# How to Tie a Square Knot

Three Methods:Tying a Basic Square KnotUsing an Alternate MethodModifying Your Square Knot

The **square knot** (also known as a **reef knot**) is a simple, quick knot that is useful for low strain ties. The knot is popular among sailors, climbers, gift wrappers for its convenience and ease of tying. One of the simplest knots available, the square knot nevertheless proves plenty strong for most casual applications. Best of all, almost anyone can learn to tie a square knot in just a few steps!

## Steps

### Method 1 Tying a Basic Square Knot

- 1
**Take two ropes and lay the right-hand rope over the other.**- To make this knot, you need two strings, ropes, etc. Alternatively, you can use the opposite ends of a single rope.
- In our example, we'll lay the right-hand rope (the orange one in the graphic above) over the left-hand rope (the yellow one). However, if you lay the left-hand rope over the right-hand rope instead, you can still get a square knot if you reverse all of the following directions.

- 2
**Wrap the right-hand rope***under*the left-hand rope.- The end of the right-hand rope should now be pointing out to the left (and vice versa.)
- Note that the first two steps for making a square knot are the same as you'd use for tying your shoes.

- 3
**Bring the right-hand rope back over the left-hand rope.**- This is, again, identical to how you would begin tying a pair of shoes.
- At this point, you should have what is known as a
**half knot**.^{[1]}If you were to repeat the steps above again, you'd get a standard overhand knot.

- 4
**Bring the original right-hand rope over the other rope.**- Notice that the rope going over the top is still the orange rope in the graphic above. The end of this rope will be on the left at the start of this step, but it's still the rope that was
*originally*on the right, so it's the rope you'll lay over the top here.

- Notice that the rope going over the top is still the orange rope in the graphic above. The end of this rope will be on the left at the start of this step, but it's still the rope that was
- 5
**Pull the original right-hand rope***under*the other rope.- This is virtually the same as in Step 2, just going in the opposite direction since the original right-hand rope is now coming from the left.

- 6
**Pull on both ends firmly to tighten.**- Try to pull all four "slack" lengths of rope with equal force. If you don't, the knot may not hold its shape and may even come apart as you tighten it.

- 7
**Check your square/reef knot.**- From the front, your square knot should look like the one in the graphic above. You can also find good reference images at AnimatedKnots.com and other knot sites.
^{[2]} - If you have tightened the rope correctly, you should see that it forms a neat, even knot from two loops with one loop wrapping around the base of the other.

- From the front, your square knot should look like the one in the graphic above. You can also find good reference images at AnimatedKnots.com and other knot sites.
- 8
**Undo the knot by pulling the loops outward.**- Untying the square knot is simple — just grab the round part of each loop in your hands and pull in opposite directions. The knot should come apart easily.

### Method 2 Using an Alternate Method

- 1
**Double up the left-hand rope to make a loop.**- Start with one rope in each hand (as you would in the method above) and fold the left-hand rope on top of itself to make a good-sized loop.
- This method will make a knot that's identical to the one in the method above.
- As above, you can make a loop with the right-hand rope and reverse the directions to get the same knot.

- 2
**Put the end of the right-hand rope through the loop.**- For the next several steps, you may want to curl your left index finger around the base of the loop to keep it together for convenience's sake.

- 3
**Bring the right-hand rope***under*the bottom of the loop.- Thread the right-hand rope through the loop. Pull it down and through — it should pass under the
*bottom*half of the left-hand loop.

- Thread the right-hand rope through the loop. Pull it down and through — it should pass under the
- 4
**Bring the right-hand rope***over*the two ropes at the base of the loop.- Next, pull the right-hand rope (the one that's threaded through the loop) and bring it up over the two ropes that come together at the base of the loop. If you're holding the loop in your left hand as directed, these should be at the
*left*side of the loop. - When you're done, the right-hand rope should be above the loop.

- Next, pull the right-hand rope (the one that's threaded through the loop) and bring it up over the two ropes that come together at the base of the loop. If you're holding the loop in your left hand as directed, these should be at the
- 5
**Bring the right-hand rope***under*the top of the loop and pull it through.- Finally, take the end of the right-hand rope (which is now to the
*left*of the loop) and put it under the top part of the loop. This mirrors the motion you made earlier on the bottom half of the loop. - At this point, the right-hand rope should be back "inside" the loop. Pull it through to complete the knot.

- Finally, take the end of the right-hand rope (which is now to the
- 6
**Pull all four ends tight with even tension.**- Congratulations! Your knot should be exactly the same as the one you made in the method above.

### Method 3 Modifying Your Square Knot

- 1
**Add extra half knots for added support.**- To make your square knot a little stronger, skip the "pull tight" step in either of the methods above above and instead repeat the over-and-under half knot pattern to create an additional half knot on top of the square knot. You can "stack" as many of these half knots as you'd like to give your knot additional strength.
- Note that even "stacking" square knots in this way
**won't make your knot safe for critical usage.**Don't use square knots (even stacked ones) for securing heavy loads or dangerous objects — they can (and do) fail.^{[3]}Instead, use a more secure knot like a Carrick bend or a Double Fisherman's knot.^{[4]}

- 2
**Add an extra coil in the first half knot to make a surgeon's knot.**- Another way to make your ordinary square knot a little stronger is to make what's called a surgeon's knot. To do this, after you wrap your right-hand rope over and under the left hand rope the first time, wrap it over and under
*again*to create a second coil. - After this, repeat the rest of the steps exactly as you normally would. You don't have to add an extra coil when you make the second half knot.

- Another way to make your ordinary square knot a little stronger is to make what's called a surgeon's knot. To do this, after you wrap your right-hand rope over and under the left hand rope the first time, wrap it over and under
- 3
**Try using loops (rather than individual ropes) for the entire knot.**- If you have long lengths of rope to use up (like, for instance, if your shoe laces are too long), you may want to try making a square knot with
*loops*of rope (also called "bights") rather than single lengths of rope. - To tie this variation, simply start with one loop in each hand and treat each as you would treat individual ropes in the standard square knot instructions. In other words, the right-hand loop becomes the right-hand rope and the left-hand loop becomes the left-hand rope and the instructions are followed identically.

- If you have long lengths of rope to use up (like, for instance, if your shoe laces are too long), you may want to try making a square knot with

## Tips

- This is a good knot for tying boxes and bundles because it is flat and doesn't stick out.
- If you have difficulty learning to tie this knot, using two ropes of different colors (as shown in the pictures) can help you keep them straight.
- After you've tied the first half of the knot, an easy way to remember which way the rest of it goes is to remember that the end that's lying on top then continues going on top, over the other one (see the yellow end in the photo in Step 3, above).
- A useful rhyme to remember the steps of tying a square knot is:
*Right over left and left over right makes the knot neat and tidy and tight.*

## Warnings

- This bears repeating: the square/reef knot is
**not**designed to be used under high strain; a strong force pulling on either end can pull the knot apart. Other knots, such as the sheet bend or fisherman's knot, can handle stronger loads - This knot works because the friction between the two rope ends holds the knot together. Therefore, it is not usually suitable for slippery ropes, such as nylon.

## Sources and Citations

## Article Info

Categories: Knot Tying