Square Knot Single Column

Square Knot Single Column

When a rigger says just “Single Column” and not something like “Lark’s Head Single Column”, this is probably what he or she is talking about.  This is a very intuitive and very fast method of tying a forward-tension Single Column, using a variation on a simple Square Knot.  This version is commonly used in classical Shibari.

While this is good for many common uses, it suffers from the weakness of all Square Knots: it can capsize.  So if there is going to be tension on the tail, be certain to add an additional overhand knot at the end to protect the knot.  I explain more and show why below.

For this tie, I used one 15′ (~5m) piece of Natural 6mm (1/4″) hemp provided by my affiliate Twisted Monk.  Check them out for some amazing hemp rope!

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Pictures & Text

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1. A Single Column is an any one thing that you want to tie to. Wrist, ankle, knee, waist, thigh, whatever. I’m choosing the knee in this case

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2. Begin with your rope folded in half

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3. Place the rope where you want it and make one wrap

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4. Grab the new wrap, a bit below bight

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5. And make a second wrap. Note that I am keeping my fingers on the wraps as I slide them around. This helps keep them parallel and helps you ensure that they all are at the same tension.

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6. If you need more rope, hold the bight in place and still and then slide your other hand (the one under the cuff) back down, clip on to the cuff again, and…

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7. …rotate some more. In this way you can feed more rope without having the strands lose their order.

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8. Normally you only go around twice, making a cuff of 4 total strands…

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9. …but in some cases, you may want to go around 3 times for 6 total strands. This will distribute force across a wider area and can be more comfortable in some cases.

If you wrap more than this, take special care that you have even tension in each strand. They tend to bunch up and become less consistent the more you wrap.

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10. Lay all the strand together and parallel

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11. Now we want to make a Square Knot in such a way that it catches all the lines of our Single Column. To do this, keep a grip on all of the strands and lay the bight end over the top of all of them.

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12. Hold it in place with your thumb.

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13. …and then run your other finger underneath the cuff and hook the bight

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14. Pull the bight underneath all the lines.

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15. Now you can tighten the cuff to the desired level. To do this pull the tail and bight *away* from the knot (in this case toward the camera) and *then* pull them way from each other to tighten. This technique keeps tension on all the strands and helps ensure that they all maintain the same tension. It also helps you see if you are over-tightening.

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16. (Not a step, I am shifting my grip to demonstrate a point) Note that you should always be able to easily slip one or two fingers under the cuff. If it is any tighter than that, it is too tight and you may risk cutting off the blood flow or causing nerve damage

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17. Now reverse tension on the tail. In this picture, the tail had been hanging down, now I have moved it so it is going upward, forming a new secondary bight.

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18. Lay the bight end of the rope on top of the tail

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19. Reach through the small loop that you just formed…

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20. …like this and hook the bight

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21. Pull through but don’t tighten too much quite yet.

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22. Let’s look at this closer. When you hooked the bight through, it will normally fold itself over like this. I find that the knot is more stable if we make one quick adjustment to flatten it before tightening.

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23. To do this, I just firmly grab the strands of the bight end like this…

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24. …and then flip my hand over like I was tightening a screw.

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25. The strands are now laying flat instead of being folded over.

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26. They also are laying on top of themselves. The strands I am pointing to are the other side of the bight end of the rope

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27. Now tighten the knot. To make this knot really tight, tighten in two stages. First just grab the tail and the bight and pull apart. This does a general tightening. If you don’t expect much stress to be put on this knot, this is probably all you need. But if you expect a lot of stress—your partner will be jerking on it, or you are using this in any suspension application—you need to tighten if further.

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28. Next hold the knot itself in one hand, then grab each individual strand and pull just that strand tight. You will be surprised at how much space you pull out of that knot. Do this for both strands of the tail…

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29. …and for both strands of the bight.

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30. This is a completed standard Square Knot Single Column. However, were may not be quite done!

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31. …If this tail is going to be an under strong tension, it can deform and become much less secure.

Tie this on your own leg at this point and pull the tail really, really hard. Your knot will probably capsize, and you will notice that one set of strands in your Single Column starts to get tighter than the other set. This is what we need to avoid

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32. In such cases, you want to add one more overhand knot to protect the original Square Knot (the one you just finished tying) from being able to be capsized

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33. To protect against that, add another overhand. Grab your tail and your bight

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34. Add another overhand knot

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35. Again, tighten in two stages. A first general tightening.

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36. And then again by grabbing the knot and tightening each individual strand.

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37. This version is much stronger. *Now* if you pull on that tail very hard, it *may* still collapse the first overhand knot, but that will protect the second and third, keeping that original Square Knot stable

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38. One more consideration: This bight is free. This can be good or bad depending on the circumstance. If you want to be able to untie the cuff without having to free the tail, leave this how it is. However, if you want to ensure that the knot *cannot* be untied without free the tail (as might be the case in a suspension), then you can do one more thing:

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39. Run the tail through the bight.

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40. This now locks the entire knot and it cannot be untied until the tail is free.

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  1. This video also make reference to a video on lift loops but I cant seem to find that content on the site

    1. Yes, I have that material shot and intended to put it together and post it shortly after this one, but other issues arose that required my attention. I will get it back on the list!

  2. Hello,

    Thank you for all the advices. I started learning your tutorials and it’s very clear and well explained.
    I had a question about that video. Is it not just as secure if we do only one knot and put the tails through the loop?
    Anyway, thanks for your amazing work.
    Have a good day


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