|Treasure Box Series II Nearly Complete|
The day Kristen and I left to fly to Winston Salem, Patrice finished cutting out the ebony background packet and was ready to start putting it together.
This Treasure Box is twice as difficult as the first series Treasure Box, and it includes subtle complexities that makes it even more challenging. ...
It begins with this little box I made. Had been practicing chip carving in butternut & pine. Turned it into a box that right now holds small sharpening stuff. Nailed construction.
That led to this one. Not very practical for holding carving tools; which is what it’s doing right now. they slide around when you open the drawer. It will be re-assigned soon.
Then, two things happened. No, three. I finally met Winston James Burchill, who has been kind enough to send me some of his chip carvings – and I saw these two boxes; the Pennsylvania one in a book, the Swedish one on the web.
The minute I saw this box in the book Paint, Patterns & People I knew I would make some. It’s just taking me a while to get to it. http://villagecarpenter.blogspot.com/2011/03/paint-pattern-people-book-review.html
This Swedish one is slightly different; its removable end board is at the same end the lid slides out from. Makes construction a little easier, I think.
Now, I have one underway that will be chipcarved instead of painted. But I am going to make more; and will paint one too. Because I have never seen one in the flesh, I am making up the construction. I haven’t made the drawer yet.
Gotta run out to Heartwood & teach the oak boxes. I still love them, too. Don’t worry.
This year at Woodworking in America I had a chance to visit with Mark Hicks of Plate 11 Bench Co.. We talked before at a Lie-Nielsen Tool Event at Jeff Miller’s in Chicago so it was great to see him again.
As part of my adventure with the folks at Highland Woodworking, we shot some footage of Mark talking about the genesis of the Plate 11 Bench Co. and what makes his workbenches a great option for woodworkers.
Enjoy the video and be sure to stop by the Highland Woodworking blog for pictures of the Plate 11 Bench Co’s split-top Roubo bench also available.
Mission accomplished, Sir.
This piece of gargantuaesque artwork got a coat of blended linseed oil and tung oil.
Hoping the best for you and your chair.
The big CHairmaker shall be with you.
|Photo courtesy Paul Dunn Antiques.|
By the way, Olav was really taken with John Brown's book. He mentioned to me in it that he loved John Brown's phrase, "The Great Chairmaker in the sky."
In woodworking, one of the most satisfying things is that you never know it all. Everyday there is something knew to learn. That’s one of the things that keeps me looking and listening and trying new ideas. In the left-hand photo, you see how I’ve set up to bend stringing since I first began working with the material. I grabbed a length of pipe in Vise-grips, clamped it into my bench vise, heated the pipe and bent the stringing over the pipe using a metal-strap backer. If you look close, you see a nail set slipped between the grips and vise. I sometimes found that downward pressure as the bend was taking place could cause the setup to move in the vise, and that’s not a good thing to have happen. The nail set stopped that.
As I’ve demonstrated this technique to different woodworking groups, I’ve had occasion to see a few interesting string-bending setups, including a massive three-pipe selection that bolted to a workbench and allowed a constant flame to keep the pipe at the correct temperature for bending – whatever that is. I’ve also been asked so many times about using a heating iron as does Steve Latta; sorry Steve, that’s way too slow.
I did, however, learn a new setup while teaching my session at Woodworking in America this past weekend (the reason there was no post on this blog last Sunday). I traveled to Winston-Salem, N.C. without my Vise-grips and nail set. When it came time to demonstrate the technique, I was at a loss. Until, that is, I grabbed the F-style clamp I tossed in the conglomerate of stuff I’d taken along. With the length of pipe secure in the clamp, I set it into the bench vise with the handle resting against the top of the vise. No amount of downward force would cause the setup to move. And as long as you remove any plastic fittings from the clamp, heat from my torch was not a worry. It worked great.
Build Something Great!
I wrapped up the stained glass for the Thorsen cabinet today, leaving just the rub out and final assembly for tomorrow.
