The Constrictor knot is a most effective binding knot. It is made similarly to a Clover Hitch but with one end passed under the other, forming an Overhand knot held firm under a riding turn.
Step 1:Pass the working end over and around the spar. Do not pull the wrap tight, instead leave a small bight for later use. After one full pass around the spar bring the working end over the standing part.
Step 2:Make a second pass around the spar. Once completed, tuck the working end under the standing part just used to make the second pass and then back over the standing part as in step 1.
Step 3:Pass the working end under the standing part and through the bight created in step 1.
Step 4:Pull both the standing part and working end to close the knot.
The Constrictor knot is a most effective binding knot. It is made similarly to a Clover Hitch but with one end passed under the other, forming an Overhand knot held firm under a riding turn. Its security requires that the riding turn is able to apply pressure to the overhand knot portion. When this situation is met, it is an extremely secureknot
and will be very difficult to untie once tightened. The Constrictor knot is appropriate for situations where secure temporary or semi-permanent binding is needed. Some use it as a whipping however a number in line produce the better results. Constrictor knots are also effective as improvised hose clamps or cable ties. Its usage as a hitch is limited to permanent applications due its difficulty to untie.
Many illustration and descriptions fail to adequately describe or show the formation of the overhand portion of the knot. It is this overhand formation, held by the second turn (riding turn), which gives this knot its strength. To tighten the knot, apply pressure to the standing and tag ends. A heavily tightened Constrictor knot will most likely jam. It may be possible to untie with the use of a pick, marlinespike or some other tool forced between turns. If the knot is hopelessly jammed, it can be easily released by cutting the riding turn with a knife. The Constrictor is best secured around convex objects. If binding is not around a fully convex or square-edged object, arrange the overhand knot portion to lie across a portion where the riding turn can firmly jam down on it. In situations where a gap exists under the overhand portion, and solid pressure is not able to be applied by the riding turn, it is possible the
strength can be considerably weakened. The Constrictor knot's severe bite, which makes it so effective, can damage or disfigure softer items it is tied around. Therefore, consider using stiffer cordage when tying this knot to softer materials. The Constrictor knot is indeed an ancient knot disguised under various names. Its modern popularity and naming as the “Constrictor knot” stems from Clifford W. Ashley’s work ‘The Ashley Book of Knots’ (1944). In fact Ashley believed he had invented the knot, however, he was not its originator. Regardless, there is little doubt that Ashley popularized the Constrictor knot and led to it being better known today than in the past. Tom Bowling first described the knot in his book ‘The Book of Knots’ (1866). He called it the "Gunner's knot". Bowling described it in relation to the Clove hitch, which he illustrated and called the "Builder's knot". He wrote, "The Gunner's knot only differs from the Builder's knot, by the ends of the cords being simply knotted before being brought from under the loop which crosses them”. Over the years many have attempted to describe the Constrictor knot and in doing so have presented it with varying names. In more recent years Swedish author Hjalmar Öhrvall in his book ‘Om Knutar’ (1916) described the knot and called it “timmerknut”. Martta Ropponen provided the first known illustrations of the knot in her scouting handbook “Solmukirja” (1931). Finnish author Cyrus Day, ‘Ouipus and Witches’ Knots’ (1967) called it “ruoskasolmu”. The versatility, compactness, strength and sheer tenacity of this tried and tested ancient knot, was always going to attract attention. It is essentially the Gunner’s knot, these days better known as the Constrictor knot.
About Rope Knots
Rope knots can basically be divided into the following groups:
Bends - Joining two lines by intertwining them, without splicing, or sewing.
Hitches - A knot that secures a rope or line to another object.
Stopper – Used to bind strands at the end of a rope to stop fraying or unraveling.
Also formed to stop a rope slipping through a hole or to provide a weight or handhold.
Bindings – Much like hitches. They are used to bind either lines or objects together. Their aim is
to keep objects in place.
Splices – Describes the act of joining the ends, or the end and a standing part, of rope by
interweaving strands. They are not knots in themselves.
Loops – Loops create structures used to tie, or secure, another object or line to another line.
They can be formed at the end or midway a length of rope.
Plaits - Weaving several lines together to form a pattern and a cohesive structure.
Miscellaneous & Decorative – Knots that have decorative, dress or multiple category
The rope knot section of this site is set out with these groups firmly in mind.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew Galwey is the publisher of Australia’s most successful trailer boating publication, Trailerboat Fisherman and Australian Boating, dedicated to the cruiser enthusiast. He developed the Internet site www.marinews.com back in 1996 as window to pass on some of his skills. Fishing, boating and the art of knot tying are certainly skills he’s mastered well.
As a fishing enthusiast, fishing both commercially and recreationally, Andy developed a fascination and skill for the art of knot tying. His 40 years of both working the land and boating has seen those knot tying skills extended way beyond fishing knots and into the world of rope knots as well. Marinews would like to thank Andy for his support and hope you not only learn from this excellent section on knot tying but also get many hours of enjoyment from it also.
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