Here you’ll find a collection of posts that cover how to tie basic knots as well as resources where you can learn more.
What’s the Best Book Available for Learning How to Tie Knots?
I’ve heard a lot about this topic. Basically, I’m looking to get a definitive answer on which is the best book to purchase when it comes to wanting to learn how to tie knots for camping and bushcraft. For some reason, I’m fascinated by the things and I can’t seem to get enough. I want to be like one of those old men who can tie any knot on command. I think that would be rather impressive.
I recently purchased The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Knots and Ropework by Geoffrey Budworth and I received it today in the mail. It’s got over 200 knot tying techniques and it looks very nice. The best part is that I only paid $1.96 for the book, plus shipping. The entire thing came up to about $6, but it’s hard cover, so I’d say that’s a steal. While it does offer good illustrations and instructions for knot tying, I did notice that some of the names for the author’s knots are a bit different than the names I’m familiar with. I’ve done some arborist work as a tree climber and I heavily relied on the Anchor Hitch as well as the Taut-Line Hitch. The problem is, I don’t see these two knots listed at all in this book. I believe the author is calling the Anchor Hitch the Anchor Bend or something like that and I saw something called a Prusik that looked a bit like the Taut-Line Hitch. Overall, it’s a great looking book and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from it, but I wonder if there’s something more all-encompassing out there.
By the way, I’ve included a few photos of this book down below.
I’ve read about The Ashley Book of Knots by Clifford W. Ashley being the book to buy for this topic, but I’ve seen what it looks like on the inside and I just don’t think I can bring myself to look at those antiquated illustrations. I need nice and new photographs with good instructions laid out for me. Even though this resource offers a huge number of knots, I just don’t think it’s the one for me. I’d like something more modern.
So, if you know of or have a favorite knot tying instruction book, please let me know. I’m on the hunt and all advice is welcome. Thanks!
Overhand Loop Knot
This is a dangerous knot to tie because you’ll likely never see your rope in one piece after using it. If tied this countless times as a kid and I can clearly recall my trying to untie it by pulling on it with my fingers, using my teeth and just about anything else that was available to me. Sometimes those things worked and sometimes they didn’t.
This is an extremely simple knot to tie. It doesn’t even need a working end. If you find some slack in a rope and tie an Overhand Knot, there you go. All done. The knot creates a loop in the rope that can be used for quite a few things, such as attaching hooks, clips and other rope. Remember though, when tying a loop like this, you’re likely to put weight on it, which will cinch it tight. And when I mean tight, I mean tight. Depending on how much tension you put on it, you most likely won’t be able to untie it, so get your knife ready. It is an easy knot to learn and remember and it’s definitely got its uses.
Okay, let get down to it. I’ll show you how to lie the Overhand Loop Knot with my trusted black rope.
First, get your loose rope ready and form a loop.
After that, take the end of the loop and place it over the standing parts of the rope.
Then, take the looped end and bring it around the standing parts and through the second loop you just made.
And that’s it! Here’s an up-close view of the knot itself.
What are your feelings on this knot? Do you use it a lot? I have to admit that I do because it’s sort of a no-brainer, but please let me know your thoughts down below. Thanks!
Double Overhand Loop Knot
I love this knot so I’m happy to show you how to tie it. It’s a more substantial version of the regular single Overhand Loop Knot, so it’s stronger. It’s quick and easy to tie too, but it’s a real pain to untie. Actually, if you put any weight on this knot, you probably won’t be able to untie it, so you’d be better off using your knife to cut it off. The best part about this knot and the Single Overhand Loop Knot is that you can create a stationary loop along any part of your rope. Whether it be the end of the rope or somewhere in the middle. All you need is some slack to make your bight and then you can tie this one right up. Again, don’t think you’re going to get this one out too easily. It seizes up tight when some weight is put on it.
To start off, find a place in your rope to make a bight.
Next, bring the loop over the standing parts of the rope.
Bring the first loop through the second loop you created.
Then, bring the first loop around the outside the second loop and wrap it around again. Basically, you’ll have two wraps.
