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Photograph of Nigel Gray building his boat in his garage

Nigel Gray

Nigel belongs to: The Coble and Keelboat Society

Nigel was born near Hexham. He has always been interested in traditional boats and has operated a variety of wooden boats for commercial and recreational purposes. He has recently built his own boat in his garage using traditional tools and techniques.

Nigel was interviewed by Carl Greenwood on 13 November 2005. The interview took place at the Interviewee's living room and lasted 34 minutes and 25 seconds.

Photograph of Nigel Gray building his boat in his garage
Photograph of Nigel Gray building his boat in his garage

Sound of a jack plane

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"The tool Iím using next is a traditional wooden jack plane, used by joiners, shipwrights, carpenters throughout time "

The tool Iím using next is a traditional wooden jack plane, used by joiners, shipwrights, carpenters throughout time really. The plane Iím using, and this should appear in the pictures, is probably about 140 years old and itís still in good nick. It was given to me by a fellow who helped us with the purchase of my shipwrightís tools. The man that owned it was a shipwright and it was his fatherís plane before him, so I feel quite honoured to have the benefit of using a tool like this.

Itís made all of wood, and when the planes were new they were actually dipped in linseed oil for a month. So when they come out the planeís always oily texture about it, and the benefit of that is when youíre cutting larch in particular the plane doesnít actually... it makes the plane easier to drive across the wood and cut easily.

So the first cuts that Iím taking off this piece of larch, which is larch planking, is to take off the high spots and then Iíll follow on from that with some smoothing cuts as the plank gets straighter.

(Cutting sounds)

At that point weíve just got the plank edge nice and straight and the high spots off it. What Iíll do now is just knock an eight of an inch off the plank to get it nice and straight, nice and smooth.

(Cutting sounds)

And although you canít see it there, whatís happening is, I know the plankís straight and itís smooth without looking at it because the shavings that are coming off the plane are actually continuous for the length of the cut, which is a testimony to the wood and itís also an indicator that youíre cutting a fair line with humps or bumps in it.

Iíll just take another couple of Ö

(Cutting sounds)

And thatís it done, straight as a die!

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This memory has these themes:
Skills | Sounds and Smells | Traditions

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