Timber hitch

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Timber hitch
Timber Hitch (PSF).png
NamesTimber hitch, Fig.8 Timber Hitch, Bowyer's Knot, Lumberman's Knot, Countryman's Knot
Category Hitch
Related Killick hitch
Releasing Non-jamming
ABoK #1668,#195, #479, #1665, #2161

The timber hitch is a knot used to attach a single length of rope to a cylindrical object. Secure while tension is maintained, it is easily untied even after heavy loading. [1] [2] [3]


The timber hitch is a very old knot. It is first known to have been mentioned in a nautical source c. 1625 [4] and illustrated in 1762. [1]


As the name suggests, this knot is often used by lumbermen and arborists for attaching ropes or chains to tree trunks, branches, and logs. [3] [5] For stability when towing or lowering long items, the addition of a half-hitch in front of the timber hitch creates a timber hitch and a half hitch, [6] or known as a killick hitch [2] when at sea. [7] A killick is "a small anchor or weight for mooring a boat, sometimes consisting of a stone secured by pieces of wood". [8] This can also prevent the timber hitch from rolling. [3] The timber hitch is one of the few knots that can easily be tied in a chain, leading to its use in applications where ropes lack the necessary strength and would break under the same amount of tension.

This knot is also known as the Bowyer's Knot, as it is used to attach the lower end of the bowstring to the bottom limb on an English longbow. [9]

The hitch is also one of the methods used to connect ukulele [10] and classical guitar [11] [12] strings to the bridge of the instruments.


To make the knot, pass the rope completely around the object. Pass the running end around the standing part, then through the loop just formed. Make three or more turns (or twists) around the working part. Pull on the standing part to tighten around the object.

A common error in tying can be avoided by assuring that the turns are made in the working part around itself. [13] When making the hitch in laid rope, the turns should be made with the lay of the rope, that is, in the same direction as the twist of the rope. [1] [2]


Although The Ashley Book of Knots states that "three tucks or turns are ample", [1] this work was written prior to the wide use of synthetic fiber cordage. Later sources suggest five or more turns may be required for full security in modern ropes. [3] [14]

Nylon, Polyester much more slippery, and 2x as strong for less surface for friction also than natural fiber. Actually pictured is better Figure 8 Timber Hitch. #1669 that doesn't immediately tuck but rides over before tucking. Ashley states can use 1 less tuck.

ABoK Context

Comparison of 3 types of Half Hitches, and then Timber Hitches, including Killik conversion for errant angle of pull. Wiki timber-hitch-from-half-hitches.png
Comparison of 3 types of Half Hitches, and then Timber Hitches, including Killik conversion for errant angle of pull.

The Timber Hitches list almost immediately in "CHAPTER 21: HITCHES TO SPAR AND RAIL (RIGHT-ANGLE PULL)", only preceded there by 3 Half Hitch base forms. The context begins with typical Half Hitch#1662 as worst security/nip warnings warning with Skull/Crossbones, but a base structure to build on. Then shows the most security at top nip/opposing the linear load pull position as a safer Half Hitch form#1663 awarding Anchor icon if constant pull. Then introduces Timber Hitch #1665 concept from extension of worst nip Half Hitch tail#1662 . #1666 then shows Fig.8 concept as upgrade to Half Hitch#1662 and shows the nip position pushed to halfway between normal and top nip Half Hitch. Also adds a geometric consideration of:"particularly if the encompassed object is small." of even higher nip. #1668 then shows the Fig.8 Timber Hitch with nip more to side and not bottom as improvement. [1]

Next trick is in #1669 Fig.8 Hitch with Round Turn. Where the Round Turn is around the Standing Part and Fig.8 portion actually pictured as fig.8 Timber Hitch and so adds that the "Round Turn on the Standing Part adds materially to the strength of the knot." [1]

Next chapter is "CHAPTER 22: HITCHES TO MASTS, RIGGING, AND CABLE (LENGTHWISE PULL) To withstand a lengthwise pull without slipping is about the most that can be asked of a hitch. Great care must be exercised in tying the following series of knots, and the impossible must not be expected" that starts off with a Timber Hitch preceded by 'lengthwise' Half Hitch form to convert Timber from "RIGHT-ANGLE PULL" to "LENGTHWISE PULL" usage in the back to back chapters. [1]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Knot</span> Method of fastening or securing linear material

