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Six Knots You Need To Know

Today on Repairs101 I want to share with you six knots that I really believe that everyone should know how to tie. Now some people are under the mistaken idea. That if you can’t tie a knot you should just tie a lot. As funny and clever as that sounds it’s really not the case. The best thing you can do is learn how to tie a proper knot. And that’s what I’m here to show you today.

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What I do here on Repairs101 is I teach skills. And knot tying is a skill that absolutely everybody needs to know. And these knots will serve you well for the rest of your life.

Helm's a'lee ye swabs! Arrrgh.

Twenty years ago I packed up my car and I left Toronto where I was born and raised. I headed here for Vancouver. Headed out on my own to drive the four thousand four hundred kilometres to get here. I came here to work on the trees. Because man they got a lot of trees here – oh yeah, they got trees here – and, to sail. I wanted to be able to go sailing in my spare time. So I got a place by the beach so I could leave my car at home and walk the ten or fifteen minutes it took to get to Granville Island where I could launch a boat and spend my day out sailing on English Bay. So both my job and my hobby required that I be very good with ropes.

Half hitch / overhand knot

Simple half hitch: just make a loop and tuck it through itself. That’s a simple half hitch. OK so a half hitch, just take it put a loop in it. Tuck it through the loop and you’ve got a half hitch.

Square knot / reef knot

OK this one’s called a square knot. The idea is you have two ends: the left goes over the right and you make the twist and then the right goes over the left and you make the twist. And that’s called a square knot. Left over right and then take the right over the left and that’s a square knot. It’s also referred to as a reef knot in sailing and it’s used to reef sails. If you do it wrong, if you do left over right and then left over right again. You’ll get something called a granny knot. I think the reason they call it a granny knot is because my Granny can tie better knots than that.

Sheet bend

So the sheet bend is best used when you’re trying to join two pieces of uneven rope . One big piece, one small piece, say.  The idea behind the sheet bend is. First of all you want to make a loop and then take the other rope and come up through the loop. You come up through the loop and pass it around behind and then pass it in underneath itself. Now that alone is called a sheet bend and a sheet bend will hold. You can tow a boat with just that knot.

OK if you’re going to apply a really extreme load I would recommend that you take this and go around twice for what’s called a double sheet bend. And again you can put a lot of load on that and when you’re done it’ll come apart nice and easy. Just by pulling on it like that. OK make a loop through it. Bring the tail of the smaller piece through the loop, go around behind it. Go underneath and that’s a single but I’m going to go around again and underneath again and that is a double sheet bend. I’ll just tuck it down for you there and that’s what a double sheet bend would look like.


OK everybody knows about the bowline but I’ll just show you anyway. Of course it’s best used when you’re trying to make a loop in the end of a rope. So you need to make a bend in it like that. And everybody knows the old story of course. Where the snake comes out of the hole and goes around the tree and goes back down into the hole again. And that gives you your classic bowline knot. Some people tell that story as it’s a rabbit I guess because they’re cuter. So take the end like that and make a loop in it like this. Come up through, go around, go back down in through again and you’ve got a bowline.

If you’re going to rely on a half hitch knot to hold your horse or your boat… Well I think they might get away on you.

Clove hitch

OK so a clove hitch is going to be used when you need to lash a rope to say a post. A hitching post, a pole, you know the gunwale on a boat, a handrail or something, when you just need to tie something on to a pipe, say. So you just go over it cross over like that. See how I’m crossing it over like that in order that I can tuck it in. OK so there you go, just like that, that’s a clove hitch. It’s just an awesome knot. So clove hitch, cross over to your right then cross over towards your left and then bring it up through the centre like that and you’ve got a clove hitch. Which is a great knot for securing things quickly like your horse or your boat or what have you.

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OK imagine if you just wanted to tie loosely something to it then that’s a really good use for the bowline. So again the bowline you know you just take the end of the rope, throw it around the other side of the object you’re going to be tying on to. Put a loop into it, have the snake come out of the hole, go around the tree and go back down the hole again and you’ve got a bowline.

Backhand hitch

Now on the other hand if you do want a knot that tightens up try the backhand hitch. OK you want to throw it over. Cross over and then go back in the other direction. You just need to lock this off with two half hitches one like that two  like that. It looks a little messy right now but I’ll show you this is just an awesome knot and it tightens itself. The more load you put against it the tighter it becomes, and it won’t let go. It’s just a fantastic load knot called the backhand hitch.

If you’re attaching a ladder to your roof-rack on your car or something you might want to try this. OK this is just a great knot called the backhand hitch. Just pass it through there like that when you come around this side you simply tie a half hitch.

tie another half hitch to lock it up and there you have it. That’s just a great all round knot called the backhand hitch – it’s very reliable. It takes extremely high loads. Always unties easily after you’ve used it. No matter how much of a load you’ve put on it will untie easily.

So now a good knot will untie really easily as opposed to a bad knot is very difficult to untie. Sometimes it can’t be untied. Some times you have to cut it. Some times you put it in a vise and you whack on it with a hammer and a crowbar… So the best thing you can do is of course is learn how to select and tie the proper knot for the occasion.

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