The glass took longer than I expected. The process, once all the pieces are cut and fit, is to clean them, add the copper foil tape and solder them together. Sounds simple, and it is. It takes some time to do the steps, but what really soaked up the time (and heat) was the copper frame I made.
Rewinding: I made a copper surround for the stained glass, because I wanted a solder bead around the periphery of glass. Copper is a great conductor, and it really pulled the heat out of my soldering iron. I’ll have to get a bigger iron before I do this again. The one I have has plenty of power to solder glass, but not really enough to solder a copper frame like this.
It took a long for the copper to heat up enough so I could flow in the solder, and I had to move really slowly. This made my solder seams along the copper a little sloppy, although they don’t really show in the finished cabinet. It sort of reminded me of my first welding project when I was a kid. I had a ’73 Pontiac Firebird and I wanted to put a roll cage in it. I bought an oxyacetylene welder and used that to weld the tubing in. If you’re not in the know about welding, that’s not the typical way to do the job. I had to use a giant tip on the torch. It felt like I was welding with a forest fire, and it took forever for the metal to get hot enough to form a puddle.
The roll cage came out looking good, and I think this will be ok too.
After soldering I scrubbed the assembly to get rid of the flux. Then I applied a black patina, and polished the seams. This shot is with the cabinet door sitting on top of the glass panels. They aren’t installed yet because I still need to rub the finish out.
September 27-28, 2014
In less than a week the LSU Rural Life Museum will hold the 19th annual Harvest Days Festival in Baton Rouge, LA. The Festival consist of dozens of 18th & 19th Century Craftsmen that will be busily working in their respective trades of Black Smithing, Timber Felling and Hewing, Pit Sawing, Timber Framing and Log Home Building, Traditional Pirougue Building, Traditional Bow and Arrow Making, Soap Making, Candle Making, Open Hearth Cooking, Cane Crushing and Syrup Making, Old Time Children's Games, as well as several other trades, crafts and pastimes.
We all know the grandeur portrayed in movies such as Gone With the Wind but those were only a small faction of the population of the charming South - most lived much simpler lives. The LSU Rural Life Museum is dedicated to those early settlers, slaves, farmers, tradesmen and plain country folk of old Louisiana.
All of the demonstrators are experts in their field and are looking forward to sharing history, telling you stories of what the past was like for your ancestors and answering any questions you may have.
The Rural Life Museum is home to the largest existing collection of Vernacular Louisiana Structures, an impressive display of Lower Delta French Furnishings, the most extensive collection of Material Culture items from 18th & 19th Century Rural Louisiana and was placed in the Top 10 Outdoor Museums in the World by the British Museum.
Visiting the Rural Life Museum truly is a step back in time and on no week-end more so than this one.
I, of course, will be demonstrating Lumbering, Hewing, Pit Sawing, Log Cabbin Building, and Shingle Making. I will also be speaking at length about 18th Century immigration to Louisiana particularly to the German Coast.
John Blokker, an accomplished Timber Framer and Historic Preservationist, will be demonstrating Timber Frame Building and will be constructing large Norman Trusses just as they were historically. He will surely speak, with his own unique flair, on whatever related topics come to mind. I have it on good authority he will also be showing a bit of his collection of early Gulf Coast red bricks that were hand made from the banks of the Mississippi and each with their own special characteristics.
Ray McCon, an experienced traditional woodworker and bow builder, will be there with his travelling shave horse and various hand tools to wow you all with his boyer (bow building) skills and talk about the history of bow building and it's uses by various cultures.
As noted above there are many many craftsmen all worthy of note but I think you get the idea.
Come on down and visit! The museum can comfortably handle a couple thousand visitors at any given time and we will see 5-7 thousand guests over the week-end. If you prefer to avoid crowds I suggest coming early Saturday morning or late Sunday Afternoon. We will be open from 8am to 5pm both Sat & Sun.
