Author Topic: Essential Knots?  (Read 43936 times)

Lasse_C

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Essential Knots?
« on: August 03, 2006, 11:49:52 AM »
Different versions of this question has been up from time to time, but just for the fun of it I would like to raise the issue once more:
Let us introduce the term “Essential Knots”, meaning the basic knots you need to know in order to have a reasonable ability to choose the right knot in most situations.

How many are the “Essential Knots”? Five or six? Ten? Twenty? Thirty?

Once that is decided: Which knots should be on the list?

Suggestions, anyone? (I think we can make a poll out of this later….)

Lasse C

oceanplats

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Re: Essential Knots?
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2006, 12:16:32 PM »
i work at sea so these are always used -
Bowline
Clovehitch
Sheetbend(or x2)
round turn 2 1/2 hitches
rolling hitch
constrictor knot (for me)
carrick bend
Thats about it ,
Never seen a sheepshank used.
Cheers

KC

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Re: Essential Knots?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2006, 12:21:13 AM »
i think that a few knot families should be shown; then there useful variants for a wider command with less details (because of similarities).  Show SheetBend and Bowline as 1 lesson etc.

For example:

Sheet Bend Family:
--->Sheet Bend's hitch to eye is Becket(more secure); can be toggled with smooth rod
--->SheetBend to self is is Bowline Knot; preferred non-shrinking eye
--->Bowline to Bowline (or with steel device in between) is another way to join lines

Anchor Family:
--->Sweet Simplicity-RoundTurn sitting on it's own tail;  Sheet bend family and other improved with RT
--->High security and can be slipped as well as other knots here
--->Anchor to self is Double Noose; a preffered shrinking eye choice

Crossed Turn + Hitch Family:
--->Clove
--->Constrictor
--->Snug Hitch(?) almost security of constrictor but less fight to free
--->Transom
--->Lashing
--->Perhaps Clove to self for another shrinking eye choice- Buntline

Crossed Turn + Hitch Opposed Family:
--->Girth
--->Cow(either here or as BackHand Hitch due to pattern and only pulling 1 leg of line
--->Prusik(s)

Backhand Hitch Family:
--->Muenter
--->Timber
--->Killick
--->Pile

Blake's as single leg friction hitch
Slipped Squares to tie shoes
Round Turn and 2  1/2 as knot and example of security; end Cow, Clove, Anchor, Backhand etc. (as many turns as Round Turn) and add 2 1/2 hitches for security to these too.
a Stopper Knot

« Last Edit: August 04, 2006, 12:25:47 AM by KC »
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absatz

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Re: Essential Knots?
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2006, 07:19:50 PM »
I'd rather start with listing different situations calling for knot tying. Then, for each kind of situation, a few reliable knots could be offered.

Willeke

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Re: Essential Knots?
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2006, 07:37:19 PM »
In my personal 6 are:
-Packaging knot,
-Constrictor,
-Crowning, several versions,
-Sheetbend as used in netting, 2 versions,
-Reefknot with 2 ends slipped, (is the bow for tying my shoes,)
Next will be several fancy knots and braids.
Not the knots I think the man next door needs.

I would teach a few practical knots, like:
Sheetbend, bowline, reefknot, roundturn 2 half hitches,
and follow with a session in which I approach knotting from the people I teach.

One time the girls in scouting, and a few of the boys, did grab the offered session on fancy work.
An other time we had a session of tie the scoutmaster to a chair, showing them they did not understand their knots yet, next lesson they were more observant.

So I think there is not one set of knots for everyone, but a need to tailor to the costumer.

Willeke
"Never underestimate what a simple person can do with clever tools,
nor what a clever person can do with simple tools." - Ian Fieggen

Writer of A booklet on lanyards, available from IGKT supplies.

KnotNow!

