Cat O Nine Tails

How to Make a Cat of Nine Tails

I have already made two cat o nine tails in the past, but I thought this time I would record my progress of making one.

In this particular case I used polished hemp, white cotton and also some bamboo.

Star Knot

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I started off by measuring nine pieces of polished hemp cord of the same length. I then used 7 of the pieces and tied a star knot that was wrapped around the remaining two pieces of hemp. The idea was that the remaining two pieces would then be used to hang the cat o nine tails when not in use.

Once the star knot was completed I would then pass the 9 lengths of cord through

Turks Head 4x19

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the centre of the bamboo that would act as the handle for my cat. The bamboo handle was then covered in a Turks Head 4 bites by 19 leads, using thinner polished hemp and the white cotton cord to make if more decorative. I also wanted to leave some of the bamboo showing, as it is a rather nice wood visually.

I gave the handle a little more decoration and included a globe type knot at the end to lock the nine tails in place. To be able to hang the Cat o Nine Tails is added a Lanyard knot to then end. Within each of the nine tails I tied three blood knots in each length

During the process of making the cat I also made a finishing solution of 50% PVA

Cat of Nine Tails

Drying in the sun after coating with finishing solution – Click to Enlarge

(wood glue) to 50% water, which I coated onto the knots of the handle. I find this protects the knot work and I can then wash it in future if it gets grubby.

……… and then here is the finished Cat O Nine Tails.


Cat O Nine Tails

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Cat O Nine Tails

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Cat O Nine Tails — 8 Comments

  1. I’m a bit late to the party on this, but I want to tell you what a terrific job you’ve done on this. May I ask what size cord you used for the tails?

    • Many thanks for your comments Pete. I will have to get the measuring stick out and give you a breakdown of what the different sized cordage was used.

      I will reply to this post again shortly.


  2. Pete,
    I have been trying to locate full plans for a “Roman Rope” Cat of 9 Tails. You, Sir, have exactly what I have been searching for! Please contact me with any, and all information on obtaining your total plans for constructing this beauty. I have been looking for so long, please tell me you can assist me in my project. Thanking you in advance for your help and kindness, I am,


    Bob – Robert F. Myers

  3. I’m a couple years late it seems, but I have a few questions:
    -What stops the part with all the tails from slipping off then end when used? Is it just the tightness of the knots, or is there a hole/groove that they’re held on with?

    -What length cord was used for the handle? And for the tails?

    • Hello Jake

      Cheers for visiting this site.

      OK, it was a long time ago since I made this, but if I recall correctly all the strands run through the length of the bamboo. So really this means that the Star Knot is holding them all in place. Then to stop is slipping the other way the Turks Head is nice an tight around the 9 strands.

      Sorry I do not recall the length of cord that was used in efferent sections.

    • Hello Michael, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment on this site. When it comes to documentation for creating a Cat of Nine Tails, I do not follow in particular pattern. If you think about it this way a Cat of Nine Tails is a Ditty Bag Handle, but usually with more tails. A bell rope is really an unfinished cat. They are all forms of a decorative knotted handle. If you are new to knotting and looking for projects and ideas, then you may be interest in this book review on Des’s Knotting book:

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