I am constantly amazed at the lack of rope-craft in the average American. Being able to confidently use rope to secure cargo, put up a line to dry clothes, guide a tree you’re cutting down or even keep fido from running away is necessary not just in a survival situation, but for daily living. The knots every human should know are as follows:
- Square Knot
- Sheet Bend
- Clove Hitch
- Tautline Hitch
- Two half hitches
- Figure Eight Knot
Here is a handy youtube video that shows how to tie these knots. There are others that are handy, like the truckers hitch or a sheepshank, but these knots are a complete toolkit for you to secure just about anything with a rope.
Now for you landlubbers out there I found how to properly tie off to a cleat. This is used for boats, but I put some cleats onto my trailer, and it’s the cat’s meow for quickly tying off some cargo. I have also seen many pickup trucks with cleats built in. I have to bite my tongue from yelling at someone when they don’t know how to use a cleat properly.
Finally, with some rope and sticks you can make elaborate structures by lashing the sticks together. In the Boy Scouts we made a fire watch tower that was 30′ tall with twine and logs. With a spool of paracord and a hatchet, I could easily build a frame for a tarp to make it a tent, a tripod to hang a dutch oven over a fire, and so on and so forth. I’ve made chairs, tables and other “camp” furniture that lasted for at least a decade at one of our camp sites. The key for the longevity is twine that is nylon, and will not rot. We used to get damaged netting from fishing trawlers and unwound the nylon to use it for our lashing. This video shows how to make square lashing:
Here is how you lash together two sticks diagonally:
Here is how you lash together 3 poles to make a tripod.
With the knowledge of these knots and the 3 basic lashes, you can build nearly anything. With the right rope, a supply of trees, and some engineering skill you could build a bridge over a creek for people, or cars. I have also constructed a crane for filling water buckets from a spring, gates for closing a pasture and innumerable gadgets and gizmos to make camp life easier. As a Boy Scout you have a lot of time on your hands, and trust me when I suggest you better find something to do or the Scoutmaster will find something to occupy your time.
If you like working with rope, and wish to learn many, many more knots of all kinds, go on Youtube and search for “TIAT”, which is an acronym for Tying it All Together. He shows the other knots used for paracord bracelets and so on… I’m making a sling out of paracord for my .22 rifle, but it takes a while to make a double solomon knot 36″ long…
And the last knot is purely for discussion, and not application. Remember that the proper use of this knot was a skill, and more than a touch of artisry in order to make sure the wearer had a clean break, and didn’t suffer.
Proper application would be after due process on bandits, rapists, murderers and politicians.