Sept 27th & 28th, 2014
8:00 am to 5:00 pm each day
Regular Museum admission charged.
LSU Rural Life Museum
4560 Essen Ln.
Baton Rouge, LA
The two most influential people in my life as a woodworker have been Charles H. Hayward, the finest woodworking writer of the 20th century, and Carl Bilderback, a union carpenter and tool collector in La Porte, Ind.
I count on Hayward to guide me in the shop. I count on Carl to tell me the truth about my writing, my woodworking and life in general.
“What you wrote was right,” he said. “But you don’t know that you’re right or why you are right.”
Carl’s startling and entirely correct observation (it’s difficult to explain, but it involves Leonard Bailey and patents), led to a friendship that is more important to me than any tool I own or anything I’ve built or written.
Even more important than Carl’s ability to tell me the truth has been that he is – hands down – the most generous person I’ve ever met. I’ve watched Carl give away dozens of tools to young woodworkers to start them in the craft.
When he showed up at the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event in Cincinnati this spring, I hugged him, and the first or second thing he said to me was: “I have a miter box. Who should I give it to?”
But he does this without seeming like some saint. Ask him about Oprah Winfrey and screws, and you’ll get an off-color story that will make you spit your drink through your nose.
If you’ve ever met Carl – or if you haven’t had the pleasure – I encourage you to watch this hour-long video where Slav Jelesijevich and Carl paw through his basement shop and shoot the crap about tools and woodworking.
You’ll get to see some tools that will amaze (four panther-head saws?) and get a taste of Carl’s humor, deep knowledge of tools and loyalty to the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association. (And by the way, if you aren’t a member, fix that. As an anarchist, I can say it is one of the few organizations I’m proud to be a member of.)
Most of all, hold onto the Carls in your life. They won’t be around forever, and we all could use a regular dose of truth and generosity with no chaser.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Personal Favorites
Aldren A. Watson, Country Furniture, 1974
I glued the back bindings onto the Hernandez y Aguado guitar copy (click here to learn more about that guitar) last Friday afternoon with great success. Then I turned my attention to my studio.
My studio is about 9'x11', space is at a premium, and I was hanging saws, braces and other tools that I use on a regular basis on the wall in a rather un-artistic manner, umm, the tools were hanging on nails. Not that that is a bad thing, just not aesthetic.
Several months ago I bought several bags of small shaker pegs at my local Woodcraft store so I could make better racks. Funny how long it can take me to get around to doing something, like finishing my new cabinet work bench so I can chuck my tool chest onto the trash heap where it belongs and clear more floor space.
Don't these saws look pretty hanging from pegs!
This is such a great way to display my tools, I always feared that one of them would jump off a nail and fall to the floor. Tool suicide. Now I need to make new racks to hang all of my clamps. Yes, there are several tools that still hang on nails, but I have forgiven myself for doing that.
The only electricity used to make these racks was that consumed by the over head lights, the boards were ripped by hand, finished with a Stanley No. 5 jack plane, the holes were drilled by bit and brace.
Now, turn off your computer or other electronic device and get out to the shop and make something!
A beautiful morning to spend a couple of hours dovetailing the upper rails to the legs of the table. Then I began the careful process of erasing all of the pencil marks, chamfering the bottoms of the legs so they don’t splinter and a quick sanding.
Glue up went without a hitch until I tried to insert one of the lower rails upside down. Fortunately the mistake was obvious and quickly rectified. With the clamps In place there was little do do except begin gluing up boards for the top.
Not sure how to finish but I am considering a natural look without stain to match the coffee table a made last year.
Fortunately, I had decided to arrive several days in advance of the WIA conference and stay a few days after, so Kristen and I were able to spend some quality time in old Winston Salem. In fact, the last time I visited Winston Salem and MESDA was in 1978, during one of my several trips to visit East coast museums and historic settlements....
