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How to Tie the 7 Basic Scout Knots

There are dozens of useful knots. By mastering these seven basic Scouting knots, you’ll be ready for just about any situation that calls for tying ropes together, forming loops, and securing ropes to objects.

After you have learned to tie a knot, practice it often. Carry a piece of rope in your pocket. When you have a few minutes to spare, pull it out and tie all the knots you know. Practice them enough that you can tie them quickly — even with your eyes closed. When you can do that, you will be ready to use these knots whenever they are needed.


SQUARE KNOT

The square knot has many uses, from securing bandages and packages to joining two ropes together. A square knot works best when pressed against something else and the ropes are of the same diameter. It should not be used to hold a heavy load.

Also called the joining knot, because it joins two ropes, it is the first knot you learn when you join Scouts BSA.

Tying a square knot is as easy as right over left, left over right. Here’s how:

Learn more about the square knot.


TWO HALF HITCHES

A hitch is a knot that ties a rope to something. Two half hitches form a loop that can be adjusted to make it smaller or larger. You can use two half-hitches to tie a rope to a tree, ring or dock. Two half hitches are commonly used to tie guy lines onto a dining fly.

Here’s how to tie two half hitches:

Learn more about the two half hitches knot.


TAUT-LINE HITCH

To create an adjustable loop that stays in place, use the taut-line hitch. This is the knot to use for staking out the guy lines of your tent or dining fly because it can make a line tight, or taut.

Here’s how to tie the taut-line hitch:

Learn more about the taut-line hitch.


SHEET BEND KNOT

The sheet bend is a very good knot for tying together two ropes. This knot won’t slip when ropes of the same or dissimilar material and size are tied together.

Here’s how to tie the sheet bend:

When tying the knot, be sure that the working ends are on the same side; otherwise, the knot might be unreliable. If you tie a thick and thin rope together, use the thick rope to form the “stationary loop” and the thin rope as the “working line.”

Learn more about the sheet bend knot.


BOWLINE KNOT

The bowline knot forms a loop that will not slip. That’s just what you want for tying a rope around your waist or around someone requiring rescue. This knot is popular among mountaineers, climbers, sailors and others.

A bowline knot also works well for securing guy lines through the grommets on a tent or dining fly. It is also easy to untie.

You can learn how to tie a bowline knot around yourself, around a post, and in the free end of a rope. Here’s how:

Learn more about the bowline knot.


TIMBER HITCH

The timber hitch is the perfect knot to use for dragging a log across the ground. It will stay secure as long as you are pulling on the rope. When you are done using the rope, the timber hitch is easy to loosen and remove from the log.

The timber hitch is also the knot that starts a diagonal lashing.

Here’s how to tie a timber hitch:

Learn more about the timber hitch.


CLOVE HITCH

The clove hitch is a versatile knot that is often used in Scouting activities. Clove comes from the word cleave, meaning “to hold fast.” The clove hitch is used to begin and end many lashings.

Here’s how to tie the clove hitch:

Learn more about the clove hitch.

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