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Best Knot to tie rigging?

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  • Member since
    April, 2007
Best Knot to tie rigging?
Posted by PhantomGhost on Sunday, October 21, 2007 6:39 PM
I'm useless at tying knots but does anyone know what's the best knot to tie rigging with?  I'm looking for a knot that doesn't unwind or come loose and tie's up solid.   Any good diagrams/illustrations would be most appreciated!
  • Member since
    May, 2003
  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Monday, October 22, 2007 2:08 AM

Knots are a fascinating subject, about which an enormous amount has been written.  Over the centuries human beings have come up with hundreds - probably thousands - of ways to tie a knot in a piece of rope (or several pieces of rope).  If you're really interested in the subject, the place to start learning about it probably is the old classic, The Ashley Book of Knots, by Clifford Ashley.

The truth of the matter, though, despite any witchcraft-like claims to the contrary, is that ship modeling really requires two knots:  the reef knot and the clove hitch.  A handful of others, such as the bowline, the figure-8, and the slip knot (which is really just a simple variation on the reef knot), may come in handy once in a while, but if you get adept at those two you'll have all you need.  And getting adept at both of them will take about ten minutes.

Here's a website, courtesy of a British sailing organization, that provides animated instructions:

The reef knot - known to Boy Scouts and other landlubbers as the square knot - is the knot of choice for the vast majority of modeling applications.  The clove hitch has one major use:  tying ratlines across shrouds.  (If you aren't rigging your own ratlines on your model, you probably won't need the clove hitch.)

Hope that helps.  Good luck.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • From: Latvia, EU
Posted by Grahor on Monday, October 22, 2007 10:41 AM

The answer is: glue.

Attempts to tie complicated knots on the rigging of a ship simply aren't worth it. Most knots were created for special task and special material, like rope or fishing-line, and they do not work with other materials and/or scales. Also, the type of knot used on the model is nearly impossible to notice (with the exception of 1mm+ lines, but those are extremely rare.)

Thus, the method: tie ye olde goode Simplest Knot you've learned as a child. Put a clamp on a free end of the line, so that it kept the line and the knot tight. Put a drop of white carpenter's glue (elmer's glue? The one which drys up clear) on a knot. Wait till it's dry. Cut the line near the knot.

Oh, and use the advice of jTilley for tying ratlines to shrouds.

If you want to make things complicated, here is Greg's Animated Knots, It have all the knots you need in minute details and hundreds of knots you don't need. :)

  • Member since
    April, 2007
Posted by PhantomGhost on Monday, October 22, 2007 6:09 PM
Many thanks guys, just what I'm looking for!   Time to get busy with that rigging!
  • Member since
    January, 2012
  • From: Douglasville Georgia
Posted by fright on Friday, April 14, 2017 8:53 PM

Thank you PhantomGhost for asking this question and to jtilley and Grahor for the advice on reef knot and Clove hitch! Greatly appreciated!


Robert O

  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • From: Jerome, Idaho, U.S.A.
Posted by crackers on Friday, April 14, 2017 11:49 PM

For those who do not know how a clove hitch is tied, the short video from U-Tube shows how to bend a line around a dowl. Very simple to accomplish.

Happy modeling    Crackers     Big Smile


Anthony V. Santos

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Saturday, April 15, 2017 9:52 AM

I second the glue suggestion. I glue all my knots. I usually just use a simple overhand knot unless it is quite a large scale model.  I use thinned white glue to secure the knot.  Works great and is not visible.


Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    November, 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Saturday, April 15, 2017 4:09 PM

I like an overhand knot fetched up into a figure-of-eight to replicate wall knots for deadeye lanyards.

Square, clove, and overhand knots are 80% of the knots needed.

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Saturday, April 15, 2017 9:15 PM

Zombie thread but timeless info.

  • Member since
    January, 2012
  • From: Douglasville Georgia
Posted by fright on Wednesday, May 03, 2017 3:42 PM

Good question and I was 'lost' at first. I have been using an overhand and/or square knot for my ties and just a drop of medium CA glue to secure. 

I just tried my hand at tieing ratlines with a clove hitch. I found this video on Youtube and it's easy to follw. It worked for me and I hope this helps:

Robert O

  • Member since
    December, 2016
Posted by Ghostphantom on Wednesday, May 03, 2017 8:43 PM

Great info but one bizarre thing about the net is when old posts you made years ago (and completely forgot about) get dragged back.  Can't believe it was 10 years ago I started this thread.


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