Oliver the Carbide-Toothed Zebra

This morning, the crew took a field trip along the Bayfront to visit Dave Bierig’s sail loft, where we learned a little about sailmaking in general, Niagara’s sails in particular, and the challenge of making sails for reconstructed and replica ships. We talked a lot about finding a balance between practicality and historical accuracy, and it would have been easy to stick around the loft all day, exploring and asking questions. But eventually we had to head back to the museum to keep sanding and varnishing.

Team Carpentry spent most of the afternoon sharpening the blades on the thickness planer, one of the most useful machines in the woodshop. It’s a painstaking process—there are eighty-four individual carbide-tipped blades, and they have to be sharpened while still in place in the machine—but a satisfying one.

(The thickness planer got its name—Oliver, the Carbide-Toothed Zebra—when one of our apprentices, Rob, noticed the zebra-shaped patch of sticker residue on the front of the machine. Judge for yourself. Once you’ve seen the zebra, you can’t unsee it.)

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