Simple machines make tough jobs easier.

Those who have been reading this blog will remember the white oak tree donated by Framingham State University.

Offloading white oak tree sections.

Offloading white oak tree sections.

 

These tree sections were dropped off By Bob Cobb a very careful and skillful truck and crane operator. He estimated the combined weight of the trunks was around 6 tons.

We have to make usable timbers out of this stock.

Step one is to reduce the volume of material to human sized pieces.

First section sliced off the end of the log with a chain saw.

First section sliced off the end of the log with a chain saw.

 

We are hoping to get stock for two things out of this piece. The first is a knee, utilizing the branch and part of the trunk from this section. Because the trunk is so large we don’t need the back half of the trunk for the knee. We can use this stock for a piece in the beakhead deck repair, specifically the block of oak that the bowsprit sits on. (more on this in another post.)

Chain saws generally do very well cross cutting, that is slicing wood off the  end of a log. They don’t do so well making rip cuts, that is cutting with the length of the grain. (Unless of course you have a “rip” chain that you can put on your saw, which we don’t.) For us the fastest way to remove chunks of wood with the grain is to split them off with wedges and a sledge hammer.

The power of simple machines. (the wedges, not me)

The power of simple machines. (the wedges, not me)

Sometimes  on Mayflower II we talk about the ship as  a perfect example of how simple machines, like the lever, the wheel, the inclined plane or the wedge are used to do complex jobs. Here is another great example.

 

We used levers in the form of peaveys, (lumber rolling tools) to position the massive tree trunk for cutting.

We used wedges in the form of metal splitting wedges to divide the tree trunks. The power of driving in a series of metal wedges will eventually overcome the power of the oak to hold itself together.

White oak can generally be split along the grain.

White oak can generally be split along the grain.

The key, like so much in life is patience. You can’t expect the tree to give up all at once and split apart right along the line you need. Bashing away with an ax or the sledge hammer won’t convince the tree of anything. It is more like persuading the oak that it is in its best interest to come apart for the greater good. Striking each wedge in turn produces a gradually increasing force. The chunk of oak beginnings creaking and groaning as it thinks over its position.

The wedging force continues as the wedges are driven deeper into the log. Finally the log sees reason and just lets go.

It takes some persuasion but usually the wood will see things your way.

It takes some persuasion but usually the wood will see things your way.

 

In the shop the oak will be shaped into a part of the ship that should be around for years to come.

In the shop, the oak will be shaped into a vital part that will be around for years to come.