Notable Knot Index FAQs
Q: Have all useful knots been discovered? Answer: Click Here
Q: How tight should I snug knots before use?
A: For most knots, you should try to work them until you cannot see daylight shining through gaps.
Q: Why do you include some knots but not others?
A: This is the Notable Knot Index so I try to list knots that are notable. There are literally thousands of knots, so I've tried to distill them down to a group of the best. Some knots serve much the same function as the ones shown, but may be inferior knots because they needlessly jam up, are insecure, hard to remember, hard to tie, don't have unique properties, or take too much rope. Also, some knots just don't have much practical use.
If you think a knot belongs on the Notable Knot Index, please tell me about it. I am by no means done building this site. Don't forget to look around the site. Some knots are hidden in the various pages.
Q: Aren't hard-to-untie knots safer?
A: No! This is one of the most common of misundertandings about knots. There are plenty of jam-prone knots that are not secure and should not be trusted, just as there are plenty of secure knots that are jam-resistant.
Q: Why don't you have decorative knots?
A: Although I have done some decorative ropework, it's not my passion. Also, decorative knots are purely a matter of personal preference, so every such knot could be considered notable.
Q: Where should I go to learn about the less-notable knots?
A: Aside from my Special Requests page, The Ashley Book of Knots, by Clifford W. Ashley has a huge assortment of knots and is available in most libraries or can be easily found at online booksellers. Please get the latest printing, as small errors have been fixed.
If you're really interested in knots, just search on the internet or at your local library database. As a word of caution, not all information about knots on the web and in books is correct. Even some really good knot books and sites have some really serious errors. Thoroughly test unfamiliar knots in the conditions you expect before using them for critical purposes.
Q: How do I test a knot?
A: Tie knots wet and dry in small and big, slippery and stiff and normal rope and with different combinations of rope sizes and materials if combinations are applicable, such as in bends. Knot security rankings can vary significantly from rope to rope. Shake them, and flog them against surfaces. Test it underwater if that's where you'll be using it. How many good shakes can the knot take before it unties itself? 50? 100? 200?
If it's a hitch, how does it respond to the load swinging or revolving? Remember to hitch to objects of various sizes and cross-sections. Does the knot ever tend to change shape and capsize? What happens when the knot is pulled over rough terrain or around a corner? What happens if a free end gets snagged? All of this will tell you a lot about the security of the knot.
With the same condition variations, pull and jerk the knot really hard and see if it ever becomes difficult to untie.
Although a secondary consideration, you can also compare the strength of the knot to the strength of the unknotted rope if you have the means to pull that hard on a rope and record the loads. Any given knot in a certain type (material, construction, etc.) of rope will have a range of breaking loads which can vary with several factors. It's not as simple as it may seem. Numerous tests indicate that it's a very good estimate to assume that any knot will not reduce the rope's ultimate strength by more than about 50%.
Keep in mind that if you're even coming within 20% of the rope's breaking strength, you probably should be using a stronger rope for the job if it is at all critical**. It's not just because of the strength reduction caused by knots, but also because of load uncertainties and the potential for rope damage and wear and the effects of any severe curvature in the rope path. Just having a sharp corner press against a loaded rope will reduce the load the rope can take. By sharp, I don't necessarily mean a knife or broken glass. Even corners sharper than a pencil radius can greatly reduce line strength for a typical rope. Don't assume that your knot is the weakest link in your line.
**Climbing with rope is an entirely separate topic to be found in another site or book. Even there, the levels of risk are up to the individual, ranging from using no rope at all to just staying home.
For overhead lifting, factors of safety in industry based on breaking strength of non-metallic slings are often 5 to 1 or even 10 to 1.