Thursday, June 24, 2004

Williamsburg wheelwrights keep carriages safely "shod".

"Made of wood and bound with iron, the wheels of the carriages, wagons, and riding chairs that navigated rugged colonial roads had to be strong and tight.

Producing wheels requires strength, ingenuity, and the talents of both a carpenter and a blacksmith. Precise measuring skills are mandatory.

Like their Williamsburg predecessors, the wheelwrights who practice the trade at the Governor's Palace today start with a hub fashioned on a lathe from properly aged wood such as elm. A tapered reamer opens the center to receive a metal bearing; The wheelwright uses a chisel to create rectangular spoke holes around the circumference of the wheel. Carved from woods like ash, the spokes radiate to meet a rim of mortised wooden arches, called "fellies," that join to form a perfect circle." - Colonial Williamburg website

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