Timber hitch

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Timber hitch
Names Timber hitch, Bowyer's Knot, Lumberman's Knot, Countryman's Knot
Category Hitch
Related Killick hitch
Releasing Non-jamming
ABoK #195, #479, #1665, #2161
Instructions [1]

The timber hitch is a knot used to attach a single length of rope to a cylindrical object. Secure while tension is maintained, it is easily untied even after heavy loading.[1][2][3]

The timber hitch is a very old knot. It is first known to have been mentioned in a nautical source c. 1625[4] and illustrated in 1762.[1]


As the name suggests, this knot is often used by lumbermen and arborists for attaching ropes or chains to tree trunks, branches, and logs.[3][5] For stability when towing or lowering long items, the addition of a half-hitch in front of the timber hitch creates a timber hitch and a half hitch,[6] or known as a killick hitch[2] when at sea.[7] A killick is "a small anchor or weight for mooring a boat, sometimes consisting of a stone secured by pieces of wood".[8] This can also prevent the timber hitch from rolling.[3] The timber hitch is one of the few knots that can easily be tied in a chain, leading to its use in applications where ropes lack the necessary strength and would break under the same amount of tension.

This knot is also known as the Bowyer's Knot, as it is used to attach the lower end of the bowstring to the bottom limb on an English longbow.[9]

The hitch is also one of the methods used to connect ukulele[10] and classical guitar[11][12] strings to the bridge of the instruments.


To make the knot, pass the rope completely around the object. Pass the running end around the standing part, then through the loop just formed. Make three or more turns (or twists) around the working part. Pull on the standing part to tighten around the object.

A common error in tying can be avoided by assuring that the turns are made in the working part around itself.[13] When making the hitch in laid rope, the turns should be made with the lay of the rope, that is, in the same direction as the twist of the rope.[1][2]


Although The Ashley Book of Knots states that "three tucks or turns are ample",[1] this work was written prior to the wide use of synthetic fiber cordage. Later sources suggest five or more turns may be required for full security in modern ropes.[3][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Ashley, Clifford W. (1944), The Ashley Book of Knots, New York: Doubleday, p. 290 
  2. ^ a b c Day, Cyrus Lawrence (1986), The Art of Knotting and Splicing (4th ed.), Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, pp. 94–95 
  3. ^ a b c d Jepson, Jeff (2000), The Tree Climber's Companion (2nd ed.), Minneapolis: Beaver Tree Publishing, p. 78 
  4. ^ Anderson, R.C.; Salisbury, W., eds. (1958), A Treatise on Rigging c. 1625, Occasional Publications No. 6, London: The Society for Nautical Research, p. 51, The Truss is fastened to the middle of the mayne yearde betwene the Parell with a tymber hitch and from thence goes through a blocke fastened to the mayne mast close to the middle decke and so to the Capstone when you will use him. 
  5. ^ Ashley (1944), p. 77
  6. ^ Blandford, Percy (1965), Knots and Splices, New York, New York, USA: Arco Publishing Company, Inc, p. 23 
  7. ^ Blandford, Percy (1965), Knots and Splices, New York, New York, USA: Arco Publishing Company, Inc, p. 32 
  8. ^ "Killick". 
  9. ^ Bickerstaffe, Pip (2010). "Tying the Bowyers Knot". Grand Affairs Group. Archived from the original on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2012-01-02. 
  10. ^ Wood, Alistair (2011), Ukulele For Dummies, Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 269–271 
  11. ^ Cumpiano, William R.; Natelson, Jonathan D. (1997), Guitarmaking, Tradition and Technology, San Francisco: Chronicle Books, pp. 368–369 
  12. ^ Pinksterboer, Hugo (2001), Tipbook Acoustic Guitar, Netherlands: The Tipbook Company, pp. 66–69 
  13. ^ Asher, Harry (1989), The Alternative Knot Book, London: Nautical Books, p. 32, ISBN 0-7136-5950-5 
  14. ^ Budworth, Geoffrey (1997), The Complete Book of Knots, New York, New York: Lyons & Burford, p. 47 

External links[edit]