Now this is where things get slightly tricky. Hold the standing parts in your left hand and the working loop in your right hand. As you pull those two ends apart, twist your right hand clockwise so the knot itself forms beautifully. You’ll see the rope curl around itself to make the nice knot. It should look like this below.
Here’s an up-close view of the knot itself.
And that’s it! A very nice knot for so many uses. Towing, pulling, fishing, you name it. If you have any suggestions, critiques or comments, please add them below. Thanks!
As promised, I’ve got the Packer’s Knot for you today. This isn’t a widely known knot, but it sure is useful when tying twine around packages to keep things together or for keeping a carpet rolled up. People also use this knot when cooking, when tying up bedrolls and any time they want to keep something tight so it won’t unroll or expand in some other way. This is a common knot for Scouts to learn.
Okay, here goes.
Take your rope and get it ready.
Take the working end of the rope and bring it over the standing part. Go around the standing part and through the loops that’s created.
Next, take the working end and continue around the outside of the loop and back through it, underneath.
After that, take the end of the rope and go up and over and then through the second loop that’s created.
Finally, pull both ends of the working end of the rope to tighten the knot.
Here are some extra views of the finished knot.
This really is a great knot. Once it’s tied and cinched, it stays tight. I like the way it’s only one knot as well, unlike the Overhand Knot & Half Hitch. This knot is elegant, functional and easy to tie. It’s also very useful.
Overhand Knot & Half Hitch
I’ve got another knot for you today, but I have to tell you that I don’t like it much. It’s essentially the Simple Noose knot with a Half Hitch thrown in for good measure. The knot is fine because it’s a stronger noose the the simple version, but the reason I don’t care for it much is because when the knot is tightened or in use, the overhand portion of it separates from the half hitch portion. It’s cumbersome to dress, but I suppose it’s effective overall, as long as you tighten it properly and neaten things up.
Here’s how you tie it.
Start off with your rope.
Bring the working end underneath the standing part of the rope and then back around the top. Then, tie an Overhand Knot.
Tighten that portion of the knot. After that, take the working end of the rope and move it under the standing part. Wrap it around and tie a Half Hitch.
Finally, to finish the knot, pull both working ends tight. This is where things get sort of tricky because, as you’ll notice, the two knots don’t like to play nice with each other. They end up okay though, so give it a shot.
They say this knot is used by anglers for their tackle, Eskimos to string bows and by weavers to rig looms. They also say it’s sometimes referred to as the Packer’s Knot. I looked up the Packer’s Knot and this definitely isn’t the more popular version of that. That’s more of a figure eight knot. Perhaps I’ll cover that one here as well. Enjoy!
Overhand Knot – The Most Basic Stopper Knot
I thought I’d start things off easy. This knot is the one. You can’t get any easier than this. The Overhand Knot is a simple stopper knot that’s perfect for two things; first, to stop the rope from pulling through some sort of an opening. Sometimes, that opening is another knot and sometimes it’s something physical, such as a piece of metal or plastic. Think about threading a piece of rope through a grommet or eyelet on a tarp. If you wanted to tie the tarp off to something and didn’t want the rope to pull back through, you’d tie a stopper knot at the end of it. That’s this one. Of course, there are more stopper knots out there, but this is one for today.
The second most popular use for this knot is to stop a rope from fraying too far. If a rope is frayed and you’d like to stop that fray from continuing up the rope, tie one of these knots as close to the fray as possible and your goal will be achieved. Personally, I use this knot all the time at the grocery store. When I place items from the produce department, such as an apple or two, into a plastic bag, I’ll tie the top of the bag off with the Overhand Knot, so the apples don’t come rolling out later on. I also use this knot as a stopper when I’m climbing trees for removal or pruning. I’ll tie my climbing rope to my saddle and use an Anchor Hitch Knot as my primary and then this Overhand Knot as the stopper so the working end of my rope doesn’t find its way loose through the Anchor Knot somehow.
You don’t really need to learn this one because you already know it, but I’ll show you what it looks like. I’ll also give you instructions for how to tie it.
First, expose your rope. I just placed a piece of mine on a table.
Next, take the working end (the end of the rope) and make a loop in the rope by placing it over the standing end (the remainder of the rope).
Take the working end and push it around the outside of the loop and then through it.
