How to Retie Straw Bales: Part Two –

Written by Andrew Morrison

On November 16th, I wrote a blog entry about how to retie straw bales, the new way! The new way is to use the Miller’s knot instead of the trucker’s hitch which has been used for years. In the first half of this two part entry, I showed you the basics of how the knot works and why I use it on all my straw bale homes. In this entry, I have included a video that shows you, in depth, how to tie the knot….well, you know what I mean.

Watch closely as the video below walks you through the steps of how to retie straw bales using the miller’s knot. If you have questions about how this knot works or why it is such a powerful tool for you as a straw bale builder, please comment below and I will try to quickly answer your question.

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18 Responses

  1. I am new to this concept of straw bale building and was watching you tie the Milers knot. Why is this important and how does it make the bails stronger?

  2. Teri,
    I am sorry I did not post this or respond earlier. It got tied up in my blog filters. The knot is really strong and holds tension really well. If you use strong twine like “super blue” you can pull the bales really tight with this knot which makes the bales more dense and easier to work with.

  3. I am wondering, what is the PSI of those bales? Before they are retied and after, also when they are already
    ensamble in the frame and re-strengten with the needle?

    I am not a buirlder and I have purchased severalp DVDs
    and one Book and nobody addresses this issue.

    I was asked this question by an Engeneer who is going to
    design my home.

    If this question is dumb excuse me, as I said above I am trying to learn and this individual hasn’t even seen the DVDs neither the book.

    So if he doesn’t know what he is talking about neither do I.

    You are the expert, if there is an answer enlighten us.

    I thank you,


  4. Sonia,
    The bale density varies depending on the field baling methods and machinery. I use bales that are at least 7 pounds per cubic foot in density, but that all changes on each batch of bales and must be checked on the job site prior to construction. My engineer uses a number of 40 psi for engineering design purposes; however, that is a different number than the actual density of the bales. I hope this helps.

  5. Hey Andrew,

    Just watched your Building with Straw Bales (Post and Beam) video. You don’t retie the bales in this video. Is retying a new technique or only used for load-bearing? Just wondering if retying is common for both load-bearing and post and beam. Thanks!

  6. Andrew —

    I figured it out – there’s a little detail I was getting wrong which makes all the difference — when you bring the twine through to make the loop there are two places to bring it up — I was bringing it up through the wrong place — nevermind — I figured it out — knots are frustrating to learn from a video!!! I must have watched it 100 times — but now I know how — and this will come in very handy — I use straw about 1 flake at a time and the bale explodes when you cut it – now I can tie off the rest and use it 1/3 bale at a time! Now to find me one a them needle things…
    Thanks for this website — very interesting info here.


  7. Andrew,
    Me again – can you tell me where to get one of those straw needle tool things to send the baling twine through the bale?
    Our Tractor Supply Store people don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. That’s the only type of store like that we have around here (Omaha, NE) Is there a name for the thing?

  8. Hi Jan. It’s called a bale needle and you can’t buy them at any store I’ve ever heard of. You need to have them made. You’ll want at least two for any reasonable size project. You can buy the plans for them by clicking here. Take the plans to a metal worker and you will have a set (or more) in a few days. I like to make mine out of stainless steel as that stops them from rusting. I also spray paint them hot pink so that they are easy to keep track of on the job site. Otherwise they end up a permanent artifact buried in the walls of the house!

  9. Thanks, Andrew — I guess that explains why they didn’t know what I was talking about at Tractor Supply… they’re kind of like a huge crochet hook. Do you have a patent? Someone ought to make them up to sell — ready made. Thank God I finally figured out how to do the millers knot – I was about to have a hissy fit! Thanks again, Jan

  10. HI Jan. I used to sell the needles ready made, but the shipping became such a hassle that we stopped making them. They are expensive to ship and seemed to get lost in the mail a lot. Now we just sell the design so people can have them made up locally. This is especially important for folks overseas as shipping there was crazy expensive. Glad you got the knot!

  11. I just want to thank you for posting the video on tying the knot. I bale Pinestraw with a press that utilizes an air cylinder and desperately needed that knot. It wad a blessing to mr to find it on your site.

  12. Hi, great info and I’m looking forward to the workshop. I am interested in the baling needle. the link for the plans is not working. Can you please send the info on where to get or better the plans to make a needle? thank you.

  13. i have watched over and over your part 2 of bale tying. I made my own hay baler (wood) and tie the bales as they come down. i get a pretty good knot but looking for a tighter knot. do you have a diagram of how you tie the knot???

  14. I don’t have a diagram. Sorry. It is a really tight knot when tied properly. The key is to use, in your case, the baler to apply the pressure ands the knot to hold that pressure rather than to ask the knot to tension the bale while being tied. You can also add a half hitch after you tie the knot if it is slipping.

  15. I just realized that i did not send you a thank you note last year. I took your suggestion regarding putting more pressure on the bale at the end of baler before tying the bale. it worked pretty good and the bales were tighter. I developed another hand made (wood) baler (from plans on internet), however you can only bale one bale at a time. Very time consuming, but i get a tighter bale. I am using regular baling twine and it help in making better bales. thanks again. sorry i did not answer your reply before. bill mcdermott

  16. I have no idea what I’m doing but Thank you so much. I really want to create an adjoining kitchen once I saw a door hole thru the side of the house. I would also like to have an outside shower/hot tub on the other side of the house. What would you advise to make a seamless connection to the house and the straw bale addition??

    Thank you,

  17. Hi Rae. Thanks for your message. I can help you detail out a connection if that feels like a plan for you. You can reach me at [email protected] to talk about the details. I charge $150/hr and imagine we can get all the details you need in place within that time frame. Let me know if you want help. Cheers.

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