Thursday, December 27, 2012

Six Knots Every Ham Should Know

In working with wire antennas, I'm thankful my parents enlisted me in the boy scouts. How else would I have learned all these useful knots? Every amateur radio operator should know how to tie these six knots:
  • Bowline - an extraordinarily useful knot. Anywhere you need a knot that won't slip, won't tighten down and is very strong. I use this one everywhere -- when tying ropes off to insulators, bringing wires through insulators, tying ropes to carabeaners, etc. If you learn no other knot, learn this one.
  • Square Knot - Got two hanks of rope, neither of them long enough for the job, join them with a square knot. While it won't go though pulleys, it will go over branches with a tug our two. best way to join ropes of roughly the same size.
  • Sheet Bend - so, how do you tie your hauling line to the fishing line you've managed to get over that tree? Square knot doesn't work so well when one end is a lot smaller than the other. The Sheet Bend is the answer. Just remember that the larger line gets the "U" and the smaller line is the "X".
  • Taut-Line Hitch - need to adjust a rope to a modest tension, but don't want to keep re-tying? The Taunt-Line Hitch is perfect. You can slide this knot considerably to adjust tension. Just don't use it for anything structural, like guy wires, since it can slip down under enough tension.
  • Two Half-Hitches - Have a free end of a rope you don't want to flap around loose? Two half-hitches is the choice. I often use it to secure the free end after a Sheet Bend.
  • Clove Hitch - Be careful with this one. It works well if you tie to a fixed post that can't rotate. Don't try to use it to raise a mast or left a boom -- with a smooth rope it may turn and then come loose. 
Learn these knots inside, you'll want to have them memorized for when you are ready to use them out in the field or woods. Enjoy.


  1. I've been using arbor knots to secure antenna guy lines to brass spring-loaded hooks. Check this out:

  2. Interesting and useful knot. However, it isn't one I learned while in scouts. Thanks!

  3. Great advice, especially the taut-line hitch. I use it all the time when operating in the field.

  4. Looking knots? get on about fishing line knots.

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  5. I'm putting up a dipole antenna. These links were helpful. Thanks for posting this.