Are you sharp enough to Hazard a Guess?


Hello from Hazard!

It’s been nearly a month since we first showed Item No. 1073, and last week was the first time we shared any kind of a response. If you’ll remember, Fred Moore believes it is a caulking iron used to pack the caulking between the planks of a wooden ship or large boat.

Mark Irvin emailed to say Fred was “absolutely correct” about the item being a ship’s caulking iron. “I have one in my collection, along with a caulking mallet and straight caulking iron,” Irvin adds.

And Moore’s answer got our own “Rusty Iron” columnist, Sam Moore, doing some detective work, and says the official name of Item No. 1073 is a “hawsing iron.”

Sam sent us the following description of the tool from the Penobscot Marine Museum website:
“Hawsing iron, used in shipbuilding for caulking seams, particularly deck seams. The long handle allowed one caulker to stand holding the iron while another drove the caulking home using a two-handed mallet. The caulking had been previous set in place using a small mallet and a hand-held iron. Deck seams are especially difficult to caulk and keep tight as the sun dries out and shrinks decks.”

Mark Irvin gives us this description as well: “After the hull planking was put in place, the gaps would be coated with pine pitch, then the rope caulking would be driven into the spaces between the planks using the iron pictured.

“The head was able to be set for parallel with the handle or perpendicular to the handle to facilitate ease of handling. The gap between the planks would then have another coating of pine tar pitch over the caulking to create a watertight seal.”

Thanks, Sam and Mark, for the additional information, and to Fred Moore for identifying Item No. 1073 in the first place! Our thanks to Michael Cappel, of Newcomerstown, Ohio, for submitting the item.

This week’s item comes from William Logsdon, of Salem, Ohio. It’s obviously a knife about 6 inches long, but what was the guide and how was this used?

If you know specifically how Item No. 1074 was used, email your responses to; or respond by mail to: Hazard a Guess, c/o Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.


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