It’s time to talk about lashings! Don’t worry though, lashings aren’t a torture method for Scouts — they’re what we call any rope technique that holds two or more poles together. 😜The different types of lashings can even be combined, allowing you to create impressively complex objects and structures!
How do Scouts Use Lashings? Lashings are used to securely bind two or more poles or sticks together. It’s an essential skill in Scouting, and is often used to create camp structures like bridges or gadgets using natural materials. Lashings begin with a clove hitch and involve wrapping and tying ropes around poles to bind them in a structure.
P.S. This article is a guest post collaboration with Eagle Scout and AOL recipient, Michael M🙂
In this article, we’re going to explore every last lashing in the Scouts BSA Handbook! The first three lashings I’ll cover are essential to reaching First Class rank, as you’re required to both discuss and demonstrate them to advance any further. Here are the First Class rank lashing requirements in the words of Scouts BSA:
3a. Discuss when you should and should not use lashings.
3c. Demonstrate tying the square, shear, and diagonal lashings by joining two or more poles or staves together.
3d. Use lashings to make a useful camp gadget or structure.
While a second trio of lashings does show up in the Scouts BSA Handbook (tripod, round, and floor lashings), learning those three is not required. Still, I’d highly recommend that you get the hang of them! There are situations where these lashings will absolutely come in handy, and it’s so very important to be prepared 🙂
How To Tie 3 Required Lashings For Scouting
Now, let’s go over a few terms directly related to lashings! These are just the basics, but they’re still essential to know:
- Pole: The “building block” of every pioneering project! Poles are typically made of wood, and they’re what you’ll use to put your structures together. The ideal strength of the pole depends on the size of the project. When it comes to larger projects, you’ll want a tough and sturdy pole!
- Spar: A sturdy and heavy pole, made with lashing in mind! Spars are typically trimmed, have the bark stripped off, and are uniform in thickness. Instead of using sticks that you find around your campsite, spars will usually need to be brought in if you want to build a legendary pioneering project!
- Wrap: A turn made around the poles to keep them together. The number of wraps required depends on the lashing! For example, the square lashing takes three wraps, while the tripod lashing takes six to eight.
- Frap: A set of turns made after the wraps to hold them together. These are done between the poles to cinch them together and squeeze out any looseness in your wraps. A common saying when lashing in my troop was 2 wraps, 1 frap! Just like with wraps, the number of fraps needed can vary.
Scouting Tip: Make sure to skin any sticks or spars you use in your pioneering projects. The bark has a tendency to slip when weight and strain are applied. Plus, the structure will look much better without rough and bumpy bark all over!
Wondering what type of rope you should use for lashings? Well, the answer you get will depend on whom you ask! That said, here are my troop’s two go-to options for your pioneering projects:
- Pure manila rope (the best all-around rope)
- Binder twine (far better for smaller projects but can sometimes used in a pinch)
Now that you know a couple of ropes useful for lashings, let’s talk about the flip side. Here are a few rope types NOT to use for lashing:
Certain knots, such as the clove hitch and the timber hitch, are used to start and end lashings. So, if you haven’t already, I’d recommend taking a look at the ScoutSmarts Ultimate guide to Scouting knots! It breaks down all the knots you need to know. Now, ready to learn lashing? Let’s get started!
The square lashing is used to fasten two poles that are directly touching each other. These poles typically intersect at a right angle, but the square lashing can be utilized at any angle between 45 and 90 degrees! The “square” in this lashing’s name is a reference to the wraps, which are at 90 degrees to the poles. The video (0:46) below gives a great demonstration!
Practical Uses of a Square Lashing
Thanks to the way it’s designed, the square lashing can withstand both weight and strain. When tied effectively, it can be used to create support frames! Like I said before, the square lashing is commonly used to bind poles at a right angle. So, the shapes it creates will sometimes be rectangular.
There are lots of practical ways you can put the square lashing to use! Here are a few of the most common ones:
- Tying together intersecting poles to make a raft
- Binding poles at 90 degrees to create a fence
- Building simple furnishings for a den or shelter
Now for the second lashing on the list! This lashing is both practical and reliable. Like the square lashing, the shear lashing is strong and can endure great strain. Best of all, the only materials you need to create it are two poles and a rope! Learn how to tie one in this video (0:46).
Practical Uses of a Shear Lashing
The shear lashing’s purpose is to create what are known as “shear legs.” These legs are specifically intended to support weight, making the shear lashing ideal for holding up and bracing objects. When combined with two square lashings, this lashing can even be used to create an A-frame! The shear lashing would go at the top, and the square lashings at the base.
As I’m sure you can see, the Shear lashing is an essential part of the pioneering toolkit! Here are some awesome ways you can utilize it:
- Bind poles at their tops to create table legs
- Create firm and steady legs to bear the weight of a sawhorse
- Make a line of shear legs to support an aerial pathway for pedestrians
The diagonal lashing’s name fits it well, but not for the reason you might think! The “diagonal” doesn’t refer to the orientation of the poles, but rather to the way that the wraps cross the poles’ intersection. Check out this video (3:35) to learn how to tie a diagonal lashing:
Practical Uses of a Diagonal Lashing
The diagonal lashing is used to close a gap between a pair of poles. It’s the key to putting cross braces on a structure, which in turn keeps the structure’s poles from twisting and turning. You’ll often see cross braces at the center of an H-frame, fixed firmly in place in the shape of an X!
3 Bonus Essential Scout Lashings
Now, let’s go over the second trio of lashings in the Scouts BSA Handbook! As I mentioned earlier, learning these next three lashings is not required for advancement, but they’re just as practical and useful as the others we’ve learned so far. The tripod lashing is closely related to the shear lashing, as you’ll see in this video (0:55)!
