Why Freemasons "Square" The Lodge Room.
trestle board is a design board for the Master Workman (Architect) to
draw his plans and designs upon to give the workmen an outline of the work to be
performed. In today's terms, we might call it a blueprint.
It is one of the 3 Movable jewels.
board is a framework consisting of (usually 3) vertical, slanted supports (or
legs) with one or more horizontal crosspieces on which to hang or display an
item. Today, it is better known as an "easel".
jurisdictions around the world call it a tracing board. It would be
somewhat of a "circular logic" task to
argue the difference, as, while neither can be fully proven (in historical
writings), the "Tracing board" may very well have predeceded (come before) the
use of the word "Trestleboard" because lodges in Europe (which pre-date American lodges), use the word "Tracing Board".
Hiram's Tracing Board: Hiram Abif's tracing board is
believed to have been made of wood, covered with a coating of wax. Each
day he would draw his Master architect's measurements and symbols into the wax
in order to instruct his Master Masons of the work that was to be accomplished.
end of the day, he would simply scrape off the wax and pour a new layer of hot
wax onto the board to ready it for the next day's work.
Board: Much later, in the
days where lodge was held in secret areas and on hills and vales, (valleys) once
lodge was in session, the Tiler (or Tyler) would draw an oblong (rectangular) or
oblong square depiction (image) into the dirt that represented the form of the
onto that tracing board was drawn the architect's plan...the working tools in
the degree that was to be worked.
Masonic Trestle Board: Through the years, the
Masonic Tracing Board progressed to charcoal or chalk on the floor of taverns
where lodges were held back in the 1700s. After the lecture, the Stewards
or the Entered Apprentice, as a lesson in secrecy, would get a mop and bucket
and remove all trace of these drawings.
obviously, was a somewhat tedious and messy procedure, so cloths or rugs were
created which could be laid onto the floor and simply folded up when the lecture
these cloths (or rugs) were placed onto a table. As time passed, they were
finally hung onto an easel...(a trestle board) much like a drawing board at a
construction site where each workman could receive clear instruction as to what
his specific participation entailed.
When the team's work was completed, it was obvious that each Master Mason not only
understood their specific part in the undertaking, but how their part (no matter
how small), contributed to the construction of the entire edifice (building).
The meaning of the words "Nothing
further remains to be done, according to ancient custom, except to disarrange
our emblems" is a reference to the now antiquated use of these
trestleboards (or tracing boards) during which the dirt on the ground was
erased or the chalk marks on the floor of these lodges was mopped or
scrubbed, to leave no trace of the form of the Lodge or the contents drawn
The reason why our lines of
travel are at right angles within the lodge and thus the reason that we "square"
the lodge is a "throwback" to the antiquity of the ritual.
If the brethren were to walk
atop the markings made in the dirt on hill and vale; atop the chalk on the floor
of the taverns; or tread upon and thus soil the cloths or rugs used to provide
the workings of that degree, the message of that lecture which was being worked
could be partially or fully destroyed.
Therefore, "Squaring the
Lodge" in a semi-military-like precision, goes back many centuries as the means
of preserving the ritual and the degrees being worked so as not to destroy the
symbolism of their markings before their usefulness on that day has been
How old is the use of Tracing Boards?
Click on the link, below, to read about this tracing board which was found during an excavation of the Mount Vesuvius volcano eruption in 79 AD,...1800 years before its discovery in 1874.
Masonic scholars note its similarities to today's Freemasonry trestle boards.
If, after you click on it, its font is too small, press your keyboard's control key at the same time as the '+' key (to the left of your backspace key) to enlarge the font.
Tracing Board Found During Pompeii Excavation
modern-day lodges now simply use a bulletin board or electronic newsletter to
notify the brethren of a degree which will be worked. Others use
PowerPoint or slide presentations.
Low Cost Lodge
Website Trestle Board:
One of the easiest
ways, today, to notify the majority of the brethren (those with internet access)
is to create a website and ask its Webmaster to include an up-to-date calendar.
Free Lodge Website
The least expensive (and
easiest) way to create a Lodge Trestle Board is to simply create a lodge e-mail
address at Yahoo! (or other provider), e.g.
(email@example.com), which comes with a public
calendar feature so that those who have internet access may simply click on the
URL (address) of the updated calendar to view the time and date of degrees to be
(You can make the calendar available publicly and still keep your
e-mail information, private).
Master should designate (request) a member who is able to keep your trestle
board updated at all times. The lodge Secretary should have all the member
contact information, but he may be over-burdened with tasks, already.