The Monkey's Fist is used as an end knot for a heaving line, a
line used for throwing from one position to another. This enables a larger line
that could not be thrown over the distance, to be pulled over. The most
common use of a heaving line is at sea, to pull a cable to shore from a ship. A
cable is not easily thrown over a distance of 30 ft or more, so you throw your
heaving line; as the line is tied to the cable, when it is received, the cable
can be pulled over.
To make it easier to throw you need to fix a weight to the end
of the line – usually a stone, lead-weight or a small bag of sand. Better still,
a small rope ball is tied on the end. It is neat, it will survive many throws,
last a long time, and is easy to throw. That is what the monkey's fist was
originally used for. Now it is used as fancy knot for key-rings, necklaces
and so on.
The knot can be made with or without a central core (a round
stone or round lead weight) to add extra weight, using extra loops if the size
of the object merits it, or simply make a small monkey's knot at one end of your
rope and use it as the core inside a larger one made at the other end (see
A. First Monkey's Fist
This fist was done using ⅜" rope. The end
product uses approximately 11½', but 15' of rope will be needed to make one fist
using this method (that is to say, for two fists, you will need approximately
28'). For those who know how to do the knot in reverse, using less rope is
possible, but this unorthodox method is not discussed here.
What you will need:
* Rope, ³/8" thick, 28' in length.
* Steel Wire Cable, ¹/16" thick, 2' in
* Cable Sleeves
* Sleeve crimping tool
You could, should you wish, make use of:
* PVA adhesive
* Kevlar sewing thread
Optional preparation: make marks at 2', 3', 11', and 12'. Fist One should take
approximately 2½' and you should reach between 11' and 12' at the end of the
1. Knot the end of the rope in a simple knot. This will become the core of the
2. Begin making your 2-bight monkey's fist knot.
3. At the end, shown here, take your knot and insert it into the core of the
4. Carry on and tighten your fist.
B. Securing Attachment
5. Take your cable, slide on a cable sleeve to create a loop of at least ¾",
then crimp it.
6. Insert the wire into Fist One, as shown. The positioning is important, as you
will be see later. Use a tool (e.g., bodkin/awl) to loosen the bights, if
7. Loosen the same loops on the opposite side of the fist. Slide one cable
sleeve onto each end of the wire before inserting the wire under these bights.
8. Pull the ends tight, with pliers if necessary, and crimp. Cut off the wire
ends being careful not to damage any load-bearing cable. End result:
C. Second Monkey's Fist
9. Begin the 4-bight monkey's fist construction at the opposite end of your rope
from Fist One. You will need to make your loops fairly large so that the knot
will be able to fit inside later on.
10. At the end, insert Fist One into the core of Fist Two. Make sure that the
wire loop comes out the same end as the loose piece of rope. That is why it
mattered where you put the loop as referred to in stage B6.
11. Tighten Fist Two, adjusting the core to make sure the loop stays where you
want it. The following should be the result of your endeavours:
12. Tuck the loose end (shown short here simply to get it in the picture) under
a set of loops (straight across also works fine). You may find you need to wedge
your bodkin/awl underneath to create room. If you wish to use glue, squeeze some
into the junction between the three sets of loops.
13. Trim the rope wick, tuck it into the junction (see the notes on termination
below), and glue on top.
Here it is at last! If this is only the first you've made then it's time to
repeat the process.
Termination: Observe that using this method conveniently
takes care of one end of the rope, as it is used in the core you never have to
worry about ending it. However there is the remaining end to deal with. If you
don't plan to use the remaining rope for attaching your chain, cut the rope,
leaving a length long enough to be tucked in "all the way". That is, the stub in
this case, should be the same length as the four widths of rope. Tuck this
length under one of the series of bights available to you.