Surgeon's Shoelace Knot

Surgeon's Shoelace Knot diagram

Also known as the “Tibetan Trekking Knot” or “Sherpa Knot”, this is the most common secure shoelace knot. Make a Standard Shoelace Knot, but before pulling tight, run the loop around and through the middle for a second time.

Step 1:

Begin with regular “Starting Knot”

Begin with a regular Left-over-Right Starting Knot.

Step 2:

Fold right (blue) end into a “loop”

Make the right (blue) end into a “loop” by simply doubling it back onto itself.

Step 3:

Pass left (yellow) end behind loop

Take the left (yellow) end and pass it around to the right, going behind the right loop.

Step 4:

Finish wrapping around the loop

Continue the left (yellow) end around the right loop to end up in front.

Step 5:

Push left (yellow) loop into “hole”

Start to push the left (yellow) lace into the “hole” that has just been made.

Up to this point, the knot is exactly the same as the Standard Shoelace Knot.

Step 6:

Loop emerges out the right side

Pull the left (yellow) lace through the “hole” to form a “loop” on the right-hand side. Unlike the “Standard Shoelace Knot”, don't pull it tight just yet!

Step 7:

Wrap loop a second time

Wrap the right (yellow) loop around the left (blue) loop for the second time so that it once again ends up in front.

Step 8:

Feed loop through a second time

Feed the right (yellow) loop back through the “hole” for the second time. This is the “secret recipe” that makes this knot secure.

Step 9:

Pull tight to complete the knot

Now, simply pull the loops to tighten the knot. The whole twisted mess of the previous drawing will rearrange itself into exactly the same finished knot as my Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot.

Technical Details

Double Starting Knot

Knotting Terminology

Note that what is traditionally known in knotting terminology as a “Surgeon's Knot” is actually based on a Double Starting Knot rather than a double-wrapped finishing bow. Both of these knots benefit from the increased friction of the double-wrap, but that friction applies to different parts of each knot:

  • In the traditional “Surgeon's Knot”, the extra friction applies to the first stage (the starting knot), which helps keep the sides of a surgical wound from opening up – particularly while the second stage is being tied.
  • In this shoelace variation, the extra friction applies to the second stage (the finishing bow), which is exposed to daily forces and thus needs the most assistance.

NOTE: For normal activities, the Ian Knot or other standard knots should be quite secure. I believe that many people seek more secure knots because they are, without realizing, tying their shoelaces with an un-balanced “Granny Knot”. Please see my Granny Knot page that discusses this in detail.

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This page last updated: 27-Nov-2021. Copyright © 2003-2021 by Ian W. Fieggen. All rights reserved.

Website created by Ian Fieggen (aka. “Professor Shoelace”), inventor of the Ian Knot.

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