Talking to Wood

After the first two gunwales snapped with an authoritative ‘CRACK’, I was a little nervous and a bit out psyched.  Everyone said it should work fine, but my VG Fir had other thoughts.  Oh no, I wasn’t trying to bend anything thick, just the standard 3/8″ x 1 1/4″.  This should work, without steaming.  Well, It wasn’t working.  So I took some time to think things over.   After meditation and prayer, the answer came to me in the middle of the night.  Talk to the wood, explain in simple terms that the wood (gunwales) has two choices.  1-Break and end up in the junk pile, never to be of useful service to anyone again, or 2-Bend and become something much greater…yea verily, even a sailing vessel, to sail the seas, and transcend their present condition.  Yes, to become a ship.  Now, which choice would you like to pursue?  Every stick would need to decide.  There would be no middle ground, no neutrality.  Break or transcend.  After this discussion, the wood spoke up and said it too had a few concerns and requests to make of me.  They felt forced, unappreciated and a little used.  They wanted to be treated with utmost respect…never abused or talked down to.  They also wanted to move in their natural way and asked me to consider their will and tendencies.  They asked me to turn them over and over in my hand to determine their preferred direction of bending and orientation on the boat.  They requested I warm them prior to bending…they don’t like to be cold.  And, finally, they all wanted a fair chance to make their way onto the boat…no preferential treatment.  I would kindly bend each one of them, their way, and see who would break and who would rise above.  This I could agree to.  DSC00002 I’m happy to say, stick #3 has made the team.  Here is a most excellent VG Fir gunwale becoming part of Shackleton.  I’ve never been more proud of a stick in all my life and delighted it has made such a noble decision.  I’m encouraging all the other pieces to follow the great example of this little gunwale.

Stay tuned


5 thoughts on “Talking to Wood

    • Simeon, Thanks for the comment/compliment. I’m not sure who Tom Pamperin is, but I loved reading ‘Boys in the Boat’ by Daniel James Brown. To me, this book is a classic. The boat builder, George Pocock was a masterful builder. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves water.


  1. Pingback: Roughing Out the Carlins and Gunwales – Building Hagoth (#433) a 12' Proper Sailing Vessel

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