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How To Tie A Square Knot | Step-By-Step Instructions

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Learn how to tie a square knot and add this to your survival skills! Often called the reef knot, the square knot is one of the most commonly used knots. Thus, following this tutorial can be a lifesaver!

RELATED: Tie It All Together With These 9 Survival Knots

In this article:

How to Tie a Square Knot | Your Ultimate Guide

The Square Knot

scout series reef knot square army | square knot uses

The square knot is probably one of the best-known knots or at least one of them. It is also sometimes referred to as the reef knot used primarily to join two ropes, cords, or lines of similar thickness.

Square knots are easy to tie and the perfect choice for many things, but there are also times when you should not use them.

We encourage you to learn as much about basic knots as you can, so you can use the right types of knots for the right situations.

Uses for Square Knots

square knot used tie two paracords | square knot bracelet

  • First aid, to tie bandages
  • A common knot used in surgery
  • To tie boot or shoelaces
  • To tie belts and sashes
  • Tying the reefing points of sail when the wind blows up
  • To tie plastic bags and trash bags

RELATED: 40 Essential Knots Every Survivalist Needs To Know

When Not to Use a Square Knot

Square knots are not your best choice when you have two different thicknesses you wish to join. They slip when you tie them with a nylon rope and will also slip if it is not under tension.

Critical Tip:

Square knots can be dangerous if misused and should never be used in critical situations where lives might be at risk. This is simply due to the potential instability of the knot.

Unfortunately, many accidents took place as a result of trying to join two ropes with a square knot.

Step-by-Step Tutorial

square knot illustration | double square knot

Pay close attention to these steps, as a square knot is often tied wrong. You will end up with a “granny knot,” which may slip under a heavy load. See how this type of knot looks like or tied by using two colors of cord.

Step 1: Remember: “Right over left, left over right.”
Step 2: Take one line in your right hand, and one in your left and lay the right over the left.
Step 3: Pass the right end over the left end and back under the left.
Step 4: Pass the left end over the right end and back under the right.
Step 5: Check the knot (the two loops should slide on each other).
Step 6: Tighten by pulling both strands on each side of the knot.
Step 7: Backup the square knot by making an overhand knot using the working end of each side of your knot.
Step 8: Backing up a knot is important with a knot like the square knot, otherwise, it can slip.

Watch this video by Helpful DIY for a step-by-step guide on tying a square knot:

Now you know one more type of knot to add to the knots and hitches tricks you can pull off your sleeves for camping and survival. Remember, while this is a simple and reliable knot, it has its limits, so use it the right way for your own safety.

Have you ever used a square knot in a particular situation before? Share your experience with us in the comments section below!

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in September 2019, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.




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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. richard1941

    February 24, 2014 at 8:03 PM

    For joining two cords I prefer a Zeppelin hitch. It has less tendency to slip or come apart when unloaded. It is easy to tie, I leave googling it as an exercise for the student.

    As for me being a sailor, does anybody want to give me the second most happy day of my long boating career? My boat is totally powered by renewable green carbon-free power (wind). Lots of cheap fun still left in it.

    Advice: do not allow your wife to stand with one foot on the dock,and the other foot on the boat, unless the boat and dock are connected with something. Wife does not like boat!

  2. richard1941

    February 24, 2014 at 8:05 PM

    Also, most advanced cell phones can download knot tutorials. Highly recommended. You can’t know too much about this.

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  7. Anonymous

    December 13, 2017 at 8:45 AM

    This makes no sense … in the video he gives you the tip right over left left over right……. but in the first diagram they do it opposite ? What the heck?

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  12. Wood

    November 7, 2018 at 2:16 AM

    Thanks.

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