The Lost Art of Lashing

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

30 thoughts on “How-To: The Art of Lashing

  1. 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. 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. 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. @Kozz:


        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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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