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Re: Essential Knots?
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2006, 04:35:48 AM »
Hello Everyone!
  I like to see this topic revisited every few months, since newbies come and go and the old guard learn and revise our "cut in stone" ideas.  Several years ago I wrote a column for Knot News (IGKT-PAB newsletter) about a friend of mine who was going to ride a BMW motorcycle from England to the pyramids and back.  The trip was planned before USA's problems on 911, but to his credit he went anyway... even though the event changed the countries where he had easy access.  I gave him a handful of knots... mostly binding and lashing and such.  The knots are not important, but the concept of fitting the "essential" to the task is important.  I know motorcycles, desert camping, packing awkward bundles and jury-rigging machines and camp gear.  His knots served him very well.  I live in a very rough camp without indoor plumbing, or anything most consider normal.  Knots and cordage are as essential as on a sail boat but all different.  No day passes without many dozens of cordage applications.  We are "camping out" 24x7x365.  I think I'll try to keep a log of each knot I tie for the next week and log on next Sunday at this post for the result.  Of course if it is a week when we manage to work up some wood for the fire then that will skew the result.  Firewood weeks are the ones with all the sheepshanks anyone could ever want!
ROY S. CHAPMAN, IGKT-PAB BOARD.

Lasse_C

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Re: Essential Knots?
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2006, 12:41:52 PM »
I like to see this topic revisited every few months, since newbies come and go and the old guard learn and revise our "cut in stone" ideas. 
That would be fun!  ;D  From the answers so far, it seems that we should be able to make a list of let´s say a dozen or so knots that would meet most everyday needs. I´m really looking forward to where we end up on this one!

Perhaps I should add that I´m thinking of "working knots" in this topic, not "fancy work" and decorative knots.

Of course if it is a week when we manage to work up some wood for the fire then that will skew the result.  Firewood weeks are the ones with all the sheepshanks anyone could ever want!
??? Because of.... what? I fail to figure out why - possibly because I do not handle firewood very often. (Would like to, though...) Can you explain?

Lasse C

PatDucey

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Re: Essential Knots?
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2006, 08:10:06 PM »
The 8 Boy Scout knots that I learned all those MANY years ago are for general use, and I still feel that these are the basic knots that everyone should know how to tie.  Each knot has an intended purpose, and as Roy stated, it is important to know the proper knot for the task at hand.  Are there better knots for different purposes?  Of course there are!  But these knots have the most universal applications.  Should you take up an activety like mountain climbing, rigging, or sailing a tall ship, you will be expected to learn many more knots.  For the average person who works in the yard, and occasionally helps their kids set up a tent in their bedroom, I have always felt that the Boy Scout 8 are the Essential Knots.

Pat

Bowline:  Placing a loop that will not slip on the end of a line.

Taughtline hitch:  Placing an adjustable loop on the end of a line.

Square Knot (Reef Knot):  Tying a bundle together, or tightening onto a package.  Also can be used to tie two lines of equal size together, but sometimes is not the best knot for this use.

Sheet Bend: Tying two ropes of different sizes together.

Clove Hitch: Used to seize or constrict a bundle.

Sheep Shank: Used to shorten a line without a permanent knot.

Timber Hitch:  Used to pull an axial load, like dragging a log out of the woods.

Two Half Hitches: Used to pull a radial load, like around a rail.

Willeke

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Re: Essential Knots?
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2006, 08:21:12 PM »
I agree mostly with Pat, one remark:
Quote
Square Knot (Reef Knot):  Tying a bundle together, or tightening onto a package.  Also can be used to tie two lines of equal size together, but sometimes is not the best knot for this use.

Sheet Bend: Tying two ropes of different sizes together.

Please never ever teach to use the reef knot (square knot) to tie ropes together.
The sheetbend can be used to tie 2 ropes of the same size too, and is a much better choice.

Willeke
"Never underestimate what a simple person can do with clever tools,
nor what a clever person can do with simple tools." - Ian Fieggen

Writer of A booklet on lanyards, available from IGKT supplies.