Practical Uses of a Tripod Lashing
The tripod lashing is used to bind three poles in the form of…you guessed it…a tripod. The tripod is a commonly used object in Scouting, and for good reason. There are so many situations where it can be put to good use! I’d even say that being able to construct a tripod is one of the most versatile tools in a BSA Scout’s toolkit. 🙂
Want to see just how awesome and handy the tripod lashing really is? Here are just a few tasks where it can be put into action!
- Suspending a pot over a campfire
- Holding up a tarp at a campsite
- Hanging a lantern in midair
- Creating simple scaffolding
Often referred to as the “second form” of the shear lashing, the round lashing is in fact its very own type of lashing! While the shear lashing involves tying together two poles to create shear legs, the round lashing is used to attach two parallel poles to each other. This video (0:42) shows how to tie one!
Scouting Tip: If you hear someone talking about the “Shear Lashing Mark II,” they’re talking about a round lashing!
Practical Uses of a Round Lashing
This lashing lets you combine the length of two poles, greatly extending their reach. In doing so, you can create impressively tall objects, such as a flagpole! You can also use it to increase the strength of two poles, binding them together and having them add to each other.
Now, here’s the last of the lashings in the Scouts BSA Handbook! This one requires more poles than the others, although the exact number will vary depending on the size and nature of your project. Thankfully, the amount of rope it takes is pretty small in comparison!
I’m going to delve into a bit of terminology for this one below, so you’ll need to bear with me 😜 But first, check out this helpful video (4:40) demonstrating how to tie a floor lashing!
Practical Uses of a Floor Lashing
As its name suggests, the floor lashing is meant for constructing flat surfaces. It involves a group of poles (called treads) to make up the surface itself, plus two large poles for the platform to sit on (known as stringers). Of course, the floor lashing is not limited to making just a floor! There are tons of other usages as well.
Looking for some practical ways to utilize this lashing? Here are a few neat projects where you can put it to good use:
- Making the surface of a table
- Constructing a chair seat
- Building the seat of a bench
- Putting together the floor of a deck
Scouting Tip: If you prefer, you can turn to the square lashing when constructing surfaces like these! There’s some debate about which one is best. I’d suggest you experiment with each method to decide which works better for you!
Scout Lashing Structure Ideas
Now that we’ve conquered the six Scout lashings, let’s take a close look at two structures we can make with them! These two are pretty simple, but they’re a great way to show the practicality of lashings. We’re going to focus only on the use of lashings in each structure, so these will not be full how-to guides. 🙂
Lashings in an H-Frame
The H-frame is a type of trestle, and its strong makeup makes it very useful for supporting larger structures. It consists of two vertical poles (the legs), two horizontal poles (the ledgers), and two diagonal poles crossing each other at the center (the cross braces).
The legs and the ledgers are bound together using four square lashings, forming the outline of a large and empty rectangle. The cross braces go at its center, and they’re tied to the legs using four square lashings as well. And as you probably recall, the cross braces are bound to each other using a diagonal lashing!
Lashings in a Camp Table
Creating table legs with lashings is relatively simple. First, a set of shear legs are constructed by tying together a pair of poles using a shear lashing. Then, the shear legs are bound to a horizontal pole using two square lashings. This neat little process creates an A-frame! The table legs are completed by putting together a second A-frame in the very same way.
For the table top, the floor lashing is used to bind a group of poles into a single surface. The horizontal support sticks on the A-frames serve as the stringers, lashing the table top to the table legs! Pretty cool, don’t you think?
If you want to check out more incredible structures you can make with lashings, skip ahead to the 4-minute mark of this video! In it, the creator shows off some amazing things he and his friends have lashed together. 😀
Leave No Trace When Lashing
Before we wrap things up, let’s briefly talk about the importance of Leave No Trace! As I’m sure you know, the principles that go with it are a key part of the Scouting code. It’s very important to follow Leave No Trace rules and the Outdoor Code during all of your troop’s activities, and tying lashings is no exception.
Now, let’s put it into practical terms! Here are just a few ways you can put Leave No Trace into action when it comes to pioneering projects:
- Use poles supplied by your troop or council camp to avoid damaging natural habitats
- Be careful not to impact the environment if you gather poles from the outdoors
- Disassemble and remove all the structures you create
Make sure to follow these guidelines while planning and carrying out your projects. And of course, please use your best judgment while out in nature! The benefits of conserving our great outdoors are absolutely worth it, especially when you think of all the future generations of Scouts who will enjoy nature just like you.
As you can see, lashings allow you and your Schout buddies to create all sorts of impressive projects. Once you’ve mastered these six lashings, you’re going to be amazed by just how much you can build during a weekend camp! So, practice hard and study them well. It’ll be sure to benefit you in the long run! 🙂
It’s best to think of Scout lashings as an exciting new set of skills to learn, as opposed to a requirement for a rank or a badge. Let yourself have fun with it, and take pride each time you master a new one! Also, if you enjoyed what we covered here, I’d also recommend checking out any of the following articles:
- All Eagle-Required Merit Badges: Difficulty Rankings and Guides!
- Rank-Up Tips For BSA Scouts: The Fast Path To Earn First Class Rank
- The Best Troop Meeting Activities: 7 Fun Ideas For Scouts And Patrols
- 50+ Incredible BSA Scout Facts (To Wow Your Troop)
- Scout Campfire Ceremonies: How To Plan A Fun And Epic Program
Thanks for stopping by ScoutSmarts! Remember, to try out some of these neat lashings to build something awesome at your next campout or meeting. Until next time, have a fun, safe, and memorable journey in Scouting!