Monday, March 19, 2012

Know Your Knots.

This conversation happens way more often than you think:

Juicer 1: "Hey, you just tied a granny knot. Not a square knot."
Juicer 2: "No I didn't."
Juicer 1: "Yeah, you did. That is a Granny knot. This [as he demonstrates] is a Square knot."
Juicer 2: [looking at it] "That's what I just did."
Juicer 1: "No... It's not." [Demonstrates the two knots again.]
Juicer 2: "...What's the difference?"
Juicer 1: [Flabbergasted] "Uh... a lot."
Juicer 2: [Now annoyed] "Dude, whatever. Shut the fuck up and get off my back."

Interestingly enough, often times when I see this conversation take place, Juicer 2 isn't the "new kid." I've seen guys who've been doing this for a while not know the difference between a granny knot and a square knot (sometimes also referred to as a reef knot).

It's scary to discover you're working with someone who doesn't know basic knots when they should, and even scarier when they don't know they don't know their knots.

So in case you didn't know...

This is a granny knot.

This is a square knot.

Still don't see the difference? Look again.

The top is a square. Bottom's a granny knot.

And keep looking until you finally do.



They may look "close enough" but when it comes to usage, a granny knot comes undone WAY easier than a square knot. So do yourself a favor and if you haven't already, learn how to properly tie a square knot.

Because while you may occasionally need to tie a square knot, you will never need to tie a granny knot.

And more importantly, because I'm sick and tired of hearing this conversation on set.


Michael Taylor said...

Great post -- and right on! We really only need to know four knots in electric: the square, bowline, clove, and the standard up-high rigger's knot for tying off. If that one has a name, I never learned it. Having a trucker's hitch in your back pocket earns you extra credit AND bonus points, but in these days of ratchet straps, is no longer essential, I suppose.

Everything else is frosting on the cake for those with a rope fetish -- but every decent juicer or grip has to know the Big Four to be worth his/her salt.

Nathan said...

My granny knots and square knots are completely accidental and they're both fabulous. :)

I can do a trucker's hitch in my sleep. Love that knot.

And I'm not sure exactly which knot Michael's talking about (the up-high one), but when I worked in the rental house, I was taught a "clove hitch with an asshole" -- it was meant to hold a pipe hung vertically and the more weight on it, the tighter the knot became.

Ed (sloweddi) said...

This site has so many knots it might as well be a berry farm :)
With the added bonus of being animated !!

Anonymous said...

Trucker's Hitch, all day long

A.J. said...

Michael - A trucker's hitch is probably the most useful on a non-union show where ratchet straps are too rich for the budget. Saddly, those who need it the most know it the least. As for the up-high knot, I've heard about as many names for it as I've seen ways to tie it.

But if you really want to be popular on set, know how to weave a paracord bracelet. :)

Nathan - Please further elaborate on this "clove hitch with an asshole" knot. And I'm sure all your knots are fabulous, asshole or not.

Ed - Love that site. It's how I learned to tie everything I know how to tie.

Anonymous - More people should learn how to properly tie one.

Nathan said...


I don't know how to describe it other than to say, the clove-hitch went lower on the pipe to be hoisted and the "asshole" went a foot or so above it -- balanced to keep the pipe hanging vertical without tipping or swinging. It's not a knot that was going to let go unless you released the tension on it, but, on the other hand, it's not something I'd volunteer to stand underneath for any length of time either. :)

If I get energetic tomorrow, I'll take a pic and email it to you. Then you can tell me what it's really called. (Or you can tell me it's the daftest knot ever.)

Michael Taylor said...

The knot Nathan is talking about -- a great name, BTW -- is used mostly by grips who have to lift long objects (speed rail, steel pipe, or 2-by-4s) up the side of a building, to a green bed, or up to a camera or lighting platform. The clove hitch keeps the item from coming loose, while the "asshole" keeps it vertical and thus minimizes the chances of breaking windows or doing other damage on the way up or down.

It's a great knot, simple and very useful.

The up-high knot I'm familiar with is used by grips and juicers for hanging lamps (or anything heavy) from the wooden rail up high on a sound stage. When you're ready to tie the load off, you take the loose end of the rope (the tight end is already over the rail) back under the rail and around the tight end -- that's called "taking a wrap". Once you've taken a wrap this way, you can hold a Big Eye 10K with one hand, if necessary. To complete the tie-off, you take the loose end back over the rail and around the tight end again, tying two half-hitches. For a light load, one half-hitch will do, but I usually use two. Safety first.

Properly done, this knot is very strong -- the rope or rail will break before it comes apart. It's easy to tie, and more important, easy to untie while maintaining control of a heavy load dangling below. It's the standard knot for use up high at the studios, which means anybody can go up and do whatever is necessary without having to decode somebody else's unique variation on the Gordian Knot.

Like all knots, though, it's a lot easier to demonstrate than describe.

There's some truth to the adage "if you can't tie a knot, tie a lot," but that won't make life easy for your fellow grips or juicers up high.

A.J. said...

Nathan - Based on your description, I think I know what you're talking about. I think we mostly use it to send things like rolls of gel up a side of a building. Sending a drop line down is easier than taking the stairs.

Michael - I know about five different ways to tie the "up-high" knot. They're all more or less the same with a little variation here and there, and they were all taught to me by different people who swore that their way is the one and only correct way. After all, they've "been doing this for XX amount of years and nothing's ever fallen." But I think that's a whole other post. :)

Anonymous said...

the knot Nathan is referring to is a variation on a timber hitch or killick hitch. also useful for tying off a frame to a cylindrical object such as a streetlamp.

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