A knot is an intentional complication in cordage which may be practical or decorative, or both. Practical knots are classified by function, including hitches, bends, loop knots, and splices: a hitch fastens a rope to another object; a bend fastens two ends of a rope to each another; a loop knot is any knot creating a loop; and splice denotes any multi-strand knot, including bends and loops. A knot may also refer, in the strictest sense, to a stopper or knob at the end of a rope to keep that end from slipping through a grommet or eye. Knots have excited interest since ancient times for their practical uses, as well as their topological intricacy, studied in the area of mathematics known as knot theory.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Constrictor knot</span> Binding hitch knot

The constrictor knot is one of the most effective binding knots. Simple and secure, it is a harsh knot that can be difficult or impossible to untie once tightened. It is made similarly to a clove hitch but with one end passed under the other, forming an overhand knot under a riding turn. The double constrictor knot is an even more robust variation that features two riding turns.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sheepshank</span> Type of knot

A shank is a type of knot that is used to shorten a rope or take up slack, such as the sheepshank. The sheepshank knot is not stable. It will fall apart under too much load or too little load.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Clove hitch</span> Type of knot

The clove hitch is a type of knot. Along with the bowline and the sheet bend, it is often considered one of the most important knots. A clove hitch is two successive half-hitches around an object. It is most effectively used as a crossing knot. It can be used as a binding knot, but is not particularly secure in that role. A clove hitch made around the rope's own standing part is known as either two half-hitches or buntline hitch, depending on whether the turns of the clove hitch progress away from or towards the hitched object.

Although the name clove hitch is given by Falconer in his Dictionary of 1769, the knot is much older, having been tied in ratlines at least as early as the first quarter of the sixteenth century. This is shown in early sculpture and paintings. A round turn is taken with the ratline and then a hitch is added below. The forward end is always the first to be made fast.

The difference between two half hitches and the clove hitch is that the former, after a single turn around a spar, is made fast around its own standing part, while the latter is tied directly around the spar.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trucker's hitch</span> Type of knot

The trucker's hitch is a compound knot commonly used for securing loads on trucks or trailers. This general arrangement, using loops and turns in the rope itself to form a crude block and tackle, has long been used to tension lines and is known by multiple names. Knot author Geoffrey Budworth claims the knot can be traced back to the days when carters and hawkers used horse-drawn conveyances to move their wares from place to place.

A whipping knot or whipping is a binding of marline twine or whipcord around the end of a rope to prevent its natural tendency to fray.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Taut-line hitch</span> Adjustable hitch knot

The taut-line hitch is an adjustable loop knot for use on lines under tension. It is useful when the length of a line will need to be periodically adjusted in order to maintain tension. It is made by tying a rolling hitch around the standing part after passing around an anchor object. Tension is maintained by sliding the hitch to adjust the size of the loop, thus changing the effective length of the standing part without retying the knot.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grief knot</span> Type of knot

A grief knot is a knot which combines the features of a granny knot and a thief knot, producing a result which is not generally useful for working purposes. The word grief does not carry its usual meaning but is a portmanteau of granny and thief.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Heaving line bend</span>

The heaving line bend is a knot for securely joining two ropes of different diameter or rigidity. It is often used to affix playing strings to the thick silk eyes of an anchorage knot in some stringed instruments. In nautical use, the heaving line bend is used to connect a lighter messenger line to a hawser when mooring ships. It is knot number 1463 in The Ashley Book of Knots, and appeared in the 1916 Swedish knot manual Om Knutar.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Highwayman's hitch</span> Quick-release draw loop knot

The Highwayman’s hitch is a quick-release draw hitch used for temporarily securing a load that will need to be released easily and cleanly. The hitch can be untied with a tug of the working end, even when under tension. The highwayman's hitch can be tied in the middle of a rope, and so the working end does not need to be passed around the anchor when tying or releasing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stopper knot</span> Knot that forms a fixed thicker point to prevent unreeving

A stopper knot is a knot that creates a fixed thicker point on an otherwise-uniform thickness rope for the purpose of preventing the rope, at that point, from slipping through a narrow passage, such as a hole in a block. To pass a rope through a block, or hole, is to reeve it. To pull it out is to unreeve it. Stopper knots prevent the rope from unreeving on its own.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Half hitch</span> Type of knot

