A LIVING HISTORY BLOG.

18TH CENTURY LIVING HISTORY IN AUSTRALIA.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

The 18th Century Crutch!!!

Starting off with a sapling, I cut it to length green, and then stripped the bark from it. De-barking is easiest in summer when the sap is high. Just hammer the timber along its length with the poll on your hatchet or tomahawk to loosen it, and then simply pull the bark off in strips.
The bark can be left to dry, or you can seperate the inner strands of this stringybark bark while it is green to produce cordage. Green cordage is best for the string of a fire-bow, but dry cordage is just as good for normal usage.

When I cut the stave to length, I added a bit for the top of the crutch, the "T" section that fits into the pit of the arm.
All this work so far has been done whilst the wood is still green. After cutting the top piece off I used an auger to make the hole, then I trimmed the top of the stave with my clasp knife to fit into the hole. I then struck the but end of the stave with a chunk of wood to seat the "T" section on securely.
As it was still green I left plenty of the stave sticking through the top, and then left it to dry in the sun. As the wood dries it shrinks.
When the wood was finally dry the top had stayed very tight on the stave, so I then cut off the excess wood sticking out the top and filed it smooth with a rasp. I could have done this smoothing with a rock or my clasp knife.
The finished crutch looks a little rough, but it works. If the top had become loose in the drying, then I could simply have cut a slot in the top of the stave and added a wood wedge. A mallet could be made in the same manner as making this 18th century crutch.

Anyone want to emulate Long John Silver?!

2 comments:

Jimmy the Screwdriver said...

I really like this. I wonder how hard it would be to add a handle?

How long does it take to dry it?

Le Loup said...

I was going to add a handle Jimmy but when I tried it out I decided that I didn't need one. However with continued use I guess a handle would take the strain of having to grip the stave. I was going to bore another smaller hole and tap in a peg for a handle.
I think it took about two days to dry sufficintly to secure the top piece to the stave. It may loosen later, but if it does it will be a simple matter of fitting a wooden wedge.
Regards.