Tag Archives: Constrictor Knot

The Misunderstood Clove Hitch

VIEW VIDEO: How to Tie and Apply the Clove Hitch and Half Hitches

Ah, the clove hitch. It’s a simple way to attach a rope to a pole, it’s side-to-side adjustable and is frequently used to start and finish a variety of lashings. Some folks don’t like it because in various applications, it’s not the most secure or reliable choice. But, in those instances, there are numerous alternatives. See the following photos—all close clove hitch relatives.

Clove Hitch / Rolling Hitch / Constrictor / Spar Hitch
Clove Hitch / Rolling Hitch / Constrictor / Spar Hitch

The clove hitch is one of the most-frequently-used knots Scouts learn, so common, yet it can also be very elusive, especially when it comes to completing certain lashings. In the knot-tying universe, the clove hitch is a whole lot more prevalent than most of us realize, and it can be tied in a variety of ways and from a variety of different perspectives.

Of course they're all clove hitches!
Of course they’re all Clove Hitches!

Two Half Hitches. Here’s what John Thurman says in Pioneering Projects: “The first and everlasting thing to remember about the clove hitch is that it is composed of two half hitches. What a very obvious thing to say, but there is hardly one Scout in a hundred who learns what it means. If only we can get Scouts to learn that if you make one half hitch and another half hitch and bring them together they make a clove hitch, what a lot of time the Movement would save in the amount of fiddling and fumbling that goes on when a clove hitch is the order of the day. We would be able to start in the sure knowledge that we can make clove hitches and pass quickly on to better and brighter things.”

Starting from the right and proceeding the the left. / Starting from the left and proceeding to the right.
Starting from the right and proceeding the the left. / Starting from the left and proceeding to the right.

Before addressing the various ways to approach tying a clove hitch, did you ever wonder why the basic knot, two half hitches is called “Two Half Hitches?” (The name “Double Half Hitch” has also been used.) What’s a half hitch anyway? Well, now we know it’s half a clove hitch, (the line wraps around the object and then passes under itself) but how many of us have realized that in actuality,  two half hitches is a clove hitch tied around the rope’s standing part? That’s what it is! On a side note, the very useful taut-line hitch is nothing but a clove hitch started off with a roundturn (called a rolling hitch), which is also tied around the rope’s standing part. As mentioned above, the clove hitch is whole lot more prevalent than most of us realize, and indeed it can be tied in a variety of ways. Here we go:

A Hitching Post with a Series of Half Hitches
A Hitching Post with a Series of Half Hitches
Hitching Race during the Troop Meeting Gathering Period
Hitching Race during a Troop Meeting’s Gathering Period

Open-End Clove Hitch (Clove Hitch on a Bight). Back in the 60s at Camp Wauwepex, a Scout camp on Long Island, one of the attractions in the Scoutcraft area was a vertical pole about 4 feet tall with a rope attached near the bottom. This was a “Hitching Post.” It was put up so Scouts could see how many Half Hitches they could throw over the top of the pole as quickly as possible. Watching fellow Scouts who had mastered the simple technique provided enough motivation to learn how to do it too, and it was easy to get quite good at it. As we were throwing hitches over the pole with greater and greater alacrity, we weren’t aware that every two of these hitches was a clove hitch. Nor would we have cared. It was just fun to see how fast we could get. VIEW VIDEO: Hitching Race

When preceding from the left, all that needs to be done is:

  1. Form a right underhand loop and place it over the pole.
  2. Form another right underhand loop and place it over the pole (on top of the pervious one).
  3. Voila! Clove hitch!

When preceding from the right, instead of right underhand loops, form left underhand loops.

In no position to tie anything but an
In no position to tie anything but an “Open-Ended Clove Hitch!”

Without being informed, one can just look at two of these half hitches and see they look exactly like a clove hitch. Of course, that’s because these two half hitches are a clove hitch. Throwing two half hitches over the open end of a vertical pole is the hands down, quickest way of tying a clove hitch. After you’ve done it for awhile, it takes about a second. A common way to refer to this “Clove Hitch on a Bight” is to call it an “Open-Ended Clove Hitch.” It’s exactly what the doctor ordered when you need to tie a clove hitch over the end of a spar. It’s also the only way to tie a clove hitch in the middle of a long line, like when securing a hand rope on the top of an A-frame during the construction of a Double A-frame Monkey Bridge (unless you want to pull foot after foot of rope through the hitches because you’re using an alternate method, or… you just don’t know any better).

Open-Ended Clove Hitch
Open-End Clove Hitch

It’s really surprising how many folks, old and young, aren’t familiar with this simple method of tying a clove hitch. Here’s an amusing illustration: A young Scout was competing at a camporee for the best time in completing a Rope-Toss-Log-Lift Challenge. After throwing the rope over the crossbar and tying the end to a log with a timber hitch, the third step is to secure the other end of the rope to a stake in the ground with a clove hitch. Ah! An open ended pole! So, this young Scout completes the first two steps, runs over to the stake and, bam! He ties an Open-Ended Clove Hitch over that stake in nothing flat. The jaw of the Scouter conducting the event drops down. With mouth open and a look of bewilderment on his face, he leans down, scratches his head, and examines the knot. Yes, to his surprise, indeed it’s a clove hitch! This skinny, young Scout did something the adult had never seen before, and the old guy was astonished!