Finally, hold onto the working end and the standing end and pull them apart from one another so the knot tightens.
And there you go. You’ve got your stopper knot. The official names for this knot are the Overhand, Simple, or Thumb Knot.
To loosen the knot, try rolling the loop portion of it off of either end. You can also try pushing both the standing end and working end towards one another until something loosens and you can pull the knot apart. Sometimes, in extreme situations, this knot will be too tight to loosen and you’ll need to cut it out.
Overhand Knot with Drawloop
This is another very simple knot to tie It stems from the basic Overhand Knot, but in this version, the working end isn’t snaked through the loop, like it was with that knot. Instead, a bight (looks like an oxbow – it’s when two parts of the rope are brought together to form a U) is formed and that bight is brought through the loop. The primary purpose of this type of knot is to hold a load. Much like the Overhand Knot, it’s a stopper. But with this version, the knot is easy to untie because all you need to do is pull on the working end and the entire thing will come loose. Actually, once you pull on the working end, the knot will disappear. This knot isn’t appropriate to use to stop the end of a rope from fraying as is the Overhand Knot. Again, this one is used primarily as a temporary measure and is meant to be untied quickly and easily.
To practice tying the knot, lay a piece of rope out on a table like so.
Then, take the working end and place it over the standing end. Create a bight (a U) and begin to push that bight through the loop that’s been formed.
Finally, to tighten the knot, pull the standing end (long end of the rope) until everything is nice and snug. The important part here is to make sure the bight that you pushed through the loop stays intact. If the working end comes through too far, you’ll end up with a regular Overhand Knot and that’s not what you want.
Here’s a photo of the finished Overhand Knot with Drawloop.
It’s very important to recognize that this drawloop isn’t meant to hold any weight. If you were to attach something to this rope and then hang it by this loop, the loop would very easily slip out. The drawloop is only meant to assist with untying the rope.
Another important point to remember. Much like the Overhand Knot, if this knot is used as a stopper and is tightened enough, there may be no way to untie it, even with this drawloop. You may need to cut the knot if tightened too much. But in general, under normal circumstances, you should be able to simply pull on the working end and the knot will come apart.
Two Strand Overhand Knot
I’m sure you’ve all tied this one before. This is the same exact knot as the Simple Overhand Knot, but with two ends of a rope or two separate ropes. Again, this can be used as a stopper knot when a larger hole is present or you can even use this knot to stop the ends of a rope from fraying. I’m sure you’ve tied up your sweatpants while in gym class using this knot once or twice. I know I have.
One technical aspect of this knot you should be aware of though is that it’s not considered a bend. The reasoning for this is because with this knot, both of the working ends are to remain pointed in one direction and both of the standing ends are to remain pointed in the other. If you were to spread apart the standing ends and pull them in opposite directions, it would be another story, but as far as this Two Strand Overhand Knot is concerned, everything is meant to remain aligned.
Okay, here’s how you tie it. It’s very simple.
First, align your two ropes or the two ends of the same rope.
Next, take the two working ends and lay them over the standing ends so a loop is formed.
Take the working ends and continue to push them underneath the loop and through it.
Finally, to tighten the knot, hold onto the standing ends with one hand and the working ends with the other hand and pull in opposite directions.
And there you’ll have your knot.
Any questions, comments or something to add? Please contribute below. I’d love to read what you have to share. Thanks!
Double Overhand Knot
This is the first cool knot I’m going to cover in this forum. So far, I’ve discussed the basic Overhand Knot, the Overhand Knot with Drawloop and the Two Strand Overhand Knot. Each of these previous three you can almost tie by accident (and probably have). This one though, requires and extra step that gives the knot much more character.
What this knot is is a glorified version of the Overhand Knot. For that one, you take the working end of the rope and place it over the standing end to form a loop. From there, you snake the working end through the loop and pull. That’s it. It creates the most basic stopper knot available. Even those who never joined the Scouts could figure that one out.
Today, I’m going to go one step further. Instead of snaking the working end through the loop just once and pulling, I’m going to snake it through once and then again. Then, I’ll pull both ends of the rope to create a stopper knot that’s about twice as large as the previous one. If you’re into stopper knots, I think you’ll like this one.
