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May 18, 2007

How do >YOU< tie a square lashing?

After my post about guidelines for tying square lashings a few weeks back, Hawk, a Scouter from Perth, wrote in to say that he works to different guidelines. Specifically, instead of 3 turns and 3 frapping turns, his troop uses "thrap thrice Frap Twice" and has always had safe structures using this formula. He also mentions using sisal or synthetic twine for tying lashings on rafts. I started looking around on the net for Square Lashing variations, and while the outline is the same (clove hitch, wrap, frap, clove hitch) there is considerable variations about the number of turns and so on. Here is a brief survey of the top few Google results for 'Square Lashing':

  • Wikipedia recommends "at least three" frapping turns (In my experience 4 or more turns are really untidy).
  • asks for '3 or 4' turns and 'about 3' frapping turns.
  • Glen Cockwell's site recommends 'enough turns for the strength you need' and between 2 and 5 frapping turns.

There seems to quite a bit of variation around exactly how a Square Lashing is tied. So, this week I'd like to hear from you: how does your troop tie a square lashing? Leave a comment on this post, and if you have photographs, feel free to link to them or mail them to me.


Clarke said...

The Japanese Square (Mark II) is, in my opinion, so far superior I don't use or teach the traditional square lash using clove hitches anymore - while some sources dismiss it as being suitable only for lightweight construction It is not significantly structurally different than the traditional square lash, is much simpler to construct and one can draw the frappings (two for me, three wraps) much tighter.

peter said...

Thanks Clarke- the Japanese Square Lashing is actually related to the many lashings used on old Japanese buildings, where nails are traditionally not used to fasten roof members together. Our University library has a book on Japanese construction with many Japanese lashings that I'll post at some point.

I've always battled to get a Japanese Square lashing to look neat- maybe I'm not taking the frapping turns around properly.

Jeroen van Beijnen said...

We always use 3 turns and 3 frapping. We do this because all our ropes are exactly long enough to make 3 turns and 3 frapping is we use them with our own stack of pioneering poles. Or at least we try to make them this long ;)
Why we make our ropes this long? That’s a good question. That’s the way we’ve been told to and that’s the way most scout troops in our region do it. It has always worked for us and we actually never asked why.
Might be interesting though to know which lashing can withstand the most force. Specially when you are planning large pioneering constructions.

Loy said...

It's also possible to end with a reef knot, thus connecting the part of the rope you started with, what goes before the first clove hitch.
After the last frapping you lay a reef knot.

Noel said...

clove hitch, 3 turns, 2 fraps, clove hitch. if possible, tie both ends of the clove hitch together.

Oh and here in singapore we use the japanese square lashing in competitions, particularly an event called sour grape, scouts must tie a short spar about 50cm on the 4m mark of a spar ranging from 4.2m to 4.5m. it is then raised and scouts are required to climb up and hook their scarves on the intersection while the scouts below stablizes the "cross" with nothing more den their hands and feets.

oh each team consists of 8 scouts, and the event must be done within the shortest time possible.

peter said...

Noel- that sour grape sounds like a lot of fun. I may be test-driving that in Friday night's troop meeting- I'll post photographs if I'm successful

Darren Dowling said...

Indeed I do recommend "Complete two or three more turns to make a total of three or four turns altogether." on Scouting Resources but, as always, this will depend on the type and size of poles and ropes. Much more important is getting Scouts to practice tying it in all sorts of different ways and seeing how it might fail (in a safe and supervised way).

There are no hard and fast 'rules' here because there are too many variables to take into account, but what is important, is making sure the rope is 'gripping' the pole and not the rope itself. Too many turns will make the lashing weaker not stronger as the rope will overlap on itself and is not really then holding the poles together.

On another note, I personally hate the use of the clove hitch in lashings. Personally id prefer a round turn and two half hitches to start the lashing rather than faffing about trying to make sure the start and end clove hitch dont slip and fall apart.

Ritesh said...

my scout troop in m'sia (8th ESG) uses 3-4 turns with 2-3 fraps deppending on the size of the poles. It has worked pretty well for us when we built the biggest mangroove structure n m'sia

Chris said...

i have always used and now teach my scouts of the 30th norwich sea scout troop in norfolk england, to start with clove 4 - 5 turns 4-5 frapping turns and the clove hitch to end they i try to tie the two ends together if poss as the clove hitch is a know that can come untied you need to lock it off if you want it to take great force.

Anonymous said...

I'm Very New in Scouting... and would like to search for the method to tie a Japanese Sq Lashing... Do u all post it? in this website? or Any recommendation?

Alex said...

I want to mount a cross timber (with a 6" diameter and a length of about 13') to two trees which are parallel each other about 11 feet apart. I want to use a square lashing to secure this timber about 10 feet off of the ground. Will it hurt the live, vertical trees that I want to mount this cross timber to, if I use a square lashing?

peter said...

Hi Alex.
The usual recommendation is to protect the tree by wrapping some sacking around it before you place the pole and apply the lashing. For a temporary project, this is fine. Remember that for something permanent, any tight attachment will damage the tree as it thickens in growth

Anna Litchidova said...

at our club in the Netherlands we do clove hitch, 3 turns, 3 fraps, clove hitch. Tiedy up the rope that's left by winding it around the wood and use another clove hitch to finish