Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Ship's Knee

Many an Ocracoke Island home was built from lumber salvaged from wrecked sailing ships. One highly prized item was the ship’s “knee,” a sturdy right-angle timber hand hewn from the Hackmatack tree which grows in Canada and the northeastern United States. 

Because the root of the Hackmatack tree grows at a right angle to the trunk, this section of the tree has great strength.  Called "tension wood," it was widely used to make "knees," which have a long history of use by builders of wooden ships, to join ribs to deck timbers.

Salvaged ship's knees were often re-purposed to be used in island houses to secure floor joists to the outer beams.

Ship's Knee used in 1865 Island Home

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the dramatic story of life-saver Rasmus Midgett and his rescue of the crew of the barkentine Priscilla in August, 1899. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news052116.htm

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