A monkey’s fist or monkey paw is a type of knot, so named because it looks somewhat like a small bunched fist/paw. It is tied at the end of a rope to serve as a weight, making it easier to throw, and also as an ornamental knot.
The knot is usually tied around a small weight, such as a stone, marble, tight fold of paper, grapeshot, or a piece of wood. A thicker line will require a larger object in the center to hold the shape of the knot. Another variation of the monkey’s fist knot omits the use of an internal object as a weight and rather uses the spare end which gets tucked back into the knot. This results in a nicer looking knot of a lesser weight, minimizing the potential danger of hurting someone with the knot when hauling line.
The monkey’s fist knot is most often used as the weight in a heaving line. Heaving line is a lightweight line with a weight at the end, made to be thrown between a ship and the shore, or from one ship to another, and used to pull a heavier line across. The line would have the monkey’s fist on one end, an eye splice or bowline on the other, with about 30 feet (~10 metres) of line between. A lightweight feeder line would be tied to the bowline, then the weighted monkey’s fist could be hurled between ship and dock. The other end of the lightweight line would be attached to a heaver-weight line, allowing it to be drawn to the target easily.
Another application of this knot is to use it as a melee weapon called slungshot. Slungshots are illegal in many places.
Monkey’s fist, Monkey’s paw, Slungshot.
1. Wrap the rope three times around four of your fingers.
2. Make three more turns around the first turns. It helps if you remove two middle fingers from the knot to make space for the rope.
3. Pass the rope through the middle.
4. Pass the rope back around the middle.
5. Make three turns around the middle.
6. Tie an overhand knot at the end of the line. Alternatively you can use some other round object as a core.
7. Tuck the overhand knot or the round object in the middle.
8. Tighten the knot by pulling on the next turn until reaching the end of the line.