Tag Archives: open ended clove hitch

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. 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 approach 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!

Camp Clothing Drying Rack

Small Clothes Rack

Designed very closely along the lines of the Simple Camp Table, this is an easy solution to how to dry wet clothing and towels at a long-term camp.

  • It takes up less space while drying more wet things.
  • It eliminates the clutter of clothing and towels haphazardly strewn around on tables, tree branches, tent platforms, or overcrowded on a disorganized array of drooping clothes lines.
  • It can be set up in a location where there is the most sunshine.
  • It’s especially useful when camping in an open area with few trees.

A large camp clothing drying rack can be built using four 6-foot x 2-inch spars, or a smaller one with four 5-foot Scout staves.

Attaching the long line to the rack ends

Build the framework. For each side of the rack, lash two poles with a tight shear lashing. Make sure the distance where they intersect at the top is the same for each pole.

If you’re making a larger rack, strengthen the sides by connecting the poles with a 4 or 5-foot cross brace, lashed on with tight square lashings. This will form an A-frame for each side. (For a smaller rack, all you’ll need are the Shear Lashed staves forming two inverted ‘Vs’.)

Set up the supporting line. What holds up the sides of the rack and serves as the highest drying line is a long rope. A 50-foot x 1/4-inch manila rope works great, but most any long cord will be fine. Drive in two narrow pioneering stakes, one for each side, extending about ten feet beyond the length of the drying rack. The larger the rack, the longer this length can be.

Attach the long rope to each rack side with a an Open-Ended Clove Hitch around the top of one pole, right where they intersect. The distance between each side is the length of the drying rack where wet clothes and towels will be hung.

Larger Drying Rack

Raise the rack. After the clove hitches are in place, lift up one rack side and secure the end of the long rope to the corresponding stake with a taut-line hitch or rope tackle. Repeat this process with the other rack side. Tightening the ropes at the stakes is what keeps the drying rack firmly in place.

Add some lines. Adding more lines increases the capacity of the rack to dry more and more wet clothing and towels. Tie additional ropes or cords to the rack sides at lower heights, attaching one end around the pole with a clove hitch or two half hitches, and the other at the other pole with a taut-line hitch. To increase the rack’s stability, you can heel in the butt ends of the rack sides an inch or two into the ground. This will keep them from shifting when the additional lines are made taut.

NOTE: For a very sturdy drying rack, replace the single stake at each end with a 1-1 anchor, and then, instead of using shorter lines secured only between the rack sides, use long ropes or cords, attaching them with a clove hitch at the poles, and then around each 1-1 anchor with a tight taut-line hitch or rope tackle.  If you’re using manila (which has a low stretch factor) as your long rope, and you’re getting a decent strain on the line, there’s no reason you can’t just secure the rack to the stakes using roundturns with two half hitches.

A Better Clothes Drying Rack