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Reef Knot - One of many!!!

Principles of the TURKS HEAD Knot
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Music now playing: "Candle in the Wind" by Elton John - Lyrics dedicated to Princess Diana

There is enough material on the simple TURKS HEAD knot, especially on Scouting Websites. An excellent diagram on the hand tied version can be found on website http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/9638/graphic.html .

This page is more to do with the Multiple Turks Head, the sizes of which is infinitesimal. There are, however, some strict rules governing the make-up of a Turks Head, both decorative and functional.

A TURKS HEAD is made up of one length of string or rope, and is formed by BIGHTS & LEADS. Another important factor in planning is to know the number of Pins you are going to use and that you are going to SKIP when working. Large Turks Heads are best work with pins stuck on a drum of some sort. See diagrams below:

TurksHeadParts.gif (114932 bytes) TurksHeadParts2.gif (138638 bytes) TurksHeadParts3.gif (153630 bytes) TurksHeadParts4.gif (150576 bytes)
NARROW Turks Head Knot SQUARE Turks Head Knot
Equal pins skipped both sides
SQUARE Turks Head Knot
Unequal pins skipped both sides
WIDE Turks Head Knot
  • BIGHTS are the bends at the top of the knot, where it changes direction.
  • LEADS are the number of times the string changes direction going DOWN the knot.
  • The above diagram (extreme left) shows a 7 Bight / 4 Lead Turks head.
  • It also shows 1 Pin to be skipped. Start work at No.2 pin (top), skip no 3 and round No.4 (bottom)
  • Note: It is also possible to plan Turks heads where you skip different amounts of pins top and bottom.

The GOLDEN RULE of planning a large Turks Head is as follows. To find the number of Leads:

  1. When the number of Pins skipped is the same top & bottom of the knot
    Number of pins skipped x2 +2 = No. of Leads.
  2. When the number of Pins skipped is one greater on either side
    Find "number of pins on top side of knot x2 +2"
    Find "number of pins on bottom side of knot x2 +2"
    Add both results, divide by 2 = Number of Leads.

There are basically THREE catagories of Turks Heads:

  1. NARROW - when number of bights exceeds the number of leads by two or more.
  2. SQUARE - when the number of bights or leads exceed each other by one.
  3. WIDE - when the number of leads exceeds the number of bights by two or more.


  • Number of Bights and Leads are Equal.
  • Number of Bights and Leads are divisable by the same number.


The origin of the Turks Head Knot is buried in history. Leonardo da Vinci drew them in the 15th Century, and Clifford W. Ashley in his famous Book of Knots (1944) says: "There is no knot with a wider field of usefulness. A Turk's-Head is generally found on the 'up-and-down' spoke of a ship's steering wheel, so that a glance will tell if the helm is amidship. It provides a foothold on footropes and a handhold on manropes, yoke ropes, gymnasium climbing ropes, guardrails, and lifelines. it serves instead of whipping and seizing. It is employed as a gathering hoop on ditty bags, neckerchiefs and bridle reins. Tied in rattan, black whalebone or stiff fishline, it makes a useful napkin ring, and it is often worn by racing crews in 'one-design classes' as a bracelet or anklet. It will cover loose ends in sinnets and splices. It furnishes a handgrip on fishing rods, archery bows, and vaulting poles. It will stiffen sprung vaulting poles, fishing rods, spars and paddles. On a pole or rope it will raise a bole big enough to prevent a hitch in another rope from slipping. On edged tools it makes an excellent hand guard, and on oars and canoe paddles, a dip guard. It is found employed decoratively on whips, telescopes, hatbands, leashes, quirts, and harness; on wicker chairs and basketry; on bell ropes and tassels. Old chest beckets, bell ropes and yolk ropes are resplendent with them."


There is an excellent chart of which Turks Heads you can tie at

(Lyrics dedicated to Princess Diana)

Goodbye England's rose;
may you ever grow in our hearts.
You were the grace that placed itself
where lives were torn apart.
You called out to our country,
and you whispered to those in pain.
Now you belong to heaven,
and the stars spell out your name.

And it seems to me you lived your life
like a candle in the wind:
never fading with the sunset
when the rain set in.
And your footsteps will always fall here,
along England's greenest hills;
your candle's burned out long before
your legend ever will.

Loveliness we've lost;
these empty days without your smile.
This torch we'll always carry
for our nation's golden child.
And even though we try,
the truth brings us to tears;
all our words cannot express
the joy you brought us through the years.

Goodbye England's rose,
from a country lost without your soul,
who'll miss the wings of your compassion
more than you'll ever know.

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