the big rope that they tie to the dock and they throw the fist and a guy pulls the rope onto the dock

temp (author)chi chi chippy2009-07-08

Ya that's true, but they did use them as weapons to defend themselves and o perform mutiny.

chi chi chippy (author)temp2009-07-09

no they didnt it is a sailors not and i know a sailor it is a navy not !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! not a weapon and not for mutiny !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Richie15 (author)chi chi chippy2009-10-14

And it's impossible for one thing to have mustiple uses? Take thehandcuff knot, for example. It has the obvious use as an improvised pairof handcuffs, but sailors originally used them as a bosun'schair/harness.

dieselmh (author)chi chi chippy2009-08-21

You have terrible grammar and punctuation, you don't know the difference between not and knot, and it looks as though your "!" key is stuck, yet you expect us to believe that you're an expert on how knots were used years ago? Don't hold your breath.

chi chi chippy (author)dieselmh2009-09-02

i dont care about grammar and punctuation. and my "!" is just fine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ok maybe not. jkjk it works fine and how do u "no" i dont study "nots" from years ago?

temp (author)chi chi chippy2009-07-11

Im talking about protection from pirates and such. Just in case real weapons weren't readily available.

jokerlz (author)chi chi chippy2009-07-10

Temp is right, the knot was useful for tidying the ends of ropes and making them easier to throw. However they were banned by the royal navy as they were used so often to club unfortunate captains

cherokee101 (author)2009-07-20

Interesting comments all. When I worked on the Panama Canal, smaller vessels would often use a monkey's fist on the end of a line to heave those lines "up" that were needed to aid as the vessel went through lockage. I had a pretty good arm, but on occasion used a monkey's fist. We weighted them only as an aid to heave a passing line. I worked on small vessels. Next to an oil tanker or huge cargo carrier, we were like ants. Going into lockage as a small craft and having to rise with the water as the lock filled was one such situation where heaving lines with/without a monkey's fist would come up. It tidies the end of the line.

tbone121 (author)2009-06-20

thats no turks head, thats a monkeys fist. there is a huge diference

SicilianMafia (author)2009-06-19

Yes....that knot IS called the monkey's fist. The turk's head has more of a cylindrical structure with more of a weaving pattern that is mostly use to put around handles of knifes and such.

The monkey's fist is much easier to create though.
You should really use the "tool" to create the fist....makes it much easier.

jokerlz (author)SicilianMafia2009-06-19

The way I have always been taught is that a monkeys fist has something hidden inside, while a Turk's head has nothing in it (although I'm sure Turks have more in their heads than the person who came up with all these names for knots). I am sure you are right, and it sounds like the kind of thing that could vary country to country region to region. Also thank you for the tip about the "tool". I have used one before and personally can't say it helped much but I know it helps some no end.

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