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I just ran across my daughter's copy of Ashley's Book of Knots by Clifford W. Ashley.   It is probably the definitive work of knots for rigging ships and other ropework.  It is an excellent reference work for modellers, but if you intend to apply the knowledge in everyday life, be very very careful to form the knots correctly.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Oh wow, that's comprehensive.  And utterly fascinating to delve into.


In 1949, at the age of 13, I bought "Knots, Ties and Splices".  It's a little 1884 book by J Tom Burgess, rewritten in 1934 by Cdr. J Irving.  Not quite as comprehensive, and lacking information on such esoteric matters as how clew ropes in 1847 differed from the 1794 ones, but exceedingly useful nevertheless.
I've still got it.  And yes, I still do make frequent reference to it.




Apologies everyone - I’ve accepted that I’m OLD.  I’ve put down my tools and immersed myself in  activities that don’t require me to work in a cold, outdoor workshop!   I now do other things, but I do still look in to MSW.  And sometimes I comment!  When I die, I’ll let you all know!

Abandoned build: - Occre's "Spirit of Mississippi" riverboat.

Previous builds - La Petite Nella (aka AL's Mare Nostrum);  Anastasia (1:12 scratch-built sailing kayak);  USS Enterprise (Constructo);  Half Moon (Corel);  Lt Bligh's Bounty Launch (Model Shipways); Silhouet (1893 Dutch Barge)(Constructo)Mephisto (aka Constructo's 'Le Camaret' lobster boat)

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I purchased a copy of this book in 1972 when I was on working at the boatshed at HMCS Quadra.  I believe it was $40 which was a lot of money back then.

We used it that summer to create ornamental paddles with parachute cord and a slew of fancy knots.

I am sad to say someone valued it more than I (a few years later) as it "walked away".

Alan O'Neill
"only dead fish go with the flow"   :dancetl6:

Ongoing Build (31 Dec 2013) - HMS BELLEROPHON (1786), POF scratch build, scale 1:64, 74 gun 3rd rate Man of War, Arrogant Class

Member of the Model Shipwrights of Niagara, Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada (2016), and the Nautical Research Guild (since 2014)

Associate member of the Nautical Research and Model Ship Society (2021)

Offshore member of The Society of Model Shipwrights (2021)

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It has been, since the day it was published, the best knot book ever written. It's been decades since it's release in the late 40's (I think) and hundreds of knot books have come and gone, but Ashley remains firmly in first place. No other knot book has ever come close. Having said that, it's not necessarily the knot book you need. It's got over 2,000 knots in it so Ashley wasn't able to provide complete step by step instructions, although all the knots are illustrated. Many will be fine with less comprehensive knot books and online resources. The Girl Scout Handbook has a terrific knot section, for instance.




 Niagara USS Constitution 


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  • 11 months later...

"Ashley's" is an excellent book with beautiful illustrations. It is generally rather easy to follow if one is looking to tie a particular knot, bend, or splice.  That said, I believe many academics would agree that The Encyclopedia of Knots and Fancy Ropework, (Cornell, 1939) by John Hensel and Raul Graumount is a more academic work on the total of all forms of ropework. Any serious knot enthusiast should probably have a copy of both on their shelves. Additionally, George Biddlecomb's 1848 The Art of Rigging, available in paperback, is also "an oldie but goodie."

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