Build Your Own Boat
The process of finding wood with grain that naturally follows the curve required goes back centuries. It was this tradition that led to the oak forests of Britain being scoured for timber which would naturally supply the structural curves which were necessary for roof stresses and boat building. Sadly, because of industry's demand for straight-grained, easily worked wood, it is more difficult today to find these natural curves. It is this shortage of naturally curved timber that has led to an increase in the use of the other methods, and laminating is now the main technique used to achieve curved shapes, especially where any quantity is required.
The use of machines in the conversion of raw material and the construction of furniture during the nineteenth century is a story of both important changes and minor developments. The development of machines such as circular saw planers, mortisers, borers, dovetail-cutters and veneer cutters for preparing and shaping timber was the most important change, which affected all woodworking industries, including particularly shipbuilding and house building. Machines for processing and shaping parts (bandsaws, fretsaws and lathes) were also being used in larger quantities, as was the third category of machines (embossers, moulders and carving machines), that produced decoration. Similar developments in the textile industry made soft furnishings more widely available.
The question is, how can I possibly build wood furniture to endure such horrific abuse To find some answers, I looked back to the principles and practices of the carriage and boat builders of the last century. It was, after all, these tradesmen who produced some of the most highly stressed and severely exposed not to mention beautiful structures known to man. If these trades could do that, I was betting they could build one heck of a lawn chair.
Hand-forged nails were made from soft, fine iron of a very good quality. They were strong and tough they bent easily but did not break. The density of texture produced by intense heat and hand-forging made them extremely resistant to rust and dampness. They were the honest productions of an honest age. Where modern cut-iron nails disintegrate in twenty-five years of exposure, some of these hand-forged nails are intact after a century and a half of similar conditions. From the oak timbers of old houses, I have often pulled nails which still had upon them the blue scale which all hand-forged iron possesses. As no two handmade articles are ever exactly alike, so each hand-forged nail is slightly different from any other. They were made in a wide variety, from the large spikes used in ship-building to the tiny brads for fastening the escutcheons on furniture. They were made with a number of different kinds of head, and either sharp or flattened points depending on their intended purpose....
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