Royal Navy Monkey Fist




Introduction: Royal Navy Monkey Fist

.I found this method of tying the monkey fist in an old "Manual of Seamanship, vol. 2 (HMSO London 1952)"

In the "Manual...." the knot is tied around the hand with only three turns. No weight is inserted in to the middle of the knot. After tightening the knot splice the working end into the standing end and the fist is used at the end of a heaving line. .(Alternatively, before tightening tie an overhand knot at the end of the working end and tuck it inside the fist and then tighten.)

That is the history.

Step 1:

In the regular monkey fist knot the Working End bends at a severe angle when it changes from one phase to the next. This causes visible bends (a and b in left hand photo).

In the royal navy monkey fist a gentler angle is used. This leaves no indication of the transition

In the right hand photo one phase ends at "a" and the next starts where the bight emerges in the upper right hand corner

Step 2:

The first set of passes is tied exactly as the regular monkey fist. Take the Working End around the jig the desired number of passes. Then bring the WE across the jig to start the second set of passes

Step 3:

Now instead of making a 90 degree turn and making the subsequent passes above that, - Start at the top and make the subsequent passes below the first pass

Step 4:

In a similar way when changing from the second to the third phase of the knot start at the top and make the subsequent passes below the first

Step 5:

When the desired number of passes are made on the third phase the Working end and the Standing End will emerge from the fist at the same spot

Step 6:

Take several passes around the knot to tighten. You will see the 45 degree angle between the end of one face and the start of the next. When the tightening is complete you can not see where the transitions occur.

Step 7:

You can finish the knot as you wish.

In the first example since both strands emerge from the same spot. Leave one or both strands alone or.. . .

Use the two strands to do a cobra or similar stitch and add a "D" ring

You could also add a second strand and do some crown knotting

In the last two photos I tied a lanyard or loop knot in the cord so that it falls in the middle pass of the first phase of the monkey fist. It takes a bit of adjusting the knot as you tighten but the effect is attractive

Step 8:

An alternative ending adds a loop to the monkey fist.

Tie the first two phases as before

Pull a small bight to the left before starting the third set of passes. Then proceed as described above (step 4)

Step 9:

Brief synopsis of the three phases

Step 10:

If you prefer to have the two strands emerging from the the fist at different points so that you can do knotwork below the fist that is no problem.

On the final pass, instead of bringing the Working End adjacent to the Standing End skip over a face and bring the WE out at the new spot. Tighten as usual

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3 years ago

Excellent instructable ! Thank you.


4 years ago

Below is the general shape of the monkey fist jig. I bent it from the wire of a coat hanger. The red ball is needed to keep the shape of the fist. Without it the fist would collapse on itself.

monkey fist jig.jpg

Question 4 years ago on Step 1

Maybe I am missing the obvious but can you show the form/shape of the metal frame in this, pease? I assume the red ball aids in forming the end result. Thanks for sharing with us.