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Knot List: Butcher’s Knot ‐ Step-by-Step

Butcher's Knot, Showing Name
Butcher's Knot, Step-by-Step Animation

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Butcher’s Knot Tying

Pass the cord around the object, tie an overhand knot around the standing end, and pull tight. Form a loop around your fingers, slide the loop onto the short end, and pull both ends to tighten the knot. Finally trim the long end.

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Butcher’s Knot Details

Uses: The Butchers Knot ( ABOK # 183, p 36) is commonly used to prepare meat for roasting. However, it is useful elsewhere, e.g., making the first loop around a package. The initial knot creates a type of noose and, as shown in the animation, it does cinch down around an object. However, when free, it cannot slip completely undone because of the orientation of the Overhand Knot . The knotted part of the working end functions as a crude sheave, or pulley, providing a two to one advantage which makes for very effective tightening.

Variations: The version shown in the animation is reasonably secure and probably the one most commonly used. However, there are many variations. The initial loop can literally be formed using a Noose .

Pictures of Packer

Packer’s Knot

Packer’s Knot

The Packer’s Knot ( ABOK # 187, p 37) is a more secure variation which employs a Figure 8 Knot around the standing end instead of the Overhand Knot. Ashley says “…it is the one generally tied by the more skillful butchers.” The arrow shows the path taken by the end when the loop is finally placed.

Pictures of Corned Beef Knot

Corned Beef Knot

Corned Beef Knot

The Corned Beef Knot is even better ( ABOK # 191, p 38): after Frame 3 the end would be tied back to itself using a Buntline Hitch , which is secure but allows the loop to be tightened until the final half hitch is completed (picture on right). Ashley writes that for the preparation of corned beef or salt pork: “It is probably the best knot for the purpose.” This is because it can be tightened at intervals but holds well in between. The arrow shows the path taken by the end when the loop is finally placed.

Advantages: The Butchers knot can be tied very quickly. Indeed, a professional butcher ties it so quickly that it is very difficult to observe the steps. It also wastes very little string because the knot can be tied while one end is still attached to the coil.

Disadvantages: This knot is adequately secure for its intended purpose. However, when more reliability is needed, e.g., when wrapping a package for mailing, an initial Butcher’s knot is followed by additional turns and completed with more half knots or half hitches.

Disclaimer: Any activity that involves ropes is potentially hazardous. Lives may be at risk – possibly your own. Considerable attention and effort have been made to ensure that these descriptions are accurate. However, many critical factors cannot be controlled, including: the choice of materials; the age, size, and condition of ropes; and the accuracy with which these descriptions have been followed. No responsibility is accepted for incidents arising from the use of this material.

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

 I have been asked to make this online tutorial many times during butcher demonstrations.  It’s second nature to me and I do this process pretty fast in real life so it looks a bit scary to anyone hoping to recreate it at home.  When I am teaching I also find it hard to get the information to stick with someone.  Whilst they can do the knot with me stood there giving them a few prompts they soon loose the steps.

So here it is, the butcher knot, are you ready to take it on?
How to tie a butcher knot
There are photos for each step of the knot and yes, I used a gin bottle not a piece of meat……..

  1. With the piece of meat parallel to you bring the butcher string under the meat.  I would advise that the ball of string is in a plastic container on the floor- keeping it away from the meat keeps the ball clean and dry.

 2. Bring the end of the string back towards you over the top and keep it on the left hand side of the bottom string.

 3. Bring the end of the string under the bottom string.

 4. Take the end of the string up towards the top left.

 5. The end of the string now goes underneath the top string which forms a loop- make sure the loop is big enough to bring the string through in the next step.

 6.  Bring the end of the string through the loop.

 7. Gentle bring the knot together by pulling on the end of the string.  Do not tighten it too much as it needs to slip along the bottom string to tighten on the meat in the next step.

 8. To tighten the knot hold the bottom string and pull towards yourself.  I find it easier to take the knot away from me over the top of the meat and then pull it towards me.  This allows me to keep my knots in a perfect line along the top of the meat- you really don’t need to worry about this until you have done so many of these knots that straight lines matter!
The tightness of the string all depends on what you are rolling.  If you are stuffing the meat with something you can apply less pressure and tighten the string less so you don’t push out the stuffing.  Just aim to keep the meat at an even thickness.

 9. We now have to secure the knot.  Take the bottom string and make a loop around your finger and thumb.  Grab the top string (the loose end sticking up from the knot), and drop the loop over the top.

 10. Hold the bottom string and the top and tighten the securing knot.

 11. Trim the top and bottom strings to leave two neat ends.

Repeat the process along the whole length of the meat.  I usually leave about and inch between my strings but you can put in as many as you think you need to keep the joint of meat secure and even.
In case you are wondering why butchers use string, it’s like magic!  When we remove bones, which gives meat structure to hold its shape, adding string gives us the ability to give back it’s shape, which allows you to cook it evenly and makes it easier to carve once cooked.  See, magic!  
Coming next in my butcher series is trussing a chicken.  Trust me it’s not as rude as it sounds!

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  1. Anne Parkinson Cade Saturday, 19 March 2016 at 12:59:00 GMT-6

    Thank you , thank you , thank you , that said I’m not sure I can do it without you shouting in my lug hole .

    Reply Delete


    1. Elyse Chatterton Saturday, 19 March 2016 at 14:22:00 GMT-6

      Get practicing and I can always shout at you on skype!



    2. Reply
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