Rediscovering the Tourniquet Lashing!

Other Places on the site, I’ve talked about John Thurman, an influential British Scouter. He was the head of the famous Gilwell Scout Park in England for some time. In addition, he wrote many good books on various topics of Scouting. One of his biggest contributions is in the field of Pioneering. He wrote many books on Pioneering Projects and activities. On another Post, I shared his thoughts and directions for the Japanese Square Lashing.

In this post, I’d like to share another Lashing pioneered by John Thurman: The Tourniquet Lashing, from his book,“Pioneering Principles” (1962). This is a particularly useful lashing for demonstrations or anything where a really quick lashing is needed. I have used it myself on the “Ten Minute Tower”, and can testify to its usefulness. So, without further ado, here is John Thurman’s thoughts and instructions on the Tourniquet Lashing!

The Tourniquet Lashing

This will shock the purists, but I am unrepentant.

Imagine a big Scout Rally with the main attraction publicized all over the town; “Pioneering Display”. If the publicity has been good along comes the public, the Mayor and Corporation, and the mums and dads. The order is given; the Scouts rush on carrying a tremendous assortment of ropes and spars. Expectation is very great. The Scouts start work with a will and they try very hard, but the minutes and the half-hours pass and all over the arena Scouts of various sizes are putting on square lashings, diagonal lashings, and possibly other lashings as well – and they are probably enjoying doing it. But the audience cannot really see what is happening and the expectation of the crowd subsides gradually into the boredom associated with any English summer afternoon when much has been promised and little is being achieved. The spectators remember pressing engagements, the Mayor begins to look at his watch, the District Commissioner becomes increasingly harassed and runs out of small talk. The Scoutmaster in charge knows that Lashing should not be hurried and yet wants to hurry it. Eventually the project or projects appear, but too late; no one is really interested now but thinking of tea and gardens. They have been kept waiting too long. Not an imaginary picture I assure you – I’ve seen it – I expect you have too.

How can we overcome a situation like this? The thing that is taking the time is the lashing, the most important and the least spectacular part of any enterprise in Pioneering. Well, there can be a certain amount of pre-lashing so that for the final erection of the bridge or the tower a very small number of lashings have to be put on, but even this can take a long time. That is why I commend to you for display work the Tourniquet Lashing. It is my own idea and I don’t think you will find it in any other book. As I said earlier, I am sure it will shock many people, but I hope it may shock some of you into trying it. It does work!

Take a simple strop and then with a mallet handle or the butt of a stave you can fix two spars together by using the process of a tourniquet. Unless you are going to have a Scout holding the strainer of the tourniquet (an unpopular assignment) you must have a loop of rope or a piece of sisal, as shewn in the drawing, to fix it in place after tightening. Use this method for display purposes and I promise you that with a little practice you can put on a Pioneering Display that really does come up to expectations.

A great many valuable commercial discoveries have emanated from the thought of how to use something for a purpose for which it was not intended. Something is invented for one purpose and then ingenuity finds a different use for it. In lashing I cannot offer anything very profound except the tourniquet lashing.

Tourniquet Lashing

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2 Comments on "Rediscovering the Tourniquet Lashing!"

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Sam L.

Never seen that before! Thanks!


Thanks for the comment! I’m glad you enjoyed the post!