Surgeon's Shoelace Knot

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.

Completed Starting Knot

Step 1:

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

Surgeon's Shoelace Knot diagram 1

Step 2:

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

Surgeon's Shoelace Knot diagram 2

Step 3:

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

Surgeon's Shoelace Knot diagram 3

Step 4:

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

Surgeon's Shoelace Knot diagram 4

Step 5:

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.

Surgeon's Shoelace Knot diagram 5

Step 6:

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!

Surgeon's Shoelace Knot diagram 6

Step 7:

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

Surgeon's Shoelace Knot diagram 7

Step 8:

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

Surgeon's Shoelace Knot diagram 8

Step 9:

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.

Finished Knot

Finished Surgeon's Shoelace Knot

The finished “Surgeon's Shoelace Knot” should look identical to my Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot – a tight, closed knot with a symmetrical double wrap around the middle, as compared to the single wrap of simpler shoelace knots.

NOTE: Because of the non-symmetrical way of tying this knot, the result may look somewhat different. This depends on how readily the laces “rearrange” themselves during tightening.

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 benefit from the increased friction of the double-wrap, but that friction applies to different parts of the 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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