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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

I’m senior editor at MAKE and have worked on MAKE magazine since the first issue. I’m a word nerd who particularly loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon as a whole. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for the ideal alpine lake or hunting for snow to feed my inner snowboard addict.

The maker movement provides me with endless inspiration, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. The specific beat I cover is art, and I’m a huge proponent of STEAM (as opposed to STEM). After all, the first thing most of us ever made was art.

Contact me at goli (at) makermedia (dot) com.


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Comments

  1. Rob says:

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

    Thanks, MAKE! :)

  2. GZ says:

    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!

    1. Goli Mohammadi says:

      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”?

      1. Kozz says:

        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. :)

      2. Goli Mohammadi says:

        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.”

      3. GZ says:

        @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.

      4. Dave Oei says:

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

  3. sam says:

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

  4. eldphm says:

    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.

  5. skr says:

    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!

    1. eldphm says:

      @skr, I was talking about the scaffolding in Hong Kong not in Thailand.

      I you check the pictures here
      http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/8/view/6888/hong-kong-bamboo-scaffolding.html

      You can see the similarities with the technique discussed here.

  6. Piotr says:

    Tripod lashing is a great skill!

  7. Dave Oei says:

    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!

  8. Larry Green says:

    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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