Because Leadbelly wasn’t singing about white oak, no sir…
MPDYER, from The New Bedford Whaling Museum (http://whalingmuseum.org/–a museum on my bucket list) made the keen observation from a picture in a Blue Oak post the other day that the differential rate of decay between two newly uncovered tenons in our Sagamore project had less to do with God’s Will and more to do with one being white oak and the other being a pine. We’re still not sure exactly which type of pine, but if I had to guess, I’d say pitch pine. The local flora is teeming with pitch pines, which are used fairly commonly in old timber frames in the area. So thanks, MPDYER! From this time forward, we are calling you CSI-MPDYER!
And speaking of CSI-ing, look what we found out today:
A simple piece of riven pine lathe from an early 18th-century saltbox addition, you say? Well, you may say that and you’d be right, I reckon. But look more closely: The grain is more weathered than it should be for an internal application and it’s been worked down to a taper. Why? Any guesses? Anyone? Bueller?? It’s a re-used clapboard! It’s been split along its width to form narrower lath. Groovy, yes? The taper is a skyved end–a short bevel to overlap with the next clapboard–also skyved–continuing along the course.
Michael has seen the same practice done before in other early frames in the area, notably the Berrybrook School in Duxbury, on whose grounds an early joiner’s shop was recently discovered: http://www.boston.com/yourtown/duxbury/2012/11/25/eighteenth-century-woodworker-shop-found-duxbury-said-one-kind/uzWst9in35bHgVoobDS5xK/singlepage.html.
It makes a boat-load of sense, using clapboards which have good, splittable grain and some life left. And you thought recycling was a contemporary phenomenon! I can see it now–you roll your squeaky wheelbarrow into the local transfer station, pitch your spent shingles and clapboards into the single stream/townbrooke bin, leave your goose grease in the special materials section, and dump your puritanical hand-wringing in the yard waste area; actually, you take that home with you–you can’t leave that at the Pilgrim Transfer Station.
Speaking of recycling and other “green” methods of building a house, we found this in the cavity behind the oak post we are replacing:
I don’t know much about corn cobs being used as a form of insulation, but I understand it’s a practice in some places and that it has some value. The scarce amount we found didn’t seem to point to anything more than the frenetic comings and goings of rodentia, however. Readers, do you have any experience with corn cobs in walls? (Is that a euphemism?)
One year ago this week:
We were knee deep in a marsh gathering thatch for pilgrim houses. Funny how much things can change in a year, isn’t it? Seems like a really loooong time ago…
Anyhoo, on another note: The last performance of this year’s Worcester Shakespeare Company’s, The Merchant of Venice, is Sunday, August 25th. If you’re in lovely New England within the next fortnight, get thee to ye Whitin Mill and seest both our pretty stage and a great performance! Blue Oak will squeeze out another post on the stage’s 2013 finishing this week.