How to Tie Knots: Bowline, Reef Knot, Sheet Bend and Figure-of-Eight
4 Useful Knots Everyone Should Know How to Tie!
The ability to tie various knots is a useful skill to have in the home, garden, when fishing, camping or taking part in other outdoor activities. You may have learned how to tie knots in the Scouts, Girl Guides or at summer camp, but by this stage the steps involved in tying them may be a dim distant memory! There are probably 50 or more types, however this guide concentrates on four useful knots and how to tie them.
What Are the Most Useful Knots?
- Figure-of-eight knot for stopping a rope pulling through a hole
- Bowline for making a non-tightening loop at the end of a rope
- Reef knot for joining equal diameter ropes
- Sheet bend for joining ropes of different diameter
If someone asks you to tie a knot, this is probably what you would tie. An overhand knot can slip though, especially if the cord/rope is made from low friction slippery material. Therefore it can become undone and is unsuitable and potentially dangerous in many applications.
Ignore the pins in the photos which I used to hold the cords in position. I only had two hands to operate the camera and needed some assistance!
A figure-of-eight knot is much more secure than an overhand knot and less likely to become undone. It's useful for stopping a rope pulling through a hole, e.g. the starter cord on the pull grip on a lawnmower
Step1: Make a Loop
Step 2: Put a Twist in the Loop
Step 3: Take the End of the Cord Around the Back
Step 4: Thread the End of the Cord Through the Loop
Reef or Square Knot
A reef or square knot is useful for joining two ropes together. However it is only reliable and safe if the two ropes are of similar diameter.
To tie the knot, remember "right over left and under, then left over right and under" as described in the photos below.
Step 1: Right (blue) Over Left
Step 2: ...And Under
Step 3: Left ( now blue) Over Right
Step 4: ....And Under
Sheet Bend Knot
A sheet bend knot is safer than a reef knot for joining together two ropes or cords of differing diameter.
Step 1: Thread the Smaller Diameter Cord Through as Shown
Step 2: Take the Smaller Diameter Cord Around the Back
Step 3: .......And Then Feed It Back
A bowline knot can be used to create a loop at the end of the cable. The loop doesn't pull tight when tension is put on the rope. A variation of this is the "bowline-on-a-bight" which is tied in the same way but the rope is doubled over initially. This results in two loops and can be used for hauling up something from the ground.
Step 1: Make a Loop
Step 2: Feed the End of the Cord Through the Loop
Step 3: ...Around and Back Into the Loop
An excellent Ladybird book showing how to tie lots more knots than described in this article. Out of print know, but still available new or second hand. I bought this as a child 40 years ago and it's one of my favourite Ladybird titles in my collection, which I still occasionally reference.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Eugene Brennan