Building a Tower by Lashings

The art of Lashing, that is binding multiple poles together with rope and knots, was one of the earliest skills that civilized humans developed. But it’s not just a skill for ancient peoples. For very little cost and an afternoon of effort with your friends and family you can build your own tower in the backyard.

With the advent of the technology of rope and knots over 10,000 years ago, humans now had a way to tie two things together in a temporary or more permanent manner. Some of the more obvious applications include sewing clothing together, weaving of cloth, sailing of ships, fishing and suturing wounds closed by the earliest surgeons. At some point the first architects and engineers discovered that by lashing multiple poles together with ropes and knots they could build towers, bridges, buildings and other structures.

Since those early days the lashing technology has not changed much but is still employed to great effect today. The Boy Scouts have a merit badge specifically for lashing skills which they call pioneering. Competitions are held frequently to see which group can build the highest structure, most interesting structure or most useful structure.

In August of 2007, three generations of our family got together while travelling in the Puget Sound region of Washington state and decided that something needed to be built that afternoon. We had numerous pine poles in the nearby woods to use and found some suitable rope as well. After some discussion we decided to start off by building a tripod tower. This simple structure is a tripod of three long pine poles lashed together. Once the tripod is spread apart, cross bracing is lashed to the upright poles to stabilize the tripod and to act as hand and footholds for ascending the tower.


tripod tipping up
Here I am tipping up the basic tripod structure with the assistance from my father David.
square lashing cross brace
My brother Mike is helping my nephew David with a square lashing on one of the lower cross bracing pieces.
square lashing cross brace
Here I am doing a square lashing on a cross brace. This piece will also act as a ladder rung so that you can climb up the tripod tower structure.
square lashing cross brace
My nephew David, myself and my brother Mike, all near the top of the tower lashing on the last level of cross bracing.
tripod tower
My nephew David, my brother Mike and myself all on the tripod tower.
three generations building tripod tower
Three generations, building together. My nephew David, my brother Mike, myself and my father David.