Variations on basic knots


These pages are intended to show some of my favorite variations on basic knots that make them 'better'.


Sheet Bend

The first variation on a sheet bend is one that I call a 'locking sheet bend'. I have also seen it referred to as a 'weavers knot'.

Locking sheet bend

Figure 1 shows a simple sheet bend joining two same-sized ropes. Run the free end as shown in figure 1 and tighten to make the locking sheet bend shown in figure 2.

Figure 1. Simple sheet bend                                                                   Figure 2. Locking sheet bend

The advantage of the locking sheet bend is that it is more secure and both free ends are running the same direction.

Double sheet bend

Figure 3 shows a simple sheet bend joining two different-sized ropes. Run the free end as shown in figure 3 and tighten to make the double sheet bend shown in figure 4.

Figure 3. Simple sheet bend                                                                   Figure 4. Double sheet bend

The advantage of the double sheet bend is that it more securely holds the bight (loop) in the larger rope.

Figure 5 shows another way to start a double sheet bend. Finish the same as the double sheet bend. Figure 6 shows the finished knot.

Figure 5. Another start for double sheet bend                                         Figure 6. Another double sheet bend

Slipped sheet bend

A slipped sheet bend is tied exactly like a regular sheet bend, but at the end instead of running the free end all the way through, only a bight made from the free end is pushed through as shown in figure 7. Figure 8 shows a completed slipped sheet bend.

Figure 7. Tying a slipped sheet bend                                                   Figure 8. Slipped sheet bend

The advantage of the slipped sheet bend is that it is just as secure as a regular sheet bend, but can undone by pulling on the free end shown in figure 8.


Bowline

The first variation on a bowline is called a French bowline.

French bowline

As can be seen in figure 9, the French bowline starts out like a simple bowline, but is formed with two loops, instead of one.

Figure 9. Starting a French bowline                                                       Figure 10. Tying a French bowline

After forming the two loops, finish, like a simple bowline, by going around the running (long) end and back through the hole shown in figure 10.

After forming the knot, tighten by pulling on the rope ends as shown in figure 11.

Figure 11. Tightening a French bowline

The advantage of the French bowline is the two non-slip loops that form a secure, no-hands-needed seat in the end of the rope.

Two-hole bowline

Figure 12 shows how the two-hole bowline starts with two holes for the running end of the rope to pass through to form the non-slip loop. Finish, like a simple bowline, by going around the running (long) end, but make sure to go back through both holes as shown in figure 13.

Figure 12. Starting a two-hole bowline                                                   Figure 13. Tying a two-hole bowline

Figure 14 shows a finished two-hole bowline.

Figure 14. Finished two-hole bowline

The advantage of the two-hole bowline is that it is more secure than a simple bowline. It is used by some rock climbers to secure a belaying rope to their harness because, after a load has been placed on it, it is easier to untie than the traced figure-eight knot that is commonly used.

Another variation is to use the two-hole starting with the French bowline to make it even more secure.

Locking bowline

Any bowline can be locked by tying the free end of the rope around the non-slip loop using one or more half hitches. Figure 15 shows a locking two-hole bowline.

Figure 15. Locking bowline

The locking bowline makes any bowline even more secure and is especially useful with slippery ropes.


Slipknot

The first variation on a slipknot is called a bowstring knot.

Bowstring

Starting with a simple slip knot, thread the free end as shown in figure 16. Tighten by pulling carefully and evenly as shown in figure 17 to maintain the shape of the knot.

Figure 16. Tying a bowstring knot                                                        Figure 17. Bowstring knot

The bowstring knot forms a very secure loop in the end of the rope and the free end is tucked neatly inside the loop. This knot can be tied more easily than a bowline in very thick rope and will not slide even in very thick, slippery rope.

Hanson knot

The Hanson knot is a simple variation on the bowstring knot. To tie the this knot, take the free end back under the loop as shown in figure 18 and tighten. Figure 19 is a finished Hanson knot.

Figure 18. Tying a Hanson knot                                                        Figure 19. Hanson knot

If a heavy load is placed on the bowstring knot, it can be very difficult to untie. The Hanson knot is easier to untie than a bowstring, even after heavy loads.