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Thread: Looking for historic ship builders / sailmakers website/forum

  1. #1

    Looking for historic ship builders / sailmakers website/forum

    Looking for historic ship builders / sailmakers website/forum for:

    My very recent new interest is historical ship rigging and sailmaking.
    I am mostly interested in:

    Fids and specifically large fids as would be found for sail making on the largest ships and how they were used. Fids that are 10" diameter and 4 feet tall.

    Dead eyes and use and design specs.

    Wooden blocks, design, construction, rope splicing and etc.

    I have already duplicated some wooden blocks but still need to finish up with ropes and splicing.

    I have made over 30 hand held fids of various woods and sizes and shapes and would like more specific information. I have made one large fid, 38" tall, just guessing about design and shape.

    Dead eyes, wanting make dead eyes and set these up as found on historic ships.

    So, looking for a forum where boat builders and sail makers communicate and share information, same as this great forum!!!

    Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    US Virgin Islands
    Blog Entries
    Wooden boat forum is the best place to start. Forum rules here don’t allow us to link to other forums, but it’s run by wooden boat magazine. They can probably refer you to more specific sites.

    In my sailing life I’ve gotten to tour some really nice tall ships. I saw the Bounty just before she sank in Sandy. Will try to drop some pics here if you’re interested.

  3. #3
    Agree that Wooden Boat magazine is a terrific resource and a top-drawer publication.

    OP--you have not bothered to tell us where you are from. But Mystic Seaport is a wonderful place to visit and may have some helpful resources as well.
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    US Virgin Islands
    Blog Entries
    I know this isn't exactly what you're wanting, but since you like tall ships, here are a few-

    H.M.S. Bounty, taken in Charlotte Amalie Harbor just before she sailed into Sandy and was lost at sea. Very sad. I made a point to get a shot of the planking which looked to need some work.
    Bounty 040.jpgBounty 060.jpgBounty 045.jpg

    USCG Eagle
    Eagle 1.jpgEagle 2.jpgEagle 3.jpg

    Sadly, the computer where I have most of my tall ship images has crashed, and until I can either recover it, or download everything again, this will have to do.

  5. #5
    For rigging info, large and small:


    Wooden blocks [but with steel reinforcing for modern loading]:

    I"m confused by your interest in "Fids and specifically large fids as would be found for sail making on the largest ships and how they were used. Fids that are 10" diameter and 4 feet tall." I"m familiar with fids for splicing rope and wire, with varying sizes up to about 1 inch in diameter and lengths of 4 to six inches, occasionally longer, but none in the sizes you refer to. After a long (indirect) involvement with sail making for an extreme variety of boats, I'm not familiar with any fids for use in sail making apart from normal splicing usage. While my experience with tall ships and square sails is limited, I can't come up with a use for a fid of the size you specify. Got a picture? Got a description of it's use you could share?

    Based on my experience and that of the closest sail maker person (that gal that leads me around by the nose), there is no use for a fid for fore-and-aft sails unless splicing control lines or sheets.

    Typical rigging fids are shown and offered for sale on the Brion Toss web site above.

    A thread by Julie Moriarty on here a couple of months ago showed making and rigging wooden blocks. Beautiful work. It's worth looking it up.

    With a quick look to my friend, Google, I found the following:
    (plural fids)

    1. (nautical) A pointed tool without any sharp edges, used in weaving or knotwork to tighten and form up weaves or complex knots; used in sailing ships to open the strands of a rope before splicing. Compare marlinespike.
    2. (nautical) A square bar of wood or iron, with a shoulder at one end, to support the weight of the topmast (on a ship).
    3. A plug of oakum for the vent of a gun.
    4. A small thick piece of anything.
    5. A wooden or metal bar or pin, used to support or steady anything.
    6. A naval euphemism for "penis", derived from the similarity of each of the above to the male reproductive organ.

    (third-person singular simple present fids, present participle fiding, simple past and past participle fided)

    • To support a topmast using a fid.

    Origin unknown.


    Usage notes
    This is the customary abbreviation of this term as used in case citations. See, e.g., The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, Nineteenth Edition (2010), "Case Names and Institutional Authors in Citations", Table T6, p. 430-431.

    See also: fid

    Still no connections with sailmaking.

    Fair winds and following seas,
    Jim Waldron

  6. #6
    OP here and thanks for all the responses. My interest in these subjects started when I became a volunteer at the Brittania Shipyards in Steveston, Richmond BC, Canada.
    I discovered fids in a small book on ropes and knots and sails and etc. The fids were described as about 8.5" long and 1.125" wide. Another book with greater depth suggested fids from 12" to 18" log and still quite narrow. Also in this reference were fids that sit on a table or ground and used to stretch grommets and cringles in sail making. Also described was a fid a lot larger than the hand-held Fids described here.

    To make matters even more interesting, a photo I found showing a man that looks to be my height. His hand is resting on top of the largest Fid I can find, 10"-12" diameter and 4 feet tall, size estimated by measuring etails in the photo.

    About ten days ago, we had a big storm here, about 200 -300 trees down on my property alone. A week later while alking a beach in Steveston, I found a 2.25" diameter rope had washed ashore, only about 14 feet long, a remnant from somethign much longer. I will use this rope to practice some splicing skills and also making up a very large grommet splice. This falls into my project of wooden block construction using rope and no metal other than for the shaft for the sheaves.

    Again, thank you all for your responses and help, greatly appreciated!!!

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