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Re: [MedievalSawdust] Wood to use to be period???... What do you think

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  • conradh@efn.org
    ... True enough, and traditional woodworkers in all kinds of places pay attention to such details. However, do remember that some trees are _stronger_ when
    Message 1 of 6 , Feb 3 11:06 AM
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      On Thu, February 3, 2011 10:41 am, maf@... wrote:
      > I was reading a book a few years ago about Yew and the making of bows.
      > They talked about thefact that yew grown in warmer climates grows faster
      > but the thicker growth rings make it less suitable for use as a bow. I
      > would think that the same is true for other woods and uses, where it grew
      > may be just as import as species.

      True enough, and traditional woodworkers in all kinds of places pay
      attention to such details.

      However, do remember that some trees are _stronger_ when they grow fast,
      and others weaker (like most softwoods).

      Also, microclimate can be very useful to users of local woods when it
      comes to this issue. Particularly if there are mountains nearby. I
      recall Tim Severin's account of a very traditional timber merchant who was
      helping him with wood for building his _Brendan_, a replica Dark Ages
      Irish curragh he eventually sailed to North America while investigating
      the voyages of St. Brendan. The merchant was going to great effort to get
      some ash trees that had grown in thick woods on the north side of a hill,
      because the wood would be stronger. So you may not have to go far to get
      the climate that will give you the right wood.

      I know from my own handlemaking that the best ash comes from understory
      trees--they go straight up without much branching, so you get very clear
      sapwood. And since ash is one of those odd trees where the sapwood is
      _stronger_ than the heartwood...as in the old English craftsman's proverb,
      "Heart of oak, bark of ash".

      Ulfhedinn
    • D. Young
      Some thoughts on woods... White oak is extremely, if not identical to several of the common English oaks. I have read about differences but I gotta tell ya,
      Message 2 of 6 , Feb 3 12:58 PM
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        Some thoughts on woods...


        White oak is extremely, if not identical to several of the common English oaks.  I have read about differences but I gotta tell ya, Ive seen numerous examples of white oak and english/european oak (both modern and extant furniture specimens) and both European and American oaks differ so much in various areas and regions that you would honestly not be able to tell the difference.    The quartered arguments for longer grain vs shorter grain   or fatter grain vs thinner grain  just dont hold up in my opinion.  Ive seen stuff I was convinced was English oak.....only to find out its White Oak.    

        Now I am a purist....so I do have some plans for period chests in English oak.    And there are online places or even local saw mills that can and will import european woods....its not cheap but I look at it this way....a piece of furniture is a keepsake.    So invest in the wood.   And if more people did buy European woods, we might see more lumber yards consider carrying it....or at least offer it as a special order. 

        And lastly as far as board width....I am now edging closer to my belief that quartered wood was not as common in the middle ages as some would have you believe.  I have seen so many original pieces with WIDE boards that are clearly not quartered wood.....they were sawn, whereby one get more wood from the log.    Quartering seem to have been used for smaller pieces where a fro or wedges make fast work of it....smaller pieces like the stiles/legs or panels; and this becomes particularly true as those big old growth trees start disappearing from Europe at the end of the middle ages.   This is why most late 15th-17th century pieces are paneled using pieces no wider than 9 inches....and after 1650 we start seeing wider pieces being used...Id bed money from North American wood being imported.

        Early exportation of North American woods:   we know that lumber was VERY high on the list of items from Jamestown.   I would feel safe in saying that a fair amount of English wooden projects after 1610 could have incorporated white oak.    In fact Id bet on that, particularly for large pieces.   Now thats a bit after period for sca use, however it should also be kept in mind that the Raleigh colony existed in the 1580s and even early expeditions existed in the 1560s.    So again there is that connection to the New World after 1500.    Just something to keep in mind.


        cheers
        Drew



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        To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
        From: conradh@...
        Date: Thu, 3 Feb 2011 11:06:18 -0800
        Subject: Re: [MedievalSawdust] Wood to use to be period???... What do you think

         
        On Thu, February 3, 2011 10:41 am, maf@... wrote:
        > I was reading a book a few years ago about Yew and the making of bows.
        > They talked about thefact that yew grown in warmer climates grows faster
        > but the thicker growth rings make it less suitable for use as a bow. I
        > would think that the same is true for other woods and uses, where it grew
        > may be just as import as species.

        True enough, and traditional woodworkers in all kinds of places pay
        attention to such details.

        However, do remember that some trees are _stronger_ when they grow fast,
        and others weaker (like most softwoods).

        Also, microclimate can be very useful to users of local woods when it
        comes to this issue. Particularly if there are mountains nearby. I
        recall Tim Severin's account of a very traditional timber merchant who was
        helping him with wood for building his _Brendan_, a replica Dark Ages
        Irish curragh he eventually sailed to North America while investigating
        the voyages of St. Brendan. The merchant was going to great effort to get
        some ash trees that had grown in thick woods on the north side of a hill,
        because the wood would be stronger. So you may not have to go far to get
        the climate that will give you the right wood.

        I know from my own handlemaking that the best ash comes from understory
        trees--they go straight up without much branching, so you get very clear
        sapwood. And since ash is one of those odd trees where the sapwood is
        _stronger_ than the heartwood...as in the old English craftsman's proverb,
        "Heart of oak, bark of ash".

