Bushcrafting Skills

The Essential Lashing Skill: The Square Lash



square lashing

Any Boy Scout at one point or another learned lashings.  One of the most useful lashings for you to always know how to do is the Square Lash.  Square lashing can be used to build beds, chairs, ladders, towers and many other things. It’s a strong lash generally used for load-bearing joints, whereas the diagonal lash is more commonly used for cross braces and places that strength isn’t required.

Rope Choices

You can lash together poles with just about any rope out there, but certain ones are better.  #36 Tarred Bankline has been a Survivor and Prepper goes to in recent years.  This rope is covered in a bit of tar that really helps it bind together with a lot of strength and you can heat up the tar and melt it onto itself like paracord.

And of course, our favorite rope to use is Spidercord, a tough paracord that comes in 100-foot hanks from our partners at Uncle Judds. Click the Image to Buy Now!


How to Lash Poles Together

The Square Lash binds together two poles at a 90-degree angle to each other. The technique is very simple. Lay one pole on the ground vertically and the other over it horizontally at a 90-degree angle. You first start with a clove hitch on the verticle pole. From there you pass the rope straight up over the horizontal pole, straight across and under the vertical pole, and over the horizontal pole on the other side. You now have a square shape with your rope and you need to do this 3 or 4 more times.

Once you have these initial wrappings done, it’s time for frapping. No, that’s not how you get a frappucino  It’s a step in lashing that actually creates the strength of this lashing. Frapping is where you pass the rope around the square lashes you just made, in between the poles. You should frap two to three times, pulling each wrap tightly before doing the next one. This constricts the lashings, making them hold on tight to the pole. Finish up with another clove hitch on one of the poles and you have completed a square knot!

For Reference please see the video below:


The whole point of learning to square lash is to use that technique to create things. You can build all kinds of things with cordage and sticks if you know how to execute a powerful square lash.

1. Ladder


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By lashing a collection of smaller poles between two longer poles you can create an effective ladder that can be used to climb or build taller structures.

2. Bed

If you add more shorter poles to a ladder design and maybe even one more down the center, you can create a pretty effective platform for a bed. It will not be something you sleep on directly but if you roll out a nice sleep pad and lay a sleeping bag on that, well, you will be off the ground and sleep well.

3. Stretcher

Dealing with physical injuries in the wild is tough. You have limited resources and you are far from professional care. One of the best ways to handle a physical injury is to move that person out of the area as quickly as possible.

A stretcher can be the best mode of transport over a forest floor. The bed and the stretcher are remarkably similar. Just don’t make it too heavy!

4. Shelter


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A quick lean-to can be made by square lashing a number of sticks together to create a wall. This would have to be covered with leaves and bark or a simple tarp would get it done.

5. Trap

If you can execute a simple wall by square lashing that you can also create some level of a trap. Even something as simple as a deep hole trap with a square lashed top to keep your prey trapped inside. You could also create a box trap if you are good at lashing and you have some time on your hands.

6. Camp Chair

You can create a pretty simple camp chair using the square lashing technique.

7. Meat Pole

If you are hanging food or meat in the backcountry you can lash a nice long pole or branch between two trees. Hang your food and meat at the center of the meat pole and it will be safe from animals like bears.

Wrap Up

The world of knots and lashing is deep, but it is basically built on several simple skills and techniques. In other words, if you can execute a simple square lashing or a simple set of knots you can be highly effective in the wild.

There are people out there who know all the knots, lashing, and cordage techniques. They are an impressive lot.

If you aspire to be one of those folks, practicing square lashing is a good start. If you don’t want to go that deep, well, you can gain a lot just from getting to know a few lashing techniques and a few knots that you can execute without fail.

How about you, what other knots do you know? How handy is it to learn different types of knots? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section!

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