Fortunately, I had decided to arrive several days in advance of the WIA conference and stay a few days after, so Kristen and I were able to spend some quality time in old Winston Salem. In fact, the last time I visited Winston Salem and MESDA was in 1978, during one of my several trips to visit East coast museums and historic settlements. I am sorry it took so long for me to return.
The weather was great, in fact, with only a slight spot of rain and moderate heat. While I was away, on the other hand, San Diego had a heat wave, with several days above 100 degrees. Poor Patrice had to work at the bench, building the top of our Treasure Box (Series 2) while I got to wander around from place to place, thinking perhaps I should have packed a sweater.
Last year, during this time, I was teaching at Marc Adams school, and only had a short time late on Saturday to get away. I broke several speed limits driving from the school to Cincinnati to see the WIA event. As it turned out, I got there about 30 minutes before it closed, with just enough time to get my signed copies of Roubo from Chris. As it turned out, I also had to sign a few copies, since I wrote the Forward. The best part was that I got to have a nice dinner with Roy later that evening.
This year, I was a speaker, and presented two lectures to a rather enthusiastic and supportive audience. The first was a talk on "Historic Marquetry Procedures,"and went through basically 500 years of the traditional methods used to create this art form. The second was "Building and Using a Chevalet." At the start of this lecture, I mentioned that I have been working for nearly 20 years to introduce this unique tool to woodworkers in North America. Then I foolishly asked if anyone in the audience knew about this tool. When nobody raised their hand, a person in the back shouted, "You haven't been very successful!" As they always say in law school, "Never ask a question you don't know the answer to."
I shared the lecture room with Roy Underhill, which is always an experience. As I was setting up my talk, he was putting his things away. They had scheduled a half hour break between speakers. Just about the time I was ready to start, Roy had the brilliant idea to "introduce" me. You probably already know he can be theatrical, to say the least.
He said the first time we met was at the Salton Sea, and there was a stampede of brine shrimp. Tim Webster was sitting in the audience, and had the quick thinking to pull out his camera and video it, posting it on YouTube soon after. I was speechless and had to hold my tongue, while he went on and on, creating a story that was more and more amazing. My mike was turned up to the max and when I did comment it was way too loud. Near the end I asked him to turn down the mike, and he crawled under the screen to adjust the volume. I thought I had a quick wit, but there is no way I can keep up with Roy when he is "on."
Here is the video: Underhill introducing Edwards
While I was having fun in the lecture hall, Kristen was in the Trade Show, where we had a booth for both the ASFM school and OBG. She is a master of working these shows, and I am very grateful for her talent, as I usually lose my voice and patience trying to compete with the noise.
Of course, Roy had to stop by and pick up some glue...
After the show Kristen and I went to MESDA where we had a nice private tour with Daniel Ackerman. We also enjoyed a private home tour by Tom Sears, both of which are members of SAPFM. We had dinner with Jerome Bias, who is the joiner at Old Salem, and then visited him at work, where he demonstrated his Roubo veneer saw.
Across the hall Glen Huey was using the foot power lathe to make some turnings.
All of this activity was in the Brothers House, and it was full of woodworkers from the show, having a great time sharing stories.
I made a promise to myself not to wait another 30 years before returning to Winston Salem.
Here's the story behind the two English field gates we built over the last couple weeks.
Traditionally these gates were used to contain livestock, but they are also quite popular nowadays for containing human livestock and livestock of the horseless (carriage) variety. We're using them to hopefully prevent deer from wandering into a garden.
I first took a serious interest in these types of gates when I stumbled on an article by Paul Sellers in an issue of Woodwork magazine (#116.) The aesthetically pleasing form of the gate, which stems from its engineering caught my eye immediately. I quickly started looking for an opportunity the build one.
I did a fair amount of research while designing the two gates, here's some of the more interesting aspects of what I discovered.
- The gates are traditionally made from air dried oak.
