Bronze Age Boatbuilding part 2

 My major task for the Dover boat reconstruction is to carve the iles. The boat is made of 4 main timbers, two flat ones across the bottom and two curved ones at the side. These would originally have been topped by another upright plank which was cut away presumably for re use when the boat was abandoned. The problem with the iles is there is not a straight line on them anywhere they are a very three dimensional shape. I will carve them then steam bend them to fit the sides of the bottom planks. Here I have snapped a line with a chalk line then measured up and down set amounts and am marking it in ready for hewing the first surface.

 Hewing starts with chopping notches, great fun.

 Then knocking the blocks off.

 You can do this with the surface lying vertical but I quite enjoy hewing horizontally if it is comfortable to do so. This shifts wood very fast, mayb e 20 minutes to rough chop, hew and refine a surface over the length of the boat timber (6m)

 Then dress the surface with a bronze axe, at this stage I still had little faith in the broinmze tools and wanted to give them an easy ride I ran down first with my gorgeous antique Japanese adze then just skimmed the surface with the bronze

Still for a first go I was impressed at how well they worked.
here is a short vid of my using one. At this stage I am using it very much Japanese style which is quite different to how the archaeologists have been using them. I have developed both hafting and technique since with interesting results.

The boat we are building will finish at about 8m long half the length we think the original was. Because we are not just trying to build a boat similar but one to within + or – 5mm of half the original dimensions we have to spend a lot of time measuring and marking. We have no straight line on the iles to measure from so we draw an arbitrary “pith line” on both tree and plans and measure up, down and across from this. Using this method to plot points every 10cm down the length of the timber I then join the dots in a smooth curve and hew away. Considerably more time is spent measuring than hewing.

 At the same time Trevor is working alongside on his two large bottom planks.

We also have two apprentices from ESAMP  working with us alternate weeks, Sam and Rachel. This is part of a £1.7m European funded project with lots of outreach materials produced for education packs so there are regular visits from film crews. Here is Sam getting used to the adze and the cameras.

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2 Responses to Bronze Age Boatbuilding part 2

  1. toctomerius March 11, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    Nice mixture, bronz age and … wood age :-)

  2. Gorges Smythe March 11, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    Very interesting. Please keep posting this!

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