Shipbuilders tools and rigging gear

Tools used by shipbuilders have changed very little for many centuries. Those found on board the Vasa (1628) are very similar to ones in use three hundred years later.
A selection of shipbuilder's tools and rigging gear is found above.

1., 2.) Caulking mallet and caulking iron, respectively. These were used for driving oakum
into the seams of the hull after the hull had been planked.
3.) Broadaxe
4.)Serving mallet and reel
5.)Small serving mallet used by a sailmaker
6.) Auger -- for boring holes in wood
7.) Wooden block plane
8.) Wooden mould plane
9.) Wooden mallet
10.) Adze -- a tool smilar to an axe with an arched blade at right angles to the handle.
11.) Fid -- a wooden taper for forcing the strands of rope apart when splicing
12.) Sailor's palm -- used by sailmakers when forcing needles through heavy canvas (really an adaptation of the thimble).
13.) Large set of dividers used for measuring off distances
14.) Heart -- used in rigging for setting up stays
15.) Wooden rigging block -- the groves in the side are for the rope strop
16.) Bevel -- used for setting off angles
Other: Treenail - a treenail is a very dry wooden peg used to join timbers, especially in building wooden ships: it swells from moisture and ensures a tight joint. Treenails would have been used in building the wooden vessels in Cardigan.


Take a look at our digital collection for more pictures of shipbuilding tools with their explanation of what they do.


All of the information on this page was given to us courtesy of the
Cardigan River Heritage Center which is Located at
4537 Wharf Road
Cardigan, P.E.I.

In Partnership with