PatDucey

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Re: Essential Knots?
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2006, 01:00:13 AM »
Willeke,

You are correct, the Square Knot is the wrong knot to use where the load on the knot varies, or when life and limb are in peril.  However, as a general purpose knot it is important to know the difference between the Square Knot and the Granny, and when to use it (or not use it).  I would argue thet the Square Knot is probably the most abused knot.   It is popular, easy to tie and untie, and holds reasonably well.  It can also slip or spill into two half hitches, and cause a failure.  That is why I added the caveat that it is not always the best knot to tie two lines together (maybe I should have stated it more firmly).

I still feel that the Square Knot is an Essential Knot for average people to know, along with when to use it, and when to use something different.

squarerigger

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Re: Essential Knots?
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2006, 01:03:25 AM »
Hi Lasse,

The best dozen or so?  That's really limiting, but here goes:

  • Round turn and two half hitches (secure, small reduction in tensile strength, attachment, with seizing)
    Double sheet bend (no sense in reducing security, albeit not so strong in tension)
    Toggled sheepshank (around a pile of logs or whatever, for a handle, very comfortable to use and it may be served over with any extra line - oh, and the longer line could be used for other purposes later)
    Packer's knot (for tying packages of almost any kind)
    Constrictor knot (starting lashings, tying bags, poles together)
    Highwayman's hitch (or whatever you want to call it, great for quick release with instruction on uses)
    Figure eight re-threaded (end loop)
    Alpine butterfly (middle of line loop)
    Trucker's hitch with extra half hitch for security (great for loads of any shape)
    Timber hitch or kellock hitch (great for hauling in-line)
    Flat seizing, frapped (great for lashings, adaptable)
    Diagonal lashing (cross-pieces, secure when frapped)

  • How to apply catharpins or equivalent (apply pull across long lines to tension long lines) :D

Okay, that's thirteen and I really had to stretch to limit it to that.  No bowline?  You bet!  Wouldn't give it house room as an essential knot, bend, loop, hitch or whatever - essential meaning it must be used because there is nothing better, and there are so many that are better, stronger and more secure......yes? ;D   If you really insist on having a temporary loop at the end of a line, you can't beat the security of a re-threaded figure-of-eight.  Loop in the middle of a line - bowline on a bight may be a suitable alternative if there is safety involved, depending on conditions, because it halves the load on the support line.  Also, I like the tautline hitch when made as a Rigger's Hitch (more secure) 'cause it can be applied to secure a load without letting go.  Okay, add it to the list... ;D
Keep it off the list - that list is too long, but I agree with Willeke that the square (reef) knot should not be on the list of essential knots.  It is not essential, given the other choices.  ;D

Let us hear your own views about this list?

SR



knudeNoggin

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Re: Essential Knots?
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2006, 01:54:43 AM »
Of course if it is a week when we manage to work up some wood for the fire then that will skew the result.  Firewood weeks are the ones with all the sheepshanks anyone could ever want!
??? Because of.... what? I fail to figure out why - possibly because I do not handle firewood very often. (Would like to, though...) Can you explain?
Perhaps KnotNow should let the guessing commence, and feed us a hint
or nudge as it progresses?
Let me start:  maybe for width or platform of wood binding at bottom?

*knudeNoggin*

Dan_Lehman

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Re: Essential Knots?
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2006, 02:22:15 AM »
Quote
...meaning the basic knots you need to know in order to have
a reasonable ability to choose the right knot in most situations.

How many are the “Essential Knots”? Five or six? Ten? Twenty? Thirty?

I'd say, rather than "right knot in most situations",
"to meet most functions for knotting"--since "right knot" gets too focused on
"best" rather than adequacy.  A smaller set results from just the latter standard.

For those not including the SquaREef Knot & Overhand, how do you propose
to tie you shoelaces (Velcro is it?!) or a plastic produce or trash bag (metal
twisty things?)?!  --pretty regular (daily) knotting in those tasks.