- The harr stile (hinge stile) was usually made from a piece with a natural bend (crook) for the most strength.
- Only the harr stile and the top rail are made from massive timbers. The rest of the gate is made of lighter, thinner stock.
- The top rail tapers in both in width and thickness to reduce weight at the latch stile.
- The joinery is robust: through wedged tenons and drawbored mortise and tenon.
- The hardware is blacksmith made
The gate is superbly engineered to prevent sag. The harr stile, top rail, and angled brace form the rigid structure, and the rest "hangs" from this structure. The top rail diminishes is both thickness and width from hinge to latch to reduce the weight at the area it can do the most damage. The drawbored joints keep everything immobile. I'm a big believer in super rigid construction. Once a joint starts to get even a little loose, there's little keeping it from getting worse.
In addition to the article in Woodwork, we also referred extensively to Alan and Gill Bridgewaters's Building Doors and Gates (Stackpole Books) This book provides loads of design and engineering advice, as well as construction techniques for building these traditional gates (plus many more styles). It even provides info for setting the posts the traditional English way so they will last longer than you and likely your children. It's a fantastic book with solid info on classic techniques. Not your typical weekend warrior "Time-Life" stuff. You can preview the book via Google Books, but if you plan to build a door or gate sometime, buy the book.
So with all that tradition in mind, here's what we did differently.
We used western red cedar instead of oak. We have a small sawmill that will cut oak to order, but we couldn't wait for the wood to get even partially dry. We needed the gates before winter. So we spent a morning at (get ready) Menards and picked through their entire stock of 6x6 western red cedar. We were able to get all the thick stock for the gates (and then some) out of the 6x6 material. All but one stick was dry. I'm guessing they don't move a lot of this stuff, I bet its been sitting there for some time. We resawed the 6x6s to get the final 3"x5" pieces for the hinge stiles and top rail. The 1"x3" rails and angled braces came out of 2x6 material that we ripped and planed down. These came from 16' boards that were 90% clear and straight. When selecting dimensional lumber I always buy the longest, widest boards I can, they are in every instance better quality than the shorter stuff. The grain on some of the stock was so excellent I was tempted to resaw it into soundboards. The dark color is supposedly more rot resistant. All but one board was deeply red. And yes, we did save big money at Menards, paying just over $2 a board foot for the cedar.
We only tapered the top rail in its height. We wanted to keep the latch stile full thickness to speed and simplify construction. I wasn't too worried about the loss in weight savings with the lightweight cedar.
We cut the top of our harr stile off and glued it to the side of the stile to get the crook. We made sure to position the lag screws in the main part of the stile and the not the added portion.
We did through wedged tenons to join the top rail and latch stile. Everywhere else we cut blind drawbored mortise and tenons with straight-grain white oak pegs.
Both gates were assembled with West System epoxy, and we also sealed the end grain at the bottoms of the stiles with the same so they didn't wick up moisture from the snow or rain. West System is the only epoxy we use around here. We like to buy the quart can of resin, pair that with a pint of hardener (we use fast most the time) and finally the pump set, which meters out exactly the correct amount of resin and hardener everytime. It seems expensive, and you do loose some epoxy if all you do are small jobs, but we've found that the added cost usually evens out if you consider the higher cost of buying syringes, which eventually go bad anyway. The West System last for years, and its top quality. It's the stuff boat builders use after all.
We tried to find the best hardware we could find without going broke. We sourced this from Snug Cottage Hardware. They have a great selection specifically designed for heavy gates like this, as well as free plans to build a number of different gate styles. And almost everything is available hot dipped galvanized and black powder coated (that's what we bought.) We've bought the black painted garbage from the big box stores before. It rusts. That's not a problem if you like that look, but we wanted these to stay black and hold up. The carriage bolts that tie all the 1x3's are stainless. We spray painted them black to match the stuff from Snug Cottage. It would have been ideal to connect the hinges via through bolts, but it was impossible with the attachment at the corner of the buildings. We opted for exterior Spax lags, also spray painted black to match. We oriented the hinges so the gates hang on the lags in a shear arrangement, there is only weight on the threads when the gate is open. Overall span of both gates is 122".