Also, this knot is the basis for others in its class. It helps create the Double Fisherman’s Knot, the Poacher’s Knot (Double Overhand Noose). I’ll cover these additional knots in subsequent posts.
Okay, let’s get going. The first thing you want to do is to lay the end of your rope out on a table. Or on a nice white board like I did.
Then, take the working end and place it over the standing end to create a loop.
Now, just like is necessary with the Overhand Knot, take the working end and go underneath the loop and then through it.
If you were to pull the working end now to tighten the rope, you’d end up with an Overhand Knot. We don’t want that. In this case, you should take the working end and wrap it once more around the loop.
What you have right now is essentially the knot, but it’s not yet been tightened. If you pull gently on both ends (in opposing directions) of the rope, you’ll see the knot begin to take shape. As you pull, use your pinky fingers to push the knot in on itself. Help the knot land where it wants to.
Here’s a better, more close up view of this step.
If you continue to pull and adjust the rope, you’ll end up with a mighty fine looking stopper knot. This is the Double Overhand Knot.
This is the view of the front of the knot.
And this is a view of the back of the knot.
Do you see how the rope runs parallel on the front and crosses over on the back? The knot creates a nice tight ball.
Let me know if you have any questions! Thanks!
Triple Overhand Knot
I think this will be the last Overhand Knot of this little series because it’s getting ridiculous. I think I could go on forever. Triple isn’t the limit you know. You can tie a quadruple and even more than that. Triple is good though.
They say that this Triple Overhand Knot is a great knot to use as a larger stopper as well as a clothing embellishment. You know, to tie on a rope that hands around your waist. Either that, or I’m sure you can figure out how to use this for some sort of a bracelet or similar accessory. Either way, it’s a very simple knot to tie. Click through to read about the Single Overhand Knot as well as the Double Overhand Knot. Those posts will show you how I ended up here today.
Okay, to tie this easy knot, lay the end of your rope out on a table like I did here.
After that, place the working end over the standing end of the rope.
Take the working end of the rope and feed it underneath the standing end and through the loop that was created one step ago.
Continue to follow the previous step twice more. You should eventually have three turns around the loop.
Once this is complete, take hold of the working end and the standing end of the rope and begin to pull them in opposite directions. Here’s the top view of that.
And here’s a side view.
Finally, tighten the knot by pulling the ends apart while adjusting the rope so each wrap around the loop sits next to each other. You may need to do additional adjusting to make the knot sit cleanly.
And that’s it. Do you have anything to add regarding this knot? I’d love to hear it. Please leave your thoughts below.
PS – There is some confusion out there regarding this knot, the Barrel Knot, Double Fisherman’s Knot and the Blood Knot. These are different knots, so please don’t be confused. They all serve different purposes.
I’d like to update the entry above with the proper finish for this knot. It was brought to my attention on Instagram that this knot wasn’t pulled into its proper shape. After investigating, I learned that the person who brought this to my attention was correct. I missed one little thing towards the end and it makes all the difference. I just tried the final maneuver and it worked perfectly.
Okay, after the knot is essentially tied and you’re pulling the two ends apart from one another, you’ll feel both the working end and the standing end begin to twist in your hands on their own. What you need to do is to encourage this twist and continue to twist in the same direction. The ends only twist in one direction, so it’ll be obvious which that is. They actually twist in opposite directions. I’d love to be able to tell you which directions to turn, but since I have no idea how to tied the knot, I can’t tell you that.
Anyway, as you twist, you’ll see one of the turns that you made around the loop jump over one of the other turns. After the knot has been tightened, there won’t be any piece that travels over the backside of the other turns. The final photo and the one before that above are incorrect. Please see the attached images for the correct final version of the Triple Overhand Knot.
This is an interesting knot. I like it because it’s used to bind something as opposed to being a stopper knot, such as the Overhand, Double Overhand or even Triple Overhand. While those knots generally stand on their own, the Strangle Knot is tied around an object, such as a tree, pipe, etc…
The Strangle Knot is known as a binding knot and is quite similar to the Constrictor Knot, but differs slightly. I’ll get to the Constrictor at a later date. For now, know that this knot is extremely handy as a temporary clamp when gluing things together, to hold something that’s rolled up from not unrolling and to stop the ends of a rope from fraying any more than they already have. And believe it or not, this knot is simply the Double or Triple Overhand knot when they’re tied around an object. There’s not much difference.
