Pioneering Program Curriculum IV: Square Lashing!

This is the fourth post in a series that will eventually comprise an activity-based, unit pioneering program curriculum.

SUPPORTING VIDEO: How to Tie a Mark II Square Lashing

IV. Simply speaking, Pioneering can be seen as building structures by lashing together spars. In most cases, the lashing that is used is the square lashing. For ease, simplicity and above all efficiency, the square lashing used here is the Mark II Square Lashing.

Click on the Images, and then click on them again for a Larger View.


  • A. Scouts will demonstrate they can tie a proper Mark II Square Lashing by:
  •       1) positioning their lashing rope so that the crossbar is initially supported
  •       2) completing three neat, tight wraps
  •       3) making the transition from wrapping to frapping
  •       4) completing two tight fraps and finishing with a square knot
  •  B. Scouts will demonstrate they can join two Scout Staves at 90° angles, by using a properly-tied square lashing.


  • Crossbar(s) suspended between to uprights or supports, about 3 feet high and long enough so that each Scout can stand in front with enough room to practice
  • Two Scout Staves for each Scout
  • One 10-foot x 1/4-inch manila lashing rope for each Scout
  • One 6-foot x 1/4-onch manila lashing rope for each Scout


1) Instructor crouches down or sits in a chair in front of a crossbar. A Scout Stave is leaning against the bar on the other side. Scouts are gathered behind and to the sides of the instructor, so they can watch his hands as he demonstrates the Mark II Square Lashing while narrating:

  • First thing is to halve the rope.
  • Place the middle of the rope behind the vertical spar and under the horizontal (crossing) spar.
  • Start the wraps by working both ends at the same time bringing them up in front of and over the horizontal spar and then crossing behind the vertical spar.
  • Start the second wrap by carrying both ends to the front, bringing them down over the horizontal spar and down behind the vertical spar. Cross them underneath.
  • Just like the first wrap, bring the ends up in front of and up over the horizontal spar and then cross them a final time behind the vertical spar. You now have three wraps. Carry both ends to the front on top of the crossing spar.
  • To begin the fraps, cross the ends over the top of the wraps.
  • Pull the rope tightly, around the wraps between the spars, and after two fraps, finish with a square knot.

Note:  An Instructor monitors each of the following steps:

SImple Lashing Pole. Note that the vertical spars are behind the crossing spar.
Simple Lashing Pole. Notice the vertical spars are behind the crossing spar.

2) Using a Scout Stave and a 10-foot lashing rope, each Scout takes a position in front of the crossbar, which will serve as the horizontal (crossing) spar. They place their Scout Stave behind the crossbar.

3) Scouts halve their rope and place it behind their Scout Stave with an end on either side and under the horizontal spar.

4) Scouts start theirs wraps, keeping them neat, even, and flush to one another.

5) After three wraps, Scouts bring the ends of the rope to the front and cross them to begin their wraps.

6) Pulling their two fraps tightly, Scouts finish their lashing with a square knot.


1) Each Scout is given two Scout Staves and a 6-foot lashing rope and instructed to lash the poles together in the middle with a neat, tight square lashing.

INTERPATROL COMPETITIONSIndoor Ladder Race and Free-Standing Flagpole


Japanese Mark II Square Lashing


VIEW VIDEO: How to Tie the Mark II Square Lashing

James Keller, Director of the Pioneering area at the 2013 National Jamboree, related a story about the Japanese Mark II Square Lashing. He described how back in 1993, Adolph Peschke had mandated that his staff should just use the Japanese Mark II Square Lashing for the national jamboree’s pioneering projects. Some of the Pioneering staff back then had not as of yet become familiar with the lashing, and at first, some were a little hesitant to adopt it. But, after becoming acquainted, their overwhelming consensus was, why had they wasted so much time over the years using the traditional Square Lashing.

Wraps that are even and snug! Fraps that are tight!
Scouts Lashing on the Transoms of a Single A-Frame Bridges at the 2013 Jamboree

The following text is by Adolph E. Peschke as presented in the 1998 printing of the 1993 edition of the Pioneering Merit Badge Pamphlet:

The Japanese Mark II Square Lashing has found its way into Scouting in the United States through Wood Badge training in England, and because of the work of John Thurman, camp chief of Gilwell. He observed it on one of his many world trips related to Wood Badge training.

This lashing is a straightforward approach to the task of lashing two spars together. Begin by placing the spars in the desired position. Now fold your lashing rope in half.

The midpoint of the rope is placed around the vertical spar and just under the crossing spar (see figure 108). Now work both ends of the rope at the same time to make three wraps around the spars (see figure 109).

After completing the three wraps, bring the two ends up between the spars in opposite directions to make the frapping turns around the wraps (see figure 110). Pull the frapping turns tight, and complete the lashing by tying the two ends with a Square Knot (see figure 111). It’s that simple.

Tying the Japanese Mark II Square Lashing
Tying the Japanese Mark II Square Lashing

The advantage of this lashing is that you’re working both ends of the rope at the same time. This makes it much quicker to tie since each hand has less rope to pull through. This lashing has the same holding effect as both the traditional and modified Square Lashings.

If more support is needed for the crossing spar, a Clove Hitch can be tied at the midpoint of the rope. Tie the Clove Hitch to the vertical spar just below the crossing spar. You can rest the crossing spar on the Clove Hitch as the lashing is being made. Then use both ends to complete the lashing as described above.

Steps to take when tying the Japanese Mark II Square Lashing: Start first wrap, continue first wrap, complete first wrap, cross ropes in the back, continue second wrap under cross spar, cross ropes underneath, send ropes to the front, start 3rd wrap, continue third wrap over cross spar, in the back, cross on top, three wraps completed, prepare to frap. Cross ropes on top of wraps, take frapping turns between spars, complete two tight fraps, finish up with a square knot.
Photographed Procedure (First click on the above image, then for a a full-page view, start second wrap, click on smaller image that appears.)

View Video on How and Why to Tie the Japanese Mark II Square Lashing.

  1. — Up / Over / Behind / Cross —
  2. — Down / Over / Behind / Cross —
  3. — Up / Over / Behind / Cross —
  4. — Front / Cross / Down —
  5. — Cross / Up / Knot —