Thursday, June 28, 2012

Living History: Saws and Axes

At the Warwick Historical Society's booth at the Warwick Farmers' Market will be presenting another living history experience to call attention to our ongoing restoration of the Shingle House (1764), the oldest house in the Village of Warwick.
his structure is truly a pioneer structure, as it was constructed when the area that is now the Village was a frontier. A hole was hand dug to create a cellar. Rock were rolled out of that hole and others were added as a small plot was cleared for faming. The fieldstone were hand stacked to form a foundation and a central chimney that exist to this day. Limestone mortar was used to construct the chimney.
After the stone work was completed, or in the process of construction, as the chimney was likely constructed in stages obtaining its eventual height only as wooden frame and flooring were put into place to reach it for that completion. Timbers were hand-hewn. Boards were sawn by dragging them over the cellar hole and pit sawing them.  
Before sawmills, there was the land owner with the task of shaping timbers to build house and barns from felled trees to shelter his family, his crop, his livestock, his possessions and himself. The knowledge and skill required to hand hewn a log came by doing. Today, with a mortising axe, adze, and several broad axes, a 14 plus inch in diameter oak log will be shaped into a beam with tenons at both ends.

With a spud, bark will be peeled from the green log. Then glancing strikes with a broad axe will make round square, and a beam will begin to be formed. The log will be rolled and each side shaped accordingly. With this type of work, tools must be sharpened with a stone.

Additionally, a saw buck is being presented with lengths of white ash. The ash will be sawed using a two-man saw. Participation in this activity is encouraged, as success in sawing depends on coordination between sawyers. The saw was hand sharpened with a flat file and whetting stone. Saws were also maintained by a set tool that would serve to offset teeth in order to achieve a bite with each pass.

New York Heartwoods is a specialist in reclaiming and re-purposing dead, dying and diseased local white ash and other local woods. All wood for these presentations is courtesy of New York Heartwoods.

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