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How to tie the Monkey's Fist knot

The Monkey's Fist is used as an end knot for a heaving line, a line used for throwing from one position to another. This enables a larger line that could not be thrown over the distance, to be pulled over. The most common use of a heaving line is at sea, to pull a cable to shore from a ship. A cable is not easily thrown over a distance of 30 ft or more, so you throw your heaving line; as the line is tied to the cable, when it is received, the cable can be pulled over.

To make it easier to throw you need to fix a weight to the end of the line – usually a stone, lead-weight or a small bag of sand. Better still, a small rope ball is tied on the end. It is neat, it will survive many throws, last a long time, and is easy to throw. That is what the monkey's fist was originally used for. Now it is used as fancy knot for key-rings, necklaces and so on.

The knot can be made with or without a central core (a round stone or round lead weight) to add extra weight, using extra loops if the size of the object merits it, or simply make a small monkey's knot at one end of your rope and use it as the core inside a larger one made at the other end (see explanation below).

A. First Monkey's Fist
This fist was done using " rope. The end product uses approximately 11½', but 15' of rope will be needed to make one fist using this method (that is to say, for two fists, you will need approximately 28'). For those who know how to do the knot in reverse, using less rope is possible, but this unorthodox method is not discussed here.

What you will need:
   * Rope, ³/8" thick, 28' in length.
   * Steel Wire Cable, ¹/16" thick, 2' in length.
   * Cable Sleeves
   * Cutter
   * Sleeve crimping tool  

You could, should you wish, make use of:
   * PVA adhesive
   * Kevlar sewing thread
   * Scissors
   * Needle
Optional preparation: make marks at 2', 3', 11', and 12'. Fist One should take approximately 2½' and you should reach between 11' and 12' at the end of the first fist.

1. Knot the end of the rope in a simple knot. This will become the core of the first fist.

2. Begin making your 2-bight monkey's fist knot.

3. At the end, shown here, take your knot and insert it into the core of the fist.

4. Carry on and tighten your fist.

B. Securing Attachment

5. Take your cable, slide on a cable sleeve to create a loop of at least ¾", then crimp it.

6. Insert the wire into Fist One, as shown. The positioning is important, as you will be see later. Use a tool (e.g., bodkin/awl) to loosen the bights, if necessary.

7. Loosen the same loops on the opposite side of the fist. Slide one cable sleeve onto each end of the wire before inserting the wire under these bights.

8. Pull the ends tight, with pliers if necessary, and crimp. Cut off the wire ends being careful not to damage any load-bearing cable. End result:

C. Second Monkey's Fist

9. Begin the 4-bight monkey's fist construction at the opposite end of your rope from Fist One. You will need to make your loops fairly large so that the knot will be able to fit inside later on.

10. At the end, insert Fist One into the core of Fist Two. Make sure that the wire loop comes out the same end as the loose piece of rope. That is why it mattered where you put the loop as referred to in stage B6.

11. Tighten Fist Two, adjusting the core to make sure the loop stays where you want it. The following should be the result of your endeavours:


12. Tuck the loose end (shown short here simply to get it in the picture) under a set of loops (straight across also works fine). You may find you need to wedge your bodkin/awl underneath to create room. If you wish to use glue, squeeze some into the junction between the three sets of loops.

13. Trim the rope wick, tuck it into the junction (see the notes on termination below), and glue on top.

Here it is at last! If this is only the first you've made then it's time to repeat the process.

: Observe that using this method conveniently takes care of one end of the rope, as it is used in the core you never have to worry about ending it. However there is the remaining end to deal with. If you don't plan to use the remaining rope for attaching your chain, cut the rope, leaving a length long enough to be tucked in "all the way". That is, the stub in this case, should be the same length as the four widths of rope. Tuck this length under one of the series of bights available to you.


Lacing and Splicing the Double-loop Stitch

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