The half hitch is a simple overhand knot, where the working end of a line is brought over and under the standing part. Insecure on its own, it is a valuable component of a wide variety of useful and reliable hitches, bends, and knots.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cow hitch</span> Type of knot

The cow hitch, also called the lark's head, is a hitch knot used to attach a rope to an object. The cow hitch comprises a pair of half-hitches tied in opposing directions, as compared to the clove hitch in which the half-hitches are tied in the same direction. It has several variations and is known under a variety of names. It can be tied either with the end of the rope or with a bight.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Buntline hitch</span> Type of knot

The buntline hitch is a knot used for attaching a rope to an object. It is formed by passing the working end around an object, then making a clove hitch around the rope's standing part and taking care that the turns of the clove hitch progress towards the object rather than away from it. Secure and easily tied, the buntline hitch will jam when subjected to extreme loads. Given the knot's propensity to jam, it is often made in slipped form.

The buntline hitch, when bent to a yard, makes a more secure knot than two half hitches, but is more liable to jam. It differs from two half hitches in that the second half hitch is inside instead of outside the first one.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rolling hitch</span> Knot used to attach a rope to a rod, pole, or another rope

The rolling hitch is a knot used to attach a rope to a rod, pole, or another rope. A simple friction hitch, it is used for lengthwise pull along an object rather than at right angles. The rolling hitch is designed to resist lengthwise movement for only a single direction of pull.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Killick hitch</span> Type of knot

The killick hitch is a type of hitch knot used to attach a rope to oddly shaped objects. This knot is also known as the kelleg hitch. It is a combination of a timber hitch tied in conjunction with a half hitch, which is added to lend support and stability when pulling or hoisting the object; the addition of a half-hitch in front of the timber hitch creates a timber hitch and a half hitch, known as a killick hitch when at sea. A killick is "a small anchor or weight for mooring a boat, sometimes consisting of a stone secured by pieces of wood".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ossel hitch</span> Type of knot

The ossel hitch is a knot used to attach a rope or line to an object. It was originally used on Scottish gill nets to tie small line to larger rope that supported the net. Ossel is actually the Scottish word for "gill net" and for the line attaching the net to the float rope.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pipe hitch</span> Type of knot

A pipe hitch is a hitch-type knot used to secure smooth cylindrical objects, such as pipes, poles, beams, or spars. According to The Ashley Book of Knots, a pipe hitch is "used to lower a pipe or hoist one" and as "another method of tying to a rectangular timber."


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Ashley, Clifford W. (1944), The Ashley Book of Knots, New York: Doubleday, p. 290
  2. 1 2 3 Day, Cyrus Lawrence (1986), The Art of Knotting and Splicing (4th ed.), Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, pp. 94–95
  3. 1 2 3 4 Jepson, Jeff (2000), The Tree Climber's Companion (2nd ed.), Minneapolis: Beaver Tree Publishing, p. 78
  4. Anderson, R.C.; Salisbury, W., eds. (1958), A Treatise on Rigging c. 1625, Occasional Publications No. 6, London: The Society for Nautical Research, p. 51, The Truss is fastened to the middle of the mayne yearde betwene the Parell with a tymber hitch and from thence goes through a blocke fastened to the mayne mast close to the middle decke and so to the Capstone when you will use him.
  5. Ashley (1944), p. 77
  6. Blandford, Percy (1965), Knots and Splices, New York, New York, USA: Arco Publishing Company, Inc, p. 23
  7. Blandford, Percy (1965), Knots and Splices, New York, New York, USA: Arco Publishing Company, Inc, p. 32
  8. "Killick".
  9. Bickerstaffe, Pip (2010). "Tying the Bowyers Knot". Grand Affairs Group. Archived from the original on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
  10. Wood, Alistair (2011), Ukulele For Dummies, Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 269–271
  11. Cumpiano, William R.; Natelson, Jonathan D. (1997), Guitarmaking, Tradition and Technology, San Francisco: Chronicle Books, pp. 368–369
  12. Pinksterboer, Hugo (2001), Tipbook Acoustic Guitar, Netherlands: The Tipbook Company, pp. 66–69
  13. Asher, Harry (1989), The Alternative Knot Book, London: Nautical Books, p. 32, ISBN   0-7136-5950-5
  14. Budworth, Geoffrey (1997), The Complete Book of Knots, New York, New York: Lyons & Burford, p. 47