For the first part of this post, I’m going to show you how to tie a loose piece of rope around a demo log that I just found on my firewood pile. The piece of rope is only about four feet long. I’ll be doing three turns around the log for this one. After that, I’ll demonstrate how to tie this knot when you have just one end of a longer piece of rope. This one is tied a bit differently, but it’s the same exact knot. I’ll only do two turns for that one though.
Let’s get going. Grab yourself a piece of rope and something to tie it around.
Next, slide one end of the rope underneath the log and then pull enough rope through to make three revolutions around the log. Then, go ahead and wrap the log with the rope three times. Both ends of the rope should end up on the same side of the log.
After that, loosen the rope that’s been wrapped around the log enough to easily slide one end underneath the wraps. Take the stop working end and snake it under the remaining two wraps.
This is a more close up view of the same step.
Take the other working end (the bottom one) and bring it up and over the top working end.
Once it’s up and over the other end, go ahead and slide it underneath all of the wraps or rope around the log.
Finally, take both ends of the rope and pull them tight. Fix (dress) the knot by neatening things up and making sure the rope sits well next to itself. Here’s the final Strangle Knot.
And here are two more views; one from the side and then an up close shot.
Up next, I’ll show you how to tie this same knot, just from the working end of a rope.
For part two of this knot tying adventure, I’ll show you how to tie just one end of a rope around an object, ending up with a beautiful Strangle Knot.
To start off with, get one end of your rope ready, along with your object. In my case, it’s my trusted log again.
Next, take the working end of the rope and wrap it over and around the log once.
Pull the end of the rope so you have some slack. Then, cross over the rope that’s already wrapped around the log and make a second wrap.
Loosen the wraps a tad and then tuck the working end underneath both wraps, making sure to go over and then under the standing end of the rope.
Here’s a different view of the same step.
Finally, pull the working end and standing end apart in different directions and you’ll have a wonderful Strangle Knot. Again! Here are a few different angles for you.
Single Hitch, Half Hitch & Two Half Hitches
The single hitch, or otherwise known as the half hitch, is a starter knot. It’s not something you’d use to tie anything important to, but it is good to know and be aware of because it is the foundation for many other knots. I’ll cover those other knots in the future on this forum.
Basically, this knot is a replica of the Overhand Knot, but with this version, the rope is tied to something as opposed to just being a simple knot in the middle of a rope. As is true with the Overhand Knot, a drawloop can be included in this Half Hitch. This version is identical to the Overhand Knot with Drawloop that I showed you previously.
Again, this knot isn’t to be used for anything more than the simplest of uses. It can’t hold any weight and it’s not reliable.
To tie this knot, you’ll need a rope and something to hitch to. I used a log, but more common would be a ring or some sort of a pole. I’m sure people from way back when tied their horses to rings that were stationed around town.
To start off, get your rope ready with the object you’d like to tie it to.
Take the working end and loop it around the object you’d like to tie to.
Next, take the working end and bring it around the standing part of the rope.
Finally, pass the working end of the rope through the eye of the loop that was created by wrapping the rope around the object. If you pretend the log isn’t there in the photo above, you’ll see that you’re left with a loop in the rope.
To finish the knot, pull both the working end and the standing part until the knot is tight.
If you’d like to include a drawloop with this knot, you can simply use a longer working end (tail) and as you’re pulling it through the eye of the loop, bend it and don’t pull it all the way through. Or, you can snake the end through and bend it so it snakes back and then tighten the knot.
This next version of almost the same knot is known as Two Half Hitches or a Double Half Hitch. Like the half hitch, this knot is used to tie a line or rope around something and it really is one of the most popular basic knots. It’s used while camping all the time and it’s much stronger and more reliable than the Half Hitch by itself.
When tying this knot, it’s critical to tie it so both hitches match each other. So, if you took the standing end (running end) of the rope and passed it over the standing part for the Half Hitch, you’ll need to do the same exact thing a second time. Don’t get confused and pass it under. It needs to go over if it went over the first time. If passed under, a different knot will be created that’s utilized for different things.
