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How to Make a Turk's Head Knot or Sailor Jewelry

Turk's head knots go back centuries. They were and still are useful for numerous applications especially on sailing vessels. The knot could be used as foot or hand holds on ropes, in lifelines and on the up and down (king) spoke of the ship's steering wheel - when it is upright, it indicates the rudder is centrally located. Shown below is the knot in shipboard netting. Some racing crews wear a turk's head knot bracelet or anklet.

But landlubbers also love the knot for its many practical and decorative uses as hand grips on fishing poles, archery bows, vaulting poles and in basketry, bell ropes, napkin rings as well as jewelry.

As you can see the turk's head knot is actually a closed loop braid. It's usually formed circularly but it can also be worked flat for a mat.

There is a specific terminology for variations of this knot. Take this blue 3-lead, 10-bight Turk's head knot for example. The 3 lead refers to the main strands used - i.e. 3 pairs of working strands. The bights refer the number of crossings.

You work either with just your hands or weave it around something cylindrical like a can. The ends are tucked in and usually made more secure with glue or sewing. Game to try? Then here are the tutorials to get you started.

1. Turtledove on wrote the instructions for how to make a sailor's knot bracelet using nylon cord.

2. Selfmadesailor's quick video on how to make a turk's head knot also shows you how it can be converted into a ball - this is a super idea for making knotted jewelry albeit with finer cord than he is using!

This site by Willeke also shows you how to make simple knotted bracelets or necklaces with one or more turk's head knots as shown on the left.

3.Selfmadesailor has another great video tutorial where he shows us how to make the turk's head knot in a flat fashion to create a mat. But watch what he does at the end where he easily turns it into a cylindrical turk's head knot like for a bracelet.

4. One super site with free tutorials on knotting is Stormdrane's blog.  He has a useful idea for making turk's head knot lanyards which can decorate anything from cell phones to Swiss Army knives as well as ways to make luggage handle wraps - helps identify your black bag amongst zillions of other black bags at airports! Also check out his videos on Youtube.

5. For utter inspiration on colored cords and the introduction of beads into turk's head knot bracelets is George who writes the Whatknotnow blog and has an Etsy store. This black one with red beads is a stunner! I've also added his white one with teal beads below which shows off his workmanship.

Related Tutorial Post
Be prepared with paracord survival bracelets

Principles of Turk's Head Knot
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM


  1. Readers who would like to know more about the design of Turks Head Knots should find a copy of the knotters "bible" The Ashley Book of Knots published in 1944. This reference remains the definitive source of practical how-to information about Turks Heads and thousands of other knots. Here's a link to Amazon:

  2. Beautiful! I love the sturdiness of those knots. This reminds me a lot of making hemp bracelets this summer, when I was a camp counselor. These look nicer than what we did :-)

  3. Thanks George for that informative reference which I missed.

  4. Great bracelets/knots, they are still popular with males and females alike...I've always liked this kind of thing, though I haven't worn one in many many years...must be the Hippie coming out in me??? :0)


  5. Beautiful work! Incorporating the beads gives it an added flare. The green one reminded me of a crocheted style bracelet.

  6. Turk's heads look awesome! I have a cotton one tied snugly around my ankle, it's about 3 inches wide!

  7. i got one they r so cooooooooooollllll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Hi,

    SelfMadeSailor here... Thanks for recommending some of our YouTube videos on Turks Head knots!

    I thought your readers might also want to check out our website as well - - lots of knotting and splicing videos there as well as other sailing-related stuff.

    Keep up the good work!


  9. I'm really liking these instructions. They appear to be simpler than the Turk's Head knot that's posted on this blog Jan. 2011 (close to a year after this post).
    Think I should start with this less complicated version and work my way up. :)

  10. Thanks so much for the references and videos. I really appreciate your posts!


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