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All about hitches (used to tie rope to another object).

Scaffold hitch supporting a plank


Hitches are used to tie a rope to another object such as a barrel, pole, post, stake, or bundled cloth (e.g., tarp).  A hitch holds well due to the friction set up between the two surfaces of the rope being pressed together (which is why hitches with slippery rope or wire are no effective).

Barrel Hitch

Barrel hitch holding a barrel diagram

Provides a lifting sling for barrels or buckets. Two hitches will help stabilize the load.

Bale Sling

Bale sling holding a barrel diagram

A Bale Sling first requires a long, continuous loop which you can make by using a Short Splice to attach the rope ends together.

Step 1: Place the object (e.g. barrel) on its side.

Step 2: Pass the sling underneath both ends of the barrel.

Step 3: Bring the bights (loop ends )up over the object and pass one through the other.

Step 4: Hook into the bight (loop end) that has passed through its partner.

Round turn and two half-hitches

Figure 13 below shows a common half hitch while Figure 14 shows Two Half Hitches, one backing the other. A half hitch will likely not hold well. A double hitch will. Even better is a Round Turn with Two Half Hitches.

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This is the main anchor knot for one-rope bridges and other applications when a good anchor knot is required and where high loads would make other knots jam and difficult to untie. It is mostly used to anchor rope to a pole or tree. It consists of two half-hitches with an extra wrap around the object you are tying.

  • Round turn and two half hitches
  • Round turn and two half hitches diagram 2

Clove hitch and end-of-the-line clove hitch

  • Clove hitch and end-of-the-line clove hitch
  • Clove hitch and end-of-the-line clove hitch around a pole
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A clove hitch is really two half-hitches in opposite directions alongside each other. It can be used to fasten a rope to a tree or pipe and also puts little strain on the rope. It is an easy anchor knot, but tension must remain on the knot, or it will slip (it has a loose end which can be helpful for some objectives). This can be remedied by making another loop around the object and under the center of the clove hitch.

Rolling Hitch

  • Rolling Hitch around a branch
  • Rolling Hitch around a pole diagram

A Rolling Hitch is useful for securing a rope along a post or pole.

If you look at this hitch closely you see that it is really a clove hitch that ends with a turn. Best tied so that the load pulls against the hitch as shown.

Stopper Hitch

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A Stopper Hitch is a variation of the Rolling Hitch and is useful for securing the tail of a handle to a rope as shown above. It is also good for putting a temporary stopper on a rope in order to take the strain off its loose end while it is being moved to a new securing position. Start like a Rolling Hitch but instead of putting on the final half hitch, dog the loose end around the rope with the lay and stop it.

Roadmender’s Knot

Another knot that is useful for securing a pole to a rope is a Roadmender’s Knot.

Step 1: Bend the rope to form a bight.

Step 2: Take a turn around the post with the bight passing below both the standing part and the loose end.

Step 3: Pass the bight over the top of the post and tighten.

  • Roadmender’s Knot - Step 2
  • Roadmender’s Knot - Step 3

Pipe Hitch

Pipe hitch around a pole

This hitch will not slip on pipes, poles or other round objects.

Blackwall Hitch

This is the quickest way to secure a rope’s end to a hook. It is a basic loop made around the neck of the hook. The standing part jams down on the end and holds the line more securely than it looks.

  • Blackwall hitch around a hoist hook diagram
  • Midshipman’s Hitch around a hoist hook
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Midshipman’s Hitch

A Midshipman’s Hitch knot is better than a Blackwall Hitch, especially if the rope is slippery.

Timber Hitch

A Timber Hitch is useful for securing a plank or board that has to be hoisted or towed. It is essentially a Half Hitch made with a rather long loose end which is then dogged back around itself.

To keep the end of the timber you are hauling pointing in one direction, add an extra Half Hitch.

  • Timber hitch step 1
  • Timber hitch step 2

Draw Hitch

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A Draw Hitch is a type of bow hitch, a hitch that can be undone quickly like a shoelace. Bow hitches tend to slip but the Draw Hitch overcomes slippage while offering the convenience of a bow hitch.

Take one bight of rope up behind the bar and another in front of it. Pass the front bight through the back one and pull taut with the loose end (which leaves the front bight still standing). Make a third bight with the loose end and pass it through the bight. Pull taut with the standing part.

Marine Hitch

Marine hitch for tarps sails, hammocks or long bundles diagram

Useful for tarps, sails, hammocks, or other long bundles.

Step 1: Make an eye in the end of the rope (a Bowline knot will suffice).

Step 2: Pass the other end round the bundle (if applicable), through the eye, and pull tight.

Step 3: Continue along the bundle with a series of Half Hitches, pulling each tight as it is made.

Step 4: Finish with a Clove Hitch.

Marine Spike Hitch

Marine Spike Hitch for bolts, screwdrivers, stakes diagram

A Marine Spike Hitch is good for getting a grip on a spike, bolt, screwdriver, tent stake, etc.

Step 1: Make a loop over the standing part.

Step 2: Pass the spike across the top of the loop but under the bottom standing part.

Step 3: Pull on both ends to tighten.


A grommet is a very small, continuous loop.  It is such a small size that a normal splice cannot be used so instead, you use a single strand of the rope.

Step 1: Unlay a strand of rope 3-4 times the circumference of the grommet you will need.  Try to preserve the natural turns of the lay in the strand.

Step 2: Close up the middle strand into the ring of the desired size.

Step 3: Pass the ends around in the original lay until all spaces have been filled.

Step 4: Finish off as you would a long splice.

  • Grommot continuous loop - Step 1
  • Grommet continuous loop - Step 3
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Scaffold Hitch

A Scaffold Hitch is the safest way to sling a plank, horizontally to form a platform that you can stand or sit on.

Step 1: Wrap the rope around the plank twice with the second round being closer to the end of the plank and nearer the end of the rope.

Step 2: Lay the standing part (the long part) of the rope between the two.

Step 3: Lift your first turn over the standing part of the rope and wrap underneath the end of the plank.

Step 4: Bring the standing part and loose end upward and secure with a Bowline knot.

  • Scaffold hitch step 2
  • Scaffold hitch step 3
  • Scaffold hitch supporting a plank

Selvagee strap

A Selvagee strap or ring is made by passing strands or yarns around nails set in a board and binding the entire ring together with yarn or line. The result is a strong, durable strap useful as handles for boxes.

  • Selvagee strap completed
  • Selvagee strap yarn around pins or nails diagram
  • Selvagee strap final step diagram

Ossel Hitch

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This hitch takes its name from the ossels which are the short lengths of reop with which fishermen join the backing of their nets to the headrope. To make a Ossel Hitch, take one round turn to the left of the standing part. Then take a second to its right but in the opposite direction. Pass the end outside the second turn and through the first one.

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