How To Tie A Square Knot: Complete Guide

Square knots are one of the most basic types of knot. A form of end knot, a square knot is very useful for all manner of reasons. In general, this knot is mostly used for tying up packages and bundles.

As well as keeping our parcels secure throughout their transport, square knots are also widely used in first aid.

They can help tie a bandage around wounds to stop the patient from bleeding out quickly. Yep, square knots can be life savers!

Also known as a reef knot, it has been used by sailors over the centuries to reef sails and to tie down areas of the sail when encountering high winds.

As you can already see, knowing how to tie a square knot could come in very useful one day. That is why we have compiled this in-depth guide to show you how to do just that.

Read on and, in just a few minutes, you should be able to successfully tie a square knot with ease.

How To Tie A Square Knot

Some knots are super easy to tie. However, most need a little practice beforehand. The square knot is no exception. It’s not as easy as just going right over left and left over right. It takes a little more patience and skill. But, today you will learn how! 

There are actually a few ways to tie a square knot but, you’ll be pleased to know that all methods are pretty straightforward and will become a staple of your future camping trips and any sailing you ever do. 

Standard Square Knot

  1. Get two ropes (or strings) and lay the rope on the right-hand side over the over. You could also use the two opposite ends of one single rope if needed.
  2. Now, wrap the rope on the right-hand side under the left-hand rope. When looking at the ropes or rope, the right-hand side one should point to the left and the left to the right. It’s like tying your shoelaces!
  3. Now, wrap the right-hand rope over the left-hand rope again (like tying shoe laces). At this point, you should have a half knot. Repeat these steps to achieve a ‘overhand’ knot. 
  4. Now, hold the right-hand rope and bring it over the other rope. This can be a little confusing, as the original right-hand rope will look like it’s on the left. But, get a hold of this and lay it over the other rope. 
  5. Grab and pull the original rope from the right-hand side underneath the left-hand rope. This is the same as step 2 but in the opposite direction.
  6. Now, pull both ends of the ropes together tightly. You should try to pull all four lengths with the same amount of force as, otherwise, the knot may not hold its shape and become loose.
  7. Insect your square knot. Compare the form of your knot with images of square knots online. If it has been tightened sufficiently, the knot should be neat and even from two loops, while one loop wraps around the bottom of the other. 

If you want to undo the knot, simply pull the loops out. Grab each loop’s round end and pull them in opposite directions.

How to Tie A Square Knot: Complete Guide

Another Way Of Tying A Square Knot

As we mentioned, there are a few ways of tying a square knot. Here is an alternate method to the most basic one above:

  1. First, you need to double up the left-hand side of the rope. This is so you can create a loop.
  2. Begin by holding one rope in each hand. Then, fold the rope in the left hand on top of itself to create a large loop. You can also do the same with the right-hand rope but in reverse to achieve the same knot.
  3. Place the right-hand rope’s end through the large loop.
  4. Now, wrap the right-hand rope underneath the loop’s bottom. You may need to curl the index finger of your left hand around the loop’s base to make it easier.
  5. Pull the rope down, and it should come through the bottom half of the left-hand rope. 
  6. Next, move the right-hand rope over both ropes but at the bottom of the loop.
  7. Pull the rope that is threaded through the loop (the right-hand rope) and move it upwards above the two ropes that combine at the loop’s base. These should be on the left-hand side of the loop if you’re holding it in your left hand. When pulled over, the right-hand rope should be situated above the knot’s loop.
  8. You need to direct the right-hand rope underneath the top of the loop. Then, pull it through gently.
  9. Holding the right-hand rope (now on the left of the loop), place it underneath the top of the loop. 
  10. At this instance, the right-hand rope should be within the loop. To complete the loop, simply pull it through. 
  11. Finally, pull all the ends (four) with the same amount of tension. This should create the exact same knot as our first method.

Increase The Knot’s Strength

You can add some half knots to make your square knot even stronger. 

Instead of pulling tight, as we guided in the above steps, repeat the over-and-under pattern for a half knot. This will produce another half knot as well as the full square knot.

To be extra sure, you can continue doing this and add as many half knots as you like. But, it’s worth noting that these extra half knots should not be used for heavy loads, as they can fail.

If you need to use knots for heavier items, we suggest using a more secure and strong knot, such as a Double Fisherman’s knot or a Carrick bend. 

In Summary

Knowing how to tie square knots can be invaluable for camping and sailing trips. Follow our methods above, and you will soon be mastering the square knot in no time at all.

Matthew Osborn

Matt is an entrepreneur who has created and successfully exited multiple companies and brands. Now, he dedicates his time to Legionary, where he produces content on guns, family, and freedom.

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