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The Lost Art of Lashing

“Our civilization was built on a technology so advanced we still don’t know everything it’s good for. But somewhere along the way, most of us seem to have forgotten how to tie these things together. Yet, if you can tie things together securely, you can make almost anything from practically nothing,” writes Gever Tulley in the intro to his lashing tutorial that appeared in MAKE Volume 20. We shared the how-to in Make: Projects, where he teaches us basic lashing technique using simple sticks and rope, and then shows off the tripod lookout tower he lashed together. Great skill to know! What else can you lash together? I’m digging this awesome spiral tower.

Lost Art of Lashing

Lost Art of Lashing Illustration

Goli Mohammadi

Goli Mohammadi

I’m a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

I was an editor for the first 40 volumes of MAKE. The maker movement provides me with endless inspiration, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. Covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made.

Contact me at snowgoli (at) gmail (dot) com.


  • Rob

    i’m going camping next weekend and this is the perfect thing for me and the kids to do!

    Thanks, MAKE! :)

  • GZ

    I really don’t understand why this picture was picked as the demonstration. A “tripod lashing” is used to make a tripod; not two square lashings. Also, a square lashing is only to be used on vertical to horizontal beams, while a diagonal lashing is meant to hold the stress of beams on a diagonal.

    The proper uses are in the names!

    • Goli Mohammadi

      Hi GZ,

      I’m a bit confused by your comment, as no mention was made of “tripod lashing” and “square lashing.” Are you referring to the picture with the illustrations where there is a “tripod lookout tower” and a “square tower”?

      • Kozz

        I think what GZ is saying is that he (and probably other readers here) is familiar with lashing methods, and that the second photo shows a pair of “square” lashings (that’s the style of lashing shown) but should be using a “tripod” lashing, since the goal was to lash three poles that create a tripod. The photo shows pole #1 and #2 connected with a square lashing, and poles #2 and #3 a second square lashing — but it’s probably not the best approach.

        Eagle Scouts reading this know what I’m talking about. :)

      • Goli Mohammadi

        Ahhh! I see what you’re saying. Thanks for the explanation, Kozz! The image is from Step 9 of the how-to in Make: Projects (http://makeprojects.com/Project/The-Lost-Art-of-Lashing/955/1), and I believe Gever was trying to offer an easier approach. He writes, “Tying 3 sticks can be tricky, so instead of lashing all 3 together you can just lash them in pairs.”

      • GZ

        @Kozz:

        Exactly.

        These knots are designed to hold tension from certain directions, and you’ll end up like Dave Oei below if you don’t use them correctly.

      • Dave Oei

        Whatever you do, take precautions and don’t end up like me!

  • http://myfriend-runningshors.blogspot.com/ sam

    It’s my first to hear it – “The Art of Lashing”, looks like interesting…

  • eldphm

    This is great!
    I always marvel at the bamboo scaffolding they use in Hong Kong, if you happen to pass by there take the chance to look at it close up.

    The first time I saw a skyscraper covered in bamboo and safety webbing I couldn’t stop staring.

    They use sturdier materials but the technique is similar.

  • skr

    Bamboo scaffolds tend to use a different technique as seen here. http://www.umanitoba.ca/cast_building/assets/…/Thai-Tie_PRINT_SMALL.pdf

    Yay lashing!

  • http://www.torbalscales.com/ Piotr

    Tripod lashing is a great skill!

  • Dave Oei

    I’ve tried this, it works, it’s fun, BUT BE CAREFUL!

    Ours was a set of three tripods, interconnected, and had been standing for a few days outside when my 5 year old set to try climb it. I decided to see if the structure would still support my weight. I climbed up, and after 10 seconds, the whole thing fell apart. With the immediate release of tension of my weight, the supporting sticks shot down with incredible force.

    One stick hit my son on the face, missing his eye but about half an inch. We got lucky. Instead of him having one eye, he got a large gash that eventually healed. Whew.

    Just be careful. I thought I was. But being new to this (as should be the case when anything is new) I should have taken above-and-beyond precautions. Have small kids stay back. Have somebody check your work. Wear eye-protection.

    Again, it’s fun. It works, but be careful!

  • http://scoutpioneering.wordpress.com Larry Green

    Lots of ideas for projects to lash together with real photos taken, and if you like, illustrations and how-to instructions as well. http://scoutponeering.com

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