The gates are finished with one coat of Sikkens Cetol SRD in natural color. We did a fair amount of research on this. The #1 choice for exterior finish is Epiphanes varnish. We have a friend who did his deck chairs with it several years ago and they still look great. The product is $45 a quart, and requires seven (!) coats. We ruled that out straightway. The Sikkens Cetol 1 and 23 is a two-step finish that is supposed to be extremely UV resistant. It's $85 a gallon, and you must buy a gallon of each. That was also out of our price range. The Cetol SRD gets great reviews, and is $45 a gallon. We were tempted to simply leave the gates unfinished, and they may eventually end up that way, but for $45 we figured we'd give the SRD a shot. It only requires one coat. Needless to say, we were pretty thrilled with how the gates turned out with the finish applied.
Next on the docket, Tony Konovaloff's trestle table from FWW #106. I've wanted to build this piece since the first time I laid eyes on it when I was 20 years old. We may have enough cedar left over to make it.
We shot some video during part of the build. No music, and little editing in this one. We wanted to show the natural pace of work more than anything, and also how sweet the new Glide is for holding big stuff. It's so great to be able to hold massive timbers with only a little flick of the wrist.
We’re in the homestretch with “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker! A Novel with Measured Drawings.” Whew!
Today, I’m finishing the final full text edit and talking with the designer, Linda Watts, about the layout of the interior images and measured drawings (Linda, if you’re reading this, call me).
But perhaps most exciting is that I now know what Calvin and Verdie look like…because we’re nearing the finish line on the cover art. The cover I shared a few months ago? We couldn’t get the rights to manipulate the 1930s image – so we started over with a clean slate.
In hindsight, I’m glad; that gave us the freedom to present Calvin exactly as he appeared in Roy’s head (or at least the artist’s interpretation of how Calvin appeared in Roy’s head), and add other elements from the book to truly represent the story. (After all, despite the hoary saying, people often judge a book by its cover – so why not make it as perfect as possible?!)
We’ve been working with Jode Thompson, an illustrator based in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, whose other clients include Tylenol, Coca-Cola and Temptations Cat Treats (three things I buy regularly – how could I resist?).
While searching for an artist, I was looking for someone who could produce a 1930s noir detective novel look (think dark pin-up) with just enough of a graphic element to make it look 21st century. Jode’s work fit the bill in spades. And she nailed the treatment from the get-go, despite my crazy design brief:
So there’s this 1930s government employee who’s the supervisor of a group of women, all of whom are WWI veterans who are in some way disfigured by the war – and they’re all stronger than Calvin. They study manure. And there’s this femme fatal of sorts, Kathryn Dale Harper, with whom Calvin is kinda obsessed. She’s a radio star, and helps Calvin start his own radio show about woodworking. Oh – and Washington, D.C., is a character of sorts, as is Colonial Williamsburg. And Calvin has a shop in the clock tower of the office building where he works. It’s all sort of noir mixed with slapstick, and there’s a motorcycle. And it’s very funny. Calvin looks like Jon Cusack, Kathryn Dale Harper looks like Barbara Stanwyck and Verdie looks like Susan Sarandon (but with a prosthetic leg).
OK – it was more coherent than that.
Anyway, I thought you might like to see the short progression toward the final cover art. At the top of this post is the initial sketch.
After deciding on the first sketch, we wanted something that said “woodworking” and asked Jode to add the Washington Monument so the location was visually clear. So I asked her to add a dovetail saw in Calvin’s hand. Naturally, Jode chose a Veritas saw (she’s Canadian, after all). Nice saw … but not for the 1930s. And anyway, a dovetail saw proved too small. (Also, while I like the boots and helmet on Verdie, it was decided by the two parties involved who notice these sorts of things that high heels would be sexier.)