        Ulfhedinn


      • conradh@efn.org
        ... ... And, something that _is_ period for the SCA, if a tiny trickle of imports, is that North American woods have been identified
        Message 3 of 6 , Feb 4 10:34 AM
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          On Thu, February 3, 2011 12:58 pm, D. Young wrote:
          >
          <much good advice snipped>

          >
          > Early exportation of North American woods: we know that lumber was VERY
          > high on the list of items from Jamestown. I would feel safe in saying
          > that a fair amount of English wooden projects after 1610 could have
          > incorporated white oak. In fact Id bet on that, particularly for large
          > pieces. Now thats a bit after period for sca use, however it should
          > also be kept in mind that the Raleigh colony existed in the 1580s and
          > even early expeditions existed in the 1560s. So again there is that
          > connection to the New World after 1500. Just something to keep in
          > mind.

          And, something that _is_ period for the SCA, if a tiny trickle of imports,
          is that North American woods have been identified on Norse finds in
          Greenland. The sagas specifically mention Vinland/Markland as a source of
          timber; when you consider the deforested state of Iceland and the
          not-really-ever forested state of Greenland at the time, wood would be one
          of the biggest goals of any trading ship going to NE North America.

          So if you're a medieval Greenlander, any wood that grows within reasonable
          reach of the coast of New England or the Canadian Maritimes would be quite
          reasonable. Likewise for Iceland. After their European trade fell under
          Norwegian control, it was monopolized by the city of Bergen. Norway was a
          net exporter of wood in those days however; not sure how much valuable
          space
          in small ships would be devoted to wood all the way back to Norway.

          However, land transport for bulky goods was so dramatically more difficult
          and expensive than any kind of water transport that during the boom years
          of the 1200's, areas near ports and riverbanks tended to get thoroughly
          cut over. Population was expanding then, too, so such areas often got
          reused as farmland rather than regrowing as forest. So American timber
          _might_ have made it back as far as Bergen or even Bergen's other
          Hanseatic trading partners. This is speculation, however, AFAIK no
          medieval artifact from points east of Iceland has ever been conclusively
          identified as using American wood.

          Of course, no one may have thought to check, either! If the grain
          structure and other details in these very close relatives are as similar
          as you say, only a genus-level difference might be spotted, with the
          researcher just assuming that an pine artifact found in Hamburg must be
          made
          of German or Norwegian pine!

          Researchers have to have a question on their mind before they ask it.
          I've been learning that while studying the early history of iron tools.
          Archaeologists in many parts of the Middle East never seem to mention
          nickel-testing the iron, while Canadian and Danish archaeologists
          routinely check iron artifacts from Greenland or nearby parts of Canada.
          Iron from meteorites has far more nickel than iron from bog ore, and Inuit
          from all over Greenland and eastern Canada used to make long trips to
          painfully haggle scraps of iron off the cluster of huge iron meteorites
          that had crashed near Cape York on the west coast of Greenland. The Inuit
          also used smelted European iron from shipwrecks, from trade or raid with
          the Norse Greenlanders, and so on. So no assumptions are made about the
          provenance of iron in finds from this area. Every Stone Age people uses
          and values iron when they have a source for it (they just can't produce it
          for themselves) whether that iron originates among other cultures or among
          the asteroids.

          Middle East archaeologists don't seem to have this possibility on their
          radar, though it's of obvious importance in dating the beginnings of iron
          smelting. And perhaps they should, since the Sumerian word for iron was
          "heaven's metal" and the Egyptian cartouche for it adds up to "stone from
          the sky"!

          Ulfhedinn
        • Jim Hart
          new world wood......hmmmm. More than one way to look at this I think....... It really depends on what aspect you are trying to achieve in your quest for
          Message 4 of 6 , Feb 4 10:54 AM
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            new world wood......hmmmm. More than one way to look at this I think.......


            It really depends on what aspect you are trying to achieve in your quest for "periodness"

            If you want to reproduce an item as authentically as possible then 'Old World' woods.

            If you are trying to reproduce the mindset and approach to woodworking then I would think that
            picking the local wood that has the qualities and characteristics that the project needs. Think 
            along the lines of what you might be able to go and find in the local area if you were a woodcutter
            or sawyer.
          • D. Young
            Well New World lumber would only be appropriate after 1500...and realistically after 1600 when the colonies are beginning in earnest. Forgive me....I am
            Message 5 of 6 , Feb 4 5:14 PM
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              Well New World lumber would only be appropriate after 1500...and realistically after 1600 when the colonies are beginning in earnest.    Forgive me....I am focusing heavily on early colonial history, ie, the 17th century.   So I would not have an issue with a 1640 English chest being possibly or partially constructed of American white oak.   We know the trade existed.

              However my discussion about white oak still stands.   White oak is virtually identical to English oak species.  

              Brown oaks and live oaks are a different kettle of fish.  

              Also, many pines are damn hard to distinguish.  I dont work much pine but Ive seen period pine pieces to say this with reasonable comfort.

               



              Fine Armour and Historical Reproductions

                   Custom Commissions Welcome....!

              www.partsandtechnical.com
              (Well Formed Munitions Catalog Coming This Spring)
               





              To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
              From: conalohairt@...
              Date: Fri, 4 Feb 2011 13:54:42 -0500
              Subject: Re: [MedievalSawdust] Wood to use to be period???... What do you think

               
              new world wood......hmmmm. More than one way to look at this I think.......


              It really depends on what aspect you are trying to achieve in your quest for "periodness"

              If you want to reproduce an item as authentically as possible then 'Old World' woods.

              If you are trying to reproduce the mindset and approach to woodworking then I would think that
              picking the local wood that has the qualities and characteristics that the project needs. Think 
              along the lines of what you might be able to go and find in the local area if you were a woodcutter
              or sawyer.

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