Finishing a Lashing with Two Half Hitches. 

Finishing a Diagonal Lashing with Two Half Hitches forming the Clove Hitch
Finishing a Diagonal Lashing with Two Half Hitches forming the Clove Hitch

Here’s the story:  When you learn how to do this, number one, it’s faster. Number two, it’s also easier to securely finish off the frapping turns, because it’s a cinch to snug both half hitches in close and pull them real tight, which is definitely something you want to do.

1/2 HITCH + 1/2 HITCH = CLOVE HITCH  —> WATCH AND SEE!

Favorite Pioneering Knots: Constrictor

VIEW VIDEO: How to Tie a Constrictor Knot

Link to: Older Pamphlet InfoThe following text is by Adolph E. Peschke as presented in the 1998 printing of the 1993 edition of the Pioneering Merit Badge Pamphlet:

Once you learn to tie and use the constrictor, you will wonder where it has been hiding in all those knot books and why it isn’t in wider use today.

In the days when black powder was used for blasting in mining operations, this was the knot that was tied around the top of the bag containing the black powder to hold the fuse in securely; hence, it’s other common name, the Bag Knot. *

The constructor is based on the clove hitch, except that it has an extra half-knot that provides an extra hold when the knot is pulled tight. Like the clove hHitch, the constrictor can be tied using the end of the rope (see figures 19 and 20) or by forming a twisted loop and slipping it over a spar (see figures 21, 22, and 23).

Pioneering Uses

  • To use interchangeably with a clove hitch, except once the constrictor is pulled tight, it is quite hard to untie.
  • To start a lashing. When it’s tied to a vertical spar, the crossing spar can rest on it while the lashing is being made.
  • To make a good temporary whipping at the cut end of a rope, or to start the West country whipping.
  • To start a splice, use it to stop off the unlaid strands of the rope so they won’t unravel further as you’re working the splice.
The Constrictor Knot
The Constrictor Knot

* The constrictor is also referred to as a Miller’s Knot in that it was used to tie the tops of bags of flour.

Introduction to Pioneering

Link to: Older Pamphlet Info.The following text is by Adolph E. Peschke as presented in the 1998 printing of the 1993 edition of the Pioneering Merit Badge Pamphlet:

Pioneering is the knowledge and skill of using simple materials to build structures that are used in a wide range of Scouting activities. These skills are sometimes referred to as “backwoods engineering.”

Down through the ages, people have used ropes, spars, and simple hardware to build bridges, towers, and even their own shelters. In the early development of our country, pioneering methods were used in mining and transportation, to clear the wilderness, and to build roads and bridges. So it is understandable that the term “backwoods engineering” was applied.

The same skills can be used by Scouts to build pioneering projects ranging in complexity from a simple camp gadget to a signal tower.

Whatever the project, the same applied principles of physics, geometry, and math are used to build pioneering projects and structures. But, keep in mind that all the information (in this pamphlet*) is eventually used for a practical, hands-on application—that is, to build something.

Pioneering is a good foundation for many Scouting activities. You must learn, and then use, such disciplines as planning ahead and teamwork. You can also put to use the basic skills learned in rank advancement, such as knot tying.

But most of all, pioneering provides a practical way to experience the joy of accomplishment when you’ve built something that is needed for yourself or others; it can be something that makes living in camp easier and more comfortable. Pioneering can be both fun and challenging when you use your skill and knowledge to choose the right materials (ropes and spars) and build a usable structure.

The basics of pioneering, such as tying knots, making lashings, using rope tackle, constructing anchors, and basic rope knowledge can be done at home. The projects and structures (shown in this pamphlet**) can usually be constructed with materials available at summer camp or at council camping events.

* SAFE PIONEERING

* ROPE-TOSS-LOG-LIFT CHALLENGE

ROPE FOR PIONEERING AND CAMP USE

KNOT-TYING TERMINOLOGY

TIMBER HITCH

ROUNDTURN WITH TWO HALF HITCHES

ROLLING HITCH

BUTTERFLY KNOT

CARRICK BEND

CONSTRICTOR KNOT

WATER KNOT

PIPE HITCH

PRUSIK

SPLICING ROPE

* MAKING ROPE

WHIPPING

ANCHORING PIONEERING PROJECTS

ROPE TACKLE

LASHING

JAPANESE MARK II SQUARE LASHING

MAKING A TRESTLE

BRIDGE WALKWAYS

PIONEERING PROJECTS

** SINGLE TRESTLE BRIDGE

** SINGLE LOCK BRIDGE

** SINGLE A-FRAME BRIDGE

** 14′ DOUBLE LADDER SIGNAL TOWER

** DOUBLE A-FRAME MONKEY BRIDGE

PIONEERING KIT