How to Tie a Turk's Head Knot for Sailing

by Allison Horky

The Turk's Head knot is used for sailing, and is designed to be tied around a cylinder. Once tied, it can be worked tighter and tighter to the point that it is secure to the pole. If taken off the pole, it can be bunched together into a head-like sphere, hence the name. The concept of the Turk's Head knot is parallel braids. The working end of the rope is continually threaded through and under itself, locking the rope together. The knot is also used as a decorative knot.

Items you will need

  • Rope
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Step 1

Grab one end of a long rope 2 inches from the end and hold it in place with your left hand thumb; this is the stationary end. Let the rest of the rope drape down the back of your hand. Wrap the rope around the back of your fingers with your palm facing up. The other end, the working end, should now be at the bottom of your hand.

Step 2

Bring the working end up toward the ceiling, crossing over the stationary end and back toward the ground where it started. If you look at the back of your hand, the loop you just made should be to the left of the first piece of rope. You are simply looping the rope around your hand, making sure to cross over the stationary end. It makes an "X" by your thumb holding the stationary end.

Step 3

Thread the working end over the rope going across the palm of your hand and under the stationary rope being held by your thumb. The working end should now be draped over the back of your hand, but secured under the stationary end of the rope.

Step 4

Turn your hand over so your palm is facing the ground. You will have two parallel pieces of rope. Cross the left most piece of rope over the right piece just on the back of your fingers. There will be a small hole in the middle of the overlapping pieces of rope.

Step 5

Thread the working end under the bottom-most piece of rope from the left side and up through the hole created by overlapping the two pieces of rope.

Step 6

Thread the working end under the right-most piece of rope closest to your pinky finger, pulling it out in between the two pieces of rope. The working end is going under the bottom-most piece of rope.

Step 7

Flip your hand over. The working end should be closest to the floor, coming out between the two pieces of the rope. Cross the working end over the left-most piece of rope, pulling it diagonally left and toward the ceiling. Thread the working end in the same direction as the stationary end, under the left piece of rope but not under both pieces of rope.

Step 8

Continue to follow the first piece of rope around, making parallel braids each time. This is usually done three or four times.

Step 9

Slip the knot off your fingers and crunch the sides together until it has closed tight, pulling on the ends and creating a sphere.

Photo Credits

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