# Which bends are binding knots?

The Sheet Bend would replace the Square (Reef) knot except that it is not a binding knot – both ends must be loose in your hands with no load on the ropes. (The Square Knot - with all its faults - can be tied tight against a sail, or parcel, and usually stays tight while the second Half Hitch is tied).

Caution: This picture demonstrates how even a "Stack" of Square Knots can capsize and pull undone. These photographs were created by pulling on the ends of the red rope. "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." (ABOK page 258). Never use it for critical loads.

So which knots are alternatives to the reef knot when there is load on the ropes that solves this insecurity?

• So you are looking for a bend knot that can be used as a binding knot? Or are you just looking for a different binding knot than the square knot? There are lots of binding knots, so we need to know more about your use cases/constraints in order to give you a reasonable answer. Otherwise the answers are going to be the form of "XYZ knot works great for me and here is how you tie it...."
– Erik
Feb 25, 2016 at 16:01
• I am looking for a bend knot that can be used as a binding knot. Feb 25, 2016 at 16:06
• Are the two ropes different diameters and/or are we dealing with round ropes or webbing?
– Erik
Feb 25, 2016 at 16:07
• I am looking for a bend knot that can be used as a binding knot. A reef knot is a bend that can be used as a binding knot. So why are you looking for an alternative to the reef knot? I think we need some clarification before anyone can try to answer this question.
– user2169
Feb 25, 2016 at 21:39
• @BenCrowell He's probably looking for an alternative to the reef knot because its use as a bend should be avoided. Mar 3, 2016 at 19:44

Though it isn't traditionally used as such, I've successfully used a buntline hitch (always of the slipped variety, unless I do not care if I cut the rope) in both roles, bending and binding.

## Binding

It is important that the 'clove hitch' part of the knot is tied very tightly to the standing rope or else it can be difficult to tighten properly.

I will take a round around the items to be bound and then pass the end of the rope through the loop that is created by taking the round (picture below).

This creates a overhand knot(step 3) around the bundle. I tighten this up by pulling both ends. I then dress it up tightly, being sure that the 'clove hitch' has taken all of the slack out of the line. I will push the knot towards the bundle then work the overhand/round slack out and then walk the knot back to the bundle. The overhand knot creates the binding effect and the buntline keeps the overhand knot together while providing a secure hitch. If you do not slip the buntline, you will more than likely need to cut the knot off as it jams.

## Bending

Create a buntline hitch and then create another on on the other end which loops through the first ones loop. Pull them tight. This has worked for me with the same thickness rope and w/ different diameter rope sizes. Again, be sure to dress each clove hitch so that they are tight around each standing rope.

In general, the buntline hitch is an amazing knot that is one of my goto knots.