After you take the running end and pass it over or under the standing part and through the loop, pull to tighten the knot.
And there you have it, the Half Hitch and the Double Half Hitch. If you have any questions or if you’d like to add something, please do so below. Thanks!
Round Turn & Two Half Hitches Knot
I keep seeing online descriptions that tell me this knot is used to secure a boat (mooring line) to a post or a dock. I guess that’s what it’s used for the most. This is a semi-strong knot to use for attaching objects to other objects, but I wouldn’t put complete trust in it. It’s fairly strong, but not the strongest. I’ve actually towed cars using this knot, so I’d say it’s strong enough for many uses. It’s the redundancy that does it. Two round turns and then two half hitches. That’s pretty good. There’s a good amount of friction in there to stop the knot from sliding out and much of the load is applied to the first turn.
While I used a carabiner to tie around in this demo, I wouldn’t necessarily climb using this knot. It was something to tie around though, so that’s what I did. If I had to use this knot for climbing, I would tie a stopper knot at the end of the rope, such as the Overhand Knot.
To tie the knot, take your rope and get it ready for action.
Next, take the working end of the rope and pass it around the object you’re tying to once. And then do that same thing again, so you have two passes around the object.
After that, take the working end and pass it over the standing part and make the first Half Hitch.
And finally, take the working end and repeat the previous step. Take it and create the same Half Hitch again for Two Half Hitches.
And there you have it. The Round Turn & Two Half Hitches Knot.
The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Knots & Ropework by Geoffrey Budworth
If there is one thing I love, it’s a good knot. I’ve been in love with knots since I was a kid in Cub Scouts. I honestly don’t know why I have such a fondness of these things, although I will tell you that I also love locks and safes. Oh yeah, and chains. Since these are all related and stemmed in security, perhaps I have a few issues. I don’t mind though because knots are the best and you can never know too many. They’re good for all sorts of things, especially when you’re out hiking, camping or bushcrafting. They can come in handy at any time.
I recently purchased a book that offers instructions for how to tie over 200 knots. It’s called The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Knots & Ropework and it was written by Geoffrey Budworth.
After browsing through the book for a while, I can tell you that it’s a decent resource. It’s got pages that are clear and easy to understand and it offers beautiful color photographs. And the best part is that it somewhat describes each and every knot it displays. At the front of each section is an explanation of that type of knot. Examples of knot types (or groups) would be bends, hitches, bindings and loops. The book also talks about mats, plaits, rings and slings.
I bought this book used on Amazon.com for $1.96 and $3.99 shipping. I though that was a steal when I saw it online and now that I’ve received it, I know it was a steal. The book looks brand new. I think I may have already gotten my money’s worth out of it because I used one of the knots from the book this morning. I was tying a piece of paracord to a new ferro rod I recently purchased and instead of using my common go-to Two Strand Overhand Knot to attach the rope to itself in a loop, I decided to go with a more adventurous and slightly more complex Overhand Bend Knot. Don’t worry, I’ll be explaining each and every knot that’s in this book and every other resource I come across, right on this blog.
For now, check out my handiwork from this morning. Here’s my first knot.
While this is a finished knot that’s all tight and difficult to see, the knots I’ll be sharing instructions for will be step by step. I can’t wait to get going on those.
Before I end this post, I would like to comment on a review that was left for this book on Amazon. The reviewer claimed that the book fails to discuss “or explain a knot’s function and usefulness, or why one particular knot may be more suitable, stronger or safer than another.” After flipping through its pages and reading some of its excerpts, I have to somewhat agree with this reviewer. I was actually looking for this type of commentary and unfortunately, it’s not there in any extensive manner. I would have loved to have learned about potential uses of each knot. I’m not saying there’s no discussion, just not any one that’s in-depth. That’s why I’ll be purchasing more books on how to tie knots in the future. Hopefully in person. But overall, this book looks great. It’s well laid out and it’s very clear. It’s just missing a few things. It’s perfect for the beginner hobbyist like me.
Remember though, I’m always looking for the best book on knots, so if you know of any, please let me know. Thanks!