The Overhand, if taken broadly, can do a lot:  stopper (and only one able to be
formed snug to its resistance), loopknot (doublling rope then tying Overhand
begets the eye-knot; by deduction, this arguably can lead to the Ring Bend),
and guard to many other knots likely to be insecure w/o--Clove Hitch, Sheet
Bend(s), Tautline(Rolling) Hitch, et al..
I concur in favor for the Bowline.
Two Half-hitches?  --well, that's a Clove noose, and number might be more
than two, or else that Overhand stopper comes in handy.  (So, here we see
that I'm playing a little loose with "knot", in expecting some simple structures
to be able to be combined to benefit.)  A combination of Tautline Hitches can
work on slipperier materials, usually.
Maybe a mutliple overhand knot to secure the slicker stuff, backing up some
other primary knot (thinking of a dog leash of polypropylene, e.g.).

For those admonishing against the SquaREef qua bend, I wonder how many
have actual experiences of its supposed failure, vs. just echoing the admonitions
of books (which might be traceable to some few ancient admonition(s))?  There
are certainly better bends, but ... .  The Sheet Bend & Dbl. Sheet bend, FYI,
have been shown to be insecure at substantial loads in nylon kernmantle
ropes; Jimbo in fact reported these usually coming undone in whatever
stressful loading he has done with them (presumably not losing life or much
of matter--or I hope not!).
The Triple Lapp Bend might be a good one, as it's easily tied (more so than
Sheet or Square), and somewhat forcibly untiable (pull apart bight legs to
prise free some hitching SPart).  --not that I've seen this knot mentioned anywhere,
and the (single) Lapp Bend is a bit demanding of careful dressing & setting!

The Overhand knot also works qua mid-line loopknot, and in this way can
support a Trucker's hitch, half-hitches to finish (or Rolling H.).
--works for tape, too.

------------
As for Roy's Sheepshanks, holy smokes, that's a good one!  I've realized that
one can sometimes make a more comfortable shoulder strap, as it were, with
a Sheepshank trebling the material at that point--but one needs to anticipate
that need with sufficient rope (e.g., some things with a lanyard set for carrying
won't have the surplus material).  I suppose one can even use the knot as a
kind of ratcheting tightener, though such tightening comes w/o any advantage,
and there's a risk of capsizing one side if 2-handing the opposite.
I, like Lasse_C, am curious about this.  --good puzzle, eh?

--dl*
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KnotNow!