So Jode sent back a revision with a panel saw modeled after an early Disston model, heels and a title (we’re still mulling over the lettering style, and where to put Roy’s name).
Damn near perfect. At this point, Jode is working on the clothing for both Verdie and Calvin (to make it look a little more 1930s) and I’ll be talking with her soon about the lettering. In the meantime, she added a splash of color.
So in a few more days, we should have the cover illustration completed, the interior layout done, back cover copy written and the whole thing ready for final review. Then it’s off to the printer (casebound, smyth-sewn binding, acid-free paper, printed in the U.S.A., etc. etc.).
It should be WILL be in the Lost Art Press store before Thanksgiving (United States Thanksgiving, not Canadian Thanksgiving – sorry Jode).
— Megan Fitzpatrick
Filed under: Books in the Works, Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!
For those of you who missed my blog entries on Pégas blades (here), the bad news is that Tools for Working Wood is temporarily sold out of these outstanding, durable and less-expensive Swiss-made coping-saw blades.
The good news is that Knew Concepts now has 60 packages of the 18-point skip-tooth blades, which they are selling for only $5 per dozen. Go here. I cannot say enough good things about these blades.
Also, ShopWoodworking.com now has the four-volume set of “The Practical Woodworker” in the store in paperback. The set is $65 and will ship in late October or early November. If you missed out on the hardback set, which was excellent, this is your chance to add these books to your library.
“The Practical Woodworker” is a collection of writings from early 20th-century authors on handwork. Just about every aspect of the craft is covered in the four books. Need to build a crate? A chicken coop? Learn French polish? It’s all in there. It’s one of the first places I consult when I’m looking for a technique or plan.
Oh, and the other stuff? “l’Art du menuisier: The Book of Plates” goes to the printer on Monday. And Roy Underhill’s “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” is about a week away from the printer. Megan Fitzpatrick, the editor of that book, will post an update on the cover this weekend (right Megan?).
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!, Saws, To Make as Perfectly as Possible, Roubo Translation
|Model of the Vasa|
Vasa was a largest wooden war ship built in Stockholm in 1628. It was built at the behest of king Gustav II Adolf, who not only happy having a large ship, but wanted the tallest ship as well. The story goes that on August 10th 1628 all the people from Stockholm were given a holiday to see this ship being launched and sail from the shipyard to the main Stockholm harbor.
Needless to say everything went off well at the beginning, until slight wind caught the sails as it left the shipyard and the ship listed to port. The sailors were quick to release the sails, and the ship righted itself. As it progressed further into the channel, the sails caught an even bigger gust. Not by much, but little bit bigger. The ship listed to port again and, because all the gun ports were open, started to take in water. And a lot of it. This further accentuated the list, and more water came in. It is said that within a few minutes the ship sank about 50 meters from the coast. Some 30 odd people died.
And it remained there for over 300 years until salvaged, almost intact in 1961.
This part of the nautical history, though appealing, was not interesting. What happened next was that an inquiry was held, under the chairmanship of the king's cousin, to determine how this could have happened. As usual the contractors blamed the tendering process, the sailors blamed the quality of material and the high command blamed the contractors, the sailors, the tendering process and the quality of materials. Eventually nobody was brought to book for this very visible, very public, and very international catastrophe. Does this remind anyone of a handy political party today that has done a similar whitewash on a very visible, very public and very international debacle?
OK enough of that. Amongst the wreckage they found people's skeletons, some with their clothes still on. They also found large number of tools from carpenters, shipwrights, and other trades. Some of these were found almost intact. The picture on the side is an example of one such tool. It's a smoothing plane. It's a beautiful little tool, little more than about 6 to 9 inches. It was made of a dark wood, looked heavy, and was wonderfully shaped.
|Vasa's Wooden Plane|
By Umaji Chowgule
20 September 2014