Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ashley Book of Knots

Ashley Book of Knots Review

I'm a newbie, as I've only had my copy of Ashley for 25 years, unlike the fellow who bought his in 1945. :^) But I want to echo most of what's been said.

If you're considering buying this book, how well it will fit your needs depends on what your needs are. I strongly recommend you read the 2 and 3 star reviews, as what they contain are valid comments about the book. Some of the criticisms that have been made of the book are:

* It's been in print for 60 years and hasn't been modernized.
* It was based on (mostly) natural fiber ropes. It doesn't have relevant discussion of more modern fibers.
* Some of the drawings can be hard to understand.
* The indexing could be better.

If you're reading this, you have access to a computer, so you can learn an enormous amount about knots from the web, including color pictures, verbose descriptions, and animations. It's a fantastic resource. Why, then, would anyone spend 50 bucks on a book like Ashley?

If you just want to learn some practical knots, then there are many books that will suit your needs (if you can't get what you want from the web for free). You can visit a library to take a look at different books.

Yet I still think Ashley's book belongs in my library (you'll have to make your own decision as to whether it belongs in your library). I still pick it up and get immersed in it a few times a year. It's fascinating reading and learning about all the different types of knots and other ropework.

There are some very practical things I've learned from this book. One of my favorites is #364, which explains how to tie a constrictor knot to fasten a hose to a hose fitting. I've used this many times over the last 20+ years. My wife complained about my using worm-drive hose clamps to hold on the machined brass fittings and I had to agree -- they hurt one's hand when tightening a connection. Ashley's method with the constrictor works perfectly -- so well, in fact, that I leave it on permanently. I use 1/8" braided nylon rope. I also use it to attached compressed air hose to its fittings. You should also be aware that it could be an emergency fix for e.g. a broken radiator clamp. I've even tied it in wire.

While I'm at it, I'll also pass on a comment about the knots I use. For 95% of the things I do (and my wife and kids tease me about how much I use rope and twine to do lifting, pulling, and lashing), I use the bowline, constrictor, span loop, and one and two half hitches (often the second hitch is slipped). I still use other knots, but one or more of those four are involved whenever I pick up a piece of rope.

Oh, and since I use the bowline more than the other knots, I'll pass on a relatively unknown way of tying this knot. I don't remember where I learned it (it wasn't from Ashley), but the method is #1788. I consider it extremely important, as once you learn it, you can tie it completely by feel, in the dark, the rain, or a snowstorm with ice-cold hands -- and do it in a few seconds (with practice). The key is to pull on the knot properly so that you feel it collapse into a bowline. This is such an important way of tying the knot, I think it should be taught to everyone. Yet I've never run across anyone who knew the method (except the person who taught it to me).

Ashley Book of Knots Overview

Describes every practical knot, what it looks like, where it comes from, and how to tie it. The book includes 4,000 knots, with all the varieties of shipboard knots as well as knots used by butchers, steeplejacks, electric linesmen, knitters, cobblers, surgeons, poachers and cowboys.

Ashley Book of Knots Specifications

The Ashley Book of Knots takes us back to a time when knots saved lives and put dinner on the table. Whether out at sea or in a pioneer cabin, knots were a part of daily life, one that is nearly lost today. But in this attractive, well-organized archive of more than 3,900 different knots--presented through 7,000 illustrations--the art of knot tying lives on, both as a historical reference and a reservoir of handy knowledge.

Available at Amazon Check Price Now!

*** Product Information and Prices Stored: Sep 22, 2010 14:59:05

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