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Re: Essential Knots?
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2006, 06:35:45 AM »
Hi Knudenoggin,
  Maybe this should be a new thread and somehow I get to post sometimes as PABPRES and sometimes as KnotNow! but it is still all Roy.  We live in a temperate rain forest.  Over 100 inches of rain per year.  Seldom goes below 0F and seldom above 90F... most days are very moderate... mid 30'sF in winter, mid 60'sF in summer.  So trees grow as if they had to... reach the sun.. had to.  Alice and I are on 10 acres.  Our old trees are 3 to 4 foot in diameter while the new growth or the slow learners are 3".  This was clear cut (no trees) about 60 years ago so the growth rate is so fast that a 4' diameter tree is only 60 years old.  I could afford to buy into this place as it is on an aluvial flow of a glacier melt stream.  This is to say it is a gravel, boulder mix with silt and sand mixed in for fun.  Trees can't hold on as there is no soil.  So when the wind blows the weakest fall.  Often they are clear of knots and clear of rot and then I use a device on my chain saw to mill them into boards, timbers, planks... usable lumber.  I do this right where they fall and the resultant boards must be pulled out of the bush to be used for building.  This I do by hand or aided by Alice or our SUV (4x4 with 300,000 miles on it).  Some of the windfall (now you know where that phrase came from) is only good for fire wood.  The tops of "lumber trees" are firewood.  The rotted or deformed trees are firewood.  We choose not to make roads or trails  all over the land and choose to leave the woods to grow more mushrooms and ferns as well as "way too much" moss... so we bring the milled boards and firewood out to our use by gentle practices.  Often this is on my back.  Often I hang blocks (pully) from trees along the way for a minature verison of the "highline" logging done up here in the past and present.  I strap the blocks into the tree with a "timber hitch" at the tree and a spliced eye for the hook of the blick or if it is a tail block then just the TH.  I use the TH to put a line on a log (or milled timber or bundle of milled boards).  The main line comes out to my loop "road".  My "road" is a loop around the property... not at the bound line but 100 yards in... so I can reach more wood with less impact.  On the road I'll hand a block as a fair lead and hook to the SUV,  I pull to the next curve.. Alice blows the whistle.  I back up and she puts a "Sheepshank" in the line so I can pull again.  Often where she stands to see the progress of the main line is not at the vehicle or at the load.. hence a midline knot.  At some point I must go drop a highblock from a strap but we can make progress with Alice standing firm and just casting sheepshanks (the worhtless knot).  We use bowlines, clove hitches, pile hitches, ashley stoppers (oystermens stoppers), fig 8 knots, butterfly loops, butterfly bends, carrick bends, constrictors (often as stops on a line).  We also break tackle by accident.  When we are done the wood that has fallen by the grace of God has now been removed from the forest and heats our home (such as it is) or contributes lumber to our future home (such as it may be).  The next year you can't tell we did anything... all moss, ferns, mushrooms and fauna have recovered.  Often you can't tell on the same day.  A long disertation, and I know I didn't catch all the knots we use.  Truckers hitch and several lashings have been omitted, I am sure.  I also compound tackle for hard pulls of big wood.  I often move 24"x34' logs into place to mill just by compound tackle and my back.   I like 30's as I can make two 16's with a slop for waste.  When you mill the best length is a 16.5 so you can still handle the timber when done.  All loops are splices unless noted.  All stopers are bigger than fig 8 as all blocks were for fiber and now used with syenthic so a bigger knot is needed.
  I know this is not about essential knots.. unless you want to know about primative homesteads in the Pacific NorthWest.
  Even on a "normal" day living in a primative camp up here needs knots.. lots of knots.  Blackwall hitches, bell ringers... my gosh... no knots.. no way to stay here.
  Sailors need lots of knots but that isn't the only knotty group.  Trust me.
  Yes, KNUDENOGGIN... I'd welcome you here for the getting of the wood and the heat of the fire (I think that covers two visits?).  If you still have one foot in the current decade then you would be very happy running my chain saw! Bring your ear pluggs and have your insurance paid up to date.  I am an eco freak with a adding machine.  I burn a couple of gallons of petro and heat for a year.  My calculator says that beats most folks.  Of course before I became a great-grand-father (a week ago today) I might have done it all with axe and handsaw.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2006, 07:45:53 AM by KnotNow! »
ROY S. CHAPMAN, IGKT-PAB BOARD.

Dan_Lehman

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Re: Essential Knots?
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2006, 04:35:41 PM »
Quote
Even on a "normal" day living in a primative camp up here needs knots.. lots of knots.
Blackwall hitches, bell ringers... my gosh... no knots.. no way to stay here.
Sailors need lots of knots but that isn't the only knotty group.  Trust me.

Indeed.  In fact, out sailing, what knots are actually tied as part of that, as
opposed to having been previously set (in the sheet, to an anchor, or in the ends
of halyards)?!   --tying to a cleat, yes; what else?  Also on the water are the
commercial fishers, and they've maybe a greater knot-need; but for them, too,
I think most knotting is done pre-engagement.  (Discovery Channels special
on Alaskan crabbers showed them one time putting in Carrick bends in order
to lengthen haul lines to the big (800#!) pots.)  There is occasional mending.

There's a nice continuum, somewhat touching on Absatz's notion of task
constraints/focus, from the (presumed) high woodlands (Roy) down through
ranches/farms (Mike Storch!), and cities (construction/builders), out to the
coastal reaches (maritime).  I think it is that the construction industry is the
biggest cordage consumer (by length, or weight?); but I'd guess that the
greatest usage in percent & variety is ComFishKnotters.

--dl*
====