Cutting Futtocks from Live Oak

Ross Branch, one of the shipwrights working on the Ernestina-Morrissey project at Boothbay Harbor Shipyard has developed an ingenious way (Patent Pending) to use a special chain saw to cut the live oak futtocks for the ship. Notice the guide attached to the chain saw blade.

A track is made from the patterns, incorporating the angles from the ship's plans for the chain saw to follow . photo credit Ross Craft Branch

A piece of live oak is chosen that can accommodate the curve of the futtock to be cut.  The wood is lifted onto saw horses and the pattern is traced onto the wood with the notes for the angle of the cut.  Wedges with the correct angle hold the track in place.  It is worth noting that live oak has a density of 90 pounds/cubic foot when it is green (63 pounds/cubic foot dry).  Fork lifts are used to move the timbers.

The cut is made following the angled track. photo credit Ross Craft Branch

You can see how closely the angled chain saw cut matched the pattern. photo credit Ross Craft Branch

Once the curve it doesn’t need much planing to smooth it off.  VIDEO

Two futtocks cut from the same piece of live oak. photo credit Ross Craft Branch

This technique uses less manpower and is less wasteful than using the ship saw with the heavy live oak. photo credit Ross Craft Branch

Read more from the Boothbay Register.