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Thief Knot

How to tie a Thief Knot. The Thief Knot superficially resembles the Square Knot (Reef Knot) except that the working ends of the Thief Knot exit the knot on opposite sides (diagonally on top and bottom), whereas with the Square Knot, they exit on the same sides (both on top or both on bottom). Due to this subtle difference, the Thief Knot has no strength and will slip and jam when loaded and is thus is a completely unreliable and virtually useless knot.


It is believed that the name originates from legend that sailors would tie their duffel bags closed with the Thief Knot. If another sailor subsequently went through the bag, it was assumed that the thief would use the common Square Knot to retie the bag and thus alert the bag's owner that it had been opened.


Scroll down to see the Animated Thief Knot.

Thief Knot


Thief Knot Tying Instructions

  1. Make a bight at one end of the rope.

  2. Insert the other end up through the bight and then wrap around both ropes of the other end.

  3. Insert the working end back into the bight so that it lays next to its own standing line.

  4. Pull all parts simultaneously to tighten.

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