October 2008


President's corner

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This 'n That

President's Corner

Fellow Members ---

As woodworkers how big can we dream?

A couple of months ago I talked about a trip up the coast to Oregon and seeing the big redwood trees. I read later that the tallest tree in the world, a coastal redwood of course, is 40 ft. taller than the new Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco. (You cannot miss it – looks like a tall, thin, white and blue radiator that can be seen from nearly all the approach roads into the city.)

On a recent visit to the Ming Exhibition at the Asian Arts Museum in San Francisco one exhibit was a short plank of 15th century wood. The expert thinking is this could be part of the rudder of one of the very large treasure ships the Chinese are rumored to have built in 15th century. The claim is that these were about 400 ft. long and 160 ft. wide. (By comparison the Golden Hind was a mere 120 ft. long.)

Can we imagine the making a wooden ship several times longer than the longest timbers available? With all the stress on the keel what kind of joints we would have to use?

I have seen the some of the great halls and cathedrals in the UK. The sheer size and magnificent of the wooden roof beams and joints is incredible. Down at the floor level there is the other end of the scale with very intricate wooden carving and decorations.

Our craft of woodworking provides an endless source stimulating challenges. I hope you are enjoying the ones it brings. If you would like to write and tell us about your recent challenges, anything from small carving to 400 ft. ships then we would all like to hear from you and share your experience.

At the same Ming Exhibition I mentioned above there was a 15 century Chinese painting that the implied they may have invented golf before Scotland – but that is another story.

Frank Ramsay

Frankramsay8@aol.com or 408-823-2382