About our Trestleboard
History of the 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.
This, 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 was complete.
Later, 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 thereon.
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.
Our Present Day Trestle Board
A Masonic 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 the modern day context, Trestleboards are used by lodge officers to communicate with the members. It is common practice to post electronic copies of the Trestleboard on the lodge website.