Terminology from the Age of Sail

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Adze: A shipwright's tool, similar to an axe, used for shaping and dressing wood. It was different from an axe in that it had a long slender curved blade set at a right angle to the handle.
Image of Adze
Anchor: An object designed to grip the ground, under a body of water, to hold a ship in a selected area. In the Golden Age of Sail it was usually a cast-iron shank with two arms and two flukes, and a wooden stock perpendicular to the arms. The stock often consisted of two long pieces of oak tapered toward each end, held together with iron hoops and treenails. Around the 19th century a typical anchor became of all-iron construction, including the stock.
Image of anchor

In ancient times an anchor often consisted of a large stone with one or more holes, through which a rope was fastened.
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A stone anchor could weigh as little as 20 Lbs for a small anchor or 500 Lbs or more for a large anchor. Often cut from sandstone, limestone or whatever other stone was locally available.
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Roman lead and wood anchor shown above.

Image of anchor


Anchor building tools in the Age of Sail.

Auger: A shipwright's tool for drilling holes in timbers.
Axe: A shipwright's tool, the shipwright's axe came in a variety of shapes. The shape of the blade depended on the function of the axe. De edge of the blade was either straight or curved, most were curved; The angle of the blade also varied depending whether hard or softer wood was to be cut, a thinner blade was required for the hardest woods. A typical size would be a 1.4" (3.5cm) thick blade, a blade height of 4.1" (10.5cm) and a blade length of 7.4" (19cm).
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Beetle: A shipbuilding tool. A heavy iron mallet used to drive wedges (irons) into the seams of wooden ships to open them before caulking.
Block: A wooden or metal case in which one or more sheaves (rollers) are fitted through which lines can run, either to increase the purchase or to change the direction of the line. They are commonly known as pulleys. In the 17th and 18th centuries the pins of blocks were often made from greenheart.
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Block making tools from the Age of Sail.
Caulk: The process of driving material into the seams of the ship's deck or sides to make them watertight. The tools used were caulking irons and mallets.

image of caulker
Caulking Mallet: A shipbuilding tool. An iron or wooden mallet (heavy hammer) used to strike a variety of irons, to open and close seams or to fill seams with oakum.
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Cross Staff: A relatively accurate tool used in celestial navigation since the early 16th century, it consisted of a scaled wooden staff or rod with one or more sliding perpendicular 'transoms' with which the angle between a celestial object such as the sun or moon and the horizon could be measured (altitude). Later often replaced by the more usable but somewhat less accurate backstaff or quadrant.
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Drawing Knife: A shipbuilding tool with a long and slender sharp-edged blade and two handles, one on each end. It was used to draw material away from the piece to be worked on.
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Girtline: Term for a rope passing through a block hung from a mast or masthead for hoisting relatively light loads such as a flag, tools and weapons. Also called gantline from the mid-19th century on.
Helve: Generic term for the handle of a variety of shipwright's tools, such as an adze or a hammer.
Horsing Iron: A shipbuilding tool. A caulking iron used when caulking deck seams.
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Jerry Iron: A shipbuilding tool. An iron tool used for extracting old oakum from seams. Also called meaking iron.
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Mast: A large vertical spar set in a vessel used to attach further yards and spars to carry sails. A mast is taken through a hole in the deck(s) and fitted into a step in the keelson. A mast made from a single tree trunk was called a pole-mast. When there were no suitable tall trees available, masts were constructed of several pieces of timber, scarfed, glued and banded together. Until the 19th century ships carried one, two, three or a maximum of four masts: a foremast at the front; a mainmast in the center; and a mizzenmast nearest the stern. A tall mast could consist of a lowermast, a topmast and a topgallant mast. In some larger late sailing vessels you may even have a royalmast above the topgallant mast. Masts and yards were made of softwoods such as fir, spruce and pine.

Mast making and lifting tools from the Age of Sail.
Mast and yard dimensions for a 19th century ship of 600 tons.
Mast and yard dimensions for a 19th century bark of 623 tons.
Mast and yard dimensions for a 19th century ship of 500 tons.

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Racing Knife A shipwright's tool to mark or race the shape to be cut, often to mark or score the shape of a mould onto a piece of timber.
Reeming Iron: A shipbuilding tool. An iron wedge used to open up seams before caulking.
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Sheer Hulk: A cut-down, old ship fitted with a pair of 'sheers', used to hoist masts up to another ship that was being built or repaired.

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Example of a sheer hulk and other mastbuilding tools.

Side Arms: The collection of tools such as a rammer, sponge and worm that were used for cleaning and servicing a ships cannon.
Wrung Staff: A shipwright's tool used in attaching the hull planking to the frame timbers. It consisted of a sturdy wooden rod, tapered at both ends. Also called stower, wrain-stave or -staff or twisting-staff. Was used together with ring bolts called wrung- or wrain-bolts, to force the planks closer to their shape and the ship's frame.
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