Officer & Gent

Tying the Reef or Square Knot

Knots are used everywhere in our life, knowing which knot should be used in which application, is something the Officer & Gent should pride himself on. Knot tying is an extremely useful and perishable skill that when not practiced often, is easily forgotten. Officer & Gent will be starting with the some of the basics, and the knots we cover will slowly increase in difficulty to tie.  While hundreds of knots exist, we will attempt to only show you those which will have practical application in your daily life, or for use in field craft situations.

Tying the Reef or Square Knot:

I wanted to present this knot first as a good start to the series, however, not without the following warning.  It seems to be the most well-known knot, by name, and every Boy Scout is familiar with it.  Bear this in mind, if your life is on the line this knot is the wrong one to use.

“The reef or square knot is a true binder knot, for which purpose it is admirable, but under no circumstances should it be used as a bend.  If tied with tow ends of unequal size, or if one end is stiffer or more slippery than the other, it is bound to spill…. There have probably been more lives lost as a result of using a square knot as a bend (to tie two ropes together) than from the failure of any other half dozen knots combined.”

– Clifford Ashley, author of “The Ashley Book of Knots– June 21, 1944


  • Good for tying cordage around a package or bundle of newspapers
  • First-aid bandages, because it will lie flat on the bandage
  • Tying your bootlaces so they do not come untied while you are rucking (backpacking)



  1. Begin with one end of cordage in your left hand and one in your right hand
  2. The left-hand cordage crosses over the right hand cordage
  3. Twist the left-hand cordage end over, behind and under the right-hand cordage. (image a)
  4. Then twist the right-hand cordage, behind and under the left-hand cordage. (image b)
  5. Pull tight. (image c)

How to Remember:  “left over right, twist, right over left, twist.”

Leave a Reply