Friday, June 17, 2011

6/17/11 Report - Wedges, Ship Construction & Research

14K Gold Bracelet Found With Metal Detector on the Beach.

Chains and bracelets are common metal detector beach finds. A lot of those were lost either because of a broken clasp or link.

Notice the broken clasp on the bracelet in the photo. The blue arrow points to the break.

As you know, I've been trying to identify some old chisels that I found on Treasure Coast shipwreck beaches. It appears that they are actually wedges rather than chisels.

I received a very useful email from David S. who said, In my work over the years I have used chisels as well as wedges. The item you found may well have seen used as a wedge rather than a chisel. Wedges have long tapering sides that drive things either together or apart while being used.
Usually chisels have straight shafts and a small bevel on the end that is sharpened to create a cutting edge on the end. Usually a chisel has a slender shaft to make them lighter. The driving force is then less consumed in overcoming the inertia of the mass of the tool and makes a deeper cut.

Before receiving David's email I had started to wonder about that. During my research I saw mention of how wedges were used in ship building and none of the chisels that I found on the internet looked like mine. David's email has convinced me that I should have been looking for wedges rather than chisels in my research. In fact I have found some photos of similar wedges, but unfortunately none from old Florida shipwrecks yet.

I am convinced that wedges would have been carried on the treasure fleets simply because they are very useful and what I would consider a basic tool.

In shipbuilding, wedges were used to force things like planks tightly together during the building process, and they were also used to spread planks for caulking.

I found this definition on one web site. Beetle: A shipbuilding tool. A heavy iron mallet used to drive wedges (irons) into the seams of wooden ships to open them before caulking.

If you are interested in old ship building processes, you might want to investigate more of that web site.

Here is the link.

I've used wedges myself in the old days on a farm to split logs. Like I said, it is a basic tool.

I don't have anyway to identify the age of the wedges that I found. I haven't found any identifying marks on them. My guess would be that the smaller wedge comes from a shipwreck simply because of where it was found and the other items found in the same area. I am not so confident about the larger one.

I've been thinking about what makes metal detecting so interesting. For me it seems to have a lot to do with discovering items, but more about what you learn from the process. For me, it is also very much about solving problems.

I like to solve problems, whether the problem is figuring out how the ocean sifts and sorts materials, how items end up where they are found, or what the items are or where they came from. Those are all interesting things that I like to try to figure out.

I very much enjoy all of the learning that happens while doing research to identify an item. I've been finding all kinds of interesting web sites and good information while trying to find my wedges.

One interesting web site that I found will be useful for any treasure hunter or detectorist. It was written by a fellow that worked for a nautical museum. His name is Fred Hock.

Fred told how to obtain information from museums. The article contains some good information. He mentioned that many museums are required to answer questions. That of course has limitations and depends upon the charter of the museum and how it is funded and other factors.

If you are researching a find or shipwreck or whatever, you might want to consider contacting a museum, so here is the link to Fred's helpful article.

And here is a web site that lists enough research papers on shipwreck salvage and underwater archaeology to keep you busy for a week.

I might discuss some of them in the future.

The recent wild swings in the price of Odyssey Marine stock has attracted some attention in the stock trading community. After yesterday's bounce the stock has dropped again. It could be a quite a while before it gets back up there again.

Treasure Coast Forecast and Conditions.

The tropics are quiet. No storms or anything forming.

On the Treasure Coast the wind is coming from the south. This morning the beach was hazy and there was a lot of smoke in the air. Later it wasn't so bad.

The surf will remain calm for another week, so don't expect any improvement or any type of change in conditions.

Remember that you aren't allowed to detect in the leased areas. I posted some information on where those leases are a couple of days ago.

The water is smooth and easy to work.

It might be a good time to scout around and try some other things. One place you might have some luck is on the banks of the rivers, lakes or ponds where the water level has dropped lately. Every once in a while something is found sticking out of the mud after a drought like this.

That is about it for today.

Happy hunting,