Hand Tools Archive

Subject:
Trunnels

Bob Hackett
The word is actually derived from "tree nails".
This type of connection in what held all the thick planking onto the white oak frames of the wooden schooners built up here in New England. The last ones we dealt with were made from riven black locust (chosen for it`s resistance to rot and marine borers) and over a foot long in most cases. Picture 4" thick old growth SYP planks that averaged 8" across and no less than 10 feet in length fresh out of a steam box and working off staging. Not much time for fumbling with clamps here.
The smaller pins used to fix trim work were driven thru the sizing plate by swinging a good sized wood mallet at about one second each after the riven blanks had been pointed on a power driven spoke pointer which also took less than a second (I salvaged one on these shop made pointers, they were rather crude and used sections of old planer blades for the cutting edges).
The locust trunnels were fed thru a machine that milled them to size, one man pushing ,one at the other end pulling once he could grab the newly sized stock. This was work usually handled by laborers or apprentice joiners. Once you had proven that you could focus your attention and move thru the work while producing both quality and volume you might be invited to move on up to join the planking crew or tend the steam boxes.
Most of the shops still building or repairing wooden boats here in Maine still use the flat belt driven machinery and shop made tooling that was used over a century ago. It`s like going back in time or being an employee in a working museum working in the smaller boatyards up here.

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