Building Up Keelson on Schooner

A need for shipping in World War I revived the Maine schooner building industry. No schooners were finished before the war's end but they sailed into the 1930s. This provided the last opportunity for photographers to record large wooden shipbuilding.

Raising a Frame

Here a completed double-sawn frame is lifted into place on the keel. The frame is assembled flat ahead of the row of frames, then tackles fixed to previously erected frames are used to raise up the new frame.

Treenails or Trunnels

Treenails were used as fasteners for shipbuilding. They were often made of locust wood. They were less expensive than bolts for fastening, and they made tight connections. The treenail is like a large dowel, pounded into a hole drilled through the pieces of wood to be fastened together, and set by pounding wedges into both ends, so that the treenail will not come out. Treenails were often called "trunnels."

This image is from Basil Greenhill and Sam Manning, The Evolution of the Wooden Ship, 1988, p. 145. Used by permission of the artist, Sam Manning.

Lofting the Hull

After the planned vessel's hull is modeled using the carved half model, the lifts are taken apart and measured. The shape of the hull is laid out full size, a process called lofting, on a large floor. From the lofting of the frames, shipbuilders make molds or patterns, which are used to select and shape frame timbers made of parts called futtocks.

This image is from Basil Greenhill and Sam Manning, The Evolution of the Wooden Ship, 1988, p. 95. Used by permission of the artist, Sam Manning.

Using a Half Model to Design a Ship

This diagram shows how a half model is used to design a ship. This lift model is made of a number of lifts or layers of wood, pinned together. The model is then carved. After the model has its final shape, the model is taken apart and the lifts measured. Vessels designed this way are usually said to be modeled rather than designed.

This image is from Basil Greenhill and Sam Manning, The Evolution of the Wooden Ship, 1988, p. 91. Used by permission of the artist, Sam Manning.

Demonstration of Shipbuilding: Dubbing

Using an adze to cut off the head of a driven treenail, making the planking smooth. Dubbing is the adze-users word for trimming small amounts of wood. This is a small vessel under repair; some of the planking is being replaced, mostly that above the waterline, in a process called retopping. This is the plank that is subject to drying from the sun, and often is most vulnerable to rot.

Hold of a Down Easter

This photograph shows the large volume of a Down Easter available for cargo. There is another deck below for carrying more. The L-shaped pieces of wood called hanging knees support the deck beams and resist twisting. They are typically made from the hackmatack trees of Maine. The hackmatack (or tamarack or larch) root leaves the trunk at a right angle, creating wood with a grain that bends in an L. Similar L-shaped pieces between the deck beams are called lodging knees.

Cross-Section of a Wooden Sailing Ship

Cross-sectional diagram of a sailing ship, showing keel, frames, planking, ceiling, deck beams, deck planking, stanchions, and bulwarks.

From Capt. H. Paasch, Illustrated Marine Encyclopedia, 1890, Plate 7.

Stern of Schooner George W. Wells

The schooner George W. Wells was the first six-masted schooner ever built, launched in Camden in 1900. This stern view shows the deck being planked, and the decking and sides of the after deckhouse going on.

Bark Sailplan

A bark has three or more masts with all but the after most mast square-rigged. The aft mast is fore-and-aft rigged.

The diagram is from the Nova Scotia Musuem Informational poster, Sailing Ship Rigs.


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