Blaise Ollivier: (manuscript), 1737.

We lay the planks of the hull after first planking the ceiling, while the English shipwrights on the contrary plank before laying the ceiling. In order to lay them and set them to against the frames they use the same wrain-bolts as we do, yet they fasten their planks with the treenails before caulking the ship, whereas we only drive the treenails once the ship has been caulked. With our method we seek to prevent the treenails from splitting the splanking; we desire also that the treenails shall serve to tighten the oakum in the seams, yet the English shipwrights desire on the contrary that the caulking shall tighten and strengthen the fastening of the treenails in their holes. I believe each method to be the equal of the other. In all events the English shipwrights cannot do otherwise than to drive their treenails before caulking since they employ no iron nails to fasten the planks.

Treenail [Gournable]: This is a bolt fashioned of oak, pine or fir, which serves in the place of nails or iron bolts to fasten the planks to the frame timbers and to join together many other timbers. Treenails are square when they come from the forest. Their length is 2 to 4 feet and their thickness one and a quarter to two inches. When they are mooted in the Dockyards they are reduced to one and three quarters if an inch for First Rates, 1½ inches or only 13 to 14 lines for Second Rates, about 13 lines for Third Rates and 10 to 13 lines for Fourth Rates and frigates. Only the planking of the bottom is fastened with treenails, and they are alternated with nails. For the treenails, a hole is bored which runs right through the bottom plank, the frame timber and the plank of the ceiling, and a treenail is chosen to fill this hole which is about one foot longer than the hole and of exactly the same diameter, save at the head where the diameter of the treenail exceeds that of the hole by a few lines. The treenail is greased with tallow or else tarred. It is driven in with a mallet, and when it reaches the point where its diameter is greater than the hole so that the mallet must be wielded harder in order to drive it in, the head is wound round with a twist of spunyarn to prevent it splitting. Once the treenail has been driven in as far as it will go, it is cut off flush with the planking at either end and a small piece of wood called a treenail wedge or a spile is hammered into both ends to re-align the treenail with the sides of the hole. A thread of oakum is also inserted in a crossshape or triangle in the head of each treenail for the same reason, and this is what is called crossing the treenails. When a treenail cannot be driven all the way through, which happens when the auger-men meet iron when boring which prevents them from continuing, the narrow end of the treenail is split, a spile is inserted into the split, and the treenail is inserted ready armed into the faulty hole. Treenails are used to fill all the faulty holes in a ship which are bored for the bolts. They are also used to fasten together the timbers forming a double binding strake, to nog keelblocks, and many other timbers. All the treenails which are used in building the King's ships are of oak. In Holland and in the countries of the North they are made of pine or fir, but they are always wedged with spiles of oak.

Blaise Ollivier: (manuscript), 1737.

[Translated by David H. Roberts.]

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius

Sjöhistoriska Samfundet | The Maritime History Virtual Archives | Shipbuilding | Fastenings.

Copyright © 1996 Lars Bruzelius.