Turks Head Bights Leads Passes

Turks Head

What Does Bights Leads and Passes Refer to on a Turks Head?

When you tie a Turks head, you are whether you know it or not creating Bights, Leads and Passes. When you first start out tying a Turks head, you are just overjoyed that you can actually tie a Turks Head. When I first learnt to tie a Turks Head, I covered almost every object that I could with it. However, over time I found that I wanted longer or wider Turks Head and the one that I had learnt did not cover all scenarios. Sometimes the Turks head looked rather narrow and stretched out. This is now where you want to start learning about Bights, Leads and Passes on a Turks Head.

Turks Head Passes

When you first tie a Turks Head, eventually you will have woven your cord as per the instructions and you will that your working end of the cord back at the beginning of where you actually started (next to the standing end of the cord. So in other words you have created a Turks Head which is just one pass. If you then take your working end and follow the original pass all the way round, you will have completed a second pass.

In the photo below, you will see that this particular Turks Head has 3 passes

Turks Head with 3 Passes

Turks Head Bights

OK, this is what I see when I have created a Turks Head. I think of the top and bottom edges of a Turks Head as having a number of petals, or in technical terms the number of bights. I the photo below you will see that this Turks Head has 5 bights. Often the larger diameter of the object you want to cover, then the more bights you may want on your Turks Head.

5 Bight Turks Head

Turks Head Leads

Now we get onto the number of leads that a Turks Head has. For me, in the very early days I found it difficult to work out how many leads there are in a Turks Head. Also the greater the number of leads the longer your Turks Head will be. So to work out the number of leads a Turks Head has I imagine that I have sliced a Turks Head as per the picture below. You can now see the number of leads is 4.

4 Lead Turks Head

So Finally, we now know that the above Turks Head is a 5 Bight, 4 Lead Turks head with 3 passes.

Calculating How Much Cordage to Use when Creating a Turks Head

I am sure that out there is a very specific formula to work out how much cordage you need to make a Turks Head. However, this is how I work out how much cordage I need to make a Turks Head. The first think you need to do is, decide on what size Turks Head you are going to make. In other words how many bights and how many leads in the Turks Head that you want to create. You will also need the size of the object that you are going to cover.

So if you are creating say a Turks Head similar to the above; then forget about the bights, you need to know the number of leads and how many passes your Turks Head is going to be.

Get the object that you are going to cover, or if using a piece of pipe (slightly larger than the object to which the TH will be finally attached to). 1. So if there are 4 leads on your Turks Head, make one turn at about 45 degrees around your object, make a second turn at about 45 degrees in the opposite direction, then a third turn opposite to the previous, then finally a fourth turn opposite to that. 2. Now you have calculated how much cordage will be required for one pass of your Turks Head. If you are going to use three passes you will need to measure the first length and then multiply that by 3. Finally add a little bit for luck and then cut your cordage. You should now have enough cordage to tie the 5 bight, 4 lead Turks Head with three passes.

If you plan on 3 passes, but the middle one is a different colour, you will need to make your second colour the same length as in the cordage length created in step 1. The in Step 2 you only to multiply the first length by 2. Well that was a clear as mud??

Here is an example if the Turks Head you are making has 4 leads:

Turn One
Turn 2
Turn 3
Turn 4

You are only making turns around your object, there is no weaving.

Turks Head Bights and Leads Combinations

You may wonder if you can have a 4 Bight, 4 Lead Turks head, or a 10 Bight 2 Lead Turks Head? Well the answer is that some variations are possible whilst others are not. So you may be interested in the Turks Head Chart, where you will be able to see what is and is not possible when creating a Turks Head.

What is a Turk's Head Used For?

As the Turks head is a rather decorative knot on it’s own, it is often used a a decorative addition to a knotting project. The Turks Head can also be used as a covering knot to hide untidy strands on a project. Turks Heads can also be tied and then laid flat to create a rope mats.

Turks Head 4 Bight 3 Lead 2 Passes

In the image below, this rope Turks Head has 4 Bights, consists of 3 Leads and the rope has been passed around the weave twice.

Turks Head
Ashley Book of Knot (ABoK) This really is the bible of all knots, consisting of over 600 pages and over 3000 diagrams Rating:
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Knot Craft and Rope Mats: 60 Ropework Projects Including 20 Mat Designs by Des Pawson Rating:
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The Marlinspike Sailor by Harvey Garret Smith If you are starting to build a collection of knotting books, then this is a great one to have in your library. Rating:
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A Practical Guide to Tying Knots by Geoffrey Budworth This book contains 75 bends, hitches, knots, bindings, loops, mats, plaits, rings and slings. Rating:
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Turks Head Bights Leads Passes — 1 Comment

  1. I am having a difficult time understanding how to calculate the number of Bights, Leads and Passes I neeed (or want) to cover a cylinder shape such as a staff. I base my calulations on the length and diameter of the staff or walking cane I wish to cover. In thepast I have used the printable templates to cover the sufface of my staff and follow the lines. It sorta works but, I want to be able to correctly figure how many feet of cord I need, etc. and do the job aas a true artistian. Can you recconded a tutorial. I read yoour arrticle, “What Does Bights Leads and Passes Refer to on a Turks Head?”. I still do not understand how to figure out how calculate the number of passses around the staff in ratio to the overall lenght, etc. As I say, the “cheat shetts” methode sometimes works but, I like to be able to tie as it should be done – traditionally. Thanks for your very informativve website! Respectfully, Will

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